What is the story you’re living out?

Coaching a client this week, I was struck by the power of the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are. Formed early on in our lives, our stories shape our relationships with others, and inform the strategies we use to make our way in the world.

Funny thing is, we grow into adults, our bodies and appearance change dramatically, we accumulate qualifications, possessions, and families and we develop the habits that mark us out as well functioning adults. But often our core story remains the same.

I’m not very smart. I’m not the confident one. I never seem to quite get it right. I try hard, but no one recognizes what I do.

Unfortunately, the story is often a limiting one. And it comes with an associated strategy.

If I’m not that smart, I’ll get ahead by working harder than anyone else. If I’m not that confident I’ll use my smarts to do well in an environment where people skills are not that important.

The more effective the strategy is, the harder it is to change later on.

The disconnect feels particularly strange when you start to realize that you see yourself very differently to how others see you. I heard a quote somewhere, “The last thing we learn is the impact we have on others.”

One way of understanding coaching is that it helps individuals to surface these stories, examine them, and explore the possibility of living into an alternative story.

What is the story you’re living out?

Coach-Client Partnership?

coaching partnershipThe subject of partnerships is one that has become very important to me, especially since starting my own business two years ago. Reflecting back on two years of running a small business, with three different partners, convinced me that possibly the most important thing in business is who you  partner with (or, as one friend of mine put it, also a business owner, whether you take on a partner at all).

The penny that dropped for me today was around coaching and partnerships. The point is often made that the coach-client relationship should be a partnership. To make this point clearer one can contrast it with other kinds of relationships: parent-child, doctor-patient, therapist-patient, teacher-student, mentor-mentee.

I guess the distinction is that coaching should be a partnership of equals, and there shouldn’t be a difference in rank between coach and client. However, in practice this is often difficult to achieve, I guess because the format is so similar to a mentor-mentee or therapist-patient relationship.

So the penny that dropped for me was essentially this: What would it be like if I approached my coaching relationships the way that I now approach potential business partnerships? What if I  only moved ahead with a coaching engagement if I was excited about working with the client, because of an alignment at some fundamental level, and because I truly believed we could produce exciting results by working together?

Comments anyone?