I’m feeling lost, scared, uncertain. I can’t visit my elderly relatives and I’m worried about them. I’ve had to close my business and I don’t know what the future will be? Will I have a job? These are some of the comments that I’ve heard recently. In a matter of a few weeks, everything that is familiar has changed. Within this massive change, I’ve struggled to find my place, to find a new routine, to concentrate, but amongst this, I’ve realised that coaching is now more important than ever before.
Sir John Whitmore, a founding father of coaching, defined it as “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”. This is a beautifully simple statement, which captures the essence of coaching at its best; unlocking potential, helping them learn rather than teaching them. This is about personal development that is generated and owned by the individual, and is sustainable for long term change. In this definition “maximise their own performance” is as expressed by the individual, and can be something they want to achieve (e.g. climb Snowdon, get a promotion), or how they want to ‘be’ (e.g. be happier at work, or be more present with their family after a day at work).
Coaching takes place one-to-one with client and coach and is confidential. Because of this, the client is free to openly express their thoughts and feelings without judgement. The coach asks questions to raise awareness within the client, who is free to be vulnerable and to step out from behind the façade which is often presented to many other people that they come into contact with. Coaching is uniquely placed to enable personal development, as it is centered around the person rather than imposed by another.
I was coached for the first time 20 years ago, and have coached hundreds of others over the years. Coaching had a significant impact on me and I’ve seen inspirational change in others. I’ve not come across another development process that can create such an impact.
These are unprecedented times. Coronavirus has travelled the entire globe in a matter of months, and lockdown is in place to halt the spread. We have never seen this before. Because of this, no one can draw on their experience to tell them what to do. We are all facing the unfamiliar for the first time. Everyone’s reaction is unique, some appear to take it in their stride, some being practical and making plans, some feeling pressured and stressed. As you can’t see ‘feelings’, it is sometimes easy to assume that other people are handling things better than you. But this may not be the case, it is important to recognize that every response is appropriate and is valid.
When the University first closed I struggled to find my place, to find a new routine, to concentrate, and to get the technology to work! What was my purpose, and was coaching still relevant? Thinking this through, I didn’t sleep well. Until I was coached. I had my regular session with my coach, I was able to talk freely about my concerns which I did not want to share with my family or friends. Being listened to by my coach, I was able to declutter and free my mind. Through questioning, my coach was able to help me re-establish my purpose and start to develop a new routine, to appreciate, feel gratitude and make time for myself. In difficult times, coaching is even more important.
This blog was written by Ian Day, a Senior Teaching Fellow, on our Coaching programmes.