There come times in our lives when we encounter challenges that defy our ability to solve the way we normally overcome problems. Our usual tools—our knowledge, skills, and talents—no longer apply. These challenges seem other-in-kind. We tend to either discard them as anomalies or avoid them as uncomfortable terrain. Most of us can navigate around these “storm clouds,” at least for a time. The clouds may retreat. They lurk on the horizon and reassert themselves at awkward moments, obscuring our view and sense of options. These clouds only disperse when we find new methods for breaking through to the blue field of new possibilities. We call this process finding our possible skies.
Coaching is rewarding and not easy. It demands an honest look at the story of our lives in order to imagine a more expansive tale that we can write for ourselves. We’re not always thrilled with what we discover about ourselves along the way. These insights are precious, for they make breakthroughs and lasting change achievable.
How Coaching Works
Coaching is an intentional conversation in which a coach uses inquiry, active listening, and creative tools to enhance self-awareness, self-directed learning, and capacity to thrive. We take an “integral” approach to coaching, looking at the whole person in order to address specific development concerns in a client’s professional or personal life. Someone may come to coaching with a specific, pressing concern. That’s fine—we would tackle the topic, although we usually take a step back to get a broader picture, in order to tackle not only the topic but also the deeper challenge that may be showing up in one or more places in the person’s life.
Coaching can be a particularly powerful tool for anyone who performs at a high level in their life. One of the ironies of talent is that the greater our abilities, the more we rely on them, including as covers in situations where they don’t quite fit. This strategy is deceptively efficient: it may succeed in the moment but squanders opportunities for growth. It delays an inevitable confrontation with storm clouds that aren’t so easily broken. Coaching helps us face these clouds sooner rather than later and break through to the sunlit possibilities of a greater self.