What Is Coaching? (aka Overcome Your Inner Saboteur)

Most people have no clue what coaching is or how extremely powerful it is.
So, I’ll try to explain what coaching is and what it can do for you in this article.

Definition of Coaching

Here is how The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching:

partnering in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires a person to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.

Do you feel convinced now? Do you feel the unstoppable urge to get a coach right now?!

The above definition is as precise and good as one can make. However, if it doesn’t speak to you, I’ll try to convey what coaching is with a few parables.

TV Series

This is my favorite coaching metaphor. Coaching is like watching a TV series. No, not in the sense that it’s a great pastime which allows you to enjoy your popcorn or pizza even more.

As a coach, I feel like a spectator watching a TV series. I never know what’s going to happen next or what the creators of the series will introduce. I have some insight into the series’ world, but it’s limited to what I see on the screen. However, behind the screen there is the whole world hidden – with its history, resources, geography, inventions, magic, politics, principles, and whatnot.

A coachee has access to this whole world. In fact, he or she IS this world. My job as a coach is to give them access to the untapped resources of their world. And we can leverage them all.

Can you grasp the difference between being able to access only the story from the screen and the incredible richness of the whole world behind the screen?!

Whole cities, oceans and continents. Whole nations and armies. Raw resources. Food supplies. Inventions. Political systems. Everything available to draw from at your wish.

This is the difference coaching can make in your life.

Additional Brain

Once, I explained to my client how coaching works; that it’s not advising or imposing my point of view on him, but rather tapping into his own resources and ideas. He was a very analytical IT guy and came up with his own metaphor:

“Hmm, it sounds like getting access to an additional brain!”

You surely know the common myth that the left side of the brain is more analytical while the right is more creative. It’s not really the truth; human brain functions are not physically located in specific areas of the brain by default.

Yet, this myth taps into something – there are two halves of the brain and their cooperation create the magic of the human existence. By merging signals from both sides of the brain we can be creative and logical, and everything between.

Similarly, via coaching you have some access to your coach’s brain. His or her life experiences created a human being who has a slightly different point of view than you. Your coach has a much better chance to see you for who you are than you – being stuck in your own thinking.

A good coach is trained to empathize with you, but without getting drawn into your internal dramas. Thus, you can reveal those dramas (and everything else) and get an insight much closer to the objective judgement than just your own.

Your harshest critic is always going to be yourself. Don’t ignore that critic, but don’t give it more attention than it deserves.” — Michael Ian Black

Easier said than done, Ian. But with the help of a coach, it is truly possible.

Supportive Passenger (or Navigator)

This is the metaphor of The International Coaching Federation, mostly to underline that a client is in the driver’s seat and has full control over the journey. If you ever had a nagging wife in the passenger’s seat, you know that this is not the entire truth. “Turn left! Watch out! Why haven’t you turned when I told you?! You never listen to reason!”


Photo by SplitShire

But put in the passenger’s seat a supportive and wise friend, and your trip can look very different. Or even better, imagine being a rally driver and your coach as your navigator. He won’t tell you how to drive, only what’s ahead of you.

Ask any rally driver – a good navigator can make a lot of difference. Instead of hesitating in front of a sharp turn, or even worse – being reckless – you are fed with the relevant information at the right time to make an informed decision in a split second.

So, as a coachee, you are behind the wheel, but you can be so much faster – without taking unnecessary risks – with your coach who can warn you, correct your course or simply give you some cheerleading when you are flawlessly speeding ahead.

Borehole or a Refinery Process

Coaching provides you access to the resources you couldn’t have tapped into alone. Even though those resources are yours to use, they are blocked by your own programming, self-image, life experiences, self-talk, habitual thought patterns and other means your subconscious uses to keep you at check.

Coaching is like a borehole, which gives you the access to the immense oil fields hidden below the surface. Or think of coaching as a refinery which takes the crude oil and transforms it into plenty of different highly-refined resources, which can be applied in better and faster machines, and turn into the plastic with its zillion applications.

Overcome Your Inner Saboteur

Your subconscious mind hates spending energy and pursuing your dreams. Being the best version of yourself consumes loads of energy – mental, physical, and emotional – and the subconscious mind is the ultimate energy miser.

Coaching is a process that maximizes your potential. It makes more of you and it does it much faster than you could’ve done it on your own.

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