Detach From Outcome and Become “The Results Coach”
October 7, 2013
by Doris Helge
Why Masterful Coaches Detach
We coach because we care. What could be wrong with that? Sometimes it’s difficult to detach from our expectations and desires.
Example #1 Sometimes a client isn't ready to follow through or change a behavior, even though they know their current actions aren’t producing the results they want. Because it would be easy to judge this client, it's helpful to think outside of the box. The person who won't yet leave behind a dysfunctional pattern isn't necessarily a dysfunctional person. Usually, this client hasn't fully gained all the wisdom available from a painful pattern of repeating the same mistake over and over. When you’re supportive without being judgmental or intrusive, you may notice the perfection of their internal guidance and their life path. I say this because many clients devour every last drop of learning available to them while they simultaneously grow tired of creating negative results. During a precise, internally guided, pivotal moment, they replace their self-imposed, restrictive rulebook. They create a bold, new life manual in each moment as they joyfully fly forward on their path to freedom. We couldn’t have created this manual for them. In fact, if our encouragement had involved pushing or advice, we would have delayed their progress.
Example #2 Sometimes it’s so clear to us that a client could be moving three steps ahead but they're content to take a tiny baby step. They're thrilled but we lament, “I just know they could be happier if they'd take a giant leap.” What's the truth? As you know, when other people have a predetermined path they want us to take, a path that isn't our idea, most of us want to race the other way, even when we know the other person is right. In coaching, there's a bigger issue. Our desire for a client to be in a place other than where they are sends a very unhelpful energetic signal: the client reads our message, consciously or unconsciously, thinking, "my coach is judging me as off-track. I'm not good enough just as I am right now."
The Outcome Attachment Dance Our judgments, assumptions, and expectations are colored by our own life experiences. We all perceive the world with filtered lenses. That's simply how our brains work. It's a very efficient system. It saves time and energy, but it also causes problems. Because our expectations about life, ourselves, and other people often pave the road to pain, we need to use awareness and our personal power to avoid struggle. Performance anxiety creeps in when we unconsciously think a coaching session is about us, about what we know and how much we can offer. It isn't, but negative self-talk and self-criticism distort reality.
The Bigger Picture Our clients serve as human mirrors so we can perceive our own stuck spots, while we notice benchmarks and areas of progress. If I judge my clients for not moving faster through their growth challenges, it’s a sign. It’s time for me to look in the mirror so I can perceive the areas where I'm not progressing as quickly as I could. I'm unaware of those areas or I'd probably make a conscious decision to live in a different way.
Notice the difference between judging my clients as off-track, as opposed to simply observing their stuck spots with compassion. Empathy is clean, but a negative judgment is a self-inflicted trap that hurts everyone concerned.
When I'm compassionate, I've acknowledged that the client is "another part of me" because we are all one. All of us are participating in the great game called “life.” We play whatever roles are required to help each other learn and grow.
Your Detachment Toolkit
Blending IAC Mastery #8, "Inviting possibility" with IAC Mastery #9, "Helping the client create and use support systems and structures," helps us let go of our expectations. The dance of detachment is choreographed by light, curious questions like, “I wonder where this session will go next?” and “I wonder my client needs right now?”
Another truly helpful tool is to recognize when your inner critic enters the coaching scenario. This negative inner voice will deflate your coaching confidence and squelch your ability to be in the moment with your client. When we’re unconscious of what triggers our inner critic, this perfectionistic, demanding force rules with an iron fist. When we discover how to effectively use the gremlin as a personal and professional growth tool, we stop struggling to achieve any certain outcome during a coaching session.
Voila! Self-sabotage slithers out of sight as the magic of coaching emerges. You trust the perfection of each co-created moment with your client. We gain so much joy and we deliver profound value when we haven't a clue where a coaching session will begin or end. Learn simple tools for managing your inner critic so you can let go of unnecessary coaching stress and self-judgment.
Doris Helge, Ph.D., MMC is founder of the IAC-licensed training school, Confident Coach Connection. She created the New Coach Virtual Chapter of IAC. Download a free video and chapter from Dr. Doris' Amazon.com #1 Bestselling book, “Conquer Your Inner Critic” at http://ConquerYourInnerCritic.com
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