I’ve blogged often about how using a coach transformed my life and opened opportunities for my personal growth that I hadn’t perceived existed. Years ago, I didn’t just see a life coach, I empowered myself by regarding him as my employee. Something that I made clear to him during our first session. Sick of being on the self-help roundabout, it was during my coaching phase that I approached things very differently. Too often in an industry full of buzz about results and expectations of quick fix remedies in a society based largely around instant gratification, people expect results although they are driven by a lack of pure engagement in their own processes of change and transformation.
Expectation is exactly the word I’m looking for here. My first session with my coach several years ago was to my surprise an expectation session, initiated by my coach. A session to lay out the ‘ground rules’ or the ‘rules of engagement’. When running our leadership, teamwork, corporate and school programs an expectation session is always part of the program within the first 24 hours. It’s where both or all parties involved get to write a contract of accountability, a values contract, regarding what is realistic, what's acceptable and furnish the beginning of goal setting.
Engagement in a personal process is achievable when challenge is presented as a platform for growth. We use wilderness experiences as this platform as there are little distractions, within nature there is little predictability and options of choice are based on real assessments of risk, whether it be of high or low consequence. It’s a unique field, where personal questioning of ability, potential and preconceived ideas presents itself at every corner.
Here’s are a few thoughts on my coaching experience worth mentioning, regarding personal engagement and expectation.
1. FEAR IS THE BIGGEST FACTOR THAT HOLDS PEOPLE BACK - When I’m leading and coaching clients, they often tell my why something won’t work. Given that outdoor educational experiences are largely based on experiential learning (planning, doing and reviewing unfamiliar tasks), I find it interesting that this is a first response to a task that they have never engaged with prior. Sometimes, they might be right. But what if they are not? What is they’re not even open to the possibility they might be wrong? Well, the I guess our work is done here, I’ve learned you can’t help people who are unwilling to consider other options. Last week in a session, the big “G” (GOALS) word was mentioned to a client. She recoiled physically and shuddered, saying ‘please don’t use that word, I hate it, it reminds me of school projects and I was terrible at school, I hate goals in case I fail at them.’ So, solution, we changed the words from ‘Goal of the Week’ to ‘Intensions for the Week’. It put a completely new achievable spin on it for her. More on Fear and Failure in a previous Blog.
2. SOME PEOPLE ACTUALLY THRIVE LIVING ON THE ISLAND OF DESPAIR – That’s the only explanation I can think of or they’d be doing the work to build the boat that will get them off the island. Common responses include: 'they have it easy', 'they're not dealing with the issues I'm dealing with', 'that's because .... ' and 'it's the world we live in and society's fault' - nope it's your attitude to it and your response to it, except the issue there is that they will then find someone to blame for hiding the map of the plans to build the boat to get themselves off the island.
3. THOSE WHO DO THE WORK, MAKE THE MOST PROGRESS – If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. If you want to change something in your life, then you have to do something about it to change it. Harsh, maybe, but true. With progress comes forward momentum and opportunity. Those complaining about lack of opportunity are usually still living on the island. That old chestnut, ‘no pain, no gain’ has been around for years for a good reason.
4. MONEY IS A PRIORITY – People say they can’t afford to engage a coach or invest in their learning. Yet they seem to have money to make other purchases above and beyond what one typically needs to survive. Maslow's triangle is a cracker for defining this one: what you need to achieve for self actualisation starts with the basics - a shelter, food, H2O and to feel secure. If you think something is worth doing, you will find a way to do it. Just saying ….
5. IT TAKES TIME TO SEE RESULTS – One of the focusses of my first coaching session was to tackle the time factor. I’m one of those results driven people, but have learnt to appreciate that time and time is all we actually have runs it’s own course. Many of our participants will often say that in hindsight what they had the opportunity to learn in the outdoors in terms of resilience, communication, teamwork and self determination and responsibility didn’t really make sense at the time, but an event had occurred in their lives that they applied that knowledge and those principles to help them move forward again. This is the cornerstone of personal development that as coaches and facilitators we hope everyone can transfer if not soon, later. People will naturally question their coaching investments, I know I did and in most things in life, results will vary. However, I can tell you this, just like growth of a new sapling from a tree, it takes time for change to develop it’s roots and flourish. I do things today that make me reflect on some of early experience with my coach and how much of a great investment it was. We did some crazy things that made no sense, but well worth it.
6. COACHES CAN’T PERFORM MIRACLES – I don’t care how good an athletic coach you might be, you will never turn most people into Olympians. Why? Let’s start with the fact that not everyone has the desire to be one. No coach/mentor/facilitator worth their sole can transform someone into something they don’t want to be. Determination, desire for change and a willingness to pursue purpose and passion are the key and that comes from the client not the coach.
When I reflect on my experiences with my coach, the rediscovery of myself and the expansion of my potential into pursuing a career in helping others on their own paths, I’ve recently played those old tapes back again – who got me here? Was it Pete and all those mini ‘missions’ he sent me out on, nope, I did it, he helped me with the plans, but I was captain and navigator on that ship of, hard work, patience, overcoming fears/expectations and allowing for an open minded approach to learning, challenge and vast new opportunities.
Our passion for helping others on their journey’s through outdoor experiences is Escape-And-Explore. Coming soon are our Trek Based Coaching Sessions that allow our clients to explore not only the wilderness but themselves through experiential development to discovery. For more information contact us or join us via our mailing list.
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