There is a lot of confusion about what Life Coaching is and what it is not. People also have many preconceived ideas around how easy or hard it is to change. However, Neuroscience is teaching us that our ability to build new neural pathways never goes away, even well into old age, and with the right coaching everyone can change. In this interesting article How Coaching Really Works (And How To Make The Most Of It) Kristin Constable, of Forbes Coaching Council, explains the scientific effects of coaching, how the coaching process works and how to make the most of your coaching investment.
How much time have you spent working through questions like, “What’s the real challenge here?” or “What does ideal really look like?” If you’ve made it that far, how much time have you spent actually exploring your beliefs, patterns of thinking, behaving and ways of being?
I’m often asked about coaching and how it works. I’ve searched all over the internet to find a simple answer to what should be a simple question, but I have yet to find one that really sums it all up. Here’s my perspective on that surprisingly tricky question.
The Scientific Effects Of Coaching
What we now know about the brain is that it is not static. The brain can and does create new neural networks and pathways all the time, pruning ones that are no longer useful and strengthening ones that are often used.
By changing our thinking, we can change the neural pathways in the brain, creating new ways of seeing and interacting with the world. As coaches, we use tools and techniques that promote neuroplasticity. By thinking about our thinking (also called metacognition) we can create new feedback loops for deeply ingrained beliefs that trigger responses, which trigger feelings that lead into action or avoidance. In this way, as Brenda Corbett and Justin Kennedy, Ph.D., wrote for Choice, coaching can in fact change your brain.
When clients tend to a way of thinking during the coaching process and choose new behaviors and practices often enough, new neural networks are formed, the landscape of the brain is changed, and once difficult practices now become easy habits.
Now that you know the effect coaching can have on the brain, you may be able to make sense of the incredible stats out there, like why organizations that cultivate coaching cultures see a 529% return on investment or why successful entrepreneurs like Oprah Winfrey wouldn’t go a day without a talented coach in their corner.
So, What Does The Actual Process Look Like?
Although there are almost as many models of coaching as there are coaches, there are four stages that easily communicate the process:
1. Awareness. Coaching challenges the way we think about our thinking so that we can question our conscious and unconscious ways of being and interact with the world from an egoless place.
2. Clarity. Through coaching, we are able to name and define a real issue by focusing on one piece at a time and separating fact from feelings.
3. Choice. Fearlessly, and without boundaries, coaching allows us to limit our beliefs and explore possibilities for change. Here, we create new neural connections that promote new ways of thinking and behaving.
4. Action. We can commit to an energizing plan or practice to rewire our way of thinking and behaving that supports our desired way of being.
The pitfall many people fall into when setting goals is jumping right into the “Action” stage. Without spending some time gaining awareness, clarity, and exploring choices, actions are often dead in the water before we even start, because we haven’t rewired our brains to support us in our goals.
Now, there is one component of the coaching process that we can’t leave out, and that is the coach. Having the right coach in your corner allows you to see another perspective, consider questions you would never normally consider, be challenged in a powerful way, and ensure that the growth that comes from feeling safe (not just comfortable) occurs. A good coach doesn’t let you off the hook; they hold you accountable to be the best version of yourself and believe in your potential.
Before hiring a coach, ask yourself: Are your values aligned? What kind of experience and credentials do they have? Do you work well together? Ask for a sample session to get a feel for their style and process. Most importantly, make sure you are completely on board before diving in.
Getting The Most Out Of Coaching
The process of coaching is a container: a time and place, where you have an opportunity to drop what you’re doing and egolessly explore your thinking, ways of being, and the masterpieces that you would like to create in all aspects of your life. If you aren’t the architect of your life, then who is?
If you’re wondering where you might get the biggest ROI from coaching, spend some time considering these key questions:
• What are the things that matter to you most?
• What really inspires and energizes you?
• If you had no boundaries how would you be spending your time? What would you be creating?
• How do you define success?