Coaching Overview

It's worth acknowledging what coaching has meant in some circumstances: telling others what to do, how they're doing it wrong, how to solve or fix problems, being harsh, critical, demanding. Some have become very skilled in the art of saying “You're an asshole” in such a way that the person thanks them for it.

This is not what I intend to develop.

The purpose of a coach, in this process, is to cause another's life to work.

This article is written from my perspective. You are my coach or mentor, and I am telling you what is going to be most useful to me–which is, of course, what you're signing up for. Previously, it was written about “coaches/mentors” and “apprentices”, which really didn't communicate what I wanted it to. This is much easier to write, more intimate, and I think clearer.

Ground Rules

  • Total accountability:
    • If I'm is dissatisfied with you, I need to be able to go to your mentor and ask for redress of grievances.
    • You should probably have two mentors, to mediate in the event that the above situation reaches an impasse.
  • Total trust:
    • You can count on me to be coachable (duh) and to actually accept your contributions as such. Ultimately, though, it is your responsibility to cultivate that trust.

Qualities of Coaching

Leading from Beside (Integrity is key)

If I want to get into shape, and you do too, maybe we can work together at it. Leverage our synergies. You know, go to the gym together and encourage each other.

This only works if there is integrity on both sides. Do not give me permission to flake out, by flaking out yourself. (The key to making sure this doesn't happen is to make sure you are maintaining positive, motivating thoughts about going to the gym (or whatever). If you don't think positively about it, you won't feel good about it, you won't want to do it, and integrity will break down.)

Potential pitfall: Boundaries. Don't let this become a co-dependent situation.

Leading from Behind (Presence is key)

FIXME This touches heavily on listening, which can't be fully elaborated on here. Make that page and add the right content so I can just link to it.

Be someone to interface with while working on my own things. Maybe that means encouragement when I'm in the process of doing something; maybe it means course correction if you can see something that I'm doing isn't going to work. The most important part of leading from behind is being present to what's happening, listening for how it's going, and making sure that nothing goes unnoticed.

Notice when you're judging me, and get over it as fast as you can. I am doing the best that I can with what I have right now. Your job is to give me what I need so I can do better; it's difficult or impossible to do so while judgment is present.

Your belief in my abilities and qualities must meet or exceed mine. You must always see my potential. Expose possibilities that were always present, but previously obscured.

You really need to hear and understand what I need and want, what I'm committed to, and the ways I want my life to improve. What is not yet satisfactory, and what will it take to make it satisfactory? (A large part of this is addressed as we go through the personal inventory.)

In my line of work, burnout is a serious problem. Everyone has different threshold. Everyone can take only so much pressure. The manager who hired me into the world of software development knew this, and paid close attention to signs someone was burning out. He would often notice before they would. And he would go tell them to take a couple of extra days off to relax and unwind.

Leading from Ahead (Charisma is key)

(Charisma is a function of giving up one's own agenda for another person, or the idea that they know what would be right, or even that they know what the person really wants.)

Don't Push. What you resist persists. Also don't give advice. In fact, try to talk as little as possible, and if you do talk, see if you can make it a question.

Always be asking yourself if there's anything you could say–or even better, something you could ask–that would make a positive difference in this moment.

If you're telling me about something you did that worked, take care that you're not overwhelming or boring me with 'war stories'.

Do not assume that because something worked for you, that it will necessarily work for me.

Aim for useful questions. If I happen upon an answer, acknowledge it, and keep asking.

Instead of this: Try this:
I think that . . . Is it possible that . . . ?
You should . . . What would happen if you . . . ?
That's not the case. Is that really the case?

Plant an idea such that I have permission to continue thinking about it.

Acknowledge victories (especially ones I don't notice, or try to minimize because that's my favorite cognitive distortion) such that, if I'm not already, I leave motivated to make positive change.

Your job: Resolving Complaints

Complaints come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from minor irritations like mosquito bites to very large-scale issues like global climate change and political corruption. We're talking about four kinds of things:

  • Something I just need to get off my chest,
  • Something that can be forgiven,
  • Something that I can fix, or
  • Something that I need help fixing.

Getting It Out

The first thing to do with any complaint is acknowledge it and observe to see if it becomes complete and disappears. Sometimes, the perception that something doesn't work is just covering up my desire to be heard and understood. This is a subset of my need to feel important. Imagine (maybe you don't need to!) that no one understands you. What must that mean about how much you matter?

It also happens sometimes that when my complaint finally gets voiced and validated, I realize how stupid it was, and forget about the whole thing. If you mentor me through this, see that I forget about it.

Use words like:

  • “Is there anything else you need to say about it? Make sure you get it all out in the open.”
  • “Now that this is fully expressed, is there still anything that needs to be done about it?”

Forgiving My Circumstances

It matters that I don't judge. It keeps me from being who I want to be. It impairs my quality of life. It limits my potential.

You can be of service by illuminating my judgments, my grudges, and helping me find a way to forgive. By the time it's been determined that simply validating my complaint doesn't resolve it, there should be room to engage in an inquiry about what I might give up in order to achieve satisfaction.

  • Acknowledge the Costs–the ways in which the situation sucks . . .
  • . . . and the Payoffs (Hidden or ignored advantages to having the situation or complaint be the way it is.)
    • (Inquire into whether Costs and Payoffs are real or not.)
    • (Is there anything I could be doing about this, that I'm not?)
  • Observe core commitments, and how the complaint conflicts with them
  • Offer a choice: judgment, or any number of alternatives
  • If it makes sense, make a plan for completing the judgment, perhaps by forgiving someone, giving something up, or creating something new.
    • (Make sure to get rid of anything in the way before trying to create. Spaghetti won't stick to a dirty wall.)

I have a crappy, but more thorough investigation into this structure on the judgment page. Like most everything on this wiki, it needs a lot of work.

I'm tempted to design a multi-part meditation or conversation series to resolve judgments or determine if an increase in service is needed, but that sounds like bureaucracy and I don't want to be bureaucratic about any of this.

From the Landmark perspective, this is everything. Circumstances are never going to change, and changing circumstances is never the point. Just change your perspective, your attitude; invent a new possibility. I've had experiences where inventing a new possibility didn't make a difference, or I was just doing it wrong. Here's an example.

Building Solutions

Part of checking to see if a situation is “forgivable” is asking, “is there anything I could be doing about this, that I'm not doing?” If the answer is yes, then those steps should be taken first. You should not just say “go and do this.” Lead from beside. Make sure the thought behind the action is motivating and positive. (“Digging rocks” vs. “Building a cathedral”)

Increasing Service

Sometimes, it's going to be necessary to actually make a real change someplace. Maybe it's something I can do myself; maybe it's something I need help with; maybe it's something that has to change in the world “out there”. Sometimes I can't do it alone. (My favorite therapist ever used to tell me, “You can't make your own sunshine.”) You don't actually provide service, other than coaching. Connect me with resources so I can get assistance if I need it, and support me in (IOW, hold me accountable to) actually leveraging those resources.

Measuring Qualities of life

The ultimate goal is to build a world that works for everyone. (More precisely, the ultimate goal is to build a world which causes everyone's life to work to their complete satisfaction.) Everything you undertake to measure should be in service of this goal: measure the degree to which my life works, and how satisfied I am with it.

FIXME Lots of details will eventually be needed about how to make impartial and effective self-surveys, and how to be scientific, especially given that it's not possible to run a controlled study on one person. Self-surveys may also need to be customized…

The Personal Inventory contains some very important parts of life that should be addressed regularly, if not frequently. Maybe doing a full inventory of those items should happen every quarter, or 6 months. :?: We should, at some point, when the sample size is large enough, study what the optimal interval is between full personal inventories.

However, in service of having my life work to my satisfaction, it's important that we sit down together and define criteria (not goals) around how my life is, and how I'd like it to be. Probably most people's lives will work more than they don't work.

You need to:

  • Establish with me what I want to track, and update what we're measuring if it changes;
  • Come up with a strategy (and backup plans) for collecting the relevant data at sensible intervals;
  • Keep the statistics in whatever database / spreadsheet format we end up developing;
  • Understand enough about statistics that we can effectively analyze the data together;
  • Notice and acknowledge (with gratitude) all the statistical trends you see;
  • report statistics to something larger so we, as a whole, can track the difference we're making in the world.
ground_rules/coaching.txt · Last modified: 2017/08/08 02:29 by naptastic
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