Coaching is always about the client. But sometimes, coaching doesn’t happen like the client thinks it should.
A lot of clients call me in their “manager mode.” They speak to me as if I were in a meeting with them, using business buzz words like “synergize” and “synchronicity.” But when I ask them “what do you do when you aren’t at work–how do you goof off?” They don’t know. Sometimes they say, “I don’t understand what you mean.”
That calls for another question. “What small things do you value? I’ll give you an example–I value cloudless days, gum that doesn’t lose it’s flavor for a half hour, and hot pizza that doesn’t leave a grease stain.” I often get a long silence. Sometimes followed by, “You coach change. And I’m looking for a technique to leverage myself into a more catalystic position.”
Coaching is about finding the real you. There is nothing wrong with the you that lives at work. It’s hard-working, focused, and often ambitious.
The other you often handles the stress. The other you, just as real as the work you, yearns for a good night’s sleep, a big loud laugh, and quite possibly, some behavior that is not “right” for work.
This “you,” the one that often seems at odds with your work personality, is the one that will eventually decide if you can stay at a job and be successful there. If your work doesn’t line up with your values, you can be successful for a while, but you will suffer over the long term.
What does liking gum that has a lasting flavor have to do with your job? There are characteristics about you that are exhibited in joys and sorrows you felt in childhood, before you began to feel peer pressure. Those values are still with you–translated a bit differently, but the same, still. That love of flavor-filled gum may have become a need for a real satisfaction at work, a satisfaction that lasts. Or maybe it reflects a love of trying new things, getting all the flavor out of them.
Coaching helps connect the “work you” with your values and helps you see what you need to thrive. You might be surprised at who you are, but if you don’t listen to your values, you cannot be happy at work.
–Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach who helps people deal with change and opportunity.