The Art Of Inner Coaching
By Chris Pearse
‘Coach’ was originally an 1800s metaphor for Oxford tutors who carried their students through exams. Today, it’s about doing better, performing to potential or beyond, overcoming obstacles, winning and succeeding. It’s about great leadership.
This is what leaders want – they want to get somewhere that they are not at the moment… somewhere better, where they think, feel, speak and act like a better leader.
Unfortunately, the metaphor falls apart in spectacular fashion when you look at the hows: How do I get you to meet your challenges, realise your potential?
I can’t just give you a coach ticket to success.
The reason is that the real journey is an inner one, one that explores your inner dynamics – your thinking and feeling worlds, your inner perceptions – all of which are unique to you.
But what about the business? What about the all the operational, strategic, management, marketing and sales activities that you have to decide and execute? Isn’t that where the focus has to be?
Well, familiarity with running a business is fundamental to good coaching – otherwise how will the coach resonate with the realities that you’re facing. Having a coach that has built businesses is absolutely necessary… necessary, but nowhere near sufficient.
Your business is where the problems appear to exist: poor sales, quality issues, people, management, financial problems, weak marketing etc.
But all of these are contextual, none of them are causal. Which is exactly why you can spend a lot of time and effort addressing them, yet still experience negative emotion including stress and frustration or even failure, fear, anger and hopelessness.
I’m not saying that your business doesn’t need to be improved – all businesses do, continuously – but that, of itself, is rarely enough.
So an effective coach has to understand that the levers of change lie in your inner world, not in the mechanics of the business you’re running. The way you think and feel are instrumental in how you, your people and your organisation perform. Remember what Einstein said:
You can’t solve a problem at the same level of thinking that created it.
Unless your coach is operating at this level, change will be neither significant nor sustainable. It really is all in the mind. This is inner coaching.
And you’ll know this all too well if you’re experiencing the struggle, stress, conflict or poor performance that is screaming at you to do something different. The key to change lies with your thinking – your mindsets, belief-system, biases, assumptions, and reactive behaviours – many of which operate beneath your radar so that you’re not even fully aware of them.
My first job is to give you a bigger, better radar – and then point it inwards – so you can start to see the dynamics of your inner world. Then the work begins on your leadership mindset – transforming your habit-based reactive behaviours into creative, intelligent responses to the world around you.
This is not about updating your mindset, or replacing it with a better one. That is akin to training. This inner work is about getting a glimpse beyond your mindset so that you can start to make choices that are not conditioned by habit, preconception and belief.
The other in-sight that inner coaching leads you to is the response-ability you have for what you think and feel. Taking that responsibility brings with it the power to change directly not just how you feel, but how you experience your outer world. When you do this, everything gets better.
Changing the way you think about, feel and perceive your world is infinitely easier than trying to change the world around you. And this is why two people will respond so differently to the same circumstances – all down to the responsibility they take for their thoughts and feelings.
The power of inner coaching comes through accelerating your development as a human being – enabling you to be more and achieve more, whilst doing less. Only this approach to coaching will make your success not just likely, but inevitable.