Hello, my friends.
It is my intention to dispel another one of those common myths that exists with regard to coaching, and that is that coaching is about teaching, training, and conveying information to the client. It is about the notion that conveyance of information is what brings value to the client.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is, the best coaches ask the best questions.
I want to share two vital questions with you. These are questions you can and should be asking your clients if you are a coach…and also questions you should be asking yourself as well. Take time to ask, and to explore the true answers.
Before I reveal those questions, I want to accentuate the point that the key to adding value to someone is to empower them. It is to equip them to be reflective and introspective, to think intentionally and consciously about where they are, how they are performing, and how they are showing up in their personal and professional lives. It is to help them assess their relationships – with family, neighbors, themselves, or someone with whom they have a dispute.
Here are the two questions.
1. What story is holding you back?
We talk a lot about the arc of life. Each person’s life follows a particular pattern. We each have a different life, of course, but the point is we have all had positive experiences – blessings and things that have gone well for us – and, of course, on the flip side, negative experiences. Some negative experiences are circumstantial, and many are the result of bad choices we have made. The examples are as broad as the population you study.
Whatever comes to mind is what you need to explore.
The point is, what story is holding you back?
Often, people are limited by the beliefs they hold about themselves that are, in fact, not true. When you discover the root cause of that false self-limiting belief, it comes from part of your story, part of their narrative. They may say they are not capable of doing X, Y, or Z because of who they are, where they were raised, the color of their skin, gender, nationality, heritage, education, physical appearance or attributes, intellect, personality, or childhood experiences. Maybe they weren’t popular or perhaps they didn’t have a great academic background.
It is quite remarkable how these historical experiences can be retained by people. They are still walking around the planet holding these beliefs about themselves, when they really belong to a distant memory.
Truly explore what story – what narrative – is holding you back, preventing you, telling you that you can’t.
Let’s say, for example, that I give you a big hairy audacious goal, and your immediate reaction is, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly do that.”
I am asking you to chase that thought – that gut visceral reaction – down.
It is because, in that impulse reaction, there is quite often a self-limiting belief. It reveals the story that is holding you back.
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that.”
“Because my sister is smarter than I am,” or “No one in my family has done X, Y, or Z.”
Really reflect, explore, search, dig deep, and find that story.
Once you have found that bogus story, shed the light of day on it. Prove it wrong.
I’ve talked about that – overcoming your gremlin, taking it to court. This is really about identifying that negative story that it is keeping you back, that is limiting your view of who you are and what your potential is.
2. How much energy are you willing to devote to a particular goal?
Of course, everyone is going to say, “I’ll put in everything I have”.
Aside from the platitudes, realistically, how much energy, time, emotion, and research will you invest? How many people are you willing to speak to in order to fortify your strength with regard to your commitment to achieving a particular goal? How willing are you to recruit and nurture accountability partnerships with people who know you, and with whom there is mutual trust?
These are those who, in a kind, gentle way, or if necessary, in a pretty blunt kind of tough love sort of way, will hold you accountable. These are those who will provide friendly reminders…
“Hey, how did you do on that goal we talked about?”
“How did you do this week?”
“How did you do this month?”
“You told me last time you were going to do these things to move toward your goal. What happened?”
“Oh, I don’t hear a lot of progress, I hear a lot of excuses.”
Those kinds of partnerships are not what typical friends do, right? Most typical friends are going to say, “Oh, I hear you. Me, too…life so busy.”
Friends may commiserate and let you off the hook. I’m not saying that’s evil. It’s just the nature of friendship.
But what I am saying is, hold yourself accountable to the question: “How much energy are you willing to put in?”
It takes energy, courage, transparency, and vulnerability to ask someone to hold you accountable. Have a discussion with them to determine the type of accountability partnership you are willing to tolerate. Do you need tough love accountability, or the more nurturing, encouraging kind of cheerleader who says, “You can do it?”
Or, “I believe in you. Come on, let’s do it together?”
I am not saying one is better than the other. It really is like flavors of ice cream; it is a personal preference.
But your willingness to be accountable and take action is an indication of the energy you’re willing to put into achieving your goals.
These are just two examples of the types of questions excellent coaches ask.
It’s not about what you tell them. It’s about what you ask them.