A Coaching Power Tool By Cauvery Bhalla, Transformational Coach, INDIA
Coaching Inner Truth vs. Outer Wisdom
I believe there’s an inner power that makes winners or losers. And the winners are the ones who really listen to the truth of their hearts – Sylvester Stallone
Coaching is an entirely client-led process. It only works when the client is ready and willing to open up and move forward with their goals. The process of signing up for coaching often starts with a sense of dissatisfaction. The client is intuitively aware that they should be accomplishing more or should be able to solve the problem preoccupying their mind. They may have even tried a few things, but none of them seem to work, at least not for long. There is this constant awareness and helplessness of feeling “stuck”. This is the point when the client usually signs up for coaching.
One of the reasons for feeling stuck is that, as a generation, we are taught to rely on our rational brains to focus on facts, data, alternatives, and logical steps forward to achieve the desired result. In this process, it’s easy to overlook one key step in our decision-making process – to sit back and articulate, “What do I want?” This is what I refer to as the Inner truth.
I’ve found that being able to get clients to listen to their inner truth is one of the most empowering experiences one can have – as a coach and as a client. This “a-ha!” moment creates a defining moment in the coaching session for the coachee that definitively moves the coachee in the direction of their goals.
One of the most crucial takeaways from the coaching session is helping the client discover their inner truth – what matters most to them. It’s also one of the most significant roadblocks that prevent clients from committing to taking action to accomplish their goals. This is because the client is intuitively aware that either they are headed in the wrong direction, or that they have not addressed the problem in its entirety.
Discovering this inner truth is crucial for clients because it helps them reconnect with their authenticity, fundamental ideas, and core values. When they are in touch with their inner truth, we may make more informed judgments and be more committed to their actions.
Facilitating the discovery of this inner truth is equally important for the coach because it is one of the key differentiating factors between human and AI interactions related to coaching. There is enough research to prove that AI-enabled coaching is here to stay and will only grow. As of now, AI is being used to assess areas of improvement, preferred learning styles, and coaching objectives to help clients select suitable coaches. AI-based coaching through an algorithm is another growing area, where the platform provides intelligent nudges and microlearning. Additionally, AI can also provide a safe space to rehearse difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable situations (through situation judgment tests). This AI approach is both cost-effective and respectful of anonymity. Hence, it is generating great interest. Thus, both from a present-day and futuristic view, the coach’s ability to understand the coachee’s context, and ask powerful questions that lead to the discovery of the inner truth, is irreplicable. Personally, for me, this is the most rewarding and value-adding part of being a coach.
Hence, my power tool is Inner Truth vs Outer Wisdom. A little while back, as part of my career advancement plan, I was assigned a career growth coach. This person was well-informed, very solution-focused, and did not believe in getting into the client’s story. Yet, after every coaching session, I would come back more disconnected and disempowered from the session than I was before the session about my career goals. This wasn’t because the plan of action wasn’t clear or because the decided actions were difficult. Something just didn’t click. This prompted me to embark on my coach-hunting adventure. And to my disappointment, this experience would keep repeating itself until I met my fourth coach. It was with her that I realized that, with all my previous coaches, we had spent a lot of time discussing strategies for career growth within my organization without pausing to consider whether I wanted to grow in my organization in the first place. What I came to realize in that session was that I had constantly experienced a value clash while working in the organization, and therefore, what I truly wanted was to either move to a different role within the organization where this clash would be minimized or move to a different organization. Once this discovery was made, I felt energized about my next steps and action plan. It was also the first time I walked away from a session feeling empowered and motivated.
I have discussed this incident with a lot of my friends who are also assigned executive or life coaches, and their experiences are similar. Most of them agree that they derive a huge amount of benefit from a session that was able to put them in touch with their inner truth.
The Difference Between Inner Truth vs. Outer Wisdom
What Is Inner Truth?
Your inner truth is always present and can be accessed when you begin to authentically express yourself. It is the voice in you that recognizes what you genuinely need and is uncontaminated by egoic goals. It is the cumulative voice of your values, larger consciousness, and what you truly desire. It is the most profound expression of who you are.
According to research, inner truth expressed as self-directed speech (not an inner critic) plays an important role in self-regulation. Self-regulation is crucial to achieving any important life goal, such as career growth, saving money, or adopting a healthy lifestyle. In the context of a coaching session, the inner truth creates energy that moves the client towards action.
What Is Outer Wisdom?
Outer wisdom is the careful consideration of all external factors and information to arrive at a rational plan of action. This relies on information, data, expert views, and opinion. It includes decision-making modes that rely on optimizing external factors and perhaps one’s actions to achieve the desired result. In a coaching session, for example, one may invite the client to think about the opportunity cost of pursuing the chosen goal or rank-order the possible actions in order of feasibility. One may also invite the client to think of an expert and think about how that expert would approach this situation.
Outer wisdom ensures that the client is not getting carried away by emotions and is creating an implementable and effort-efficient plan.
When to Use Inner Truth vs. Outer Wisdom?
Inner truth is an integral part of any effective coaching session. Non-verbal cues are of great help in determining if greater exploration is needed to help the client discover their inner truth. When a client’s goals do not align with their inner truth, the coach may notice the following verbal and nonverbal cues:
While the goal is being established,
- a lack of confidence in one’s ability to achieve one’s goals
- going round in circles about the session goal
- a lack of enthusiasm for the goal
Once the goal is established,
- continually re-visiting the session goal
- avoiding coming up with steps to move forward or coming up with tactical solutions to move forward
- stating a lot of “should” in the conversation
Once the action plan is established,
- a lack of faith in the actions’ ability to produce the desired outcome in its entirety
- a lack of or less excitement for the action plan
These cues are a great signal that the client may be relying a lot on external wisdom but now needs to consult their inner truth.
What Can the Coach Do to Facilitate Discovery of the Inner Truth?
This process starts from the very beginning of the coaching session. The coach can:
- Take 5 minutes to bring your focus back to the present moment and get into listening mode.
- Hold space such that the client feels comfortable in expressing their confusion and, ultimately, their inner truth.
- Avoid rushing the client to establish the session goal. Take time to understand the client’s context and triggers for the topic of discussion.
- Take note of non-verbal cues, especially lack of confidence and excitement. Draw the client’s attention to their emotions as you ask them what is coming up for them.
Questions to Arrive at the Inner Truth
As coaches, we want to help move the client forward toward their chosen goal. Hence, it is important to look at the inner truth in the now (not what the inner truth was 3 years ago) and concerning this specific goal (not generic values held by the individual). I find it particularly useful to understand the client’s environment by asking them what makes this important to them now. This question brings to light the underlying need behind the session goal. If you were to share a visual metaphor for the situation you are in, what would that be? This question helps the client connect with their emotions and use symbolism to identify triggers. The wheel of life can be a useful tool in discovering inner truth. What are the top three questions you must answer to achieve your goal? This is a slightly unorthodox question, but whenever I have used it, the client can dive straight into what is important to them. When the client talks about two priorities, asking how they are connected brings to light the different needs and wants they are serving. What did you learn about yourself in the session today that will help you in other areas of your life? This question helps the client discover thought and behavior patterns that undermine the client’s ability to achieve any goal they set for themselves. Alternatively, it can also bring to light strengths that the client can rely on.
Questions for Reflection
- What questions have helped my clients connect with their inner truth?
- What tools have proved effective in helping you discover your inner truth?
- How can you distinguish between outer wisdom and inner truth?
www.coaching-at-work.com. No page title.
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