This month marked an exciting milestone for me. After six months and 26 classes, I finished my coach training program with the Canada Coach Academy! While this is just the beginning of a lifetime of practice and learning, I am taking a moment to acknowledge this achievement and reflect on what I learned.
It would be impossible to cram six months of learning and reflection into a single blog post, so here are the four most important things I’m taking away from my time in this program.
1. The power of silence
The first thing I really connected with in my learning is the power of silence.
Many of us (at least in Western cultures) are naturally uncomfortable with silence. How many times have you been in a conversation and suffered through a silence that felt like eternity, but then turned out to be less than 20 seconds? How many times have you missed out on an amazing insight because, just as you were processing your thought, someone filled that ‘uncomfortable silence’ for you?
In coaching, silence is a beautiful thing. When you ask someone a challenging question — one that makes them really think hard about their perception or their natural biases — they need a moment to process. If you leave them that space, they can come up with amazing connections and realizations. When you get anxious and fill the space for them, you might both be missing out on something really important.
2. Know yourself to know others
Another important lesson for me was that I needed to do my own self-reflection and really understand myself before I can seek to help others.
There are so many ways we can unconsciously react to the things that someone shares in a coaching session. Maybe their situation is similar to yours or maybe they remind you of your friend, sister, uncle, or arch-enemy in some way. If we’re not aware of our own reactions, we can’t effectively partner with another person and help them find the answers that resonate with them. Without awareness, our selves will keep getting in the way.
3. Reflect on your perception and biases
Related to knowing yourself, I also learned how important it is to reflect on our own perceptions and biases.
Obviously, you can’t get rid of either of these things. They are a part of being human and a reflection of the environment you are (or were) immersed in. We can, however, understand how our perceptual lens influences how we see situations. I can’t see the world exactly the same way that my coaching clients do, but I can understand that we see the world differently and remain curious about their perspective.
There is no perfectly true perspective, so we need to cultivate curiosity and invite others to share theirs with us if we seek to understand and support them.
4. Listen to understand, not to respond
And finally, the learning that feels the most important is that we must listen to understand, not to respond.
So often, we spend most of a conversation thinking about what we’ll say next and waiting for our opportunity to say it. As a coach, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking of the ‘perfect question’ and just waiting for the next pause so that you can ask it.
This causes us to miss out on so much in our interactions with other people. Instead of truly listening and understanding what they’re telling us (which may lead us instinctually to the right question to ask), we only catch a portion of their story while we sit in wait.
The most beautiful thing that you can do for someone is to quiet your own mind and simply listen to them. Trust that when the moment comes for you to respond, you’ll intuitively know what to say next.
What didn’t make the list
Of course, there are hundreds of things that didn’t make the list, but when I started writing it, I was sure that something about ‘powerful questions’ or ‘insight’ would be near the top. Asking good questions and helping people discover new insights is definitely important, but when I reflected on what is most important, I realized that those come from the other skills I gained a stronger appreciation for.
When you’re serving someone as a coach, you can’t focus on your questions or insights. Those just get in the way. By connecting to your curiosity, listening deeply, and truly partnering with someone, you’ll find the questions you need to ask and the insights will reveal themselves to you.
Six months alternately feels like a very long time and also no time at all. I know that this is simply one step on my learning journey as I continue to build my practice, but what a step it was!
Interested in learning more about how partnering with a coach can help you reach your goals? Read more about the services I offer or contact me to find out how working with a coach can help you.