One of the misconceptions about coaches is that they will tell you what to do with your life and hand over some sort of step-by-step guide to ‘making it* better.’ If only I could. (If only you would listen.)
It doesn’t work like that – I can’t tell you what to do (you wouldn’t listen). Instead, coaching recognises that we learn best from ourselves; what we’ve done in the past, what’s worked well and what hasn’t. Coaches prod you into taking a cold hard look at yourself and helping you act in ways that best help you reach your goals.
Luckily this works best with adults, as a week in the life of a 10 year old (some years ago) demonstrates.
“Mum, I‘m going out with Levi – he asked me today and I said yes”.
“What do you mean, ‘going out’ with Levi” ? Asked her Dad. “You’re 10.”
“We don’t go out, Dad. “We’re girlfriend and boyfriend.”
At this point, my husband choked on his toast, turned red, spluttered and the sprang to his feet.
“What ? What ?”
Reluctantly, I decided to put him out of his misery.
“For God sake Adam, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s practise for real life.” I said confident in my ability to give my child step by step instructions on how to deal with the opposite sex.
“Mum, I’ve been dumped.”
“Dumped ?” But you only started going out with yesterday … what happened ?”
He said “We don’t talk anymore.” (The words “It’s not you; its me” and the face of an ex-boyfriend flitted into my brain; followed by “how old are you and why aren’t you still playing with Barbie?”)
“What did he mean, honey ?”
“He said we talked more as friends than we did as girlfriend and boyfriend so he dumped me. The worse thing is, when he asked me out Patrick was really upset as he liked me, and he went up to Levi and said ‘as long as she’s happy’”.
She paused and frowned for a little bit then asked me, “Mum, shall I ask him to go back out with me ?”
This is it, I thought – my chance to pass on life lessons and help my eldest become the woman that I had failed to be ………
“No. Don’t go giving him the impression everyone thinks he’s gorgeous.”
“But he is”
“And that he can treat girls badly and they’ll still want to go out with him.
“But I do.”
“That what he wants is more important than what anyone else wants.”
Resisting the urge to tell her to get some pride, I changed tack and threw in a quick mention of the women’s movement; the importance of self-respect, a couple of vile ex-boyfriends and ended with me reaching the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a career and her father.
Yes, I thought, she is on her way. She is going to be fantastic.
“Mum, I’m going out with Gerome.”
Which is why I only work with adults – and those prepared to learn from their past.
*And of course, ‘it’ refers to your:
- Relationships with others
- Vision for the future
- Work / life balance
- Inability to speak in public