Coaching is a very transformative experience. And it should be. Getting a certificate costs a small fortune and rightfully so. There is an incredible amount of knowledge and skills packed into the process.
So, usually you are paying a coach a hefty fee for their time. You expect the intended transformation: getting a promotion, changing your career path, getting ready for a new stage in life or getting un-stuck from something which plagued you for years.
Transformations in coaching are expected. However, I’m in awe of the “byproduct transformations” which I observed too often to be just an accident. More than a few times, my clients got some insight completely unrelated to their coaching goal, and the simple expansion of their self-awareness was enough to get rid of some serious stuff. A couple of examples:
One of my clients suffered from social anxiety. Whenever he was in a social setup, even as common as buying groceries in the store, he was overly self-aware of himself. If you ever experienced shyness, you can relate; if you didn’t experience it, it may sound completely puzzling for you. Why would anybody be anxious about how others will perceive him in a grocery store?!
However, that is just a single example. It happened all the time – when my client was attending a church, interacting with other parents on a school parking lot, or even chatting with his neighbors over the fence. Social anxiety was his constant companion.
We had four coaching sessions and this issue appeared a few times, but it was never our focus.
Another customer suffered from the paramount sense of guilt. She always put herself at the last place in her family – not from a sense of loving care, but rather from the sense of guilt.
In our coaching, we worked on her business. In one session, after I asked her a question about why she functions in a specific way, she connected the dots: “Oh, because I feel guilty!”
In that moment, despite the fact she sat firmly in her chair (we communicated via Zoom), I could apply to her the expression “stopped in her tracks.” She was able to connect some of her weird business behaviors to that sense of guilt. Then, she realized quickly where this guilt came from – it was enticed by her mother. Telling everything that was wrong with her daughter was her parenting style.
We explored this self-discovery for a moment, and we went back to the main coaching process.
A month after our latest session, my client plagued with social anxiety told me: “My anxiety is down to zero. Its level had been dropping gradually, but I didn’t even notice it was gone!”
One day, he was simply visiting a nearby chapel and he caught himself at not thinking what others are thinking of him. Just like that.
A week after my business client made her discovery, she told me that her sense of guilt was completely gone! She could provide a few specific examples when she behaved differently than normal. For example, her daughter wanted to travel for the internship to Africa. My client didn’t think it was a good idea. But in the past, she would have succumbed to the wish of her daughter in the name of her personal freedom. My client had avoided at all cost the impression that she is coercing her kids into anything.
But after our coaching session? She just said to her daughter she doesn’t support the idea of the internship in Africa. Because she didn’t.
And that was just one example of many. My client has actually transformed her thinking and behavior.
Transformation of the mindset and behaviors is the actual objective of coaching, at least in the way I do it. Yet, those “byproduct” transformations are an integral part of the coaching process. As a coach, I never purposefully pursue them. Most of the time, at the beginning of the process I have no clue my clients have those various issues, beliefs, and behavior patterns.
So, how come my clients are able to overcome them? The coaching process is owned by clients. They are in charge of it. A good coach is just a companion, watcher, assistant. Each of such transformation started in the minds of my clients. Prodded by my questions, they were able to connect the dots and understand how their past experiences programmed them to be who they are now. In both of the above stories, such realization was all they needed to change.
Sometimes, the realization happens wholly in the subconscious mind. I’ve already shared a story of my client who was desperate to find another hour in his fully packed days, and the next day his body woke him up an hour earlier.
I am convinced, in all three cases the true transformation happened at the subconscious level. In any of the above processes, we didn’t try to dismantle those problems and beliefs. My clients didn’t come up with some brilliant plan of action to get rid of their anxiety or guilt. In the case of the man who started waking up one hour earlier, we were both thinking at the end of our coaching session that it didn’t move the needle at all!
There is a magic when two people meet together, abandon social masks and openly share their bare thoughts.
If you’d asked me how my clients experienced those transformations, I couldn’t answer. I don’t know what really happened. But I know it happens often enough to consider those “side effects” an inseparable benefit of a coaching process.
I don’t know the why and how. But I know it works. So, if you want to experience similar transformation, you’d better start looking for a coach.
Originally published at Quora.