A Coaching Model Created by Cathy Holuk
(Family Enterprise and Leadership Coaching, CANADA)
Has the fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of making a mistake, or some other fear ever prevented you from doing something that you really wanted to do?
We all experience fear. It can be a valuable survival instinct which can keep you alert and safe. It can also be a positive sign of growth. With every new challenge you take on fear is there, yet despite this, most often you find the courage to move forward, learning from the experience and building your self-esteem and confidence in the process. Sometimes, however, fear can keep you stuck.
Why do you sometimes become paralyzed by your fears? The real issue isn’t the fear itself, but, rather, how you interpret your fear. This means that the choice is yours, and as a result the power is yours to choose to perceive your fear in a way that is empowering. The choice is yours to view fear as a compass showing you where to go rather than using it as a reason to stay stuck where you are.
Cower to Power
Personal power is about developing power within you and for you. It is the ability to push yourself to take action to get what you want. It is not about your physical strength, but how you use your thoughts, knowledge and feelings to act in a positive way to fulfill your own needs. This is critical, as how you view yourself and your level of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence are directly related to whether you are successful in getting your needs met in a positive way. It is only when you become powerful in yourself that you can live life in an authentic way.
If you are letting your fears prevent you from taking action to get what you want, you are cowering from who you really are and impeding your ability to live your life’s purpose. In fact, it has been said that your ability to live your life’s purpose is directly proportional to your ability to conquer your irrational fears.
Getting unstuck is possible, but it can be tough to move forward on your own. It requires coming to terms with underlying disempowering beliefs. This means becoming aware of them and replacing them with empowering beliefs and behaviours. Breaking automatic behavior patterns created by our disempowering beliefs requires a commitment to change and is vital to creating sustainable change, requires taking action and the creation of structures to support you in your change efforts. Engaging in an effective coaching experience which leverages the “Cower to Power” coaching model can assist with all of these critical elements of change and assist you to live your life from a position of personal power.
Coaching and the Cower to Power Coaching Model
What is Coaching?
The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-providing and creative process that inspires them to maximize their potential and professional potential”.
An effective coaching experience requires a partnership between coach and client. The client is responsible primarily for what is experienced and the coach is responsible for managing the process.
Coaching is a power-based process intended to affect change. At all times the client is in the driver’s seat and owns the process. This means the client is responsible for owning decisions and progress made. Ultimately, the more you as a client are willing and able to put into the experience, the more you will get out of it.
The coaching process is also based on the premise that the client knows themselves best and will make the best decisions for themselves and that there is simply a belief, idea, thought getting in the way. As a result, the role of the coach is to support the client in discovering answers for themselves by asking questions, acknowledging and encouraging, never judging, giving advice or telling the client what to do. It is the role of the coach to create a safe and trusting space in which the client can fully engage in the coaching experience.
The coaching experience can be a very powerful process of self-discovery and can result in transformational personal change. To get the most out of the coaching experience, the client must be open to the process, let go of knowing where things may go, and be willing to engage in the reflection and work needed. It is not a passive experience, so it is critical that as a potential client you honestly assess whether this experience may be right for you and your readiness to fully engage in the coaching experience.
The Cower to Power Coaching Model outlined below is a useful tool to help you further assess whether coaching may be right for you and your readiness to engage in an effective coaching experience. It outlines a five step coaching process as well as what as a client you need to bring to the coaching experience and what you might gain from the coaching experience.
Although the model provides a framework for the coaching process, it is important to acknowledge, that as every client is unique each coaching experience will be unique to each client.
Every client brings with them to the coaching process their own unique strengths, talents, beliefs, values, challenges, fears and perceptions of the world. Many of these are unknown or unconscious however, they directly impact your behavior and how you perceive your reality.
The coaching process will support a process of personal exploration which will bring awareness to the unknown. With respect to your fears, this would involve an exploration of the fears you hold, the beliefs you have about your fears and the impact your fears are having.
It is in this awareness of the unknown that you begin to learn more about yourself, for example you will gain insight about your behaviours (what you are doing and why). This process of personal awareness is critical as it is only when personal awareness is created and accepted that change can begin. Your personal awareness becomes the foundation for the coaching experience, but also your personal awareness will become the process, acting as a guide on what to explore and how.
Coaching is not about simply having a chat. It is an active process focused on change. To affect change it is important to identify a desired outcome to be achieved. For example, is there a specific fear you would like to address which is keeping you stuck from doing something you would like to do? Identifying a desired outcome is critical to align expectations for the coaching process.
Having said this, it is important to bring an outcome orientation to the overall process. What this means is that within the context of having a desired outcome it is also important to recognize there will be a need for process flexibility as the process of personal awareness continues. It is not about simply setting a goal and achieving it in the most direct route possible. There is great value in the process of achieving the outcome and as such the outcome becomes a dynamic point of reference to guide the process and ensure a tangible outcome.
Establishing a clear outcome and understanding its importance, provides clarity about what is to be achieved and as a result client ownership and commitment is created to the success of the process.
Critical to the coaching process is the client’s willingness and ability to be open minded. This means letting go of preconceived expectations, of knowing in what directions things may go, of being open to explore, question and challenge current thinking, perceptions, beliefs which may not be serving you.
By engaging in active listening and asking thoughtful questions, the coach will support the client in identifying new ways of thinking, options and opportunities to help you move forward and achieve your desired outcome. Asking questions such as: what if you weren’t afraid? how can you perceive your fear differently? or how can you leverage your fear? can lead to a perspective shift and a new level of personal wisdom and personal power.
Coaching is a partnership between coach and client using a process designed to unearth the wisdom of the client. As a result, the value of the coaching experience depends on how active and engaged you are as a client in the process. It really is a situation in which the more you as a client are willing and able to put into the experience, the more you will get out of it.
After exploring options to help you move forward, it is important that a plan be developed detailing SMART results – results which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. It is also important that a commitment to action be confirmed by the client, that potential barriers to actions be identified and action support structures, including accountability mechanisms be identified.
When it comes to fear, the reality is that one of the only ways to get rid of it and its power over us is to feel the fear and despite it, do what we are most fearful of doing. By taking doable actions to face your fears head on, you will become empowered as you learn to trust that you can handle whatever happens, while further building your confidence and self-esteem in the process.
At this stage of the process, you will be challenged and supported to take action, to reflect and leverage the learning you gain as you do so and to celebrate your progress and achievements made to address the fears which have been holding you back.
The reality is some identified actions will be easily achieved and others will be more difficult. It is very difficult to break automatic beliefs and behaviours on the first try. Achieving your identified outcomes and completing your actions will be a process. It is a process of reflecting with curiosity which actions are proving to be more difficult to achieve and redefining them, if needed. Equally important, it is a process of recognizing and celebrating your progress and milestone achievements.
Martin Luther King defined power as the ability to affect change. Through action everyone has the power to change and to take control of your life. Getting unstuck is possible. This requires taking responsibility, commitment and accountability for the coaching process and for decisions and progress made. Positive results are possible.
Additional Coaching Process Considerations
Although the Cower to Power model provides a framework for the coaching process, it is important to once again acknowledge, that as every client is unique each coaching experience will be unique to each client. For example, the questions asked by the coach are completely determined in the moment based on where the client’s process of self-discovery is leading and what the client wants to achieve. Within this context, a few examples of questions which may be asked during a Cower to Power coaching process are shared below:
- What fears may be holding you back, keeping you stuck?
- What are you most fearful of?
- Who would you be without your fear?
- What would it be like to trust yourself to be able to handle anything that came your way?
- How can you test the reality of your fears?
- How can you use, benefit from your fear?
- What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Now armed with information about the coaching process, how the Cower to Power Coaching model can support you in your personal transformational change efforts and knowing what you need to bring and can gain from the coaching process, are you ready to partner in this self-exploration process?
Unfortunately, we cannot control what happens to us in life. We can, however control how we interpret what happens. Sheena Iyengar, an expert on choice, has described “choice as the only tool we have that enables us to grow from who we are today to who we want to be tomorrow.” Within this context, although it may difficult to accept, it is important to recognize that it is our choice to live life in fear and become stuck or to live with fear and despite your fear move forward.
My challenge to you is to take responsibility for the lens through which you view the world. You have the power to interpret your own reality and address beliefs that do not serve you well and to live an authentic life. The coaching process can be a powerful way to support you in your efforts to develop your personal power and to accept your fears as a reality of life and not as a reason to hold you back. Will you view fear as a compass showing you where to go or will you use it as the reason to stay stuck? The choice is yours.