I ask all of my clients what courage means to them and how might it help them overcome the challenge they face. But what does courage mean to me and what does it look like in my coaching?
Courage to me is our ability to move through fear and do what our intuition is telling us is the right thing to do. And in my coaching, courage means that I don’t back away from discomfort, in fact, I lean into it in order to be of service to my clients.
So what do I mean by leaning into the discomfort? What kind of situations might come up in a coaching session?
What does courage in coaching look like?
I don’t back way from difficult topics.
When I sense that I might be heading into a difficult topic with a client, I don’t back off. Instead, I get curious and lean in. And when I get push back, I keep the pressure on and keep leaning in with empathy and compassion. It’s my job to go in there because most likely my client’s done a pretty good job keeping people out.
I say what I see.
It’s difficult to tell someone the truth, especially if it’s something they feel they’ve done a pretty good job hiding. It’s also a hard thing to tell someone what you see as their part in a situation they may feel a victim to. The first place us coaches start is always ‘what’s within your control’ and ‘what responsibility do you need to take’. And courage is telling someone what we see and where they can begin to change.
I hold a space for difficult emotions.
It takes courage to be present to someone else’s difficult emotions because we first have to be comfortable with feeling and expressing our own. I never know what might unfold in a conversation and what we might uncover. Sometimes we unearth emotions that have been stifled for years but need to be processed in order to heal, let go and move on. And courage in coaching is holding that space, providing empathy and compassion while also remaining objective in order to guide clients through the process of transformation.
I name the elephant in the room
Either in workshops or working one-on-one, when an elephant arises in the room, I’m not afraid to name it. And it doesn’t stop there. I use that elephant as an opportunity to have a conversation that needs to be had in order to resolve a conflict or problem that needs to be resolved. I’m sometimes the most unpopular one in room, people sometimes don’t like me in the moment. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I ignored important information like elephants in the room!
Why is being a courageous coach important?
Just like many things that involve courage, it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s uncomfortable. It pisses people off. People tell me they don’t like the conversation and they’re really uncomfortable with what’s happening. Sometimes they try to distract me or deflect me just to take the pressure off. Sometimes I’m the most unpopular person in the room.
But when I became a coach I committed to providing a service to empower others to show up as their best selves, discover and learn their full potential and be inspired to never stop growing. I also committed to living inside my own values of courage, authenticity, integrity, love and never giving up on our dreams.
So in order to live inside my own values while being of service to others, it’s my job to keep the pressure on, it’s my job to help others lean into the discomfort so they can see the truth, feel their emotions and open themselves to a new perspective and new possibilities. It’s my job to be courageous as a coach, because without it I couldn’t help my clients and live inside my own life commitments.
So I’m ok with being the most unpopular person in the room now, because it’s only for the short term and it’s not about being liked or popular for me. It’s about doing what’s right and being of service.
Change is confronting, personal responsibility is uncomfortable and vulnerability can leave us emotionally exposed. And I know people push back because of this. It’s when people begin to see how committed I am to their growth and how courageous I am FOR them, it’s then when I become the most welcome person in the room. I’m willing to sacrifice short term unpopularity and discomfort for long term growth and transformation.
Imagine if all of us as leaders took on an approach of standing up for what’s right, being of service and were willing to be a bit unpopular or uncomfortable for the longer term gain? Imagine if you could teach your leaders the same approach that I use in my coaching and begin to shift your workplace culture, what would be possible? What could you achieve then?
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