With the Super Bowl over – the hype of players, coaches and commercials now gone; scores logged and stories of the amazing ‘end’ – that game winning interception – now faded, I am left thinking about the role of a coach and what might have mattered most… the play call at the end of the game, or that stuff in the ‘middle’ – the training, practice and teambuilding that got them to the Super Bowl.
I had always been intrigued with the idea of being a coach, but I wasn’t quite sure what that really meant – ‘being a coach’. I liked the term coach. Colleagues had indicated I was a great coach. Yet, I shied away from any formal training, fearing I would lose my individual style and not wanting to adopt the ‘language of coaches’ – ‘What resonates with you?; What sort of space will that create?; What will that give you?
However, having found a ‘local’ coach training program, I took that first step toward formal training and contacted ‘someone’ – ‘Molly’. I was immediately welcomed with her amazing energy. She acknowledged my courage and willingness to explore a new journey. She let me talk. She let my energy and excitement elevate in the conversation. She told me I was a coach. She shared the steps I could take to formalize and credential this skill of coaching. And, she invited me to join the International Coaching Federation – a community of coaches.
I remember my first coaching class. I sat ‘alone’ at the end of the tables. I was intimidated. I remember feeling like a kindergartener on the first day of school. I was ‘out of my element’. Everything about the day was new – the people, the subject, going back to school … I was so uncomfortable.
Looking back, I had very little clarity around what it meant to me to be a coach. What I did have clarity around was my goal of becoming a credentialed coach. This was my objective, the ‘end of the game’ so to speak.
My coach training experience, however, was certainly not simple nor easy. I recall my first ‘serious’ reflection – it was during one of the practicum sessions when I realized the value of appreciating the journey that our clients go through by traveling on that same journey… the journey of discovery, the journey that required vulnerability, the journey that took inner strength and courage, the journey that required trust – to share with such openness and honesty. This personal experience was crucial for me to BE a coach.
I discovered I would need to be encouraging, to truly believe in my clients, to give voice to their own resourcefulness, their own creativity. I discovered that I must be patient, listen, and offer unconditional positive regard; and to believe fully in their own capacity to hold their own answers. I discovered that this was about them, not me. And, because I was experiencing this within my own journey of discovery, I could feel and experience the power and impact of creating such a space.
As I progressed in my learning and participated in practicum, I experienced all sorts of emotions. At times I was filled with confidence. Other times it was discouragement. A few times I was feeling defeated and ready to ‘throw in the towel’. Alongside each of these emotions I was always acknowledged, supported and encouraged – by my mentor coach, the practicum leaders and Co-hort, our intimate local coaching community – to take the next step forward.
I struggled with not being able to connect the mechanics / science to the practice of coaching. I wanted to ‘know’ all of the tools, and when to use them. I was frustrated with the format. This was hard work, and I didn’t always want to do the work. Fear around my ability to pass the certification exam overwhelmed my perspective. All of this was getting in the ‘too hard pile’ for me. I had forgotten that all of this – ALL OF THIS – was about the journey… about the middle.
I completed the training and received my credential. I am, today, a certified, professional coach. But that statement says little about who I BEcame as a person. Reaching ‘the end’ was not at all reflective of the journey.
As I write, I am trying to find the eloquence to express what it means to BE a coach, and I find myself reflecting on key components to what makes for a good coaching relationship –
– Belief that my clients are creative, resourceful and whole
– Know that my clients hold all of the answers within themselves
– Through support, acknowledgements and with a strength-based approach, my clients will see these gifts within themselves.
I think about the value of these components in ALL relationships and know that today I am better equipped to integrate them into my personal and professional relationships.
I recall my client and personal conversations and celebrate the trust and intimacy that I am able to create in each of them – to be a partner on an important pathway, and acknowledge what an honor and privilege those moments are for me.
I am struck by the level of vulnerability, openness and honesty that my clients and others share with me and how sacred that space is. I realize the depth of the relationship, and I think – “WOW!; that’s the middle!”
Trustworthy, Supportive, Accepting, Encouraging, Loving, Kind, Helpful, Cheerful, Energetic, Compassionate, Human
BEING a coach, for me, is the ability to BE those characteristics. It is to BE a fine human being. And today, I am just a bit more aware of what that looks like and how to get there… making sure to remember – it’s never about the end, it’s always about the middle.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diane Rogers is a facilitative, leader with a collaborative approach inspiring individuals and organizations to raise the bar toward the Achievement of New Potentials, together. She has a diverse background, with a history of demonstrated leadership positions across multiple industries, including healthcare, software IT, aerospace and nuclear power. Diane can think big and put the details in place to design effective action plans building trust and respect along the way. With her unquenchable energy, she tenaciously engages stakeholders to join the improvement journey and, along the way, cheerfully nudging the players, bringing them to the same page, to move beyond their potential.