Need to know: Coach yourself

Are you able to draw on the resources of your inner coach?

Having a coach to help us work through difficult situations or make important changes can be a wonderful thing. However, such resources do not come cheap and not all of us can afford the luxury. Fortunately, we can all have a coach any time at no cost: we can learn to coach ourselves.

Most of the time we are so busy just ‘doing’ that we forget to slow down and use our inner wisdom. We forget that we have all the resources we need inside ourselves and that all a good coach does is provide the opportunity and provocation to unearth the answers we already hold.

There are many ways to coach yourself, and they all involve taking time out from action, so the first thing to do is to stop and give yourself a coaching moment. And just a few minutes can be enough.

Writing things down helps make the distinction between the two roles you will be playing. Start by identifying the issue you would like some help with and write that down.

Here are two simple approaches to try: Q&A and ‘for and against’.

Q&A works well when you want to learn more about a situation, consider it from multiple perspectives or feel stuck about how to proceed. Simply ask yourself questions and listen for the answers that come from inside you.

Write down a thought-provoking question about the issue and consider your coach’s question carefully. Pay attention to any thoughts, images or other reactions that occur to you and write them down too, without editing too much. This can produce useful insights in a single round or can continue through several rounds until you feel you’ve moved forward. For example, if the issue is: ‘How can I improve my difficult working relationship with Joe?’ As coach you could ask: ‘When Joe is in a meeting with you, how does he feel?’ It hits you as soon as you consider the answer. ‘He’s terrified of me. I never realised before. I have to work out how to change that.’

‘For and against’ works well when you need to persuade someone about something, want to understand an issue more fully or are unsure whether to take a course of action. First, write down the argument for and then you write an equally compelling argument against. For example, if you want to persuade a client to follow your recommendation, write down six reasons why they should and six equally good reasons why they shouldn’t. You can now look at how your recommendation could be amended to counter the arguments against.

Jan Hills, partner, Orion Partners

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