“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky.”
This time I’m sharing a guest post I wrote not long ago concerning how certain aspects of a mindfulness practice can become useful tools for coaches in dealing with distractions or emotional reactions that may arise during or after coaching sessions. These ‘tools’ have been useful to me, and I hope they’ll be useful to you too!
The guest post was first published in Coaching World in January 2018, published by the International Coach Federation (ICF). You can see the original publication here, and I’d like to point out that copyright is held by the ICF (meaning it should not be reproduced or reblogged without gaining permission from the ICF first).
Mindfulness as a Coaching Tool?
What’s a coaching tool to you? Something you pull out of your “toolbox” and “apply” to a client? Like MBTI? The GROW Model? Or, a perspective on coaching that provides a whole variety of questions and approaches?
What do you think of when you picture mindfulness? Something fluffy and soft, like a comforting pillow?
I ask this because these days mindfulness is talked of widely as a solution to almost every ill. If we’re mindful, we might eliminate depression and stress, cultivate clarity of vision, influence our surroundings to the good, run better companies, and possibly live longer more healthy lives. Practising mindfulness for even a few minutes a day could increase our sense of well-being, helping us to be comfortable in our own skins, as well as accepting of life as it really is, as opposed to being fretful because things aren’t what we’d like them to be…
If this were the full story, mindfulness really would be the ‘grand fluffy pillow’ of development interventions. The problem is that the story’s a little more complicated than that. What if mindfulness weren’t so fluffy after all?
Have you ever left a coaching session groaning, “Can things really get any worse? Is my coaching really so dire? I’m an idiot!”? Whilst this can be a common reaction amongst coaches in training, don’t be fooled into thinking it doesn’t happen to more seasoned coaches from time to time too.
Possibly the reaction is accurate. The coaching session was that dire, and you really are an idiot. I’d hazard a guess, though, that if you’re a qualified experienced coach (or even a newbie in most cases), the more likely story is that something’s been triggered in you which has retrospectively coloured your memory of the experience of the whole session. It’s part of a reflective coach’s duty to try to get to the bottom of such things rather than brush them under a convenient carpet to be tripped over at a later date.
Here I’m going to touch on the kinds of circumstances that might cause such an extreme reaction in a coach, and suggest 3 simple processes we can build into our planning which can help put the experience into perspective. These 3 processes are things we should be incorporating into our thinking anyway, but here we’re looking at them as being helpful when we really need to find a different perspective.