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I’m happy and I’ve got friends, so why do I need a coach?

You have a circle of fantastic friends. 

Some you’ve known since school, others you have developed on your journey through life. 

You have laughed and loved together, sharing the milestones and the minutiae of each other’s lives. You have been through the hard times and the good times together. (Even thinking about those good times makes you smile!) You have a stable and energizing two-way friendship. 

So you may well be asking yourself:

Why should I invest my scarce time, energy and hard-earned money into coaching? 

It is a valid question and I will attempt to explain. 

Humans are social animals, biologically hard-wired for connection. When we seek connection, it is often unconsciously with people who are like us in some way. Your friends will usually come from the same socioeconomic class, hold similar interests and have opinions and beliefs that you share. And that’s OK. 

That is, until you realise that you have the same blind spots. The same patterns of dealing with difficulties: the same coping mechanisms. A bit like waves shaping limestone cliffs, the way that you have been shaped by the sea of life leaves the same scars. 

The way you select which friend to talk to about a difficulty, will be biased. It’s highly likely that you will unconsciously choose the friend who will side with you. You will judge your friendship according to their response, and adjust it accordingly. 

You only ask advice when you know what to do

This quote crops up in my mind every time I seek advice on a decision from someone I know. It points to my specific need for validation that I’m doing the right thing. But the right thing needs to be based on your values, not your friends’ values. What is a priority in both your life and their life shifts with time. 

Whatever is important in their life, will colour what they say and effectively be projected on you. The desire for ‘security’ for example, might be a 10 out of 10 for your friend, but a 1 out of 10 for you, so you can guess what their reaction will be when you announce your decision to change careers. Or start a new venture, or move abroad or even change the colour of your hair! 

It is important to ask who profits from the outcome of the advice? Even your best friends’ interests in your issues can be skewed to meet their own interests. What will it mean in the bigger picture of your lives? How does it fit the story of your friendship? 

Other friendships are characterized by the un-loading of problems and no advice is given. That can be tough for the other person because they listen so they can ‘take care’ of you. Other times, full disclosure about the deeper darker side of what you’re facing, might leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable - even judged. And still we have friends who are the problem-solvers who want to fix all your outstanding issues. They think through everything logically and calmly and direct you to the best course of action. The best course if it were their life. 

Lucky are those who have an empathetic friend. The one who has your back. Who cheerleads you. But even then this type of friendship is different to coaching. 

The sum is greater than the parts. 

Co-Active coaching is principle-based and moves you from where you are now to where you want to be. 

What if you could design a neutral and confidential relationship in which one feels safe and courageous to share anything without fear of repercussion? A coaching relationship which is more powerful than the sum of either person? 

The same sense of care and holding as a friend but with intention and commitment?
 

Reflect to Act Coaching is the space for people to get curious about their lives. 

 

Effective coaching is a space in which there is no telling, no advising, no mentoring, not based on the coach’s life experience - it is not advice dressed up in disguise. 
 

It is a pure exploration that evokes, not directs, a new way of being and doing.

Co-Active Coaches will talk about ‘coaching a person not an issue’ which means the focus is on a joint exploration in service of the client. 
 

This means that unlike a friendship, there is a direction and commitment to intentionally and actively creating change towards a vision. 
 

Like friendship it is based on trust, however there is a designed element to it. It means that the coach can take charge and probe in ways that friends may not dare to do, to be bold and ask powerful questions that serve to awaken new insights. The client gains insight into themselves and creates a plan of action. 
 

Sometimes it just takes a simple question ‘what’s next?’ to motivate a client. But in the context of a friendship with no ‘designed alliance’ this could sound abrasive or challenging. It may tip the scales of the invisible status quo. 


From clarity action is born.  

Working with a coach is different to talking with a friend. It’s not just a nice conversation until the next problem crops up. It’s much more. More grounded, more focussed and without judgement. From clarity, comes action. For change to take hold, there needs to be action and accountability. 


Are you listening? 

 

This might be obvious, but listening is a skill. Anyone who’s talked to a multi-tasker will know how undignified it can feel to compete with a smartphone or anything else while trying to pour your heart out. Coaches are trained to listen out for emotional content even when the client believes that there is none. I can especially spot the signs of incongruency!

Lastly, sometimes you won’t feel better about the issue. 

 

(And growth isn’t a straight line.)  

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