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Just Wondering: What's Coaching?

I took this picture in NE Minneapolis this summer. The scene jumped out at me for its warmth and welcome. I genuinely wanted to be sitting on that porch talking with a friend, but I had good enough impulse control to stop myself! As I look back on it now, the picture represents four aspects of coaching that are important to me.

First, I love the warmth of this scene.

This image reminds me it is important to welcome clients into a warm space. This might seem odd since I meet via Zoom (a video conferencing tool) with people. What control do I have about environment in that setting? There are a lot of things I can do. For example, I can keep my physical and mental space is uncluttered. This helps me focus my attention on the client (and keeps them from being distracted too). I also adjust the camera angle, lighting, and sound quality to support a strong connection. Further, I am as intentional about making eye contact, by looking at the camera, as I would be in a face-to-face conversation. Together, these choices help me create a context that is warm and engaging.

Second, I'm drawn to both the spaciousness and the safety of the scene.

This image reminds me that the core task of coaching is holding a safe space for people to be who they are, where they are in life. Clients get to bring the issue they want to address to a session. Clients can count on a judgment-free zone to talk about areas in which they may feel stuck, ways they want to grow, or changes they want to make. I don't outline the top five areas they need to work on and insist we forge ahead on my agenda. No no NO! I hold space for the client to be who they are, where they are on their own journeys toward greater integration and wholeness. Holding safe space, is essential to effective coaching! It's one of the great honors of this work.

Third, I'm drawn to the reflection in the window.

As clients and I work together, there are times when it can be helpful for me to reflect back to them what I'm hearing and seeing. Even by video, I can pick up on a person's body language, tone of voice, and word choices. Reflecting these back to a client can help them see things in a new way, and free them up to make changes that support their values and dreams. It's not unusual for me to be able to suggest a metaphor that might capture what I'm hearing. In all these ways, I hope to graciously reflect back to a client what I'm hearing and seeing. Fourth, let's consider what can't be seen in the picture!

This picture was taken from the driver's seat in my car. Just out of view of the porch and these chairs is a well-trafficked road. In my mind, this illustrates something that's implicit in coaching--a willingness to take an action. Coaching is more than just talking to someone. In most sessions, the client will make a choice to do something. Maybe they'll commit to noticing their inner dialog for a week. Maybe they'll choose to take a risk and address a task they've been afraid of and avoiding for a while. Maybe they'll take the next steps toward reengaging an old hobby. In each case, there's a next step (small or large) that gets taken. I love this sense of motion that comes in coaching. Interested in meeting with a coach? A free, 40-minute session is available for you to experience coaching for yourself! Use the Contact tab in the upper right corner or email me at to arrange a time. (Appointments are available Monday nights, Tuesday -Thursday days and nights, Friday during the day, and Saturday morning. Let's find a time that works for you.

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