How to coach and be coached - part 1 of 4
Everyone wants to improve. In two decades as a teacher in some of the roughest, most hardcore schools around - as well as in average suburban public schools, religious schools, remote outback schools, elite private schools and a Dutch international school in Rotterdam - I’ve never met a single student who didn’t want to be a better person.
I’ve worked with kids (and parents) who were violent criminals, or drug users, who have been in and out of jail. Many of them claim to not care about anything. But when you get the chance to sit down with them and properly connect, it doesn’t take long to find out that they have hopes and dreams like the rest of us, and they want to learn how to do better.
Why am I telling you this? Because I know that you want to improve yourself in some way too, and I want to help you do it. I’ve become an expert in how people think, learn and change their behaviours. I know that the Spud Fit community is comprised of health coaches, doctors, dieticians and others who are trying to help people make changes but who don’t have the experience that I do. Maybe you are one, or maybe you work with one in an effort to improve your own health and relationship with food. Either way, below are some tips on coaching that I hope you’ll find helpful.
How to coach
It’s very tempting to sit down with your client/patient and simply say “this is what you’re doing wrong and this is what you need to do instead.” The problem is that people don’t like being told what to do and they especially don’t like being told they’re wrong. It’s easy to make people feel like a failure with this approach. This in itself is a roadblock to learning, and it’s also a lost opportunity to help them learn the best way - for themselves.
Your number one job is to ask questions. Most people already know exactly what they’re doing wrong and exactly what needs to change. They just need you to help them clarify their thoughts and ideas into something they can easily comprehend and take action on. Use questions to guide them towards joining the dots in knowledge that they already have. When you help them to find the right answer for themselves, you do two important things:
- You give them ownership of the chosen path so that now they’re not just doing something “because my doctor/coach said so”, and
- You give them confidence because they see undeniable proof of their own knowledge and power.
Sometimes of course you will have to teach new things. But only do that once you’ve established that they need to be taught. Asking good questions is the best way to help your clients find the right answer.
How to be coached
Understand that your coach cannot fix your problems for you. The simple act of seeing a doctor or hiring a coach means absolutely nothing if you don’t turn up ready to go all-in on making changes.
You should expect to walk away with a plan of action. The plan should include clear steps for exactly what needs to happen next and how to make it happen. You should be fully engaged in that process.
Your coach is powerless. The ball is in your court. The best laid plans mean less than zero if they are not followed. Taking action is more important than anything else. Thinking time was over when you finished making your plan. Trust the plan and find out what happens when you follow it.
Don’t think, DO!
P.S. Click HERE to book a free intro coaching session with me.