My clients seek out coaching when they are stuck. And a lot of us coaches talk about being “stuck”. But what does that really mean?

I thought this might be a useful post for any of you who may be feeling stuck and are curious to know more about how coaching can help.

Let’s break down what being stuck means.

For some of my clients it means they are overwhelmed, possibly even at the point of burnout. They may be frequently getting sick, exhausted from working long or excessive hours into the evenings and over weekends. They may feel like they have so much to do and that they are never getting on` top of their workload.

For others, they maybe in a state of paralysis, experiencing inertia from a particular work or business situation or decision. They may be feeling uneasy or anxious about the decisions they may need to take to move out of the situation and are focusing on all of the things that could go wrong if they take action. They may also feel like whatever course of action they take, they will be faced with failure and certain doom.

For other clients, they find themselves in a state of despondency. Low or no motivation or enthusiasm, even for the things that usually bring them joy. They may find it more difficult to get to sleep, or to get up in the morning. They may also be more irritable with friends and loved ones. Clients in this state find that they just don’t know what to do for the best or to shake themselves out of how they are feeling. Because if they knew what do to, they’d do it.

In all of these cases, coaching can help. Allow me to breakdown how.

Creating space to really understand

Coaching works by creating space for you to unpack everything that is going on for you. It’s not always a systematic process (because our thoughts and our feelings about those thoughts are not systematic), but a good coach will take each point as a line of enquiry, pulling on the proverbial thread until it becomes clear to both the client and the coach, that that line of enquiry has been followed until the end. A coach will then take you back to anything else that you might want to reflect on or say about that point or your wider situation. Coaching is a process of unpacking to get really clear on your current situation. One of my clients called it “a process of self-discovery” for this reason. Coaching is a process of deeply understanding something about your and your situation in a way which helps you to know precisely what needs to change.

Breaking down unhelpful assumptions

During the coaching process, things will come up that coaches call “unhelpful assumptions” or “limiting beliefs”. These are things which (and we all do this, even coaches!) we take to be true, when they are not. They are unhelpful or limiting because they cause us to act as if they were true, usually in a way which is ultimately unhelpful to whatever it is that we are trying to achieve. A coach will challenge these (gently!) so you can see them for what they really are – i.e. not facts. This is often where clients say they get an “aha” moment like a lightbulb or penny dropping moment.

Defining a goal

Coaching is also about taking action. So a coach will always be focusing on what do you want to achieve, that will be different to the situation you are in now. A good coach will take time with this. For instance, a client might say they want to be less stressed (and don’t we all!), a coach won’t just take that for an answer, they will tap into, what does being less stressed mean for the client specifically and how will they know they have achieved it.

Taking action and getting results

Any coach worth their salt will focus their coaching on the outcomes that their clients seek. Whilst a coach can’t wave a magic want to get you your desired results, they are 100% committed to you to achieving them. This is why taking action is so important in coaching, because if you don’t take action, then how will anything be different?

During coaching, a coach will be focusing on what actions need to be taken. This isn’t about setting homework! The actions will be entirely relevant to your specific situation and the things you want to achieve. A good coach will work with you to identify what actions you need to take between sessions and they will also challenge the actions being identified (again, gently) to check how relevant and realistic they are to what you are ultimately seeking to achieve. Coaching actions are not about creating another “to do” list. Far from it. They are about the small yet significant steps that are achievable, that will shift you to where you want to be.

If you’d like to know more about working with me, I have space on my “How to be an Effective Leader” programme. You can find out more here: Services

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