The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked. "Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then, stop." (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 12)
In human affairs, you can never really begin at the beginning, though, can you? We are always living in the middle of it, of life that is, of issues. We are always in the middle of some Act II, the First Act being over and the Third Act not yet begun. So, coaching must begin where you and I find ourselves, right here, right now: in the middle of it.
The coach provides a new language for the client, what Ludwig Wittgenstein called a ladder to climb upon that, once scaled, is no longer needed and is kicked away. This ladder or scaffolding or what have you, affords new possibilities in relationship, action, experience, , and meaning.
Language is what allows us to coordinate our actions with others. Provide new language, plus the chance by practice to have the language become part of us, and new observations, new actions, and a new world will inevitably follow. That’s the importance of language to coaching.
Coaches have to address both a short- and a long-term view. Short term in the sense that they must support their clients in reaching their goals, but long-term in the sense that the client will always have more challenges later and must be left competent to deal with these situations as they arise, while simultaneously conducting a fulfilling life.
One of the fundamental goals of coaching is for the client to come to understand by direct experience that events, circumstances,environment, stimuli, the actions of others do not lead to our own behavior, or thoughts, or our moods. Rather, it is our construction of meaning through our internal conversation that we bring to and add to the phenomenon that leads to the attitudes and actions taken.
Coaching is transformational. “Transformation is the possibility for a breakthrough in our living,” said philosopher Werner Erhard, “a clearing for aliveness to show up in our everyday activities, self-expression and commitments.”
In transformational coaching, the coach seeks to understand the client’s construction of reality and structure of interpretation, then in partnership with the client to expand this structure and thereby expand possibility, agility and flexibility. When a client can imagine only one course of action and that option makes a desirable outcome impossible, well chosen questions can alter this limited belief structure so that more powerful choices and actions result in more rewarding outcome. Living inside a new question is more powerful and more flexible than living with old answers.
The aim of coaching is leave people more competent and more powerful so that they are more able to contribute to their organizations, their relationships, their own lives– and to find more meaning and fulfillment in everything they do. The products of good coaching are excellence in performance, self- correction and self-renewal. In other words, good coaching leads to good self-coaching. As a coach, my aim first and foremost is for clients to no longer need me.
Rodney L Merrill, MPH, PhD
Certified Life Coach
Certified Master Hypnotist
Certified Master Practitioner NLP
Tools for Brilliance, LLC
One World Trade Center
121 Southwest Salmon Street, 11th Floor
Portland, OR 97204 USA
Tools for Brilliance, LLC
Astoria Home Office
35798 Dow Lane
Astoria, OR 97103 USA