Do you have the patience to waitLao Tzu
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
The image of mud swirling in water illustrates what it can feel like to navigate the complexity and overwhelm that is part of modern life and leadership.
The pace and demands of the day keep the mud afloat, and you move through it, your vision somewhat impaired.
One of the many benefits of coaching is the opportunity to stop.
Then as the mud settles, you can see more clearly. With the support of a skilled coach, your sight becomes more expansive, both peripherally and into the distance. With the reach of this new perspective, you are able to explore beyond your limitations, into new territory.
The Coaching Partnership
When you first meet your coach, you have time to get to know each other, ask questions about the process and get a feel for the nature of the coaching space.
We want this space to feel open, spacious and safe – a place where you can be yourself. And a space where you can experiment with new ways of being and doing that are in service of your growth.
It’s vital to remember that this is an equal partnership between you and your coach that will develop over time.
Initially, you will work together to consciously create your partnership. Your coach may ask you:
- What brings out the best in you?
- What doesn’t?
- What do you need from me?
- What shall we do when you feel demotivated?
- What shall we do when you have something to celebrate?
- And this is what I need from you…
From here, the partnership gets stronger as you both check in with what you need.
A good test of a great coaching relationship is the extent to which you are comfortable to ask for what you want. You will feel free to say, that question didn’t work, ask me something else. Or, thanks for that idea, but I’m going to commit to this.
Over time, your coach will also challenge you, interrupting ways of thinking that have got you this far, but may not get you to where you want to be.
Exploration and Raising Awareness
When you have created your coaching partnership, you begin your coaching.
For each conversation, you will bring something to explore as a starting point. Much of the time you spend will be about raising your awareness around a problem, a potential strategy, a relationship or more broadly what you want in your life and as a leader.
You might be experiencing some frustration because you are too close to an issue: you have a two-dimensional perspective; it exists on a flat surface, and as much as you scrutinise it, it’s unmoving.
With your coach, you begin to look at this part of your life in different ways. As you wander around it, it becomes three dimensional and you see it from every angle.
From above you see the landscape that extends beyond the problem; you see yourself and your relationship to it. From here, new awareness emerges and often, the challenge you came with begins to diminish and feels surmountable.
Choice and Action
With new awareness comes choice. You now have options about what to commit to, practise or let go of.
Furthermore, as your coaching progresses, you will develop vital awareness of your ‘inner world’: your knowledge of your values, your purpose and the impact you are longing to have. Choices become easier; you have an inner compass that will guide you.
As you can probably guess, a choice that is guided by our deepest human principles is rarely the easy option, but it’s usually the right one.
Values have always been important but the need for a compass is especially salient when change is constant, the ground shifting and the seas turbulent – and we nonetheless have to move forwards.Hetty Einsig
When you commit to choose and take action, your coach will support you by building in accountability.
Your coach may ask you:
- What will you commit to?
- When will you do it?
- How will you let me know?
- What support do you need?
Here is an aspect of coaching that accelerates growth. Within a partnership built on the values of belief, trust, and learning, it feels easier to be courageous.
With your action comes new information to take to your subsequent coaching conversations, and so the process continues and you begin to expand your capacity:
“We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook.”Haile Selassie
A Ripple Effect
The beauty of coaching is the ripple effect that it creates.
As you gain more insight into who you want to be, what you choose to do, and the impact that you are longing to have, the people around you will notice. Your colleagues, friends and family will benefit from the sense of spaciousness that is emerging from you, and the renewed foundations that you are standing on.
You are taking the time to let the mud settle, and you give permission for others to do the same.