A Coach Asks Questions

Last week at an event, I met several new people. One gentleman asked me, “What do you do for a living?” I told him, “I am a coach.” He responded, “Interesting. Who do you coach?” I let him know that most of my clients are business professionals, just like him, but I have also coached CEO’s, VP’s, doctors, business owners, pastors, volunteers, engineers, writers, managers, and students.

“Wow!” he said. “Coaching people with all those backgrounds, how do you know what advice to give?”

I smiled. The most common misconception about coaching just revealed itself again. “That’s where most people miss the point of coaching. A coach doesn’t give advice, a coach asks questions. Powerful questions have the ability to raise your consciousness. Raised consciousness produces new thoughts, new ideas, new options. It allows thinking on a new level and new opportunities for success.”

I then started asking him questions about his profession. I was searching for his boundaries and his roadblocks. “Why did you come to this event today? How effective do you find these events? How else could you achieve this purpose? Who is more successful than you in achieving this? What could you learn from them?”

After only five or ten minutes, he was excited because he had some new ideas about how to reach one of his goals. The power of coaching is in the questions that unlock potential. I added, “A coach also provides a level of accountability to follow through on those ideas.” He learned how a coach can really help people. Every one has the opportunity to benefit from having a coach.

The Courage to See More

When we have the courage to take a step beyond our comfort zone, we have the opportunity to see what lies beyond. It may be scary. It may be uncomfortable. It may be difficult. But it is the only way to see the potential of what might be.

Our lives will grow or stagnant in proportion to the amount of courage we display. By being willing to take risks, face our fears, explore our limits, and accept failure as a challenge, not a roadblock, we will go farther than those that predictably follow the safe path.

This world for us is limitless, but we are bound by our actions. You can find new frontiers by exploring random links on Wikipedia, learning about another generation, researching a new interest, taking a deeper dive into your career, or just dreaming. The more we learn the greater the opportunity we create to use the knowledge in actions that take us beyond our normal daily boundaries.

Our dreams reflect the success we desire. The moment we resolve to take hold of a dream and make it a goal, we bring clarity to that dream. If you have the courage to see your dream, then have the courage to step towards achievement. What new idea do you see today?

Don’t Let Perfection Get in the Way

Perfection is defined as reaching the highest attainable standard. In my experience we are sometimes stalled by focusing on perfection. If you have ever delayed taking action because you are afraid that you are not ready or something is not good enough, then you understand how perfection can get in the way of progress. Here are some thoughts on perfection.

1. Don’t confuse perfection and excellence. Excellence requires great results, not perfect results. Release yourself from perfection and create  excellence.

2. Action provides the process to change a vision of perfection into something tangible. Any form of perfection, or even excellence, only resides within our mind until we take action. Ideas need to be turned into results which can only happen with action..

3. Mistakes drive improvement. We improve through practice. We learn from mistakes. We can only get better by making the mistakes that provide insight into advancement.

“Perfection belongs to narrated events, not to those we live.” said Primo Levi. Life is messy. Only in our minds can perfection exist, and I don’t want to let it get in my way.

You Can’t Go Back

I read constantly, both fiction and non-fiction. When I am reading a fictional tale, I enjoy finding a life lesson revealed within the context of the story.

Here is an except from Mad Ship by Robin Hobb. Wintrow is depressed because his life is way off the course he had planned. Mostly due to unfortunate events that were out of his control.

He shook his head sadly, “I do not know. Perhaps it is, for other folk, I only know it was not what I was accustomed to, nor what I expected. I keep trying to think of a way to get back to where I was and restore my life to what it is supposed to be, but—”

“You can’t go back,” she told him bluntly. Her voice was neither kind or unkind. “That part of your life is over. Set it aside as something you have finished. Complete, or no, it is done with you. No being gets to decide what his life is ‘supposed to be.’” She lifted her eyes and her gaze stabbed him. “Be a man. Discover where you are now, and go on from there, making the best of things. Accept your life, and you might survive it. If you hold back from it, insisting this is not your life, not where you are meant to be, life will pass you by. You may not die from such foolishness, but you might as well be dead for all the good your life will do you or anyone else.”

Do you ever find yourself trying to go back in time? It is only natural to think that we can fix things by putting them back to the way they were before. Life just doesn’t work that way!

I find that when I am facing a difficult situation, it is important to remember not to try to undo the past, but to chart a new future. I must evaluate the current situation, learn from the past, but move forward.

This may seem easy as you read this example, but subconsciously we want to go back to a time when we were comfortable. I try to recognize when I fall into this trap. It is true. We cannot go back.