Assume that you went to bed, and before morning a miracle occurred so that when you woke up, your problems were solved and everything you hoped for had taken place. How would things be different going forward? This provocative question is sometimes referred to as the miracle question to clients of executive coaches because it allows them to imagine and visualize how things could be different in their life. Who wouldn’t want to experience such a liberating new reality?
Helping to answer that over-arching question at various incremental levels is typically the starting point for executive coaches as they engage with their clients and begin the journey of self-discovery, expanded vision and increased freedom. More specifically, executive coaches help their clients to get “unstuck” in challenging areas of their life. But what exactly does that mean and how does that happen?
Coaching is the artful process whereby individuals are enabled to move from where they are to where they want to be. Coaching is forward focused and is always centered on moving the coachee onward. It involves clarifying the present, envisioning the future, setting/achieving action goals and overcoming obstacles going forward.
The most effective executive coaching begins with the development of a trusting relationship characterized by mutual respect, transparent rapport and a sincere commitment toward constructive change. All within the confines of a safe relational alliance between two co-equals that exists for the purpose of meeting the client’s needs, expectations and goals. Attentive, focused listening is an excellent way to evidence support and build an effective coaching bond, but it is far beyond a mere sounding board exercise. There is much more required for optimum results to be achieved. A great coach will challenge the client to engage in personal exploration, self-assessment, and highly committed action planning.
Great coaches have a myriad of skillsets centered on the ability to ask “in the moment” thought provoking questions resulting in purposeful productive activity being taken. Some of these great coaching abilities are displayed by the following actions:
- Show genuine interest and be fully present
- Practice active listening, without interruption
- Ask insightful, open-ended questions that stimulate thought, clarity and creativity
- Inspire a positive mental attitude
- Challenge negativity, affirm and encourage optimism
- Provide accountability, help establish healthy boundaries and measurable goals
- Promote collaboration and interactive communication
- Encourage possibility thinking
- Help to envision the future, improve skills and clarify their life’s purpose
One of the first objectives to help the individual being coached is Awareness. According to the Talmud, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” When someone knows what is influencing or frustrating them, they can address it, but if they have no awareness, they have no control. This is the perfect time to confront fears, inferiorities and false assumptions, while also identifying unused strengths and untapped potential waiting to be synergized for success.
The next step after Awareness is Vision. Figuratively speaking, ancient script states that without a vision, people perish…they cast off restraint. Vision helps define what inspires you, why you exist, and what your purpose is. A vision is an ideal picture of something positive you can imagine and would like to become reality in the future. During this phase, it’s good to look at a person’s abilities, passions, life mission, values and strengths. A dream can be transfigured into a vision by grasping the potential for the future while clarifying the present. An effective coach can facilitate this process to help crystallize a life changing positive result.
Moving on, the third step is Strategy. If this process was likened to a construction project, this phase would be producing the blueprints…the written plan for how the contractors and tradesmen would go about to formally construct the building. The cool thing is that you as the client get to be the project architect; functioning as the visionary designer, the engineer and the overseer in terms of what, why, when, where, and how the building is staged and constructed. You get to make all these decisions and it’s your coach’s responsibility to help hold you accountable to complete the job as planned.
Finally, it’s time to address the final step, which are the Obstacles that are anticipated to be encountered along the way toward accomplishing one’s goals. Typically, obstacles fall into one of two categories: internal or external. Barriers such as habits, fear, negative mind-set, lack of commitment, and resistance to change would be considered internal as opposed to external barriers such as unclear boundaries, balancing time demands and personal accountability, distracting life experiences, difficult people and difficult circumstances. All of these can present challenges but each of them can be addressed, put into context and re-framed in the most advantageous way by a skilled executive coach.
In the game of life, much like professional sports, the skills of the world’s best players are honed by great coaches. Thinking back on the “miracle question” posed at the beginning of this article, I think everyone would agree that each of our lives could be better in some ways. In other words, settle for nothing less than your best. It’s inspiring to see how great executive coaches thrive and come alive by helping everyday people become extraordinary contributors to the world surrounding them.
If you would like to explore the possibility of reaping some truly life-changing benefits, I invite you to contact the Lighthouse Resource Group at LighthouseResourceGroup.com and have them introduce you to one of their exceptionally gifted certified executive coaches for a complimentary exploratory discussion…you will be glad you did.