Picture by Roman Mager

September means back to school. Also for 35 year olds. No wrapping class books in brown paper, but still some homework to be done. During our last mastery training in June, our coaching sensei -my words-Jef asked us to write down what coaching meant for us.

Good question. Although coaching isn’t about good questions, this one did trigger my already overloaded brain.

Since I love to write, I automatically opened Medium instead of a Word document. And somehow, I started in English, although our training is a Dutch native course. But 2017 is kinda about starting to do things my way: authentic, sassy, honest and sometimes, in the margin of expectations.

So, why leave the fun path I’m on?

To define what coaching is for me, I remembered the questions and expectations I had when I started the training in January of this year:

Colleagues tend to approach me as their confidant. How do I guide and advise them better where as now, after a good cry-out (or shout-out) they go away with some good advice (honestly, it’s really good) and return a couple of weeks later, without having taken any of my advice in consideration, without having taken any action and with an extra bucket load of frustrations?

After 12 inspiring training sessions, I realized coaching is not about solving problems or showing expertise.

It’s about re-programming your own mindset as a person.

You could be a coach professionally after this training, but it’s the coaching approach on life that really matters by:

  1. having a genuine interest in whomever you encounter, I’m not just talking about respecting people. I’m talking about really being excited to get to know what’s in people’s hearts and minds
  2. leaving your ego behind by not trying to solve the problems or questions the coachee has nor by craving for that satisfying Aha-Erlebnis or Eureka moment — let them do the work
  3. not being so hard on yourself as a coach by expecting to conduct flawless sessions — perfection creates pressure
  4. daring to show a little tough love on your coachee, by not handling them as fragile puppies — the rest of the world sure doesn’t
  5. daring to show yourself, by not withholding your opinions or your emotions — speak up and don’t have your brain preoccupied with your own thoughts. Remember, it’s about them, not you.

In conclusion: it’s not about you.

Coaching is about showing some real love and honestly caring for the other by listening, countering, confronting, showing your authentic self and connecting.

This last word may even be the grand synthesis: connecting by authenticity and vulnerability. Show your true self, care for people and they will reciprocate.

Sure, I learned some techniques not to get stuck in some empathic talk show, the target after all is growth. And growth only comes where there’s challenge and the will to commit. And I can assure you, I had to grow some serious balls to dare to challenge coachees I’ve never met before, let alone making sure they would be committed to action.

Last month I focused on defining my personal mission and now, I see it all the time, in my heart and in my brain. With sparkles, glitters and a touch of pink. (did I mention I’m a visual thinker yet?).

I want to take care of people, by inspiring and teaching them how they can take care of themselves.

It’s nice to see how I intuitively take decisions without seeing the bigger picture and now putting another piece of the puzzle in place, triggered by a homework question by a sensei. See, I might have not exaggerated in the first paragraph after all.