Sometime towards the end of 2018, I was introduced to the world of coaching by a friend and I signed up for a program. It seemed relatively easy, not much studying, a lot of soul-searching, learning-unlearning, conversations, friendships, knowledge pills and a whole of positivity thrown in for good measure. I had a great mentor coach, wonderful peers and we had some great moments in the classroom (and outside). Well, I thought a few hours of peer sessions, a couple of blogs and a recording and there you go…. Certified!
Should not take more than a couple of months – target February 28th 2019. Easy peazy, right ?
Like hell it is ! Its 2020 and I am still struggling with my certification. Let me tell you why, and let me also tell you, it does not bother me, yet.
Reasons for WIA-WIA
1. Multiple goals, Multiple journeys
Life has just been a roller coaster these last 12 months (sometimes a dormant one though), where I have struggled to comprehend if and what is that one thing I want to do and focus on that. Trust me I have tried being coached, made multiple action plans, white boarded written, doodled, dreamt, made presentations, took advise and pretty much everything else that I really could. Nothing could make me reach my goal, or even begin to comprehend what it is.
It’s a mess.
But it’s a mess I am enjoying. I have not been in one for a long time now.I do get pangs of insecurity, but all in all, I am ok for now. I am clearer about what I “don’t” want, even if I am not clearer about what I do. But because of all these possibilities, and trials and errors, my coaching career has taken a back seat.
2. Procrastination, thy name is Arnab
You know if there was an award for the big P, I would win it hands down (and legs, and the rest of my body). I have an absolutely logical, rational and a clear thought-provoking reason for why everything that I need to do for myself needs to be put off until tomorrow. And then I wonder at times why certain stuff doesn’t get done, or who I can find to blame for it before my wife or my mother or my daughter blames me (Yes, I have three women on my back too)
I know what you are thinking, “how can this guy make a good coach”…. But that’s the beauty of this process right ? its not about me, It’s about the client. Now you know why I want to be a coach ? As long as don’t let my procrastination come in the way of the session I am good. Actually some amount of measured procrastination during the session actually helps I think, for better awareness (Like Marijuana). But yes I do recognize this as one of my major flaws (oh yes I have many more, but those are for a later blog), and well….actually that’s why I am writing this blog…. Seriously!
3. Born Again…. Painful!
This is the biggie. If you thought the last two reasons were significant, wait till you get through this one. Because I still cant.
When I started this journey, I came in with a mindset that I am already a great coach. I have mentored, counselled, helped, motivated, trained, taught, instructed, reprimanded and managed hundreds of people in my life. Only to be told on the first day that coaching, is none of these. So, there you go, the first bubble bursts.
Next, I try to coach, only to fall into a trap of feeling, empathising, claiming to understand and finally mentoring my clients (initially my peers). No matter how much I try, I end up trying to get into their minds, their lives, their problems become mine and before I can say “How does this make you feel?”, I start giving them my solutions. To hell with their confusions.
It takes a few peer sessions in a classroom environment to realise how bad I am. Mindsets break, perceptions give way and I start thinking. All rational evidences tell me I can’t do this, am just not cut out. One voice in my mind tells me there’s no harm in trying and there’s definitely no hurry (remember Mr. Procrastination?)
Then the training period is over and the independent peer sessions start, along with a print out of the coaching and repeated readings of the markers. Some sessions are robotic, some lost causes, some vague, some half decent, but the mask is peeling, and I can sense the curiosity building. So I decide to try this in a different scenario. I decide to try to coach my family.
Tough one. I am already aware of the background when they speak. Some sessions are a disaster, some of them are arguments (er.. maybe because ‘I’ am what is bothering them. What the hell ?). But in some cases, I realise even though I am aware, I need to create awareness in them. So I try, and then I try some more. And then I start liking the process, and more importantly, they start liking the process. My wife is the most impacted (Can you believe it ?). She says I helped her navigate through some tough situations at work without telling her a thing. Not bad!
I was already coaching (sorry, maybe mentoring) some people from my previous organizations and some paid engagements, but the success with my wife gets me more clients. Her own direct reports. She’s smart. She first tells them what to do at work and then sends them to me to help them get self -aware of their issues and clearer in their minds. It helps her, it helps them and it helps me. Like I said, she’s smart.
I have started noticing a change in me. Curiosity, not about the issues that clients bring up but what they are thinking and what its doing to them. What are they not aware of, what can they do about it. Its fascinating. Its better than telling them what to do. Not that I don’t get the urge to, nor that I don’t do it at times. I still walk into the trap at times, but the frequency has reduced. The need to discover together is seeping in. A part of my mind is always awake during sessions and is telling the other one, “shut up, stop thinking and let him speak. And don’t tell her what to do.”
And no, I don’t carry the markers anymore, nor the process map. And yes, I do forget some things at times. I am still imperfect, I am still learning. But I am changing.
Like I said, Its 2020 and I am still struggling.
About the Author
Arnab is a former senior leader from the ITES & Digital Transformation industry and currently does consulting and advisory work with start-up companies around growth, technology, business design and strategy. He is also a mentor to various leaders from the industry and helps them find their way in their careers. He is passionate about education and works with institutions to help impart life and leadership skills at a very early stage. He has been a speaker at IIM, Symbiosis and various other panels where he has spoken about Transformation required at a human level to help transform the industry. Arnab believes he is a life long learner and has thus picked up a journey in the coaching world to discover himself and help people discover their potential. He is currently undergoing a certification process with CTT, leading to an ACC from ICF.