Written by Daniel CS
“Our lives are finite, but life is infinite. We are the finite players of the infinite game of life. We arrive, we leave, we are born, we die, and the life continue with or without us. Does not matter how much money, power, or promotions we achieve, none of us will be declared the winner of life. In any other game we have 2 options, you play or not, but in the game of life we have only 1. Once you are born, you are playing. The only thing you can choose is if you want to play with finite or infinite mentality. If you live with an infinite mentality means that our motivation is to move forward a “Cause” bigger than ourselves. To live with an infinite mentality is to live a life of Service… “
Wiser words could not be written by Simon Sinek at the end of his book ¨The infinite game¨ , and after “finishing” the first part of my coaching journey I was surprised by the great correlation of all of them with coaching. There is a slight difference in this game, WE CHOOSE to become coaches…
Our inner journey to enable People´s Transformation:
There are as many reasons as coaches on WHY people decide to become a coach, in my personal case all started few years ago, when I discovered how supporting people achieving a better self was so rewarding and motivating for me. Enable a person´s moment of inspiration is unquantifiable. On the other hand, to be able to get there, you need to realize and enjoy that the other person is the “Centre of the Universe”, and you are just a ¨spirit¨ at their service to enhance their transformation to their unknow better self.
As part of this inner journey, you need to open your mind to embrace the hard reality of the series of skills you need to master to just ¨start¨ your coaching journey. From extremely sharp listening skills, to high focus, deep empathy, honest curiosity, high self-awareness, discipline, challenger, are just the beginning, obviously honesty and a strong code of ethics as they are the foundation. Last but not least, at some point you will need to start as well to master your sales and marketing skills if you want to get clients at some point (if you are an external/independent coach)…
If I was mentioning open mind earlier is because you realize that some of those skills that you believed were decent or high (for your current role), the reality is that they are far from the average for the coaching standards, and you must step up BIG time. Then is when the magic starts, and there is when you start to experiment by yourself the power of coaching, a bit more exactly, the power of being coached.
The Butterfly Effect:
“In order to be able to become a butterfly, the caterpillar has to fall apart completely, decompose down to its very essence, devoid of any shape or consciousness. It literally dies.” Thanks god we do not have to literally die to become coaches, neither our coachee to move forward, but the transformation journey of the coachee will require us to deep dive to their inner essence and consciousness to achieve their desired outcome.
Once you have gone through your inner transformation to upskill yourself as a coach, you have experienced first-hand the journey and you believe you have your tools and resources to drive a coaching session (as the butterfly when starts flying) a tornado just starts to come your way and you do not notice the crazy winds until you are inside of it.
During our coaching sessions, and for the class purposes in order to improve the recordings and effectiveness, you try couple of times starting from the beginning coaching the same person for the same topic. This is the very first mind blowing moment that has a clear similarity with the butterfly effect: ¨In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state¨. It is then when you really understand the impact of either not setting up the correct goal in the beginning, focus on the non-essential words from the coachee, or formulating questions without a clear strategy can drive a completely different outcome with
completely different value for the coachee. There is when the history behind the big goal (either in life or executive coaching) is key, deep diving deep enough (but not too deep that you don’t sink yourself on that conversation) to get valuable insights and the inner motivations of the coachee is super important, and more important is to have clear in your mind at which self
awareness’ level are you navigating in with the coachee, Behaviour, Environment, Beliefs/Values, Identity or Purpose level.
In this coaching journey It has been intriguing to experience how the environment in 2 coachees played a big role over the sessions, either on motivation from the coachee to be fully in in the session or to easily divert the conversation from the end goal. In the first one you realized that the best value for the coachee is to postpone the sessions to allow a higher engagement and state of mind. In the second situation I found extremely useful the structure of the protocol, to be mindful in which moment of the journey you are and redirect the conversation to the end goal and align it back to values of the person and purpose, if those have been clearly defined in the beginning the journey is definitely much easier.
I was smiling every time that our Master coach Mike was comparing that the first 2-3 sessions are like a honeymoon, where all is sunny and great, obviously you smile a bit less once you start experiencing it by yourself. The beginning of the journey it is always exciting and inspiring when you start defining the goal and how to get there, but once the journey gets to the Action confirmation and tracking the progress it is when the relationship coach-coachee will be more interesting. There you will get to see clearly the commitment of the person towards achieving the end goal and how successful you have been deep diving in the inner motivation on the person.
In this case one coachee surprised me after some sessions sharing quite frankly that was not really committed at the end of that session, with no time to react due to other commitments. It was a big learning for me on many aspects, some of the questions that I started asking myself, Why is the coachee sharing NOW this lack of commitment? Is there anything in the environment that has caused any change in behaviour or motivation suddenly that I completely missed? how properly we defined the goal? How well I understood the inner motivation of the person towards it in the beginning?
Time to serve
After all these learnings and experiences, you start to earn some confidence to try to help and support a real coachee. After an internal training within my organization one of the attendees needed some support. This person was going through a very challenging situation at that moment, a light injury had impacted her full routine impacting heavily her motivation, additionally the project that she was in was coming to and end and she was in an uncertainty situation regarding her future employment on top of other family situations. From my point of view it was a clear reacting frame where in different aspects it was needed to align the behaviour to purpose and as well broaden the perspective to consider the bigger picture.
After a quick chat we aligned to plan the first session, I was surprised for the strong commitment shown since the beginning and the willingness to work on making changes for good. The end goal was “simple”, she wanted to be happier, for that she will measure in the short term as spending more time with her family and finding a clear and inspiring position for her next role in the company.
Once the contracting was done and after defining clearly how she will evaluate the achievement of her goal, we went into the discovery conversation to understand what her life challenges were, her life status and very important to review her values and life purpose. It was very enriching at some point to see the spark on her eyes just because of taking the time to talk and put together these things, that after so long, there were at the very back of her memory.
Once done, it was very interesting to identify what will be her main 3 areas to focus during the deep learning conversation: family, career and home.
For the pilar ¨family¨ there was a high priority to step in on the time spend with the family, it was hard but openly shared that more time was needed to be spent with them. Here I struggled to find a main frame, I saw a possible Blame towards the job and the company for all the projects, Fraud of saying that family was important but not really doing anything to support that and Delay of not taking action to put boundaries between the work and family. It was a great discussion, and it was very empowering to see the coachee to list and imagine the things or activities that she would like to do with them, she was feeling more and more energized just by the simple idea of imagining how it will be. A list of ideas/activities was defined, a clear supporter identified to help her drive that commitment and 1 key deadline defined for herself started acting. Worth to mention the nice comments shared by her 2 days after of some things being already implemented and enjoying the time with the family was a real thing.
We had a tracking session 2 weeks after with couple of messages within to see the evolution, and the energy from the coachee had skyrocketed since the previous meeting, all the actions discussed for the family pilar had been executed, quality time was being spend and all of them seemed to enjoy the new ideas implemented, a couple of possible roadblocks were discussed,
and commitment was checked regarding that pillar as well. In this session we deep dived in the career pilar.
If the overall status/frame I was mentioning in the beginning it was reacting, it was very interesting to see her significant and invalidation frames when it comes to her career. After some years working in the company still, she was on the belief that she had to prove herself, she was afraid of failing or showing that she was not capable. We reviewed with her the accomplishments to date showing the great evidence of her great performance and moving to a frame of respecting
herself and the quality of her contributions and how well considered she was within the management team.
It was remarkably interesting as well help her understand that the ¨worst case scenario¨ that she was picturing in her mind related to project execution or her worries were not as bad as she had imagined and rising the self-awareness lightened the impact on the day-to-day job to reduce stress and increase the joy. In the career pilar after a deep diving session two positions were identified and high-level preparation for them practiced. The third pilar ¨home¨ we left it untouched as the main actions for the short term were priority for the coachee and made sense for me to clear out this short term first due to the current state of the coachee.
Due to internal agendas collation and diverse business requirements, we had a very quick catch up / tracking meeting, It was great to heard that she had already received confirmation for her next position within the company, also the energy level was as high as the last time we spoke and the commitments towards the family were paying off and they were already having a great family time. Now we will have a next session in couple of weeks from now to review the potential threats and/or challenges to maintain all these family agreements when jumping into a new challenging role that will be very demanding. Also, we will start deep diving in the third pilar (home) to start discerning what are going to be the upcoming steps towards that pillar. The coachee acknowledge the progress since the beginning, experiencing more happiness and acknowledging the challenge to keep it during the upcoming months.
As Simon Sinek mentioned in his book also: “living a life with an infinite mentality means to think on the secondary and tertiary effects of our decisions”, and jumping either to leadership or coaching we have made the decision to serve! We must be highly mindful how each decision, question, feeling … will have powerful effects on the coachee. Our journey coach-coachee will have a finite duration, but in case we have served on our fullest, the potential value for the coachee and the effect of it may be infinite…