A while back a client from DtL Creative Ltd asked me to write an article for their online magazine Digital Bark on the topic of coaching and why it is useful. Here is the article.
Over the last 20 years coaching has become common place in the United States, and it is now more widely used in the UK. That said, the greatest challenge that coaching has in the UK is that people do not know what coaching is and the perception is that you only go for coaching if you have a problem. That is a fallacy. Coaching is a tool that helps you get the mostout of all areas your life.
Coaching gives you time and space to think about what YOU want from your life. Focussed time which is often difficult to find in our busy lives with the conflicting demands that are placed on us daily. It is a confidential, non-judgemental space where the client can be open and honest about how they are feeling, the challenges they are experiencing and what they really want from their life. These are conversations that can be hard to have with family or friends for fear of being judged, or of the ramifications of being honest about your thoughts or feelings. The ability to be open and honest is cathartic.
As a society we keep our innermost thoughts and feelings to ourselves. We are raised to be stoic, but we pay the price for that. We use all sorts of tools to numb our feelings. Drinking too much, eating too much, shopping too much, working too much– to name just a few. Our mental health is suffering. Research by the charity Mind show that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, and the statistics are similar for the rest of the UK.
Let me ask you a question. Who is the person that you talk to most often in a day? Most people respond saying their partner, or their best friend, sometimes it’s a work colleague. But none of these answers are correct. The person you talk to most in a day is to YOU. But often the way we talk to ourself is destructive and demotivating. We say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to someone we care about. Why is this the case? There are several reasons for this.
The brain’s principal job is to keep us safe. That has not changed since we were cave people. Our brain likes to keep us in our comfort zone, where things are familiar and that way there is little risk to us. However, that can lead to us becoming frustrated and unfulfilled.
As children we experienced so many stimuli each day - the things people said to us, the way they treated us, looks they gave us, experiences we had. We took all these things in and established sub-conscious beliefs about ourselves. Often these are passed from parents to children and the pattern is passed on from one generation to the next. By adulthood we have a confirmation bias, only seeing the things that support our existing thoughts and opinions. That is why two people can experience the exact same situation but interpret it totally differently. But here’s the game changer. Just because we believe something to be true doesn’t mean it is. Please take a second to read that sentence again. Just because we believe something to be true doesn’t mean it is.
Coaching is a valuable tool to challenge your beliefs. Qualified Coaches are trained to ask questions which challenge a client’s thinking to help them see new perspectives or other alternatives. Looking at the evidence from your life are your beliefs true? And if not, what have these cost you? Where clients recognise the beliefs that have held them back, this new lens gives a fresh perspective on their abilities and the opportunities open to them. It unearths a whole new world of possibilities. The way we think impacts on how we feel which affects our actions and therefore the outcomes we experience. It all starts from changing the way YOU think about YOU. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you have in your life. It impacts on all other relationships you have and with the way you experience all aspects of your life.
Increasingly, progressive companies are recognising the benefits of coaching to their staff. Coaching in the workplace previously focussed primarily on work performance but as humans we are holistic beings. It is simply not possible to separate our work life and personal life. If something is not going well in one area of our life it has ramifications on all areas of our life. With this recognition there has been increased interest in coaching for wellbeing. Coaching enables staff to talk with an impartial person who has no agenda. It is a place where they can be seen and heard, appreciate their own strengths & skills, where they can work through challenges and agree action plans.
So, what are the benefits for the company? The investment in coaching says to your team that you value them, that they matter and they are not just a number on your payroll. Where people feel valued, they are loyal and this fosters the retention of experienced staff, reducing the cost & time associated with recruiting new team members. Mindset shifts that can be created through coaching play an important part in building a team that are motivated, empowered, and productive.
How should you go about engaging the services of a coach? Ask for recommendations and talk to several coaches, you will find most offer free introductory calls. Get a feel for them as a person and the way that they work. You need to ensure they will be a good fit for you and your team. Read testimonials from their previous clients. Check out their qualifications as coaching is an unregulated industry. You need to ensure they have a professional qualification accredited by theInternational Coaching Federation or the Association for Coaching.
Image by AbsolutVision, Unsplash.