Everyone Has Problems
Problems are not the problem. That’s it. As a career coach, life coach, fan of professional development and lover of introspection, I know that no one can answer your questions about what to do with your life, better than you can. WE have the answers inside of us. All of us do. The challenge is not in finding the answers. The challenge is in speaking those answers into existence and backing it up with concerted efforts in the right direction. It’s not the problems that scare us. It’s the solutions. That’s where an awesome coach comes in.
Coaches Confirm What You Already Know
I discovered this lesson during a session this week. I spent an hour with a new client talking through options for his current job stagnation. He talked through where he was now and the options and challenges he faced trying to grow and get more responsibility at his current organization. In the end, the answer, which he had already discovered, was that he could find stimulation and growth through personal projects.
That’s not what I’m saying. That’s what you’re saying.
But, the challenge within his solution was the discipline required to work on it, and complete those personal projects. He needed accountability. He needed clarity on his motivation. We explored the problem space far longer than necessary (oversight on my part) but what baffled me was that after exploring options for next steps on working through the solution, he very simply at the end of the hour asked, “So it sounds like you’re saying the best way to get out of this rut is to work on these projects?”
The purist in me responded, “That’s not what I’m saying. That’s what you’re saying.”
Not The Presenting Problem
My therapist friends tell me that when a patient walks into your office, there’s the presenting problem or issue and then there’s the root issue. I could spend thousands of words going into the difference between therapy and coaching, but that’s for another post. Instead, I want to highlight an interesting parallel. When coaching, clients come forward with a roadblock, and then there’s the path that they are avoiding to get through the roadblock.
the way has been provided, and the coach’s job is to remind them why it’s worth it to clear the path
Most people already know about the path, but they’ve got it shrouded with branches and leaves, telling themselves, it’s not an option. “It’s too much work, I don’t have the time, it’s too messy.” But the truth is the way has been provided, and the coach’s job is to remind them why it’s worth it to clear the path. Not only is it worth it, but they should start clearing immediately, and they should start with moving a single branch. A quality coach reminds you of what’s on the other side, not just immediately behind the debris, but also further down the road where the destination, the end goal resides. An awesome coach helps you visualize the destination in your mind’s eye, helps you solidify your motivations why you want to get to there in the first place, and reminds you that the alternative is the status quo.
The #1 Sign of A Good Coach
Every client is different. Every challenge is different. But, if you think a coach is going to give you answers, you are looking the wrong way. All of the answers are inside of you. Many times you speak the answers to yourself silently, late at night before falling asleep or in the morning as you shower, or in the quiet moments when you feel like there must be more. You’ve had these conversations with yourself. You don’t need a guru to tell you those things. Any coach proclaiming to give you answers, is a charlatan.
With a coach, you are given the platform of speaking those answers out loud. Making them real. A quality coach validates that what you have discovered in secret can be actualized in public, and that you are right.
he who finds the problem, is also responsible for implementing the solution
I worked in Operations for many years. And in Ops you know, that he who finds the problem, is also responsible for implementing the solution. You are the CEO of your life. Once the problem is unveiled, it is your responsibility to put a work plan in place to make it better. Why? Because no one else has the clearance. No one else meets the pay grade to call the shots and decide how to run your life. . . not your therapist, not your best friend, and not your coach.
The Courage of Leadership
Taking responsibility is hard and it’s the reason why so many young managers suffer from analysis paralysis – they rely on their managers, supervisors to give the final word on a decision. In a job, your talents, and relationships give you the license to call out problems with authority, to pull on the resources necessary to fix them. But to make a decision, and act on it, that requires something new. That requires the courage of leadership. It means that if the plan succeeds you get to take credit, and if it fails, you also get the credit. And at the root of all of this is that dreaded fear of failure.
What if you do those things, and the results aren’t what you hoped them to be? Is that the worse that could happen?
What if in your quiet moments, when your soul speaks to you, you know you have to change jobs, or leave a relationship, or have that conversation, or finish that book? What if you do those things, and the results aren’t what you hoped them to be? Is that the worse that could happen?
Fear Versus Excitement
The adrenaline rush that comes with change, with putting a new plan or routine into action can be channeled in two ways. We all know the first channel is fear – worry that it won’t come out right, that you’ll shame yourself by not being able to predict the future, that you will in some way disappoint others, or worse disappoint yourself. The second channel, and the one most coaches stay tuned to is the adrenaline rush that turns to excitement. That’s the channel that is fueled by possibilities, and recognizes you are in control at all times.
Possibility is not afraid of failure. Possibility recognizes that there are the experiences where you ‘succeed’ and there are the ones that you learn from. A failure is only one way not to do something, and those takeaways are just as valuable as the ones when you figure out exactly how to do something. And those “ahas” are as unique as every person in the world who ever tried anything new.
If you have the opportunity to talk to a life coach or a career coach or a success coach or a wellness coach, understand that they don’t have any answers for you. What they do have is a resolute commitment to helping you hear your own voice, holding you accountable to clearing the path, and standing with you as you embrace all of the new lessons to be learned as you travel to the other side.