One of the things I was most worried about during Barefoot training was learning and remembering the many different tools of coaching. I had previously had a nasty taste of coaching training. An internal course within the business, and I failed my final assessment four times as I didn't say certain words in the correct order…repeatedly. This had bruised me badly, dented my confidence (and my ego). But mostly affirmed to me that I was not capable of sticking to a process, learning tools or models, and especially when under pressure to perform.
I am naturally expressive. An ‘ideas’ person, a visionary or dreamer some might say. I’m quite sure it drives people around me mad. I am sorry if it does, and I do try to curtail the boundary-breaker in me. I’m sure it particularly affects the husband as I dream up new crazy ideas for us to do or try as a family… ’Same‘ doesn’t float my boat. I like new, shiny, different. Everything can get better, that is how my head works, and I love it.
So, when I’m given a process to follow, my head snaps into Sherlock-mode and I rapidly analyse a better, quicker, more efficient way for it to suit me and my needs. I like to think I am flexible and adaptive; some people would say I am disruptive and refuse to play by the rules. I am probably all of the above…. that’s simple perception for you.
As tools were introduced into our coach training, I scribbled down all the notes, annotated the instructions and paid attention to what I was supposed to do, every step of the way. Some plunked into my head and vaulted right out again, like one of those hideous bouncy balls your kids bring home from parties. The ones with the sole purpose of cluttering up ‘that’ kitchen drawer. But other tools, landed graciously, like the marathon flying swift settling down perfectly after 10 months in the air.
The models I really liked and remembered with ease were needless to say quite visual. Getting your client to look at imaginary people, or lives, seeing into the future or looking back at events in their memory. The ones that made you completely disassociate with today’s reality (or your version of it) and be free to explore, be visionary. (No s**t Sherlock!) I also found simple ones with maybe four questions or simple shapes really easy to remember. I would automatically know when to use them, they just made sense and they stuck. They were easy for my process-is-the-antichrist brain.
What was wonderful about these Claire-proof tools in practice, was it seemed I only really had to remember the purpose and why they worked, to know which one to use and when. How to actually use them just seemed to follow. I didn't need the detail just the ethos.
That didn’t stop me panicking a little every time I met a new client and felt the need to ‘impress’ by whipping out a sexy, impressive display that would blow their non-coach mind! (Still learning!!)
I had to learn to dance in the moment and trust the process, knowing that the longer the client spoke, the more I would hear and the more my inner coach (my soul-coach) would gracefully provide me with the right tool at the right time. The hardest part was (and still is) trusting it will happen, but if I could push through that discomfort, forget the ticking bomb of a clock, and simply wait for my ‘soul-coach’ to appear, I would realise how beautiful it is when it works.
I was lucky enough to coach a wonderful man who was simply intrigued by coaching. He didn’t know what he wanted to work on or why, so we just explored his life and chatted. He was already very successful in his career, thoroughly happy at home, clearly adored his family and friends, and seemed perfectly content with life. However, as is the beauty of good coaching, as if by magic 40 or so minutes in we found that he was heavily procrastinating doing something he had been trying to do for years. As he talked more and more, it was clear there was a part of him desperately wanting to do it, but then a part that had been avoiding it for a long time…. what was holding him back, and how do I help him move forward?
As he delved deeper into his thoughts around this, I had no idea where this was going or what tools to use, and for the first time, I really didn’t care. I was so enjoying watching his meandering, his thoughts dancing around, and his body language reacting to the little lightbulbs his mind was flashing him. It was honestly a magical moment. Then subtly and calmly, my soul-coach appeared and handed me my tool.... Of course I thought. Right at that moment, about 65 mins in, it was so obvious which one would work.
I asked him to picture himself in a few months-time and imagine he had not started his task. I asked him to find a spot in the room and look at his future self, really look. He went silent and smiled. I asked what he saw, and he laughed, and said,
“Ahh I know what you’re doing…..that’s so good”.
“What do you see, tell me?”
“He’s pleading with me to just do it, praying at me his hands clasped together. It’s funny”
The exercise went on, we explored options and he anchored a few feelings and thoughts. The key one being, that he would look at his future self, and be reminded of this moment if ever he lost momentum. We closed the session, and he went off back to his world and I to mine.
I was reminded of what the wonderful coaches shared with us on the course; Carl Jung's fabulously comforting quote.
"Learn your theories as well as you can, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of the living soul".
I’d witnessed myself with the living soul, trusting the process. I’d let myself dance in the moment, and allowed the right tool to come to me, but only when it was ready to appear. This is the sort of coach I needed to be. Processes may work, but don’t make me stick to them. Rules are helpful, but I may need to break them. Boundaries might guide me, but I will probably challenge them.
This was my next lesson in becoming a 'real' coach.... Trust the Process. Not all tools will work for everyone, find yours.
I have seen the client since, he's charging ahead with his task, and he recently gave me feedback. Just his one line was all I needed. “You have literally changed my life”
Thank you, you know who you are. You have also changed mine. Your beautiful manner and openness allowed me, in that session, to grow so much as a coach. You made it easy by providing me the safest of spaces to play, I have loved watching you move forward, and cannot wait to see the result.
Special shout out on this blog goes to my fabulous Barefooters from OL17, especially Joy Cosgrove who late last night found the Carl Jung quote for me, as I'd totally got the wrong words in the wrong order (again) and couldn't find it!
You lot are my absolute favourite tools X