Friday, September 16, 2011


Annoyances (for the most part) are particularly annoying.  In high level professional coaching, annoyances can be particularly damaging.

In order to be fully present to another person, whether as a coach or not, one is called forth to let annoyances exist without distracting from the task at hand.

What's an annoyance? Well, let me make up my own definition ... as I do often.  Annoyances are anything that may get in the way of doing something more important.

For example, a client calls and expects me to be "there" and ready to help him/her deal with some issue or another. My office is particularly warm that day and my ceiling fan is not working. Of course I am annoyed and wondering who needs to come and repair it.  My client is on the phone.

One of the skills of a truly professional coach is the competency "Coaching Presence" wherein the annoyance disappears and is not a factor at anytime in the conversation (even a warm room and non-functioning ceiling fan).  What I mean by 'a factor' doesn't mean to imply it's not there. It's just not a player in the coaching relationship.

Have you ever had a coaching conversation only to discover at its conclusion that you don't recall even sitting in a chair or feeling the ambient temperature in the room?  This is what is meant by being fully present.  It's one thing to be present (such as I am 'here') and another to be completely captured within the conversation (fully present). 

It's pretty cool to experience it.

Here's how it shows up in your coaching skill set: you're not in your head and preoccupied with what you think, judge or know.  You are instead completely engaged in service of your client and what's on your client's mind or the session. You have no notes to take (except maybe for the very first session), no pre-conceived ideas about the situation, no ready-made stories to tell, no goal for the client. What you are doing when fully present is listening for what is being said, hearing what is not said, being authentic and honest, and fully supporting your client's unique and special self-expression.

Annoyances never again interfere. They just are.

Takes a bit of practice. It's worth the journey.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fine Technical Points of Coaching

It's interesting and helpful to discuss fine technical points of a coaching conversation. Yes, there are technical points in a coaching conversation ... trust me there are. 

After a couple hundred exams, I may be getting the essence of why and how a coach surpasses basic and often secure coaching competence eventually to reach the next level we call mastery (in the ICF). What's interesting is that this "fine technical" move is palpable ... it's clear, it's wonderful, it's simply amazing. As a client in the exam process, from time to time I have the honor to be heard at a profound level by a coach and to get the full measure of someone else's ability to listen to me that way.

Oh my! It takes one's breath away.

Coaches who have the ability to connect so profoundly with another person just may be gifted that way. I say that because I'm recalling an ACC exam that I scored in the mastery range; he had slightly more than 100 coaching hours at that point.

However, I rather think it's possible to guide a highly competent coach to yet another level. Just as in a coaching conversation, the partnership of the mentor and the coach client is the dominant reason it has even a possibility of working well.

As coaches we frequently encounter the "need to be perfect" or "I'm not good enough, yet" behavior set that provides plenty of food for struggle and angst (for both client and coach).

Over many years I've come to the realization that these two "life scripts" are serious impediments to surpassing functional high competence in a profession such as coaching.

Musing about all of this has one go straight to the concept of 'art' ... fine coaching is an art. Art is in the eye (ear, mind, heart, soul) of the beholder. When I behold fine (masterful) coaching my whole being is impacted.

That's worth everything.