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What coaching really is?

Updated: May 13

You've heard the word "coaching", but every time it seems a bit unclear to you? You are curious to understand more, but you feel insecure if this it the right thing for you? You have no idea if you need exactly that kind of solution right now? Wonderful - you're like anyone else who hasn't encountered coaching before and wants to gain an understanding of what to expect before diving into this adventure!



For the first time, I heard the word "coaching" years ago when various consultants began reaching out to me with proposals to offer this service to employees. I must admit, it sounded quite "airy-fairy" to me, lacking clear metrics for success and satisfaction from the outcomes achieved. Gradually, I started to develop an interest in this concept, finding it increasingly intriguing. However, I still wasn't sure how this methodology would benefit me or the employees in the companies I worked for. After a deep research and a lot of reading, I still wasn't certain about what it exactly entailed and how it could specifically assist people (I understood that it helped, but how?). That's why I decided to take a comprehensive course that would provide me with all the answers and teach me how I could ultimately support the employees of the company in their personal and professional development. Perhaps it would have been easier to simply sign up for a trial session, but that's another story to tell. :)


I've signed up for ICF - accredited extensive training, and 6 months later and countless coaching sessions, I identified and finally agreed that coaching services may bring so much value to everyone who feels stuck, everyone who wants to expand their potential and achieves personal or professional goals.


What coaching is and how to distinguish it from other similar areas and solutions?

According to International Coaching Federation (ICF), coaching is "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.

We all have goals we want to reach, challenges we’re striving to overcome and times when we feel stuck. Partnering with a coach can change your life, setting you on a path to greater personal and professional fulfillment."


It sounds great, isn't it? Even though, I am sure that many of you, just like me, are focused on the clear metrics and cannot imagine that they may find out answers that they didn't realise yet. It sounds as a magic where somehow the coach can help you find out something that you've never been thought of. Therefore, let compare coaching with other areas for personal or professional development.


Training


We've all gone through various trainings throughout our lives - from school to the present day. The concept of training has remained unchanged for decades - we have a teacher, an approved program, and information that learners will receive at the end of the course. Although with the advent of technology, trainings have become extremely interactive and offer plenty of time for discussion with the instructor, fundamentally, training is more of a process of sharing pre-selected information on a specific topic and for a certain period of time with participants aimed at their development and expanding their knowledge in a given area. Trainings are of utmost importance when participants need to acquire new knowledge or skills in a short period of time, learning from an expert in the area who has also exceptional teaching skills.



Mentoring


Mentoring is a partnership process, but here the mentor is in the shoes of a guide, an inspirer, who provides direct suggestions, solutions, or "advice" to the mentee with the aim of guiding them to develop certain skills or knowledge to enhance their professional and personal growth. Mentoring is particularly suitable when direct guidance is needed from a more experienced expert in the field in which you desire to develop. This is someone who will put all the best practices in your hands. Sometimes the mentor may also use coaching techniques to help the mentee reach the answers they seek on their own. However, in most cases, the mentor guides by providing clear and precise solutions for a specific case or for achieving a particular goal of the mentee. Often, mentoring is used in the corporate world for targeted training and skills development of talents.


Therapy


Very often, clients I work with hesitate exactly here - whether they need a psychotherapist, psychologist, or the modern term "coach". One significant difference between coaching and psychotherapy is that when working with a psychotherapist, clients will primarily focus on the past and work through specific elements of it to enable the client to move forward. For conditions such as panic attacks, trauma, loss, depression, you might consider seeing a psychotherapist. These are conditions that require deeper work with a professional in the field. The good news is, if you opt for a coach (accredited), they can guide you to a therapist to receive the appropriate support. Sometimes it's possible to work with both a coach and a therapist simultaneously, but most clients choose one or the other, which is also a good option.

Coaching


At first glance, coaching appears to have a quite close concept to that of mentoring or psychology. Again, we have a person leading conversations with their client, but here the coach takes on more of a "passive player" role, allowing the client to reach their own answers and uncover their full potential through active discussions and questioning. According to coaching, every individual is capable and knows best which solutions work for them. To illustrate this point, I would invite you to consider how often you have been able to apply directly the advice of close friends, influencers, parents, or managers? Perhaps many of them have been helpful, but in most cases, a person needs to reach their own answers, and coaching offers exactly that - it gives the client the opportunity to overcome their own barriers and, most importantly, to uncover their full potential through their own awareness.

A client working with a coach will be engaged in conversations with elements of the creative process, visualisations, focusing on the present and the future, and extracting the positives from the past. Coaching is particularly suitable for all spheres of life, as every coach is trained to conduct coaching sessions regardless of whether they are experts in the given topic or not. Nevertheless, it's good for the coach to choose a specific niche to focus on - whether it's business or life coaching, or a combination of both, as I have done.


In conclusion, coaching is your ticket to unlocking possibilities and solutions, even in the toughest personal dilemmas, professional endeavours, or career crossroads.




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