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How Coaching Elevates Your Game in Life

Written by Shirley Han, Psychotherapist and Coach – Elemental Health

I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”
Bob Nardelli, ex-CEO – Home Depot.

Coaching has been around for as far back as apprenticeship with a master craftsman and sports coaching. Life and executive coaching however have taken around 30 years since the 1960s to develop and become a respected modality for change and growth. The business sector was an early adopter, as it saw the success from coaching to stay ahead. We all need a coach to give right feedback so we can improve.

When Covid-19 hit, it triggered an even larger pandemic of people waking up to what was not working in their lives and a hunger to live a more meaningful and all-rounded life pronto. This has elevated coaching from a ‘want’ to a ‘need’.

How does coaching help you get back on top of things and soar beyond familiar ways?

1. Presence

It is rather common for a client to say to a coach, “I always feel so much better just talking to you.” When the coach is truly present, open, and responsive, this communicates the qualities of “I care, I’m here for you.” It affects the client in positive ways, offering them a greater sense of calm and efficacy.

2. Identifying Life Values Reduces Stress

Coaches use values and life purpose to help clients find meaning in their life and create a compelling vision for the future. A 2005 UCLA scientific study affirms this coaching-led practice. Individuals were exposed to a stress challenge in a laboratory setting. Those given the task of identifying personal values and reflecting on them before the test showed significantly lower cortisol levels after the test than the control group subjected to the same stress test but not asked to identify or reflect on their values.

The brain when influenced by stress chemicals is hampered from imagination and solution-finding. The non-judgmental space upheld by a well-trained coach helps client remain open to input and access their own unique creativity. This in turn provides biological and psychological protection from the adverse effects of stress.

3. Exploration

We are all on a lifelong leadership/personal journey that’s unique to us. Yet life is such that we could be thrown off our game in some area or other and want the fundamental ability to react, readjust, and re-create in the most effective way. Coaching adopts a multitude of tools to experience this journey from different orientations, seeing beyond the obvious, and embracing available gems.

Such tools may take the form of seeing from a different level of consciousness via analogies, metaphors, and tactile activities. When the sightline is stretched, this boosts courage and energises the person into inspired goal setting and action.

Phillip’s Story
(Name has been changed for confidentiality)

Age 47, senior vice president in a financial institution

Philip’s goal for coaching was to improve his leadership style with his subordinates while managing the department’s portfolio. He lamented that as much as he empowered his staff, and gave them the resources they needed, they tended to highlight issues to him after they have escalated, thus making them more complex and costly to resolve.

Through a perspective exercise that helped Philip examine his communication style, he discovered that due to his intention to develop his staff, he tended to be non-confrontational and became an “overly allowing father” to them. His staff mistook his trusting stance as high risk-appetite and over-stretched their limits.

Interestingly, Philip noted that by contrast on the home front, he tended to play the “overly strict boss” to his children – which has strained his family relationship.

His epiphany of this role-reversal “I was a father to my staff and a boss to my children…!” propelled him to remodel his operational style. He has since made behavioural changes to be a nurturing father to his children, and drew clear guidelines as an effective leader to his staff.

4. Balance and Connection

So many of us lament the ‘hamster-wheel of life’. As the world gets more competitive, we tend to become more result-driven and action-oriented. The ‘soft stuff’ of being is deemed to get in the way of getting the job done. We end up feeling fatigued, unfulfilled, and jaded.

Good coaching goes beyond endless ‘doing’ into the ‘being’. Good coaching grounds our connection to a larger wholeness. The effect is a more complete sense of centredness, contentment, and fulfilment.

Susanne’s Story
(Name has been changed for confidentiality)

Age 35, accounts manager in a logistics company

Susanne has rejoined her firm after putting her career on hold for five years to have two daughters aged four and two. To catch up on ‘lost time’, Susanne worked 9 to 11 hour-days and often held virtual meetings from home. When Susanne approached me for coaching, she was complaining of low motivation, irritability, not feeling enjoyment and satisfaction from the same tasks, and impatience towards her children.

“My psychiatrist tells me that these are symptoms of burnout. Really, what right do I have to be burnout? I have a lovely family and supportive colleagues. I may have a mortgage to pay like others, but I can still take one vacation a year!”

To reach deeper beyond her logical mind, we engaged in a series of physical balancing activities. “I knew that juggling so many balls could have taken a toll on me. While doing the activities, what struck me was how I tended to lament about my inadequacies and worry about every outcome. So what actually drained me was my negative self-talk that pervaded every task I did!”

Coaching through Susanne’s life values and purpose has since helped her re-adjust her expectations, adopt habits that allowed her to be more present, and live the larger meaning of her professional and personal goals

5. Harnessing the latest in Neuroplasticity for Optimal Growth and Change

There is substantial evidence we can “rewire our brains with our thoughts.” But because the default in our brain is to go with the pathways that are already developed, it is difficult to change without focused, supported, intentional effort.

Coaching helps people identify the pathways that are not working and focuses on creating new ones that lead to more resonant and effective lives. By asking curious, powerful, hypothetical questions designed to make the client think, coaches stimulate reflection, which helps to shift perspectives, and spur motivation to sustain lasting growth.

Through a process where “neurons that fire together, wire together” – much of what we do create the potential for new neural pathways. Every time we repeat an action, a fatty covering called myelin coats the neural pathway, making connections stronger and more secure.

Over time, through commitment, support, and practice, those “ahas” become dominant neural pathways, and what was once a challenge becomes commonplace.

In Summary

Coaches at Elemental Health tap on the growing body of neuroscience research, uphold a professional and personable client-centred credo, employ tools of coaching and leadership development that profoundly help clients develop positive new neural networks. We are privileged to work with clients who have been responding more calmly to stress, making choices more easily, and accessing much more of their creativity.

Whether you are looking to excel within your organisation or find fulfilment in your personal life, work with us to experience desired lasting changes and fulfilling transformations you can make to your life.

Sample areas of coaching:

  • Motivating Performance Enhancement
  • Leadership
  • Life Purpose, Fulfilment
  • Career Crossroads
  • Stress, Anxiety Management
  • Building Self-Acceptance / Belief
  • Adversity-related issues
  • Relational, Building Collegial / Social Connections

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