I did a few more coaching classes last week. I learned a lot. But the most important thing I learned (or relearned I suppose) is the fundamental thing. I solidified a better definition of coaching for myself. Here’s what I have now:
Coaching is a purposeful, customized, adult, learning experience.
Each word is important… and one is most important for me.
- Purposeful: Coaching is goal oriented. I have coaching friends who often describe it as helping people get from where they are to where they want to be.
- Customized: Since it is driven by the agenda, pace and knowledge of the person being coached, each coaching experience is customized.
- Adult: Coaching builds on the knowledge, experience and desires of the person being coached, thus it is mostly suited for adult learners.
- Experience: Coaching is practical. Not merely an academic exercise… coaching should result in action.
And the word that is most important for me to remember…
- Learning: The most prized result of coaching is when the person being coached learns. The aim of coaching is learning… more than merely solving problems or gathering data, coaching is meant to facilitate learning.
Some might think that coaching happens in the coach’s brain. Of course the coach’s brain is important in coaching; we want the coach to bring their brain to every coaching session. But the real, most important work in coaching is not happening in the coach’s brain; that would be something more like analysis or therapy. If at the end of a coaching session we find that much of the thinking and learning happened in the coach’s brain, then it is isn’t coaching.
Others might think that coaching happens in the space between the two brains. Prior to last week, that is how I thought of coaching because I thought of coaching primarily as problem solving. Coaching certainly can be problem solving, but it should not merely be problem solving. Problem solving is often tactical… a one off experience that may only have temporary impact. But coaching should be more than problem solving; it should be a learning experience that is more strategic, resulting in learning that should have a lasting impact.
Coaching not only ends in the client’s brain, but it starts there and stays there too. Coaching is meant to help us learn from what we already know (whether we know that we know, or even don’t know that we know). It starts in the client’s brain both in that the agenda is set by the client and the raw materials are drawn from the client’s knowledge and experience. It stays in the brain of the person being coached too; coaching is meant to build new learning.
What do you think? Does your experience match this definition? I’d be glad to have your feedback!
And... let me know if you're interested in coaching; I have more info posted at www.greatifiers.com/services/coaching