In my most recent “Coaching with the Enneagram” certificate program, one of the most coaching-savvy participants – an excellent coach and an exemplary coachee – asked me what I thought were the most essential ingredients in an excellent coach, and I responded with this: Presence, Patience and Practice.
Everyone in the program understood those three simple words, and I thought it might be useful to put these in three blogs, one on each “P.” This 3rd blog is on Practice.
The word practice in coaching has many meanings, which is part of its power.
Coach inner practice
First, it is important for every coach to have their own psychological-spiritual practice. In other words, keep yourself aware, growing, and work on resolving any issues that are within you because these will impact your ability to coach others. These might be known as our “blind-spots,” though we may be aware of them, just not know how to or choose not to resolve them.
Hopefully, you have one that works for you. Perhaps it’s a mind-clearing meditation, a heart-based practice, or body work/somatic work. There are walking meditations for those who like to move, a wide variety of yoga practices and other martial arts. Walking can be a practice, depending on what you are doing while walking. If you are walking in a state of “being,” it is a practice!
If you are really using the Enneagram with your clients for their development, hopefully you are also using it for yourself. And that means not using your type to simply explain yourself or understand yourself better. It means using the Enneagram and type-based activities for growth. The Enneagram Development Guide is especially useful as it has 50+ development activities for each type, both psychological and spiritual.
Practice your coaching
Most coaches get better the more coaching experience they have and the wider the variety of clients they attract. So if you are not experiencing your coaching as advancing, ask yourself why this is the case. Are you trying new techniques to keep yourself vibrant? Are you working with the clients that you want to help, rather than going through the motions of coaching or following techniques so closely that you forget the person in front of you?
Hints for Practice
Let go of the idea you have to be a perfect coach. Let go of thinking you can’t do something right or can’t do something at all. Let go of the way that there’s a right way to develop (yourself and your client).
Remind yourself daily that your own inner work is just as important, maybe even more important, than the work you do with clients. Focus on your own development; make it a priority!
Let go of your goals and plans; stay with your client’s goals even if these change. Help your clients think big as well as practically. Work to be more in touch with your real feelings and share these with others, even your clients when and if it is useful to them.
Coach to the client’s mind, challenging and helping them test their assumptions, and to their somatic or physical self, as the body holds feelings, beliefs and traumas that need to be released. Remind yourself that feelings matter but they are only one-fourth of reality if you take into consideration the mind, body and spirit!
Coach to the client’s heart and body as well as to the mind. Feelings are often the client’s fuel and need to go in a constructive direction. The body holds feelings, beliefs and traumas that need to be released. Remind yourself that the mind matters but it is only one-fourth of reality if you take into consideration the heart, body and spirit!
Learn and remind yourself that the most profound and meaningful coaching is often elegantly simple, not intricately complex. Stay with the intention and outcome; allow the process to flow.
Invoke the Hindu god Ganesha, aka the Elephant Deity. His elephant head represents the soul; his human body represents the earth. Make sure your coaching goes deep; keep yourself grounded and as present-centered as possible.
Practice receptivity. Think and practice willingness, openness, responsiveness, and acceptance every time you coach.
Stay awake and alert when you are coaching so you can access and honor all of you and especially your insights and inner knowing exactly what to do and not do and when.