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What is Coaching?

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Let's take a look at the basic elements of a coaching conversation, as well as a common trap that disempowers the coaching relationship and a simple way to avoid it ...


3 Pre-requisites
Coaching skills
Arc of a coaching conversation

First, there are typically 3 pre-requisites for a coaching conversation.

  1. A coach

  2. A coachee willing to be coached

  3. A coachee's topic*

* preferably a topic that is neutrally-charged, otherwise it may be difficult for the coachee to shift to another perspective.

Second, during the coaching conversation, the coach will often use coaching skills such as:

  • actively listening

  • asking questions

  • articulating what's going on

  • ...and many more

Third, the arc of a coaching conversation is typically:

Establishing the Coachee's Topic --> An Exploration --> A Shift in Awareness --> The Coachee making a Commitment to an Action (from this new awareness)


A coach, no matter what level of expertise, can get sucked into the juiciness of a coachee's stories. (It's natural; coaches want to help) While seasoned coaches may recover quicker to a coaching stance, the trap is a coach falling into mentoring, teaching, and/or consulting on the coachee's topic and attempt to SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM.

❌ Mentor, Teach, or Consult

While useful in small doses, mentoring, teaching, and consulting in coaching conversations has continually shown to disempower coachees and the coach/coachee relationship. Therefore to act as an anchor in your coaching convo, I created an image to burn into your brain. 🔥🧠😀

In the image above, the coachee is the person on the left, the wall represents the coachee's problem, obstacle, scary edge, etc., and the starry glow on the other side of the wall are the unconscious gifts that lie dormant within the coachee.

The coach’s job is to make the coachee big enough to see over their wall and to the areas of enlightenment. You don’t solve their problems; you support them in solving their own problems. And you do that by coaching the person, not the problem.

So if you are a leader who happens to step into powerful conversations (And I urge you to go find them!), remember that both people and teams are naturally creative, intelligent, generative, resourceful, and whole. You are just there to remind them to keep looking beyond their problems and within for their purpose.

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