The Job of A Coach
Let me begin with a crash course in brain physiology using a somewhat out-dated but easy to understand model – The Triune Brain by Dr Paul MacLean Circ. 1960.
The basal ganglia or reptilian brain controls our most basic functions: aggression, dominance, territoriality, and ritual displays.
The limbic system (many structures) appear to be responsible for motivation and emotion involved in feeding, reproductive behaviour, and parental behaviour as well as fear and anxiety.
The neocortex conferring the ability for language, abstraction, planning, and perception is our intelligent brain.
Lesson over. Now to the point…
I’m going to simplify things even further. I’m going to say there are just two brains:
Your intelligent neocortex which I call Neo who dreams of a world without oppressive machines and can stop bullets with his mind
And your evolutionarily old and reactionary brain, Rango who will do anything to survive even if that means pretending to be a cactus!
Your life is a battle of wills between Neo and Rango. Will you choose the most magnificent future Neo can imagine (such as a life without our oppressors) or will you leave it to Rango to keep you safe pretending to be cactus?
The job of a coach is to train you how to trick Rango into allowing Neo to action his clever plan, which may involve some risk, but will ultimately lead to you achieving your mission and living your dream.
What is coaching?
Coaching is a conversation that results in a change in thinking, feeling and outward action and that change produces better results than before.
In order to achieve this, there must be agreement about what those better results look like, feel like and sound like; an agreed goal.
Then it is a simple case of determining what existing thoughts, feeling and actions get in the way of attaining the agreed goals and replacing them with the thoughts, feelings and actions that will lead to the achievement of the agreed goal.
In my experience of coaching and of being coached, a sufficiently astute outsider is always a better coach than you are to your self if you are willing to listen with an open mind.
Sadly, if left to our own devices we will always go to work on last that part of our identity which holds us back the most.
Who Needs A Coach?
If your mission in life is to fit in, veg out and not show up, then you do not need a coach. Most human beings can do this without any assistance.
If you know you have great potential, that you have great value to offer the world, that the realisation of that value is a social obligation, then you will realise that value considerably faster with the right coach than you will without. Consider that most people die having never fulfilled their potential and most deathbed confessions are of regret for all those things that were never attempted.
If money were your goal and you knew you could command an income of more than $1M a year, how soon would you want to make that happen? In 10 years or two years?
Of course, it’s not about money. It’s about who you become on the journey and what you can do with the resources and relationships you acquire along the way.
The Three Vital Qualities Of A Great Coach
1. Emotional Intelligence
Between 1997 and about 2001 I participated in many courses with a company called Landmark Education Corporation. During that time I received some of the best coaching of my life and I personally coached 100’s of participants.
At Landmark, there was a phrase that has stuck with me which I will explain in detail now.
– Ruthless Compassion
I once heard this simple phrase being explained thus…
“If your coaching isn’t ruthless enough, there isn’t any compassion.”
In other words, there is no love or compassion in allowing someone to continue to behave in a manner that continues to produce results that they are unhappy with. Your job as a coach is to break ‘bad’ habits and replace them with ‘good’ habits. Anything less than that is wasting your time and their time.
Pushing someone to confront their fear but not pushing hard enough to have them break-through to the other side is just torture. There is definitely no compassion in that.
What It Really Takes
People will listen to you when you are in rapport. If you push too hard, you will break that rapport. If you push to soft, nothing is achieved.
What allows you to push as hard as is required without losing repour?
You need to be able to take yourself (Rango) out of the equation completely. Coaching is not about you. If you have ever had a coach that didn’t deliver for you, this may well have been the issue.
All your love and compassion has to be 100% focused on liberating the person from the grips of their Rango and allowing their Neo to rule the day, dream the big dreams and make them happen.
If your coach has any need to be liked or respected it will take away from their value as a coach. If they experience fear of getting it wrong or not getting the result, then they probably won’t get the result. If they are uncomfortable with confrontation or watching a grown man cry they will not have what it takes to take the conversation where it needs to go. If your coach is intimidated by you in any way, it just won’t work.
Your coach must be completely committed to the outcome. They must believe that you can achieve it and that they can support you in making it happen.
The harsh reality is, in my experience, most coaches and even therapists have got far too much Rango running the show.
2. Coaching Skills
People assume that you need to know how to get from point A to point B in your life. The reality is much more simple. You simply need to know what you want and not at the same time want other incompatible things. Hense it is often wise to focus on one all-important thing. Then it is simply a matter of removing all the things you (Rango) place in the way of achieving what you want.
3. The Power To Influence
Even if a coach has their Rango in check and a huge toolkit of skills, if they cannot persuade their client to take on a new habit, thought process, practice or behaviour, no change will occur. It is a purely academic conversation. I’m sorry, but such a person is not a coach.
A good coach as outlined here is a very rare thing indeed. I question how many business and personal coaches really have the ability to leave their ego at the door and give 100% of themselves to their clients.
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