A friend/parishioner walked into my office the other day and asked me a great question about what I planned to do after I retired. I’ve got a plan and a lot of excitement about this impending chapter in my life, so I began telling her. At the first pause between my words she began to share her experience with retirement, and that’s what we talked about for the next ten minutes.
As soon as we quit talking about me, I realized how hungry I was to talk about this new phase of my life with someone who would listen to what I was thinking, but this person was not a coach.
I’m not wanting to be too hard on my parishioner/friend. She’s a kind person who came to me with a genuine question, but her mind quickly traveled to a familiar thought of her own. I think we often ask questions with the unconscious intention of providing an opportunity to express our own thoughts. That’s a common occurrence, but that small interaction reminded me of the difference between coaching and casual conversation. Coaching requires a form of disciplined listening that we generally fail to exercise in casual conversation. It doesn’t take a genius to realize this, but this is the genius of coaching.
Gratefully, you don’t have to be brilliant to be a coach. The task of a coach is to listen for and to extract the brilliance in others. This is no small task, and it’s particularly difficult with individuals who are quick to put their genius on parade. But there aren’t any of us who don’t need a little help managing our inner wisdom, which is the work of a coach. Moving into new territory is rarely an easy journey, and there’s nothing like a well-crafted question and a listening heart to provide needed light and to promote effective action. Coaching isn’t rocket science, but done properly, a good coach will enable a client to explore their outer limits, and who doesn’t want to go on such a journey!
I’m grateful to my parishioner for asking me a good question and for inadvertently reminding me of the very thing that fuels successful coaching – hunger for more understanding of who we are and what we can do. I’m grateful for the hunger.
It’s that hunger that keeps us all asking and listening and praying and finding!