It is a well-known fact that coaching helps people achieve better results, make better decisions, and generally live better lives. But how does it work? In this blog, I will reveal some coaching tech so that you could increase your performance by being your own coach and using coaching tools without necessarily turning to an expensive professional.
When people want to achieve something, they usually ask “What”: what should I do? what actions will bring immediate results? They are so preoccupied with their actions, that they refuse to think about the reasons behind them or look for alternatives. They need to know specific steps to take and want stronger performance, usually in the short-term.
The problem is that there are always interference factors that cloud our judgment or prevent us from performing at our best: perfectionism, fear, hesitation, desire to look too good for others, even excessive knowledge of the subject matter. These factors often make us contemplate instead of acting, or act in well-known patterns yielding satisfactory but not excellent results. That is why our selected course of action may not be the best choice available – it is often just a compromise decision forced by the subconscious pressure of the interference factors. Our deeper fears and impulses, unseen but powerful, drive us to certain actions and hide alternatives from our consideration.
Coaches understand that. Our mission is to free your decision-making from the interference and allow you to use your full potential to achieve your goals. To do that, we need to “zoom-out”, to gain the “helicopter view” of the situation.
Our question is not “what”, our question is always “why”. Why do you want to do that? Why do you think this way is best? You want an extra 100% revenue for your business – ok, why? The question “why” takes your attention away from the immediate actions and makes you think about goals.
One of my clients wanted me to help him in building his online education project. He expected recommendations on the specific steps that would allow his community to grow rapidly and bring him paid customers. I listened to him and then asked: “Why do you need this community? Why did you create it?” When he thought about it, he understood that the reason behind his online project was his desire to gain recognition, to become well-known and respected in certain social groups. It was never really about the money. This understanding freed him from chasing additional income from the community and allowed him to concentrate on activities that highlighted his competences instead of trying to sell his services. He started bringing people value for free – and that approach brought him more reposts and new followers, more recognition and respect.
It is a good example of how zooming-out works. When my client faces obstacles on his path and needs help, it is not because he is weak to overcome them. It is often because there is a better path for him somewhere near, but this path is hidden from him by his own subconscious fears, confusions, desires to look better than others, or, on the opposite, to be like everyone else. He or she is lost in the forest and wants to learn how to cut down the nearest trees. But the coach does not have to be in the same forest with the client – he flies his helicopter, drops down the rope-ladder, and invites the client to climb it and rise above the trees.
The same approach works for most life situations. When I coach businesses and the owner asks “What should I do to earn more money?”, I often parry with “Why do you need more money?” You would be surprised to learn how many business owners do not have an answer to this simple question! For them, growth is the essence of business. While this may be true for certain startups where rapid growth is the means of attracting investments, for many others this “growth obsession” is nothing but additional stress. And when there is an answer to this crucial Why – it is a true mission of the business, its purpose.
For a leader, business is not about earning the money, it is about spending the money, about translating your success into a positive change. This change defines the scale of your leadership, there is a difference between wanting a new villa in the Alpes and creating a new future for medicine or education all around the world. But regardless of your goal, coaching helps you to remember it – and sometimes to find it. With the answer «why», nothing can stop you. Keeping the bigger picture in mind gets you through immediate difficulties and gives you direction among the uncertainty.
Can you do it for yourself? Of course, you can! Ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? Why is this important?” Continue zooming-out until you see alternative paths. Then explore them, find better decisions, and achieve better results. It is called self-coaching, and it will change your life if you have enough discipline and reflection. Find your Why – and hesitate no more!
© Alexey Morov, Ph.D., MBA, leadership coach