The Coach’s Stand
Originally published in Coaching for Transformation
One of the ways to access our commitment and energy is to develop what we call the coach’s stand. By that, we mean a solid foundation from which we coach and a courageous, empowered attitude that inspires clients. The coach’s stand is a set of physical, mental and spiritual qualities that we embody when we coach. As we stand in our power, we call your clients to step into their own power.
We divide the coach’s stand into three parts:
Physical stand or movement
Metaphor for the coaching relationship
Commitment to what we care about
Our energy and impact in the world are affected by our physical being. We feel confident and powerful when standing, ready to move. Conversely, we may have trouble being expansive in our thinking if we are seated with our arms and legs crossed. As coaches, we need to explore and discover the postures and movements that most empower us and our clients. Different physical postures work for different coaches, such as lying on our back with eyes closed, standing with arms stretched wide open, taking a martial arts power pose, or curling up in a ball. Here are a few ways to experiment with the physical parts of the stand:
Pushing on a wall
Moving arms energetically
Jumping up and down
Walking or pacing
Scanning the body for sensations
Opening your eyes widely
Pretending you are swimming in the air
We can develop a range of physical components of our stand to use at different times. The easiest way to discover these is to try out different postures and movements while coaching and notice the impact on the coach, the client and the energy of the coaching relationship. If we get stuck or the client gets stuck, we move! We can notice the subtle impact our physicality has on our inner experience and outer posture. When we are more present, we may find our breath deepens, we relax, or our back straightens. As we experiment with these points of self-awareness we can be surprised at how much our physical being affects the quality and quantity of energy available to the coaching relationship.
Metaphors are powerful symbols. Some images invite reflection, some create energy and others evoke action. Our unique metaphor for the coaching relationship brings power to both coach and client.
Examples of metaphors for the coaching relationship:
Walking along the beach together as co-explorers
Hovering like a hummingbird, taking in the beauty
Fellow ants in an ant hill, comparing notes on the community
Holding the rope, creating safety for the mountain climber
Offering a mirror that actively reveals what’s hidden
Looking out from the crow’s nest
Standing behind the boxer in the ring
Persisting like a curious child
Sword cutting through illusion and self-deception
By creating a metaphor that energizes us, we can bring forward the qualities we want to bring to our coaching. Metaphors come from the right brain. Th ey often appear before we think of them. Without judging, we can open to whatever images come. As we sit with the image, notice what it calls forth. Metaphors can help you embody the CFT core principles as well as your own principles.
When we commit to something happening in each coaching interaction, we go beyond having a curious conversation. Without commitment, the coaching can drift. We may not know the coaching has run off-track, so we train ourselves to notice when our energy is fading or we have missed opportunities to fully engage. When we make a commitment, it helps us overcome our inner critic.
Sourcing unconditional love for ourselves and our client is a natural state of being that invites intimacy and depth. But sometimes we forget our stand. We get triggered, overwhelmed, or fi nd ourselves on auto-pilot. Instead of judging ourselves, we can welcome the tension and take a moment to review our commitment. Then we can ask, what can I do in this moment to recommit to or change my stand? By sourcing power, we create an environment where passion is stirred and vision evolves into reality. Stretching our imagination and pushing our boundaries unleashes the fl ow.
Coaching in general focuses on desired behavior, rather than problematic or bad behavior; but sometimes a few bad examples can illuminate the way forward. Here are some examples of commitments that undermine the effectiveness of the coaching.
Examples of undermining commitments:
Doing it right
Keeping the client from quitting
Helping the client stay comfortable
Avoiding rocking the boat
Showing how much I know
Wanting to be liked
Now ask yourself:
What stories or commitments do you hold that keep you from stepping into your power as a coach? How do you develop commitments that enliven and empower you, your client and the relationship?
You may already know what commitments you want to develop. If so, experiment with them and discover how they affect your coaching. If not, the first place to look is the core principles. Holding these principles will ensure your commitment supports your client’s agenda rather than replacing or nullifying it.
Examples of empowering, enlivening commitments:
My clients connect to their soul and create from their essence
My clients choose powerful actions from full alignment
My clients’ freedom is more important than either of us being comfortable
My clients can count on me to bring the best of my coaching to our sessions
I speak to my clients’ magnificence and challenge anything less than that
I stretch myself for the sake of my clients’ transformational agenda
To enhance your focus on your client, ask yourself:
What are the untapped resources in my client’s life?
How am I holding back and forgetting my client’s resourcefulness? How is this client already whole and moving toward a greater expression of her wholeness? How can I stop problem solving and start trusting my client’s inherent creativity?
To be a masterful coach, we step past the borders of our knowing. The greatest value to clients comes from our willingness to go to the places where we don’t already have the answers. We can be more interested in their ideas and what is possible than in our ideas. Our personal experience or clever solutions might generate excitement momentarily, but do not empower people in the long run.
Imagine that our job as a coach is to explore the places that neither of us know—the possibilities that have not yet surfaced. New directions and new perspectives live in the land of mystery—that place where neither of us have the answer.
When we are called to be someone we’ve never been before, or do something we’ve never done before, we inspire clients to do the same. We can replace rote, predictable coaching with boldness. By taking risks, we hold a vision that is larger than what they can see themselves, which calls them into a deeper space or a bigger game.
We don’t develop the ability to stand with boldness and call out the power by ignoring our feelings, but by deepening your awareness. Many experienced coaches say that some of their most powerful and inspired sessions happen when they enter the coaching without much emotional or physical energy, but are able to tap into unexpected energy and resourcefulness. Self-focused listening brings us into an awareness of what is happening in the moment and the inner resourcefulness to reconnect to our power.
What do you stand for?
When we speak, listen or take action from your stand, we hold the space for bringing new ways of being into existence. When we boldly and publicly claim our stand, we commit to creating a new future for ourselves and our clients.
Using the coach’s stand
Once we have developed the three parts of our stand (physical, metaphor, commitment), we use them to call out our clients’ power. Before each coaching session, we focus on our commitment, step into the metaphor and embody the physical component.
Questions to Consider
Experiment with your coach’s stand. What stand feels most powerful for you?
What do you notice as you focus on the three levels of listening in your coaching sessions?
What do you notice about your sense of presence when you trust your intuition?
What do you notice about your sense of being present when you get curious?
How can you give the gift of full presence?
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