Coaching through difficult times can be just that- difficult. This “new normal” feels anything but normal (especially the normal we had come to understand) and has truly upped the ante elevating us to a new level of difficulty. Outlined are key pillars we’ve found to support coaching through uncertainty and encourage you to adapt them to your coaching style.
To look through the lens of the client; usually, when they’re facing a difficult dilemma, transition, or period, they’re the main one’s impacted (or a handful of people within their system), however, it’s rare that everyone in their ecosystem (and let’s be honest- the world) is also experiencing difficulty at this unseen heightened collective level…and coaches, we’re no exception. Currently facing the second “once in a lifetime” financial crisis, racial inequality and upset, and one’s health and safety threatened at every corner or sneeze, and waiting for the inevitable “other shoe to drop” or in this case another spike in COVID cases and all of the other familiar pain points.
It begs the question, “How does one coach through uncertainty?” with the added dash of… “When they themselves may be dealing with that uncertainty as well?” This little cocktail of uncertainty can feel overwhelming, that’s why it’s recommended to have a strong sense of self-care, which can consist of breathing exercises, a guided meditation, or a simple walk around the block (or due to COVID a couple of laps around the living room). These rituals, along with others act as a foundation to ensure you are taking care of yourself, so that you may be available to support your clients. Think back to when getting on a plane (back then it was taking you to your destination, not to a hospital room), the flight attendant would share the safety precautions and guidelines and in the event of turbulence or loss of elevation, they always instructed for you to put on your oxygen mask before you assist others. A golden rule, for life and death, both of the physical and emotional.
Once you have created a self-care practice, the next step is normalizing. For them, for you, and for the bartender who created that cocktail of uncertainty. By normalizing the uncertainty faced by the collective whole, it sets the path to start removing those blocks and start getting to the root of the pain.
A fundamental piece to this equation is holding space (see our previous post discussing Holding Space for more information). You may have already experienced this for yourself, where the scales have shifted a bit from sessions of the past, that were more focused on accountability and being action-oriented to now holding the space for your client. It’s not to say accountability and action steps have gone away- not at all! It’s more about being present with your client and letting what emerges navigate the session.
The remaining two pillars to support you in coaching through uncertainty revolve around you as a coach, more specifically fine-tuning and adding to your skillset and engaging in a network with other coaches. These two pieces, education and networking will support you through this time, as coaching right now is needed more than ever, it’s crucial that we lean on one another and create dialogue, to understand what other coaches are encountering during their sessions and to learn from one another. It’s one of the highlights of coaching, what separates it from other industries, this is a community, a collective intelligence, use it, add to it, nurture it, it can act as a lifeline, like phoning a friend.