I am excited, confused, stuck, lost, …now I am astonished, surprised…I am out of the maze and amazed. I am a coach. There I said it. I would claim to be more than that - I am an amazing coach. Practically and historically I have coached,
If you know your 17th century French history (what? You weren’t listening that class?), then you will have heard of the great statesman Cardinal Richelieu. He famously relied on the advice of Father François Leclerc du Tremblay. He was known as France’s éminence grise, for his gray monk’s habit. Like the famous cardinal, today’s business leaders have their ‘gray eminences’; but the modern coach is not bound by a vow of poverty. Are we worth it? What do we actually do and what is the evidence from those that use coaches that they are effect, efficient and have a high return on investment (ROI).
Forty years ago, no one talked about executive coaching. Twenty years ago, coaching was mainly directed at talented but abrasive executives who were likely to be fired if something didn’t change. Today, coaching is a popular and potent solution for ensuring top performance from an organization’s most critical talent.
Coaching of course is widely used term with various meanings, depending on both the situation and who is involved in the process. The term coaching typically refers to methods of helping others to improve, develop, learn new skills, find personal success, achieve aims and to manage life change and personal challenges. Coaching commonly addresses attitudes, behaviours, and knowledge, as well as skills, and can also focus on physical and spiritual development too.
I trained as a teacher and ascended to the top of my profession. Much of my work was a cross over form of coaching. Now I spend most of time (away from writing books) training; both teaching and training are forms of coaching, normally involving one-to-one support (a coach and the client), aimed at helping a person improve, often in a very practical sense. In this respect it could be said that coaching differs from the training and teaching of groups focused on knowledge transfer and theoretical application.
The derivation of the word coach in the teaching / training / developing context is fascinating. The term ‘coach’, meaning personal private tuition, was probably used as slang by the students of Cambridge University. It was based on the metaphor (and we all love metaphors) that to move from one point to another swiftly you would ride on a coach, (then a horse-drawn coach), which would require the help of a coachman.
Coach was first recorded in the sense of a private tutor in 1848, and in the sense of an athletics coach in 1861. Brewer's 1870 dictionary says, ‘... Coach - A private tutor - the term is a pun on getting on fast. To get on fast you take a coach - you cannot get on fast without a private tutor, ergo, a private tutor is the coach you take in order that you get on quickly (Cambridge University slang)...’
Today we do not think of a coach as a particularly speedy vehicle, so the metaphor (Brewer says pun) seems strange, but in the 1800s a horse-drawn coach was the fastest means of transport available. The Oxford English Dictionary (2005 revised) definition of a coach is:
‘An instructor or trainer in sport. [or] A private tutor who gives extra teaching.’
That said, the term 'coaching' - like 'training' - is very general. Whenever anyone asks me about my job, and what I actually do during any coaching session, I find myself wanting to over elaborate and over explaining the essence of what it is…so to help you the reader I have taken a real life example (with permission) to explain a process. My chosen example is James Newell who I started coaching 4 years ago (and have finished his journey in May 2016 – we now work together coaching). So some background on James; he had been asking a basic question about his life as long as he could remember, ‘Do I deserve it?’ and ‘I deserve more than this’.
He is a successful professional and a survivor of some incredible life events such as the suicide of a parent and the 2004 tsunami as well as having enjoyed 10 years of success as a sales professional, James’ unique approach to life and coaching reflects his successes, failures and life experience. The drive to obtain what he felt he deserved had kept James alive and caused him to flourish and never give up.
But something was wrong. Despite his success the feeling of deserving more remained. It wasn’t about having more”or earning more money, it was about living a life where he could play to his strengths and feel that child like passion that now seemed so far away. James was deeply unhappy and unsure how to breakthrough, James had reached the peak of his career and circumstances, but the belief he could be more never abated.
Something had to change for James, which is when he met me completely by chance, after I gave a lecture on ‘How to be Amazing Every Day’. I invited him to a training course I was running (How to be a Stand Up comic – which fitted in with his chaotic bucket list of things he wanted to try). After the course he broke down and told me of his unhappiness. He was the best salesperson in Mercedes, he earned a fortune. Yet he fundamentally hated his job. He signed up with some trepidation to a one day course (How to be Amazing Every Day) where I told him he would discover his ‘why’. A bold claim but one that has happened every time I immerse clients in a deep process over 6 hours. His discovery was that he did deserve it – but not in the way he had ever imagined.
Over the next 18 months of soul searching and research, the meaning of what it means to deserve was de constructed, analysed and tested. I will share with you in this book some of those exercises and the framework that coaching can use to unlock the potential of the individual. The aim was to truly understand what it means to deserve and learn how to deserve. The results changed James’ life and they will be the useful touch stone to discover how the process of coaching actually works.
James is now coach, speaker and author, specialising in motivation, overcoming adversity and peak sales performance. He now works with individuals and corporates, driving change, innovation and performance in his signature pragmatic style and modular approach. With a passion for helping and inspiring others, James dedicates his life to helping others achieve their goals.
There are very specific areas of coaching, but it is not merely the ‘what’ that makes it valuable. The real value of coaching lies in the process of uncovering and de-layering (or what James reflects back to me ‘de-glossing’ or removing the surface protection) that leads to identifying the essence of the problem. It is helpful perhaps to evidence this shift and what happened in the process with a testimonial he wrote to a potential new client (8 months a go). It is used here not in the context of trying to show my ‘greatness’ (I am only amazing), but to amplify to concept and process of coaching and why it is so powerful:
‘I understand you are considering using Tim for help to find your ‘why’. As someone he has helped previously I am more than happy to recommend him. Tim has quite simply been instrumental in changing my life. He has given me the reason why I am alive, but also my reason to live. I have always worked in the UK motor industry, but despite my success I've never truly been fulfilled and happy. I have had a few turbulent things happen in my life and have struggled to make sense of why none of them have overtaken me and why I keep on going. However bad things have been, I've never given in and I keep pushing - although I never knew "why". (you can read my back story to see what I've overcome at my blog - link below). I have been in a constant struggle to "make sense" of my life and "find" my purpose and what I "should" be doing- feeling that although I am successful, I am largely wasting my time as I'm not passionate about what I do.
With Tim's help I was able to understand that my why is "I deserve it". I feel I deserve so much more than the life I have had that I am continually working, pushing and committed to making it happen. I realise now that this is quite a popular motivation- many of us feel we can deserve so much more than we have in our personal lives and businesses but are unsure of how to obtain it. With Tim's help I have written a book to fully explore the concept - "YOU DESERVE IT" which is out next year. It's based on the premise that it's decisions, not conditions which shape our lives and that when we take more responsibility for what happens (whether we cause it or not) we can get the best from it. I also relate deserving to serving and to sales- I sell £60M++ of cars a year so some of the techniques I have been using feature in the book. From establishing my why I was then able to admit to myself that all the "self help" and personal development books I had read to overcome the turbulence of my life, were where my true passion lay- I realised I wanted to be an inspiration to others and to become a speaker and coach myself- which is exactly what I am in the process of becoming. I only began to realise this when I understood my why, realised I deserved more than I had and began to ask better questions of myself- with Tim's help.
I am now "amazing every day" and spend my time finding and sharing inspiring things to share with others through my blog www.everydayshouldbefun.com as well as writing and editing my book and working on my escape from work to full time coaching and launching my book. I'd like to be clear that my case is quite unique in that my "why" has led me to become a coach and to undertake the work Tim does- we are all different and your why may be to provide the most luxurious travel experience possible or to make guests of your resort feel like family, it may even be to express yourself artistically or save the world- your why is completely personal, there is no set path. What I can be certain is that once you have identified your why, your life will change gear and you can make progress and feel more fulfilled that you are working with a purpose rather than working simply to accumulate money. Without Tim helping me to establish my why I wouldn't have written a book, found my calling and be on the path I am today.
When you understand why you do what you do, you can't help but feel more peaceful and fulfilled. Tim's greatest strength is getting you to change the way you see things- and to "explore, play and create novelty". I've never met someone who can challenge my thinking and ask me questions in the way he does. As I learnt through Tim- when you ask betters questions, you get better answers. I can thoroughly recommend him and am happy to talk with you on the phone or by email if you have any questions. I wish you the best of luck in your own journey of self discovery- the fact that you are even considering using Tim to find your why is an important step in the right direction.
So what did I do in my coaching sessions with James (and indeed all my clients)? Well it all starts with curiosity.
The power of being able to listen deeply and ask better questions.
During the deep and focused listening, the curiosity arises of why? Why is it this way? What makes you think this? Where does it come from? These questions and many more gets the client to stop and look at the ‘obvious’ with a fresh perspective. This curiosity, free from judgment, helps us re-evaluate our thinking. Deep questions that arise from deep listening can lead to our amazing light bulb moments that James described. Life changing insight into their lives or business.. It is these questions that can lead a client from “Yes, I know I should probably be doing that.” to “Oh, now I understand what has been preventing me from taking action!”
I act as a sounding board or a bullet-proof mirror to find people's Ikigai.
Almost every single person that I coach already ‘knows’ what he or she should be doing, so suggesting solutions is not useful. My golden role (both in coaching and mediation) is Listen, Listen, Listen and don’t make it any worse. At the most basic level, a coach merely plays the role of a sounding board – and being a bullet-proof mirror emphasizes that you reflect back (without self harm) what the internal wishes of the client are.
It seems a simple task but it is a real and profound skill to listen deeply to your client. When was the last time you felt truly listened to? How often in this world of constant talking and no silence do we get a chance to sit with a problem, and to think it through fully? In this world of speaking and no listening, when do we have someone who is completely focused on listening to us, not just our words, but also listening at a deeper level to the meaning between the lines, listening to what is unspoken, and listening to the emotions in the midst of the silences? One of the biggest gifts that a coach can offer you is deep listening. In my conversations with my own coach, I am immensely touched by the sacredness of the space in which I am heard.
'The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.'
Tim Dingle BSc (Hons), PGCE, MBA, has been involved in education, management, comedy, research, the Law and training for the last 30 years. Tim is a former Headmaster of a top school and gained an MBA with a distinction (his dissertation was on body language and Interview skills).
He has a unique insight into teaching, leadership, comedy and management and has now written 26 books on a variety of topics including motivation, leadership, education, training, communication, interview success and business.
His background in management also includes being the Chairman on England Schools Rugby and an active member of the RFU and MCC. His academic pedigree (in Biology, Teaching and Business) combined with his Mediation skills, gained him a place on the Board of the Global Negotiation Insight Institute (which used to be the Harvard Negotiation project). He has lectured all around the world with keynote speeches at many national and international events. His facilitation skills are in constant use for difficult and complex problems. His training company works across a variety of sectors and is making a massive impact, dedicated to making everyone feel empowered, successful and having fun. He writes jokes as well as running a comedy club and training school in London.