what is coaching

What is coaching?

On consecutive days last week I found myself producing an explanation of what coaching is for Ella’s Kitchen where I provide maternity & paternity coaching and being asked what my definition of coaching is by people training to be coaches on the Barefoot PG Cert Coaching course I facilitate on. I have to admit that whenever I need to do this I feel pretty resistant! I have an answer, which draws on the influences of many, and it goes something like this:

Coaching is a thought provoking and creative process designed to inspire you to maximise your personal and professional potential.  It provides the opportunity, time and space to consider what is truly important to you both personally and professionally. The coach’s assumption is that you are the expert in your own life and that given the rare gift of time and focused attention you will be empowered to come up with the best ways forward to meet your own challenges and opportunities. The conversation between you and the coach is confidential. 

It’s a pretty good description of how I see coaching. And, yet whatever I write feels reductive, and so much less than the potential of the actual experience. I believe coaching is at its heart highly practical and yet the quality of the process is nebulous and hard to define.  

It got me thinking about how to define the undefinable, and grasping those nebulous elements.  So I’m giving it a go, the core elements of coaching as I see them are:

  • Connection – the quality of a coaching relationship is all about connection, built on mutual confidence and trust
  • Communication – listening, honesty, challenge, support – they all form part of the coaching process – it’s a much higher quality of communication than we averagely engage in
  • Possibility – I often find that in a coaching conversation many more possibilities become available and yet the uniquely perfect one for the individual emerges as defined by them
  • Transformation – it’s a big word, often overused, however I believe that helping people to help themselves – whatever the context – has the potential to be transformative

I’d love to know what you think. If you’ve never experienced coaching does this demystify it at all? If you have experience of coaching or being coached does this work for you? What’s missing here, what more?