I am so excited to be part of the amazing European Training Conference, 2017. The only conference for training and coaching professionals in Europe and has the potential to inspire a generation of exceptional leaders, coaches and trainers.
The word ‘amazing’ I use with the full knowledge of where it came from – Hampton Court Maze. This is a huge hedge maze planted sometime between 1689 and 1695 by George London and Henry Wise for William III of Orange (the Dutch connection) at Hampton Court Palace. The maze covers a third of an acre and contains half a mile of paths. When completed, the first people who emerged from the experience were excited, confused, astonished, surprised…they were out of the maze and the term ‘a-mazed’ was coined.
I am an amazing coach and trainer. There I said it. Is it arrogance or certainty and belief in the results of what I do every day. My tagline is, Inspiring people to be amazing every day. Practically and historically I have coached and trained,
- Personally (life / relationship)
- Purpose (The Why)
- Sport (Rugby – England Schools)
If you know your 17th century French history 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.
It is not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game ever starts.’– Addison Walker
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.’
So what did I do in my coaching sessions with 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. 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.
Putting a ding in their universe. Yes it is a Steve Job’s line – but take it as a challenge – getting the client to consent to being pushed. At times we tend to sink into our comfort zones, it’s not called a comfort zone for nothing! It’s comfortable! We like it. Coaching helps us to get out of our comfort zones, by taking small steps. We want to stretch and flex our skills and muscles, without creating such huge leaps that we end up in the panic zone. If we are not challenged from time to time, we don’t grow.
The Power of Accountability makes it happen. Once we’ve arrived at a point where we know what the next step is, we need to ensure that life doesn’t get in the way, that we don’t lose focus on our goals. As an accountability partner, a coach will help you to break down your goals into achievable pieces and support you in your progress. Accountability partners increase your likelihood of success. For James it was a systemized approach which involved producing the work I set (the 20 exercises with questions) which would ultimately end up as the chapters in his book.
I will be there as a support in the dark times. We all need more support than we think. There’s a reason why most sporting activities have supporters. It helps you go that extra mile and encourages success – small steps to gain confidence. We all need someone who will cheer us on and encourage us. Those that have traumatic events have to acknowledge it will not be plain sailing – there will be dark times or even days. But if a client is in the right frame where they can be coached and are not so traumatised they need to be in therapy (I am not counselor or therapist – I look at outcomes and solutions) then this is part of the promise of coaching.
‘The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.’
Tim Dingle BSc (Hons), PGCE, MBA, has been involved in education, management 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 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 of England Schools Rugby and is 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 work in the hospitality sector is making a massive impact and he is dedicated to making everyone feel empowered, successful and making training fun. He is a speaker, trainer, coach and mentor: inspiring people to be amazing every day.