Watch How Coaching Works: A Short Movie on You Tube
We released a movie titled "How Coaching Works" as a way to explain coaching via YouTube using an animated cartoon. This blog series aims to share the psychological underpinnings of the cartoon. The first blog provides insight into the approaches used by the coach which are based on the principles and processes of coaching psychology.
Scene One: MEET
In this scene you find me in my office with my client. You may expect that it's my role to tell my client what to do. Instead, I ask him to create a picture of his vision, symbolized by the mountains off in the distance.
My client is eager to move toward that vision, and has even started doing some of the thinking necessary to get there, but feels overwhelmed by the things that stand between reality and the dream. The knotted path represents the many possible paths toward the vision. It's up to my client, with my support, to figure out which path is his best one.
We first agree on how we are going to work together. We shake hands, symbolizing the important boundary-setting conversation and agreement that starts a coaching relationship. For this relationship to be growth-promoting, I radiate warmth, empathy, confidence, zest, humor, and courage.
Scene Two: VISION
In the next scene, I encourage my client to get very clear about what it is that he wants and why. I elicit his motivation by getting him to explore why change is important now. We explore what it is exactly that my client wants to create - noting that all of life is invented - and
that together we will experiment with how to get from Point A to Point B.
Did you know that it's all invented? According to the Constructionist Principle, we construct our reality - what we perceive, what we believe, what things mean, and what we value. In other words, it's all made up! And, it's from this frame of reference that the best coaches work with their clients. They playfully support the client in making up the rules to the client's "game of life" and in experimenting with the ways to play it. An inspiration for coaches comes from the work of Ben and Rosamund Zander in their book The Art of Possibility. Check it out and learn to say "How fascinating!" about all of life's knots in the road.
Scene Three: THE PLAN
Notice that when my client works on his plan, I dig into the toolbox and hand over a tool - a BIG pencil. My client is uncertain that he can handle the pencil, but my certainty is greater than his doubt. From the domain of Hope Psychology, we know clients have the willpower, and now just need to develop the waypower. And, waypower isn't best developed by having someone tell you what to do, or doing it for you; it's best developed by experimenting with the change oneself.
My client gets specific with what he wants to have happen -the specific changes that will take place in his life to get to the mountains in his vision. The more specific, the better. The box that my client draws represents the importance of focus and clarity in setting one's goals. We are exploring the question of what he is going to take responsibility for creating, and doing, to reach the beckoning goal.
Scene Four: THE JOURNEY
As I present the next tool, a trampoline, my client is beginning to feel more confident in his ability to take that first leap. The trampoline represents the power of setting goals that are appealing, specific, and measurable, and of thinking through all that it will take to be successful, including the ever-important supporting relationships.
I invite my client to recall other times when he has been successful in achieving other life or work goals, as well as his strengths and talents. It's an opportunity to learn from past successes and to apply one's strengths, rather than focusing on what's hard.
More building blocks are constructed - the stepping stones to reaching success. The vision of my client's best self becomes clearer and closer.
But as my client continues to experiment, he falls off of the ladder - missing a challenging step he has taken. This, of course, happens in real life - we lapse and fall back into our old habits. I bring a safety net, a non-judgmental space in which he can explore what happened and what he learned from it. How fascinating! This leads to his insight and decision to create smaller steps, drawn onto the ladder.
How important it is to move to action at the right time, with the right goal in mind. There is little benefit to clients of working on goals that are beyond their capability. When clients set goals that are well matched to their readiness to move forward, with enough stretch to be engaging but not too much to produce anxiety, they become aligned with their "best self."
My client rises above his challenge, achieves the plan he constructed, and jumps up, having grown into his image of his best self. He's excited as he experiences what it feels like to be there - and that will propel more successes going forward.
Scene Five: SUCCESS
We end with a celebration - my client has found the best path, outgrown his perceived roadblocks, and become his vision of his best self. Together we heartily acknowledge the accomplishment.
The final scene is a cliff hanger, so to speak. Its message of "To Be Continued" speaks to the fact that change is a journey, a process to revisit continually. We know that as my client continues down the road toward his vision, there will be another knot, or a ditch, or a seemingly impenetrable object. Yet, through the coaching partnership that cultivates hope and the acknowledgement of strengths and abilities, my client will continue on his path and further develop his best self.