One of the things I like about leaving comments in other folks’ blogs is the way thoughts come bubbling unbidden to the surface and seem to express themselves spontaneously.
The same thing happens when I respond to the comments people leave in the boxes here. I found myself writing about my coaching background recently when I replied to a comment left by Nadia of Happy Lotus.
My coach training had me investigate [encouragement] from all angles, finding ways to acknowledge, co-create, fortify, uplift, inspire, invite expansion, build on achievement and elicit a person’s greatness. It’s my favourite part of coaching; I can do goal work and am brave enough to challenge folk when they’re hiding behind stories, but championing people…that’s my passion.
Being ill last week gave me the chance to ask myself a lot of questions; these are a few that have helped get me back on track:
- What do you love most about blogging?
- Which pieces of writing are you proudest of, thinking “This is who I am; this is what I do best.”?
- What are you naturally good at?
- How can you best support others, serve, contribute?
This is a piece I wrote for my coaching column last year. It touches on the many ways there are to support people and also looks at how we take our skills for granted.
By the way, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Scottish, so my native tongue is Scots and my second language is UK English. Trolleys are shopping carts in the UK!
Success leaves clues. ~ Anthony Robbins
I’ve often said that coaching moments can creep up on us in the weirdest of places. Last week I had a transcendental moment with some supermarket trolleys…
I’d slept badly and lumbered the two steps from our front door to the car like a bear just out of hibernation. While my husband drove us to his work, I daydreamed and dozily chatted about news items on the radio.
When we arrived, I got out of the passenger side to swap over and drive to the supermarket. Wham! The wind slammed me in the face! As I stood there looking like Medusa and grabbing onto my scarf, my husband, completely unfazed, said “Wild, isn’t it.” He kissed me, smiled and headed into the building.
I scrambled to the driver’s side, got in, slammed the door shut and took a few deep breaths. He’d made driving through a gale look so effortless!
The problem is, I’m not a confident driver and don’t drive on very windy days if I can avoid it. But there I was, faced with a choice; get on with the shopping and drive home, or sit there all day outside my husband’s place of work.
I made it safely to the supermarket, this time noticing the swaying trees and the cars being buffeted as they overtook lorries. I’m not actually a ‘bad’ driver – just a wimp with a weather-related comfort zone.
As I sat in the café, warming my hands around a chunky white coffee cup, I sat musing about mastery and unconscious competence.
My husband can reverse park in a space that looks too small to get through with post-Christmas hips and two bags of shopping. He can cook ten-item breakfasts without breaking sweat or swearing at the kids. He gets strikes every time we go bowling and can pot six or seven balls one after the other in a game of pool. All of it effortless, but here’s the thing… it’s probably never occurred to him that any of those skills constitute mastery. He takes them so much for granted!
When I was going for coach certification, I used to be intimidated by graceful, elegant coaches who made everything seem so effortless. I fought off envy until I learned how to analyse what I admired, what they did and what I could adapt and absorb. I worked very hard, learned how to learn, made a load of silly mistakes and eventually passed the IAC exam. The most important thing I learned from my certification journey is that success leaves clues.
As I was leaving the supermarket, muttering under my breath at my talent for picking trolleys with wayward wheels, I heard an announcement. “Due to the weather conditions, could customers please return their empty trolleys to the trolley bays.” I looked out onto the car park and surveyed a surreal scene; unaccompanied trolleys whizzing and clanging into cars, a tiny bouquet of cellophane-wrapped tulips buffeting and skidding along the road trying to take off, newspapers flying around like kites, and people batting off litter and flying brochures with their flailing hands like a scene from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’.
I saw people struggling with overloaded trolleys, trying to swing them around like rollerblading partners, outstretched arms in a spin. Others lurched for small light items snatched by the wind and watched in alarm as their liberated trolleys trundled off to freedom.
As I walked alongside my wobbly trolley, gently but firmly using my weight to keep it on track as it tried to veer to the right, I suddenly realised that this is what coaches do when faced with clients’ ingrained paradigms, self limiting beliefs and stormy days. We walk alongside them, gently but firmly keeping them on the road they’d rather be on, helping them navigate obstacles along the way and sometimes relieving them of a burden so heavy it’s been paralysing them into inactivity.
We know the difference between directionless emptiness and a load that’s too overwhelming to manoeuvre. We know when it’s time to apply the brakes and when to keep on going and take advantage of momentum. We know how to focus to get through fear.
I may not be the world’s most confident driver, but I’m good at getting the shopping home. (And don’t worry…I don’t actually talk to trolleys!)
What unconscious competence do you take for granted, not just in your work, but in your whole life?