Well, there is the obvious – billionaire status; leaders of revolutionary companies; global figures with massive influence; unrivaled accomplishments.
What’s not so obvious? Each of these individuals had a coach in their corner and attribute part of their success to this work.
There are several misconceptions about coaching and one of them is that it is only useful for people that are struggling. While it is true that coaching can be a great resource for someone that is facing a specific challenge, coaching is equally powerful for people that want to go from functioning to thriving. From good to great. From great to extraordinary.
It is perhaps most powerful for people who understand that, no matter how extraordinary they are, there is always room for growth and a way to increase impact.
The former Chairman and CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, was initially unmoved by the idea of a hiring a coach. He now looks back with gratitude to acknowledge some of the best advice he’s ever received.
“You should get a coach,” said John Doerr, a Google board member at the time.
“I don’t need a coach, I am an established CEO, why would I need a coach, is something wrong?”, Schmidt replied.
“No, no – everyone needs a coach”, Doerr said.
Schmidt acquiesced and contends that coaching served him extremely well. Having a dedicated space and a person to provide perspective and accountability proved invaluable for Schmidt. He goes on to explain that,
“One thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them – a coach really, really helps do this”.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has repeatedly stated that he believes that everyone needs a coach – “We all need people that will give us feedback. That is how we improve.”
Among other things, coaching provides a valuable framework that allows you to see yourself, your life, your challenges and how you are operating in the world, from a new perspective. New perspectives generate new ideas. New ideas produce new possibilities. Possibilities create excitement and focused action. Focused action leads to forward movement.
Today’s world is more complex and demanding than ever before. Expectations are high. People are trying to do more and more with less and less and are left feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and stressed out. According to the World Health Organization, stress is a worldwide epidemic and depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic suggest that 80-85% of their work load is due to worry and anxiety.
It is no coincidence that the coaching industry is on the rise. The International Coach Federation (ICF) reports that coaching professionals have more than tripled in the last 10 years and annual revenue from coaching is estimated at just under $2.5 billion as of 2016.
Now, more than ever, individuals are in need of a space and a discipline that allows them to turn inward – process and develop – in order to deal with daily challenges and stressful events in healthy and conscious ways.
This is precisely what coaching offers – tools and a practice for an effective life process.
What is Coaching?
Coaching is a relationship between equals where one person agrees to act in the service of the other's quest for truth and evolution. It is not therapy, school, or a mentorship. There are no deep dives into your past, you are not being taught a lesson and no one is telling you what to do. A coach facilitates learning. More specifically, coaching is a thought-provoking, creative process that is designed to lead individuals deeper into themselves, so that they gain more self-awareness, make better choices and live more meaningful lives.
Through powerful questions, active listening and a practice that breaks down self-imposed limitations, a skilled coach will move leaders and individuals to higher stages of personal and professional development and greater levels of effectiveness and impact.
Part of the magic of coaching is that each relationship is uniquely designed to best fit the personality and purpose of the individual. It is a customized, high-touch experience, that takes into account the whole person and incorporates specific language that speaks to the core of each individual.
How does coaching work?
Coaching works by providing a dedicated space that is completely focused on promoting a person’s growth and servicing their agenda.
The process can take form in many different ways, but here is a simplified summary:
1. Seeing Blind Spots.
We all have them. If you think you don’t, then you have more than the average person.
Coaching is all about identifying key behaviors that are either expanding and furthering your progress or limiting and suppressing your growth. We cannot fix what we cannot see. A skilled coach is adept at cultivating enough awareness such that individuals start to see themselves more clearly – the good, the bad and the ugly. When someone sees themselves differently, they show up differently. From this place, a coach helps strengthen a person by empowering them to leverage their value and improve their shortcomings.
2. Aligning With Purpose.
Good coaches spend time mining for a person’s core values. With this as a foundation, they help individuals find, define and articulate their purpose. Purpose is not what you do. It is why you do what you do. It is the meaning underneath the passion that compels you to act. With purpose as your compass, a coach will work with you to make sure your approach to life – work, family, health, relationships, etc. – and actions are in alignment with a deeper meaning and the future you want to create.
Coaching, by design, is an action-oriented structure intended to help close the gap between where you are and where you want to go. Accountability (judgement-free) is the backbone.
It is a powerful tool that not only serves to forward the action, but it is also a means to deepen the learning. Every action that the individual takes (or doesn’t take) becomes a powerful source for feedback - What worked? What didn't? Why? What can you do differently? Is it in service of your purpose?
It’s an exciting time for the coaching industry. Many high-profile people have been forthcoming about the overwhelming positive impact coaching has had, both on their personal, and professional lives. At the same time, a growing body of neuroscience research supports the efficacy of certain coaching practices on the brain. Specifically, research shows that various coaching tools profoundly help individuals develop positive new neural networks, respond more calmly to stress, make choices more easily, and access much more of their creativity. This naturally leads to more successful and fulfilling lives. In the process, coaching helps people understand how challenging situations and unfortunate events fit into the fabric of their lives and serves to connect them to the greater humanity.