Coaching with strong mind, strong heart, strong stomach

Influence is not always fun. Supportive influence is not always fun. If you want to communicate in a way that gets results, it will feel good overall. It might not feel good all the time.

Let's take coaching as an instance of supportive influence that can be tough on your sense of yourself and your beliefs about the world. This is not the popular view: visit any of the coaching associations or training advertisements and you won't find this caveat: This activity may break your heart or your spirit. Caution is encouraged.  Nope. Instead you find definitions about 'partnering' and language around 'empowering.'  Yes and.

Coaches training should ask: Do you know how to develop a strong heart, a strong head, and a strong stomach?

Some days, your clients will take your work and run with it. And forget that you had anything to do with it. Yes, of course it is optimal when your clients own their changes. But be honest: where is your satisfaction (and your business plan) if clients cannot or will not articulate the connection between your work and their increased success?

Some days, your clients will show up and then steadfastly resist you. The tough ones are very polite, and they think really fast. They will cooperate fully except that they will not let you do the work they hired you to do.  They will look you in the eyes and lie to you, often because they are also misleading themselves.  You will feel that if only you were more expert, more professional, you would know how to find a better self in them. You will feel that it is your fault they are stuck.

Some clients will tell you things that make your real self (the one under the trained veneer) squirm. They'll have values that are not your values and they'll be defiant about serving beliefs that you can see are directly related to their pain. They will be so sure that they are right they will leave no room for other possibilities and you will sit and be present to the poison they carry into every encounter.

This is coaching. Good coaches are most often the ones who can accept it and let it go. They have strong minds, strong hearts, strong stomachs.  They are curious about what has happened without being attached to it and they forget it as quickly as possible so that they can focus on the good stuff. They somehow keep themselves clear and clean and optimistic.

Good training for coaches is not finished after putting coaches through a process that is likely to work for most clients. It is not finished after coaches model their mentors and practice and read books by famous coaches with famous clients. It is not finished, because strong hearts, strong minds and strong stomachs require ongoing conditioning. They required that you put yourself in a situation where you can intentionally build your coaching muscles so that they serve you well on the days when you are asking more of yourself than your self is happy to give.


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