Can we coach ourselves?
This era is definitely a time of taking control of our lives, our actions and our opportunities. In many areas, we are able to replace experts by learning how to do things ourselves. Sometimes this works very well – we can watch a Youtube clip and learn how to change a cable on a bike or fix a PC glitch. Sometimes it can empower us when we use the internet to do some research on a health condition we have (even if doctors hate it when we do that!). The coaching industry has to ask itself whether people will stop using coaches and start coaching themselves and this article offers some thoughts on this.
Coaching ourselves – what does this mean?
I remember a 1970’s comedian who did a dual dressing act - half of him dressed as a man, and half as a woman. He would switch positions as each “person” would speak. This slightly manic, but funny approach is not what I mean in reference to coaching ourselves.
What I mean is the process of taking a topic, challenge or aspiration, thinking about it deeply, having some insights and deciding on a course of action. And doing it all by ourselves!
Pros and cons of coaching ourselves
There are plenty of benefits of having a go ourselves, including:
- instant accessibility – we can decide to work on a topic, and start straight away
- process to follow – we can follow a well-structured process for our self-coaching
- choice of style – we can write, talk out loud to ourselves, dictate into our phone, sit at our desks, walk the dog; the options are endless and are up to us
- minimise external influence – the only way that our ideas and thoughts will be influenced from outside will be in what we choose to let into our heads
- no people-pleasing – the actions and ideas that we walk away with will not be those we are saying to gain approval or impress anyone else
And on the other side, there are reasons why this approach may not be as effective as being coached by someone else, including:
- it is easier to be challenged by someone else than by ourselves
- our blind spots remain our blind spots
- patterns of behaviour, thinking, avoidance are more likely to be noticed by a coach than by us
- the direction that a conversation will take may be influenced by your responses to the powerful questions that the coach asks
- action is more likely to follow being coached than by self-coaching, as external accountability is a strong driver
The pros list is powerful enough to decide it’s worth engaging in self-coaching, but the cons list shows that there is also benefit from having an external coach.
What’s the process for self-coaching?
There are different processes to follow that can offer self-help. These may include things like identifying obstacles and aspirations or having a set of questions to work through to arrive at your own answers.
Generally, good ways to self-coach include:
- giving yourself time to use the whole process
- writing if it suits you
- returning to the topic a day, 3 days and a week later to see how thinking on it has developed
- be very specific on learnings and actions
Self-help could be seen as an unusual thing to promote on a coaching directory site, however, it's a really important tool for self-development to use alone or alongside coaching sessions. As life coaches, we do encourage you to do some self-coaching from time to time, to supplement your coaching with us. The benefits of working with a coach will be multiplied by the benefits of being able to self-coach too, so it is a win all round.
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