This morning, I slid off the shelf one of the books that inspired me to pursue coaching as a profession in the first place. Paging through it, I caught a whiff of that original inspiration, and I’m feeling moved to share something about it.
Typically, I’m not prone to hyperbole and bombast. It bugs me. I have a distaste for enthusiasts and evangelists of all stripes. And yet, as I said, today, for whatever reason, I feel moved. It will probably do me good – get the blood moving.
Here’s the thing about good coaching, folks – life coaching, leadership coaching, executive coaching, relationship coaching, health coaching, and … whatever else is out there.
It has nothing, nothing, nothing and nothing whatsoever to do with dishing out advice or sharing tips and tricks and strategies for living, leading, or all the rest.
It’s not about digging up past pain to promote future pleasure.
Nope. It ain’t about all that.
It is all and always about the freedom to learn about the self in the context of a relationship. It’s about inviting the realest of the real you’s to step forward and be seen.
Wait, what? Who?
Yeah, good question.
The real you. Remember him?
The you that’s been busy knowing and talking and thinking.
The you that’s been hiding and waiting and hoping behind anything that will obscure you – old stories, other people, job titles, excesses, excuses.
The you that suspects deep down that you’re just faking it ‘til you make it, but doesn’t know how to stop.
The you that’s pretty sure he’s a jerk, or spineless, but wouldn’t dare cop to it.
The you that is terrified that if he doesn’t do something about his job, wife, beer belly, something awful is going to happen …
That you. Ring a bell?
I am willing to bet the farm your gut knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Take a second, check it out.
Feel it? Yeah, that you.
Now, imagine the lightness you’d feel after dropping every layer of nonsense you’ve managed to cover yourself with and to have the person standing in front of you blink not an eye, but just take you in as you are.
That’s the promise of excellent coaching. Which, thankfully, I can say I provide for my clients.
Here’s a different way of looking at it:
We can think of life as a kind of game, one in which the rules and the skills required to win (let’s equate winning with that sense of freedom) are unfathomably complex. Now, given life’s complexity (which is only increasing by the way) the prospect of having another flesh and blood human being dedicated – in fact, contracted – to walk alongside me for even a tiny portion of the old game is kind of awesome.
That this mythical-beast-of-a-companion is not related to me by blood or by marriage, is not my boss or my former boss, or my doctor or my professor nor anyone else with whom I have shared history – even better. That means they have no vested interested in what I do, say, think, want, learn – beyond what I am willing to disclose to them.
That means, unlike everyone else, they can – they must – tell me the truth. Not their ideas and opinions. Not their petty and poorly masked judgments. Not their condescending or pandering tones. Not their best advice.
The truth. As in, the way things actually are.
Oddly, truth like that is lost in many close friendships and familial relationships – where we believe we have things to lose. Like love.
Your coach, if he’s any good, loved you before he even met you. Your coach already knows you’re good at heart. He knows you’re desperately trying to figure out how to be you in the world that you are convinced will crush you if you don’t crush it first. Your coach has no interest in your decorations. Only the real, raw, deal will do.
Are you willing to crawl out from your cave and bath in the light? Are you willing to be seen?