“In an era when many of us face enormous challenges, we also realize that our traditional training, interpretations and ways of acting are often not enough.  We work longer hours, we learn time management systems, we read books, attend seminars, and yet, we still must continually learn new, more productive ways of addressing demands on ourselves. Often, we live with a nagging feeling that something is missing.” ~Julio Olalla, The Newfield Network

The stresses and demands of modern life are global. Change is intimidating and sometimes even terrorizing, whether it’s voluntary or due to circumstances beyond our control. As human beings we often seem to be naturally resistant to doing things differently; we like comfort. Even adverse conditions can feel comfortable because they feel familiar. “Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” ~Pauline R. Kezer

So do you embrace change? Look forward to change? How can you learn to navigate change skillfully and even appreciate and invite change into your life? Many people look for guidance in the art of creating meaning for themselves. One way is to work with a Life Coach who will support you throughout your journey and generate an environment that establishes the trust, safety, respect and well-being that accelerates the potential for transformational learning.

What then is the role of a coach?

The coach helps you expand the kind of observer you are, in order to see patterns, contexts and questions that you haven’t been able to see. The spectrum of possible actions that we have any moment are determined by the observer that we are.

How many times have you been part of an organization or system where one person took actions to solve an immediate need, but the action ultimately had a negative impact on the well-being of the rest of the organization? More than likely, that individual could not “see” the ramifications of the actions on the system. The focus was on a quick handling of the issue. So often, we do not consider the systems we are part of and what effect our actions and non-actions have on them. Once we see the whole system and how it functions, then we see other actions possible to generate the result we seek. Another example is when we often do not realize that how we “set up” conversations, meetings, agreements –what we say in initiating them–has enormous impact on how we are heard and what transpires. People tend to respond to us within the context that we create.

So, a coach is distinct from a trainer, teacher, or consultant in that a coach is not in essence someone who imparts information, ideas or answers. The coach may offer ideas, but the coach’s main role deals with expanding the ability to see contexts, rather than supplying content.  The coaching relationship is like a chrysalis in which the person being coached can safely sink into, re-build, and emerge with “seeing” new ways to utilize existing skills. As observes and creators of contexts, we have much more power to take inspired action and to innovate.

How does a coach differ from a mentor?

A mentor often has many more years of experience in an area of expertise. On the other hand, a coach may not have any of the technical skills of the client or ‘coachee’. The coach works with the client/’coachee’ to expand awareness, see patterns and possibilities and take new actions.  A greater ability to observe oneself and others expands the possibility to act.  Also, in general, a mentor relationship takes place over a very long-term period. A coaching relationship is generally more specific, dealing with particular issues and projects, and may be short-term or longer term.

Coaching unfolds in safety; it is a caring and mutual exercise of respect. Coaching can only happen in an environment of trust. Without trust there is no relationship and without relationship there is no coaching. As a coach, I must have my client’s permission for any particular area that we may begin to inquire about.  I may have permission to pursue one area of inquiry, but not another.  And I may have permission at one point in time, but not another, even during the same conversation.

Often, while I may be discussing one issue,I may get a sense that something else, perhaps slightly hidden, is affecting the concern that is officially “on the table”. For example, let’s just say, I am coaching someone regarding a business issue. As we talk, I get a sense that something personal is actually weighing heavily on the person’s attention.  It’s important to accept that what is happening in one area of our lives will often be reflected in others. For instance, when someone works long hours at the cost of family, friendships, and inner life, sooner or later this cost, this lack of balance, will surface in the work this person produces. Over time, the lack of this person’s well-being will affect the way this person takes care of others.

For the coaching to produce benefits, the coach must have the client’s permission each time any issue is discussed.  As a coach, it’s imperative to always remember that the client is always where he or she should be.  As long as the issues of dignity, respect and permission are in place, coach and client can go for what is there.  I go into each of my coaching sessions with the intention to always coach in a mood of kind irreverence and definitely from the soul.