What is Coaching?

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Ask five coaches what coaching is and you'll probably get six different definitions.  We all describe, experience and practice coaching from our own unique life perspectives, and each of our descriptions and experiences are equally valid.  Further, coaching is a new field which is constantly evolving.  Here's one perspective I hold on coaching as it relates to the process of human growth and achievement:

Due to the natural process of human development on this planet, we--usually without our conscious knowledge--form habits.  These habits are typically comprised of somewhat rigid patterns of thought and behavior that serve to ensure our survival and well-being on physical, emotional, intellectual, and/or spiritual levels.  In that sense, these patterns are good and healthy: In general, our patterned behaviors create safety, save time, and free up our energy and attention for other things.

For example, you don't have to relearn (or even think about) how to brush your teeth, fasten your seat belt, or drive your car each time you do those things.  Other patterned behaviors, however, such as engaging a fight with someone when angry, "forgetting" one's own needs or desires in the face of another's, or eating, working, or turning on the TV when feeling empty, lonely or uncomfortable, may not serve us as well as a conscious choice (especially one infused with full creativity and imagination) made during those times.  As you're probably aware, though, these habitual ways of interacting with ourselves and the world are quite common and, thus, quite normal.

Said another way, "There's nothing wrong with you," even though you might sometimes feel that way...and may even have been made to believe so by other professionals or advertising.

Due to these unconscious habits and internalized patterns, however, there are places where we can't look, can't see, and can't think clearly.  These are places where we, quite literally, "go unconscious."  In effect, we deceive and distort our perceptions of ourselves, others and reality, without even knowing we're doing it.  Again, this is natural and normal.  We all do it; it's just part of being human.

The danger:  If we don't realize and honor this process, it runs our lives without our knowing it!

If we work at evolving ourselves, we become ever more aware of when and where we tend to go unconscious, those places where we have comfortable and familiar (yet rigid) habits of thought and behavior.  We eventually start to realize how, while once serving us well, our habitualized patterns come to actually stand in the way of "the next level" of our personal evolution, and of doing, being and having what we genuinely desire most from life.  The good news is that if we choose to work at it, we can transform these habitual patterns, or "blind spots," and thereby restore our ability to think and act clearly and with conscious choice and imagination in these areas where we were once "blind."  Thus, we can gain ever more choice in who and what we and our lives become, and how we impact our relationships, families, communities, and societies, IF we're willing to commit to this path of becoming more consciously aware.

The "Co-Active Coaching" I offer is a consciously designed relationship in which both the client and the coach (as peers) commit fully to the client's path of becoming more consciously active and effective in creating the person, life and impact the client most desires.  Usually, the client's vision of these goals evolves as the client does.  In fact, people often enter coaching with only vague ideas of their genuine desires in these areas.  This is, of course, a perfect place to start: The coaching relationship is the ideal container within which to experiment with and clarify your true desires for yourself, your life, and the impact that you and your life have on others and the world.  Coaching is a powerful way to shine light on the "blind spots" we all have, so as to regain the power of fully conscious, creative and imaginative choice and action in those areas.  (This process often exposes surprisingly powerful new options that we didn't even realize were available.)  Taking this step, however, demands courage, commitment and discipline.

Enlightenment consists not merely in the seeing of luminous shapes and visions, but in making the darkness visible.  The latter procedure is more difficult, and therefore, unpopular.
-- Carl Jung

Since we've all had an individual and unique history, our "blind spots" typically exist in different areas for each of us.  So, where I may be unable to think clearly and am deceiving myself (or acting inflexibly out of a habit that I'm not consciously choosing), you may be able to think and see quite clearly.  You've probably had this experience, and may have even been able to help the other person expose the self deception, help them see the truth of their situation, powerful options that were hidden to them, and then make new, highly effective, and fully conscious choices of thinking and action that are in alignment with the Truth.

In this way, we are all coaches for those we have the care, patience, objectivity and discipline to interact with at this level.  Of the 200 or so identified coaching skills, I've heard it said that each of us naturally possess about 30, just by being human.  Professional coaches, on the other hand, are trained, practiced, and critiqued in utilizing the full spectrum of coaching skills.  You may have experienced people who care deeply for you having difficulty keeping their own agenda out of the picture in their attempts to support you, having difficulty telling you the full truth for fear of hurting you, etc.  Professional coaches enjoy a measure of emotional clarity when working with their clients due to the nature of the relationship (we rarely coach close friends or loved ones).  Additionally, Co-Active coaches are trained rigorously in holding the client's agenda and delivering the full truth in a way that the client can actually hear it.

As a professional coach, I have made a high-priority, on-going commitment to clean up my own "blind spots," so that I can see and think "the full truth" clearly in the face of as many "blind spots" of others as possible.  I consider this part of my job, part of the "research and development" of my technology, so to speak.  I have a coach of my own (of course!) and am engaged in continual personal growth work.

At the heart of my commitment to this work is a deep caring for other people.  For me, this includes a heartfelt desire to hold a space of nonjudgment and compassion for you, and to see you create and become your highest vision for your self and your life.  The joy and learning that I receive from being an empowering partner, privileged to be along on another's unique and sacred life journey, is the reason I gave up a far more lucrative career in microprocessor design.  The fulfillment I experience in assisting others to know and appreciate themselves more fully (thus enabling them to create a life of peaceful abundance in which they achieve beyond what they had previously dared only imagine), is what keeps alive my own commitment to continually evolving my coaching effectiveness.

As such, I have dedicated my professional life to becoming an expert at assisting people, gently but firmly, to discover those lies that we all tell ourselves for the deceptions they really are.  I strive to do this in a productive manner that builds confidence, self esteem, clarity and wisdom...with the end result of creating a more rich and satisfying life experience.

Lastly, as a professional coach, it is my job to become a master at the specific coaching skills that enable others to see fresh perspectives, make new decisions, take new actions, and move forward growthfully and productively from these freshly exposed perspectives and choices.  I am a dedicated student of my clients, of as many coaching or human development models that I can find, and of life itself.  As such, I am actively committed to becoming the best I can be at empowering others to grow and move forward in their lives from an ever more conscious vantage point.

If this is something that calls to you, if there's a subtle voice inside that says, "Hey, check this out," please contact me for a free session so that you might experience this for yourself and to determine if I'm the coach for you.

If what you've read rings true, yet you still sense some resistance within yourself, you may have a "blind spot" in this area.  Click here to check it out.

If you have questions or would like more details, please call or check out the Coaching FAQ.


Rich Raffals ~ Awaken The Magic Coaching
Committed to Your Success
415-295-7267 /

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