Coaching Insight Gained
It was at this point that I decided to take a step back. I had begun to doubt my abilities as a coach, as I felt after two sessions, I was unable to move my client forward. I sought help and input from my fellow coaches, via the ICA Forum. I posted a thread that described the situation and asked for input. I got a number of responses, some which suggested maybe the client was not “coachable”; others that suggested I allow the client to lead the discussion – wherever that may be. Another individual said that while I should let the client lead, I should also learn to balance that with holding the client accountable and ensuring they see the bigger picture. The one input that truly started a change in me was this:
One thing to point out is that when we first begin with a client we as coaches are like runners at the starting gate. We jump in with full force wanting to help them solve all their problems. This is a good thing from a motivation perspective, but we also must realize that many clients are coming to us from a broken place. They need time to warm up to us and trust us. When we hold their hand and walk slowly along with them at first we may be going along on the path that makes them feel comfortable.
(Allison Sharpe, 2013)
Undeniably true! It made me realize that Patrick and I were not starting from the same point. I wanted to sprint through the race and already journey through to healing with him. But Patrick was not there yet – he knew there was something/s broken within him. He knew he wanted to fix and address these… But he was not ready for a sprint.
This brought me to another realization I gained from the Action vs. Delay class. Sometimes, in our desire to push our clients to action, we push them too far. The action we expect from them is too much, too overwhelming, that they take several steps back. This was exactly what I had been feeling when I did the visualization with Patrick. He was unable to truly imagine what his life would be like in 2023, since that was such a giant leap away from today.
With this insight gained, I made a commitment again to be a coach for Patrick; not for myself. I committed to truly listen to what he needed – and realized that maybe Patrick needed to have the resume updated to begin to feel “unstuck” and feel like he was taking steps to move his life forward.
Challenges Faced/Approach Used
With all these in mind, I entered into the next sessions with the complete intention to be fully present to what Patrick wanted.
Since we already had his values, Patrick shared with me what he felt were his strengths and what he was interested in. From here, he mapped out 7 career/project options he could potentially get into in the coming year. Patrick committed to doing more research on each option, to see how feasible each would be, given his situation. We ended the session with Patrick in great spirits, saying he was quite happy to have concrete options in place, as well as commitments to work on for the coming days.
The next session however, saw Patrick in a different mood. He admitted that in the days that followed the previous session, he felt stuck. Looking at the options, Patrick did not feel energized by any of them. As we discussed his feelings, Patrick would shoot down each option, finding weakness in each one.
I acknowledged Patrick for his honesty and for his awareness of his energy state. I decided to shift focus a little and used Appreciative Inquiry, to try and get Patrick to fully understand when it was that he felt most energized. Some of the questions I asked were:
- Can you think back to the last time you felt truly energized?
- What about that situation energized you?
- What was most pleasing to you?
- How did it make you feel?
- Where else do you see positive energy showing up in your life?
From his answers, Patrick realized that he felt most energized when he was around people 1) he truly enjoyed and 2) he could help/make a difference with. He also realized that he felt energized when he knew he could put his skills to use. Some skills that he realized he had were: 1) people interactions, 2) listening, 3) analytical, 4) project management, 5) his general experience as an expat.
With these fresh eyes, Patrick looked through his options again and selected three that he felt he could be truly passionate about and energized by.
We ended that session with his commitments to further explore the three options and meditate upon each of the three, tuning in to his energy with each option.
The sixth session was to be our last session before Patrick left for a two-month vacation in his home country. Patrick opened up that he again felt stuck, primarily because he felt his life was on hold. Upon further probing via powerful questions, I unearthed that there were other factors that were contributing to these feelings of “restlessness” and being “stuck” – not knowing where he and his family would be the following year, feelings towards his own wife, and concern about how he was viewed by his family.
Remembering again that I was there to support my client in the state he was in, I asked him what he wanted to focus on for the session. Patrick responded that he wanted to leave the session with firm decisions on what classes he could take the coming year. With this direction, we again reviewed his interests, his skills, and his three career options, and ended up with three classes he committed to enrolling in when he got back from the Home Leave.