You Have to Go Slow to Go Fast
I have been training, supervising and mentoring coaches for over a decade to hone their skills towards mastery and, for some, to gain their ICF credential. I believe that with continuous reflective practice any coach can get closer to mastery. I am also confident that I can help coaches learn how to manage their performance …
I have been training, supervising and mentoring coaches for over a decade to hone their skills towards mastery and, for some, to gain their ICF credential.
I believe that with continuous reflective practice any coach can get closer to mastery. I am also confident that I can help coaches learn how to manage their performance anxiety to allow their talent to flow naturally while teaching them advanced skills to facilitate change more quickly and easily.
I have seen a few bad habits get in the way of effective coaching from some of the most seasoned and best-trained coaches in our industry. Therefore, in this article, we will explore one bad habit to break and follow with a new habit to create in its stead.
Bad Habit to Break
Thinking that good coaching means to fully reach the client’s outcome for the session in an arbitrary 60 minutes.
There is no preferred destination other than where you are at any given time in the conversation. Thinking so will take you off track. This is true in life and true in coaching. If you pay attention to the process, the destination takes care of itself.
Anyone who has studied coaching competencies knows that the setting of an outcome, an attendant measure of success, and deeply exploring the meaning of this outcome are integral to effectiveness. What happens though, as a dutiful coach, is that we feel compelled to get them there, wherever “there” may be in that session.
This self-induced pressure to reach a destination in an arbitrary time slot triggers our limbic system (the emotional seat of the brain) resulting in a diminished capacity of the pre-frontal cortex, which is where we do our rational thinking and our coaching. Our prefrontal cortex gets flooded with cortisol when wondering if we will or won’t get there—if our status as a competent coach could be diminished in our or our client’s eyes if we don’t reach Point B. Pressuring ourselves is a recipe for this stress response, resulting in a distraction and unconscious, ineffective coaching.
So, the paradox is that the thing you want is the very thing you significantly diminish attainment of by the mere wanting of it. Your self-induced pressure to deliver the outcome leads to a decline in your ability to deliver.
Good Habit to Create
Deeply breathe, meditate or simply close your eyes for a moment to get centered before you coach so that you can genuinely s-l-o-w yourself down enough to get present and reap the benefits of what presence allows for. Slowing down allows for getting conscious in the moment. It sets the ideal conditions for you to notice what you might have otherwise missed. It allows you to more deeply listen and reflect back with startling accuracy. It opens the gateway to listen beyond the words– to get beyond the surface “what” of their narrative. It primes us to listen for who they are being in that moment not just what they are thinking and doing.
P presence creates the fertile ground for conscious and effective coaching to take root. When we are present we do not have a pre-determined agenda for how far or even where the conversation should go. We know it will get where it is supposed to go and there is no impulse to change that which is not in our control. We relax into the fact that everyone has a unique journey in their path and we respect that journey by not trying to speed it up or steer it. We reconnect to the fact that our most important role is to hold a space for and facilitate their reflection without rushing them towards a solution. They will see what they need to see on their time, not ours.