Thursday 27 September 2012

De-mystifying coaching

I wouldn't have aligned myself with coaching five years ago. Even two years ago, I would have raised eyebrows if someone had suggested that I'd make a commitment to coaching. I rarely make commitments, since I don't identify with backing out of one. But I have had a career change.

I've changed track from formal education to non-formal education, and coaching is one of the better platforms for non-formal education. You want to learn something, you can be taught, you look for a teacher, you find one, you engage. You change. You like the change even though you experienced a demanding process.

Were you educated, coached, trained, inspired or impelled?

I've learned that the words of what you prefer seldom adequately reflect that which you really do prefer.

One of my favourite cinematic moments is when the Guarani man slices off Robert De Niro's burden of guilt after he's hauled it up the Iguassu (hope the spelling's right) Falls more than once. One man's unpardonable guilt is another man's utter irritation.

In Afrikaans they say "Ek sal jou help om reg te kom". In English this means "I'll help you to get it right". In Guarani, one sharp blade means instant freedom from guilt whether you like it or not.

I wouldn't say that the Guarani man coached Robert De Niro, necessarily. I would indeed say that he saved him. Coaching is intensely personal. That's why the activity defies words that would contain it. As I understand it, the basis of all coaching is NLP. The basis of NLP is establishing models of outstandingly effective psychotherapists, with prime examples of such people as Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls. My take on outstandingly effective psychotherapists is that they are people who engage with the souls of other people with the same integrity as they engage with their own souls.

During the last decade I reached a place of silence in my soul. I decided that words were so futile that they were hardly worth saying. This wasn't a bad place at which to arrive, although it was solitary. Travelling through this place led to a remarkable discovery: the silence communicated more than the noise of words. When people speak, they are actually throwing out strong signals from the place of silence. If you enagae with them at the level of verbalisation, you will miss what their silences are saying, and if you miss that, you miss the point of what's being communicated.

The label "coach" has a history of developmental progress. The activity of coaching is manifold, but I understand it's core to be not merely helpful but also corrective. C.S. Lewis pointed out that if you have made a mistake somewhere along the line, you have to go back to where you took the wrong turning, and correct the mistake there. And then the aspect of coaching that sets it free from pretentiousness is that it's a voluntary exchange that happens in the market-place. There's no point in trying to assist someone who doesn't want help. There's no point in trying to save someone who doesn't acknowledge dire circumstances. Not unless you're a Guarani with a sharp knife under the guidance of a brilliant movie director.

I encourage those who are still suspicious of coaching to take a closer look. I don't like the label myself. But I have found really brilliant cut-to-the-quick intellects, souls so sensitive that they have the ability to open doors without touching the handles, and minds decisive enough to make strong, fruitful commitments.

If you wanted to change your life, who would you go to? Priest, minister, therapist, doctor, friend? Never mind the label: the person that you go to, that's your coach. Never mind the label, again: if the roles overlap, and the friend is the coach, or the coach is the therapist, or the priest is still climbing the Iguassu Falls, the outcome will still be the same. By going to someone, you will have set the outcome in motion.

No comments:

Post a Comment