Let’s begin this book with a question: how does anyone go from point A to point B?
If you’re physically traveling from place to place, you’ll need a vehicle. But arguably if you’re traveling from one state of being to another, you’ll also need a vehicle. Whenever we make a real change in who we are, how we behave, what we feel and how we think, we are essentially transforming from one way of being into another.
We can get to where we want to go in many ways, by using many different vehicles. The vehicle often depends on the goal. We could try psychotherapy or ask a mentor to show us the ropes in a new industry. We could go to university or sign up for a personal development course. We could ask our parents!
But did you notice anything in common with these “vehicles”? They’re all driven by someone else.
When you form a relationship with a teacher, mentor, counsellor, advisor, guru, consultant, or expert, you are attempting to get from point A to B with the help and guidance of someone else. It’s like looking out for a bus going to the place you want to go, or hopping in a taxi and telling the taxi driver where you need to be.
When you hire a coach of any kind, you are not engaging in therapy or consulting, and the coach never tells you what to do, but engages you in a conversation, asks you questions, and helps you figure out what you’re trying to achieve. They are assuming a certain amount of responsibility and self-knowledge on your part – they know that you have it in you, but you need the space and support to help you access that “it,” whatever it may be. But, to extend the driving metaphor as far as it can go, you can drive yourself. You can give this same space and support to yourself, and trust you have it in you, whatever the “it” may be.
Self-coaching is nothing more than a way to instigate and support meaningful changes in your own life, and under your own steam. A way to drive yourself from point A to point B.
Conventional coaching is a great model for personal development, but it has drawbacks. It’s expensive, and you may find yourself having serious incompatibilities with your chosen coach (and by “incompatibilities” I also mean that some coaches are just not particularly good!). Think of it this way: in a coaching session, a coach may see where you are, understand the obstacle in your way, and prompt you with a question to bring insight and spur a change in your behavior. The desired change in behavior isn’t just superficial or external, though – it has to arise from some internal change. And if that change comes from within you, then the coach was only ever instrumental. They didn’t make you change. You changed yourself.