I have been finding it hard to explain to my mother what a life coach and executive coach does.
I told her as a life coach I help people achieve their potential.
What does that mean, she asked me.
I told her it means I help my clients do better than what they are doing currently.
My mother thought about that. Then she said, ‘If someone is well settled, why would they need a coach?’
The way she used the word ‘Settled’ with all its hidden and seemingly obvious implications opened up a train of thought in my head.
First thought: What does the word ‘settled’ mean in our culture? Finish education by 20, find a job, get married, have kids, buy a house, and live frugally. So to be settled implies the person is happy. Life goes on smoothly after that. The only problem of course is that everything that has just been described is as per a template. Not as per your individual preferences.
Second thought: So if someone is ‘settled’ why do they need a coach? According to my mother (and perhaps many more people) the settled ones are doing well in lives. Why improve then? What is wrong? My answer to that is there need not be something ‘wrong’ in order to do better.
Third thought: Why should people want to do ‘more’? Why do better than what they are doing already? We have been told from childhood that we must be content with what we have. We are told not to compare ourselves with others. Truth be told, there is actually no social compulsion that people must achieve their potential. To this my answer is each of us has a special potential. Finding it and fulfilling it is our purpose. Not just to pay bills.
Fourth thought: In that case, is deciding to ‘settle down’ or be ordinary a little suicidal as per people of my generation? It seems to be. That is why so many people are eager to find their ‘passion’ and do something!
Fifth thought: Does this mean that only unsettled people need coaches? In a way, yes. The ones who feel restless, the ones who can’t stay put up with the status quo, they are the ones who benefit from life coaches and executive coaches.
So, is coaching for problem folk? NO. Coaching is for ‘opportunity folk.’
A lot of organizations are engaging with coaches to help their senior management fine-tune their talents.
Here’s my answer to all those who ask, ‘How can a coach help me in my career?’ A coach can help you:
- Go on a journey of self-discovery. A lot of our problems get sorted when we realize the genesis of the problem – which is really the story or the belief we have inside our heads about the problem. Sometimes you may be your own worst enemy and not know it. Coaching can help uncover this.
- Set goals. Once you understand what story is enabling / disabling you, you create the space to form goals in alignment with your values. All progress begins with goals.
- Development plan. It’s not enough to have a goal. One needs a realistic plan and a means of achieving it and measuring progress. Coaches can help with this.
- Develop the mind-set of a problem solver. Coaching helps us rewrite old thought patterns and embrace a ‘Why not?’ attitude that seeks to solve problems instead of a ‘Yes, but’ attitude that seeks comfort.
- Change your story about yourself. On the most fundamental level, coaching helps you replace the disabling stories inside you with enabling stories so that you can set the ground for long term change.
Ultimately, a coach enables you to take accountability for your restlessness. They help you break down your restlessness into concrete goals and plans, so you can move from a place of unsettled-ness to a place of true and lasting psychological settled-ness.
And that is what I would like to explain to my mother, if it were possible – that material settled-ness need not always guarantee psychological settled-ness. The former happens when we follow the rules of the world. The latter happens when we fulfil our deepest potential. Our deepest potential is often entangled with disabling stories. So coaching helps disentangle the potential from disabling stories and bring it all into the light.
In other words, if you tend to stay hungry and foolish, then coaching may be for you. On the other hand, if you tend to settle, then maybe you don’t need coaching after all, and that is perfectly OK too!
About the Author:
Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.
Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.