Four Areas A Coach Develops So You Can Live Life Well
Living life well takes practice. No one expects a person to master, say, the piano or surgery or a forklift, without sustained training and practice. So it is with life. If you want to live life well—to live it with verve, meaning, and purpose—it helps to have training and practice.
There are four key areas that a good coach works to develop in a client. Developing each of these areas is essential to being able to create a life to your own design.
Expand your range
If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer and you need to drive a screw, it’s not going to go well. Because it won’t go well, you’re likely to get frustrated—perhaps enough to abandon the entire project. If you were to expand the number of tools in your toolbox by dropping down to the hardware store and picking up a screwdriver—you’d make the job much easier.
Making your way through life is no different. If you don’t have the right tools for the job, you’re not going to have the life you want. In life, the tools a coach works to develop are behaviors. Say you want a raise and the only tool in your behavioral toolbox is “agreeableness.” Agreeable people want to be liked, to keep other people happy, and to avoid conflict. As you can imagine, agreeableness would not be the most effective tool to have when you walk into your boss’s office. Assertiveness, persuasiveness, and confidence might be more effective.
Coaching expands your range by developing new behaviors. Look at your life—are there areas that aren’t working? Areas where you are frustrated, angry, resentful, resigned? If so, it’s likely that you just don’t have the effective behaviors to create the life you want in that area.
To live life well be creative and not reactive
Say you ask your boss for a raise, she says no, and—you’re not an agreeable type—you respond sarcastically. Instantly, you realize that sarcasm is not likely to help your cause, you mutter an apology and beat it out of her office.
This is common. Something happens and you react reflexively or automatically. A reflexive response might improve the situation, but usually doesn’t. Generally, it makes matters worse—and by worse, I mean that it makes you less likely to achieve your intended results.
Coaching works to pry open a gap, to generate a moment of self-awareness between an event and your reaction to it. In that gap, you have the opportunity to consider the situation: What would be the most productive way for me to respond in this situation? Choosing your response intentionally instead of reflexively generally produces better results.
Busting up your reactivity is a critical task of coaching. If you say or do things that you later regret or get you into trouble—imagine how much better your life would be if you responded more creatively to your circumstances.
Choose your being to live the life you want
You’re in a meeting, one of your direct reports is wandering off agenda and wasting your time. You’re irritated. Question: What is irritation going to get you? Probably, nothing good. It keeps you from being fully engaged in the meeting, it doesn’t feel good, and it might provoke a comment you’ll later regret.
What would happen if you were to swap out irritation for generosity? He’s young, just getting started, and could use a little support and guidance about how to conduct himself in a professional environment. Generosity might lead to a gentle suggestion to come back to the agenda and perhaps some post-meeting coaching about how to be productive in meetings.
Different ways of being produce different results. Developing your ability to choose your being allows you to respond more appropriately to any situation. Powerful people—people who get the results they want—can powerfully choose their beings.
Open or closed
Every action you take; every decision you make is either open or closed. “Open” means you’re being authentic, charitable, inclusive, and loving. “Closed” means you’re being defensive, righteous, selfish, and fearful. If we live open lives, we risk being rejected, laughed at, humiliated, dismissed, or otherwise hurt. When we live closed lives, we are trying to protect ourselves from hurt. But closed lives are small and impoverished lives; open lives are fuller and more joyous—though the risk of being hurt is ever-present. It takes courage to live an open life.
If fear runs your life, you’re not living as full a life as you could be. The task of coaching is not to banish the fear—it’ll always be with you until you stop challenging yourself—but to grow your courage so that your fear no longer stops you.
Create your future
You were thrown into your life—you had no choice in your parents, your culture, your genes, or your circumstances. Fate dealt you a hand of random cards. Perhaps you were lucky and got a good hand; perhaps not and you have a truly tragic hand. Unfortunately, unlike a game of poker, you can’t fold and wait for a better deal. What you have is all you’re going to get.
Your mission in life is to play the cards you have been dealt as well as you can. How you play your cards determines the quality of your life. You can play aimlessly, or you can play creatively with an open heart. It’s your choice—and like any athlete committed to gold, it helps to have a coach.
Go for the gold
If you are committed to living your life well—with joy, love, and adventure—get in touch with me; let’s get started today.
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