Friday, 11 December 2015

Do as I say, don't do as I do

This post covers my experiences and views on being coached in recent months. As someone who does a lot of coaching, being coached myself was a new and unusual experience, but one that was highly relevant and useful. 

I've done a lot of coaching, and mentoring, so am comfortable with the process of coaching and almost always both enjoy and get a lot of energy from it. I know how individuals can benefit from coaching, and have been able to help individuals benefit from my own coaching in the past. The ability to step outside a situation and analyse it with someone independent, to question ones own assumptions and behaviours, to analyse performance and it's inhibitors, is tremendously useful and I always "sell" coaching to any leader or aspiring manager. 

As someone who does a lot of personal fitness and sporting work, both for myself and occasionally for others, and who has held management and coaching roles for sports teams, I can well understand the benefits of structured coaching and feedback in a personal as well as a business sense too. 

But until this summer, I'd never been coached myself. 

It had been a case of do as I say, don't do as I do. 

And that changed this year. I was given some feedback as part of an interview process that was brutually honest and direct, and which took me a while to recover from. I couldn't really argue with the feedback, but I'd never viewed myself in that way before and needed to process the information and didn't feel able to do that on my own as I was hurting too much. 

So I obtained a coach. I'll not talk here about who it was, or the details of what we covered, but my coach helped me to talk through how I was feeling, the detail of the feedback, how it affected me both at work and at home, and what I could do about it in the short term and longer term. 

Key to any successful coaching or mentoring relationship is the ability to build rapport and connect with each other, and the experience of working with my own coach underlined this. Not only were they someone I had immense respect for beforehand, but during the sessions they worked with me in a way that enhanced that respect and developed into a challenging yet friendly relationship. The coach was not someone with any kind of HR or OD background either, which at first I thought wouldn't work but was immediately proved wrong on. 

So being coached made me reassess the way I could coach others, and the way I viewed the coaching relationship. That doesn't mean I was unaware of the importance of those things, but I certainly expanded my understanding of them during the process of being coached. 

And the coach used simple frameworks that I knew, and which I knew that I knew, and which I would use with people I was coaching, but which I'd failed to use on myself. 

Maybe it was my ego, which had taken a severe bruising. Maybe it was the way I was perceiving things, which was definitely negative and needed reframing. Maybe I was too close to the situation and couldn't detach myself and the emotions involved.

Maybe I thought I knew it all. I was wrong. 

When I look back at the specific things I changed, the actions I took as a result of being coached, I'm astonished that I didn't see these things myself and just do them, that it took someone else to point them out. I know if I'd been coaching someone else I'd have pointed them out, asked the right questions and so on, but was unable to do it for myself. 

So for the experience of being coached, I'm grateful. It's made me a better coach, as the next person I coach will find out. It's helped me understand myself better and so be better at being me. 

Coaching gave me clarity about my situation this year, and allowed me to focus on what I could achieve in the short term and what my goals might be, and have become, in the long term. It gave me an outlet for my emotions and was cathartic in that respect too. 

In short, coaching helped with my healing and recovery. In the same way a good coach would help an injured athlete back to full training and performance, so my coach helped me. And that's why I enjoy coaching so much. 

I'm glad I realised that coaching could benefit me. I'm still surprised it's taken me so long, but hopefully I can now begin to coach myself in a better way both in business and my sports and fitness endeavours. I've certainly seen an impact in my triathlon training, which I may cover in a future (non HR) blog. 

Ultimately, there's a link here to The Power of Three as explained in my first few posts and in the About Me section above. If an individual can get the right focus in the right areas of their life, they can achieve great things. 

Having worked my way back to "full fitness" in every sense of the word, maybe there's great things beckoning for me?

Watch this space.

Till next time...

Gary