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Empowerment Through Coaching

by Linda Markley(more info)

listed in health and life coaching, originally published in issue 84 - January 2003


The pace and complexity of life now challenges most of us, with ever more to be done, more decisions to be made and more information to sift through. We experience continual change, uncertainty and dwindling security. Opportunities abound, but many of us are not enjoying them to the full and even among the obviously successful, many feel more stressed than fulfilled.

While there are typically modern pressures, there are modern resources to draw on too. Of these, coaching is proving one of the most empowering. With coaching, people from all walks of live are experiencing significant shifts in their lives and achieving more of their longed-for goals in every conceivable area. Better than this, they are doing so more quickly and easily, with more enjoyment and far less stress.

Picture of direction

Why Coaching?

With so many wonderful workshops, books and other resources available, you may be wondering what people get from coaching that's so special. I can best answer this with an example. One of my clients had invested many months in choosing and building her ideal business. She'd worked through the best books and chosen something she enjoyed and could do well. Yet she frequently procrastinated. Reluctantly, she agreed to re-explore where her passion lay. At one point, her voice became more animated. When I pointed this out, she noticed she felt energized. Exploring further, she recognized an interest that really excited her. She developed a new venture in this area and soared ahead.

Another client had a history of good intentions. She did all the right things – for a few weeks at a time. With coaching, she explored the inner and outer stimuli that 'de-railed' her. There were some common threads that, when unravelled, resulted in a shift not just in her ability to sustain change but in the way other people responded to her. Even the areas she'd thought were going well in her life, improved and new opportunities started showing up.

Like these women, we may know and do the right things and be baffled why they aren't working. It's very difficult to know ourselves fully, even our real wants and needs, just from the inside. Well-meaning advice from friends can further confuse us. We need someone truly objective, with the skills that enable us to know ourselves better than ever before. This often has far reaching effects.

The Good Versus the Wonderful

Many have spent years asking themselves what they really want without getting more than partial answers. They lack an inspiring vision that excites them. Having a reasonably good life often stops us from realizing our maximum potential. Many comfortably pursue what seems attainable and acceptable from where they are - like the next promotion, or growth option but, what they really want can seem too wonderful or impossible even to think about.

With coaching, we discover what inspires us and are drawn towards it, rather than driven by needs, habits, beliefs and fear. As coaching proceeds, we become more expansive, confident and joyful. We realize that we are capable of more and see what we've been missing. This nearly always includes much of our potential and special gifts. Coaching respects where you are right now, but will take you further, faster, easier. It opens up a bigger game, more options and leads to bigger steps - all of which accelerates your personal growth and success.

Exploring What You Want for Yourself

For any area (work, relationship, home etc) you want to change, write down everything you've enjoyed in this area in the past, all the special moments. Go deeper by asking yourself, "why that?", "what about that?", until you get to what exactly you valued. These are all clues as to what you need to be fulfilled.

Sometimes we know what we want in one sense, happiness, success and so on, but we don't know in the vital sense that we are unclear just what would fulfil our longings. Some strive for total fulfilment in their work and discover through coaching that developing other areas of their lives can be more rewarding (a balanced, happy life is an excellent support for long term success too!) Frustration in relationships, too, can be the result of trying to meet all our needs in one person. This isn't a counsel for adultery! With the clarity coaching brings, some develop a wider range of friendships and interests to fulfil all sides of themselves.

You've Done Well Without Coaching, So Why Bother?

Many of us have been developing our selves and our self-awareness for years now. That which we aren't yet aware of is likely to be subtle and difficult to see alone. Appropriate incisive questions can bring these long-hidden opportunities for change to light, and enable you to move beyond anything that's limiting you. And subtle changes can affect the flavour of your whole life on an ongoing basis. An example of this is a client who had trouble maintaining relationships. In coaching she realized that her belief in their inevitable leaving stopped her from enjoying their time together and that this must be affecting her partners! She addressed this belief and also talked it through with her current partner - and their relationship is flourishing.

Sometimes, even when we know exactly what to change, that change still eludes us. One woman had never been able to balance her finances. I asked her what kind of person she would be if she had financial control. Boring! was her surprised answer. She quickly realized this wasn't true and managing her accounts became easy.

A coach is trained to pick up nuances that others miss. They listen very carefully, not only to what you say and the way you say it, but what you don't say. They will respond to direct meaning and also to the different tones and subtle changes in energy that can indicate hidden attitudes, motivations and limiting beliefs. Exploring these can bring clients great insight and significant shifts in their thinking, behaviour and results.

I often ask my own coach to listen while I talk about different ideas. Apart from the priceless opportunity to hear myself think, feedback on where I sound excited, confident or relaxed, and where there is strain, boredom or flatness to my voice, can provide clues about what's best for me.

As you explore your plans and aspirations together, your coach will be an objective but supportive presence totally focused on you and your wants. This is empowering in itself but also, we do our best thinking when someone really listens to us. Important growth and learning takes place in coaching that is rare elsewhere - and much of this will be about ourselves. Not only will we know exactly what we want, but we will be able to identify and connect with the best means of satisfying those wants.

To illustrate the last point, many of those involved in healing and personal growth wonder what new skill to add to their repertoire. Through coaching, some recognize a more challenging but ultimately more rewarding option for themselves and those they work with, to go further with their current skills, perhaps into teaching or specializing in some aspect of their work. The result is more satisfaction, enjoyment and growth for themselves. Also, as they make a more effective contribution to more people, their reputation grows and more and more people are effortlessly drawn to them on an ongoing basis.

The Benefits Last a Life-Time

Sustainability is an important aspect of change. To be at your best, to really enjoy your life and maximize your chances of success, you may need to develop more supports and reserves. With the appropriate support we overcome challenges more easily, take risks with less fear and have more fun. You may need more money, energy, time, space, love, support, fun, information, peace, variety, inspiration ... Your coach will explore your specific needs and the best ways to fulfil them with you.

Almost any action can result from this enquiry. Some of my clients have cut back on their commitments, re-organized their routine, space or priorities, or learned to say no. Others have explored something new or neglected. And others have asked those close to them for what they want, from regular reminders of particular strengths, to different ways of communicating, from financial agreements to hugs.

Coaching empowers people to develop and connect with more appropriate resources than they would on their own. This starts by getting clear on precisely what's needed. With clarity, clients usually see plenty of options. Further coaching can reveal even more. The coach's experience and connections can also help. When asked, I'm often able to suggest resources that have worked well for others in similar circumstances or that meet the precise need. If not, I have a large network through which I can quickly get answers to any type of question, from profound understanding of specialist subjects, to places to stay. My clients and I have been awed by both the speed and the quality of resources provided. They have opened up completely new possibilities, for example a promising way of healing for a client with MS.

Coaching Builds Momentum

There are some areas we can all improve. Time management, relationships and organizational and communication skills are key issues for many, and coaching scores heavily on all these. There is an enormous difference between having the generic information and reviewing what you're doing, how you do it and the feedback you get with a coach. Your coach will then ask the questions which uncover what might work best for you. These are complex issues. Rather like a sport's coach watching an athlete, your coach will listen carefully to the results you get and coach you to develop your approach until you have a way of being in the world that's exactly right for you.

Many people find it easy to start to change something. There can be quick wins but then the initial enthusiasm wears off and challenges arise. Even the changes they have made sometimes slip away.

Coaching, however, leads to lasting change, and surprisingly quickly too. Benefits usually ensue from the first session and many clients make substantial progress in a month. Then, as coaching proceeds, it becomes more and more rewarding. Coaching provides the structure to keep you going and builds ongoing supports so that you are truly empowered. And there's far more to it than this. As you and your coach both get to know you, your potential and what you really want, your coach will hold you to this. She will also see what might be coming up for you and coach you ahead of opportunities and challenges. You will have someone to explore your new ideas with, ideas which otherwise would never be brought to fruition. And your coach won't let you take on too much, give up on what you want for yourself or let you squander your gifts or resources.

Once you've experienced how much better your life can be with a coach, you will come to trust yourself and coaching more. Coaching will go deeper and further then, effortlessly improving other areas of your life and more positively impacting the lives of others too. And, as you find more space in your life for the real you and what you really want, you will realize there is even more for you to enjoy.

What's Coaching Like?

Coaching is primarily a partnership, although an unusual one in that a coach will be unconditionally there for you, totally dedicated to your goals and well being. If this seems impossibly altruistic, it isn't really. After all, your success is their success.

Most coaching takes place through regular telephone sessions. During these calls, you will have your coach's undivided attention. My clients also benefit from email coaching between calls.

All coaching follows the client's agenda. Some come for specific issues (such as health, financial security, a period of transition) or projects (like creating a new life or developing a seminar program). Some come to enjoy more what they've already got or for self-development. Others are drawn to coaching by a general dissatisfaction or a sense that something could be better. All coaching is holistic - no goal is allowed to become more important than the person.

Increasingly, people are coming to coaching to discover and live more of their deeper self and their true purpose. Your life is the perfect spiritual path for you. Coaching can enable you to live it more fully, to directly experience some of the parts of yourself where you may be limited or closed, to go beyond an intellectual understanding or isolated experiences, to a fuller, more sustainable expression of your true and amazing self.

Coaching sessions are friendly, relaxed but focused and amazingly powerful on many levels. There is laughter and clients often tell me they are energized by our sessions. I follow each session with an email, further acknowledging the client and detailing the commitments they have taken on for the week. This frees my clients from note taking, which, in turn, allows the coaching on the call to go deeper and be more effective - for the client to really 'get' it in their cells. This is very effective for those with busy minds.

In coaching, we learn about ourselves in depth. This will include our potential and gifts, but also anything we may have previously avoided. A priceless benefit of having a coach is that an independent professional with your best interests at heart will tell you necessary truths when others won't - and tell it within a context of genuine praise and belief in you and your ability to change that makes it easier to hear.

As coaching proceeds clients come to feel more and more comfortable in their lives. However, like anything that stretches you, coaching won't always feel comfortable. Your coach will challenge you and ask more of you than you would of yourself. You needn't accept all your coach's requests but once you choose to commit to something, your coach will hold you to it - and to being the best you can be. As coaching progresses, you will know from your actions that you are indeed capable of more.

You'll make choices and step outside your comfort zone. But you will do so far more easily than you otherwise would and witness your comfort zone rapidly expand. Any temporary discomfort is vastly outweighed by the delight of leaping over hurdles you wouldn't even have approached before.

Reams more could be said about coaching but there's something, too, that can't be adequately put into words. There's a synergy, a magic in the coaching partnership. Clients often report empowering shifts from coaching that don't happen much elsewhere. Everyone is special and coaching uncovers and releases that.

The only way to know how you could benefit from coaching is to try it.

Is Coaching For You?
Is your life as you want it?
Are you living at your maximum potential?
Would you like to know yourself better?
Are you ready to change and grow?
Are you worth it?
Do you want to make a difference?
If not now, when?


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About Linda Markley

Linda Markley is a coach who empowers her clients to experience the full richness of life, to know and honour their deepest, truest selves. Linda also facilitates workshops based on Brandon Bays' 'The Journey'. To explore how coaching could work for you, please contact her on Tel: 0845 123 5109;

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