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Coaching has Potential

Lots of people like being coached. Why? Because most of us love talking about things we care about with people who are interested.

That means there is a big responsibility on the coach to make themselves someone who people would want to share their dreams, aspirations, fears and problems with.

How can the coach do this?

There are a few basic principles (and techniques) that will stand you in good stead, but nothing beats sincerity. If you are sincere about your intentions to support an individual through their journey of discovery, design and development, this will inevitably shine through. If you’re faking it, the mask will eventually drop.

You cannot coach effectively (if at all) unless you can honestly and sincerely say ‘Yes’ to the following statements:

  1. I believe whole-heartedly in my client’s potential even though I don’t know where that potential will take them

  2. I am willing to give the client space and time to find their own solutions

  3. I will avoid making judgements of my client

  4. I believe that my client has the resources they need to solve their own problems and make their own decisions

  5. Whilst I may facilitate the process, my client will own the content and agenda

The underlying principles that support these statements are that people need to own their own solutions, and it is not the coach’s place to set limits on a client’s potential. Potential is unseen and somewhere in the future. No-one can securely predict it, but we can all work to fulfill whatever it is.

A participant on a Coaching workshop recently reminded me of the concept relating to human performance: ‘Past and current performance is a predictor of future performance’. In many ways I agree with the sentiment in that once people have shown what they are capable of and have demonstrated certain skills, we can assume they will retain these skills (barring serious health and well-being issues) into the future.

However, in the world of financial investments the caveat is always that ‘past performance cannot be viewed as a reliable indicator of future performance’, and this has been proven to be the case repeatedly throughout history. In the realm of Coaching, it is more fruitful to borrow this concept for one critical reason:

We are at risk of judging a person’s performance, capability and potential based on what we see them doing today or what they did yesterday. This is hugely limiting, and coaching is about lifting the limits on potential and removing the interference that is preventing them from realizing it. We write people off or applaud them because of what we observe them doing in the present. We measure their current performance and rate them against it. But Potential cannot be observed: it is inside the person, hidden from view, often unspoken and undemonstrated. It needs unlocking, framing, and focusing on. And you cannot do this if you focus only on current performance and use this as a boundary.

So Coaching has the Potential to to create the the future where a person’s potential can be realised, unconstrained by present limits and perceptions. That has to be something worth focusing on. 

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