lessons from a year of coaching
but I still don't know what I don't know
So what have I learned after a year of coaching? Well a lot, but if I had to sum it up, it’s two things: the act of coaching is about listening and empathy and the result of coaching is self-awareness. Here’s what I mean.
My job isn’t to have all the answers for my clients. The internet has all of them as Twitter threads, blog posts, or YouTube videos. But more than that, we already know what we have to do next. Actually doing it is the battle.
I’ve learned my role then is to create a space where we can process and talk about what’s blocking you, have a strategy to implement your ideas, and for me to keep you accountable. A new client recently ended our first call saying, “I just need someone to talk to about my next steps.” It’s not that they have no one to talk to, but to have time specifically for them to talk through their challenges and ideas is rare and valuable.
If there was one thing I had to unlearn, it was to not categorize my coaching as something specific like business, executive, leadership, career, life, etc. When I started I thought I’d be helping other creatives/freelancers like myself but my clients range from data scientists to writers, brand designers to software developers. People can’t be reduced to their work or industry. Self awareness is about the person’s whole self and how they move through the world.
So now when someone asks what kind of coaching I do, I say I coach creatives. "Creatives" is a word broad enough for them to come to their own conclusions or if they ask we can talk about what it means for them.
After a year and hundreds of sessions, I’m continually amazed at the brilliance and resilience of my clients. And when they tell me of a breakthrough or a win they had from our calls I get strangely quiet, looking off to the side, nodding with a big smile on my face. My usual boisterous and expressiveness becomes speechless.
I realized at that moment, what I feel isn’t happiness or pride in their accomplishments, but joy and gratitude; real, deep joy and humbling gratitude to be talking alongside them on this journey.