27 Sep My Journey to Coaching
I’m a fixer. Show me a problem and I’m already halfway to fixing it. I think it’s a by-product of growing up on a farm. With a dad who was a master of solving problems, it’s hardly a surprise that I picked up that trait. Fixing problems is a wonderful skill – as long as they are your own problems. But when you try to fix other people’s problems without even being asked, then you’re not a fixer – you’re a bit of a jerk.
Here’s an example: my good friend Nat and I are both amateur woodworkers and we often chat about the projects we’re working on. One time he was having a hard time deciding what approach to take on a particular task. Once I got the gist, I immediately jumped in and told him my solution to the problem. “Well, it was me I’d…” I’ve since learned that my approach was flawed. First off, without actually being there to see the details of Nat’s project, I didn’t really understand the problem so wasn’t really equipped to offer useful advice. And more importantly, HE DIDN’T ASK FOR MY ADVICE.
Why not be a fixer?
Think about the last time that you told a friend about some trouble you were having and they immediately jumped in with a solution. You just gave the highlights of what was likely a complicated and nuanced situation, and seconds later your friend is suddenly an expert on what you should do to fix it and tells you exactly what to do. How did that feel? If you’re anything like most people, it probably didn’t feel very good. Despite the good intentions of the advice giver, unsolicited advice is usually counterproductive. It often undermines people’s confidence, which is the last thing you would ever want to do to a friend.
After years of unsuccessfully trying to solve the problems of my friends and family, I finally got it through my thick head that I wasn’t actually being helpful. In fact, I was likely making things worse.
The first step in my journey
And that’s when coaching came into my life. Nearly 3 years ago my friend Ian asked me if I’d ever considered becoming a coach. Like most people, I had a shaky understanding of what coaching actually was and I certainly hadn’t thought of becoming a coach myself. He told me that he thought I’d be a great coach because of my curiosity, empathy, and ability to listen deeply. He really piqued my interest when he explained what coaching is all about, and I quickly realized that the skills required to be a great coach would also help me in other areas of my life. Specifically, I knew it would make me a better keynote speaker, facilitator, friend, and husband.
So, in an attempt to get over my life-long tendency of trying to fix other peoples’ problems without being asked to do so, I completed the intensive 5-month Applied Positive Psychology Coaching program with The Flourishing Center. The Flourishing Center is a training organization devoted to empowering its students with Positive Psychology-based skills and tools. Not long after that, I earned coaching credentials from the leading global organization for coaches, the International Coaching Federation.
Now that I’m aware of my fixer tendencies, I actively restrain them. Instead, when I feel the urge to offer advice or jump in with a solution, I crank up my curiosity and really try to understand the other person’s perspective. I also do my best to remember that people already have all that they need and it’s not my place to jump in and fix anything.
Coaching has changed my life
It’s hard to underestimate the impact that coaching has had on my life. All of the skills and lessons I’ve learned through this journey have empowered me to be more present and helpful to my friends, family, and clients. I learned how to actually listen instead of just waiting for my turn to talk. I learned to boost my natural curiosity by asking better questions. I learned how to decrease my natural tendency to be judgemental (this alone is a game-changer.) These are just a few of the powerful skills and life lessons that I’ve received from the world of coaching.
As much as I love how coaching has helped me in my own life, I’m even more excited to work with others. Whether I’m working with leaders, entrepreneurs or anyone looking to improve their life, I’ve really come to love coaching people. I love seeing my clients get unstuck and find new ways forward. I love seeing them discover new answers to old problems. I love empowering them to break old habits and develop new ones. Coaching is all about helping people move from where they are to where they want to be, in any area of their lives.
OK, but what IS coaching?
But what exactly IS coaching? In the next article, we’ll explore that question (including all the things that coaching is not), who can benefit from being coached, and what it actually looks like in practice.
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By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about coaching, take a look at this page, then reach out to me to schedule a free coaching consultation. I love working with people to empower them to get unstuck and push past their perceived limitations.