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Posted by on Jun 13, 2014

How Coaching Really Worked – At Least in This Case

87801562Man, was I ever stuck.

I had struggled with this problem, literally, for years, tearing my hair out, frustrated, and increasingly pessimistic about a solution.

It was a chance encounter at a coaches’ conference (of all places) when I sat down for lunch with the amazing coach Karen Gravenstine. In less than five minutes, everything shifted. The door opened, and I had cracked the case.

Before explaining just what happened, it’s important to focus on one incredibly important aspect of coaching, a feature that, among others, helps give the practice its power and results.

We all get stuck sometimes. We go around and around in our thought loops, trying to find an answer. The stuckness can come from the way we are looking at the problem or issue. We may be making assumptions we’re not even aware of. There may be possibilities we hadn’t even considered.

Enter the coach, who with fresh eyes, an objective perspective, can help us discover new and different ways to frame the problem, which can generate new moves – solutions.

This can take the form of a question, or feedback.

In my case, it was feedback. Karen said it sounded like one aspect of a project I was wrestling with was draining me, and another aspect energizing me. As she stated this, a distinction arose in me, and I immediately realized that in order to achieve the goal, I had to offload the portion of the thing that was blocking all progress.

In my case, it was around either standing up a non-profit (huge administrative heavy lifting) or partnering with an organization with complementary aims, to whom the services I was envisioning would also create a benefit.

So you know, the project itself is around helping disadvantaged women who made it to college learn leadership skills.

I realized I couldn’t pull it all off by my lonesome, and perhaps I then joined the millions of managers and leaders who learned the hard way (lack of results) about the need to delegate, in order to focus on what they uniquely can bring, and work they are good at. (I have to tell you in the self-disclosure department it was a pretty big “ouch” to experience the lesson I have taught to many managers and leaders.)

As I let go of the previously unconscious need to be in control of everything, I experienced a huge surge in energy around work that I could do well, and which was meaningful. I had painted myself into a corner with this deep-seated belief that I had to manage everything. Karen created a walkway over the paint and out of the room I had been trapped in.

And she did it just by confirming which aspect of the work I could really get behind, which she had noticed as I talked about the vision and hopes for the project.

Coaches do lots of things, and I hope this one example will help illustrate one of those, and how powerful that can be.

Thank you, Karen!

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