What is coaching — plus free coaching: a call for guinea pigs

Now that I’m well underway with my training to become a coach, I wanted to give a brief summary of what it is, to take some of the mystery out of it.

The process has six simple steps. They’re not set in stone, but generally tend to work well in that order.

Step 1 is about finding the want. What do you want to work on in this session? But we don’t take the first answer at face value. Instead, we go deeper.

The client may say “I want to get a new job”. Then you ask “what will a new job give you?”. The answer may be “more money”. “What will more money give you?”. You keep going until you get quite deep, and then let the client decide which of these things he or she would most like to work on today. This can often lead to a significant shortcut.

The trick here is that people don’t go very deep on their own. They think they want a job because they want more money, but they never really thought about what they need these money for. This is one of the reasons coaching is so effective, that the brain doesn’t go down this path unless specifically asked to do so.

Step 2 is about finding out what prevents you from getting your want. We keep asking for more reasons. Again, most people stop at the first one or two reasons not to do something, and leave it that. We ask until we have them all.

Step 3 is about motivation. What happens if you don’t get past your preventions and never get what you wanted? Who would you be if you did get past your preventions and get what you want?

Step 4 is where the action is. That’s where we look at each prevention and get to the bottom of it. You say it’ll cost money? How much money? It’ll be painful? How much pain? For how long?

Often, there will be preventions that are founded in some deep beliefs. Perhaps you believe that you have to be perfect? These kinds of limiting beliefs will often be broken simply by exposing them in their entirety. If not, there are other ways to break them.

Sometimes a prevention is real, and just needs to be worked around.

The bottom line here is, again, that by ourselves, we don’t get to the bottom of what prevents us from getting what we want, so we just don’t know. By getting honest and specific about it, we can make a conscious choice: Given the consequences, do we still want it?

Step 5 is where we look at how we can move forward given the new understanding. Perhaps there are new habits that need to be established, books that would be good to read. This can go many ways.

And in step 6, we wrap up and usually agree on what to work on till next time.

Coaching works really well because our brain has blind spots:

  • It doesn’t get specific about things like the end goal, the root causes, etc.
  • It doesn’t get precise about how much time or money or pain.
  • It doesn’t see its own beliefs

When you have a belief, you tend to really believe that it’s true, that is, it’s true for all people, not just for you. So true that you don’t notice it. A coach can help you see that.

There’s obviously a lot more to it than the above, but I wanted to explain a little bit of the nuts and bolts of it, so you can start picturing how it works, and how it might help you.

And if you’re reading this, and you’d like to try coaching, you can be my guinea pig. I’ll coach you in person or over Skype, for free.

I’ve already gotten a handful of successful sessions under my belt, and the clients have told me it was a very good experience for them. It’s time to expand the circle now.

So just let me know, and we can arrange something. You don’t need to prepare, other than think about what you want, and we’ll take it from there.

UPDATE: Read about Morten Just’s experience with his first coaching session (in Danish).