Written by Teresa Roberts, Corndel Advance
Ever been in that situation where you know what you should do or need to do, but somehow, you just aren’t doing it? Or you know what you really want to achieve in work or life, but somehow it just never happens?
Me too! That’s when I turn to coaching, when I know there’s a part of me standing in my own way because it’s the one approach that I know is guaranteed to rock my world and here’s why…
As we grow up and live our lives, we each create a map of who we think we are and how we think the world works. We use this map every day, often without even realising it, to navigate conversations, manage our relationships and make decisions; it informs the thoughts we have and the feelings that come along with them. Put simply, the map we have drawn creates the personal reality we live in. Sometimes the map is super helpful and sometimes it is downright useless! What I love about coaching is that it helps people to see the map, sometimes for the first time, and to recognise it for what it is, to realise that they are NOT the map, they are the person who drew it, and they can therefore decide to change it and live in a different reality.
Let me give you a personal example. Throughout much of my career, I spent most of my time feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I worked stupidly long hours, always had too much to do and felt resentful, cranky and tired as a result. I went on a number of training courses aimed at helping me to manage my time better and learnt tools to prioritise my tasks and a host of ways to use Outlook to stay on top of stuff. I read lots of books that claimed to hold the secret and I did the exercises they suggested that would get me living life the way I really wanted. Guess what? Nothing ever really changed. There were minor improvements, but the workload was still there, I still worked long hours and I still felt overwhelmed, resentful, cranky and tired… and then I discovered coaching.
Working with some wonderful coaches, I gradually started to understand that the reason I was living in this crazily busy reality was because my map was sending me there. The map I’d created said it was vital to please everyone else, that saying no was unacceptable, that turning down opportunities might mean I didn’t achieve enough and look good enough, but the map also said I had to do everything perfectly: work, relationships, parenting, everything! No wonder I was exhausted. All the tools, models and advice in the world weren’t going to help because the map I was using to navigate the world was flawed. Through coaching, I’ve been able to separate ‘me’ from the map, and my reality looks and feels very different now and life is a whole lot easier. I now truly understand what it means to get out of your own way.
The role of a coach is to create an environment in which you can think clearly and gain some insight and a fresh perspective on your personal reality. To do that, you need to feel safe to be open and honest, not only with the coach, but also with yourself. That means trusting that you will be truly heard, you won’t be judged, that the person supporting you has your best interests at heart and no stake in the outcome, and that everything will remain confidential. That makes it a truly unique situation… how many conversations do you have where all of those boxes would be ticked?
A skilled coach knows that you are already doing your best and doing exactly what makes sense to you right now based on the map you’re working with, and they come with an open mind. That means that there’s no judgement or assumptions, just a genuine curiosity and desire to enable you to explore and reach a new level of understanding. You can also look forward to being listened to at a depth that very few others would listen to you. Sometimes that will be all you need; to be free to follow the riverbed of your thoughts and vocalise them until the moment when you come to a realisation. At other times, a thoughtfully phrased and well-timed observation or question can break your schema, disrupt your pattern and shine a light on the map. Sometimes, the insight and clarity you need will come between the conversations.
Coaching isn’t needed in every situation, but at the right time and with the right coach, it can be a truly liberating and transformative experience and I certainly wouldn’t want to be without the option on my learning and development menu.
About the author
At Corndel, Teresa Roberts takes a lead on developing leadership and management training that is delivered outside of the apprenticeship levy. She is a qualified and experienced personal and professional development coach who loves helping people to reconnect with their innate capacity for resilience, human connection and high-performance. Teresa is a passionate advocate of lifelong learning who always has at least one book on the go and invests heavily in her own development, both professionally and personally.