“Mirror, mirror, here I stand. Who is the fairest in the land?” ― Wilhelm Karl Grimm, Grimm's Fairy Tales
I recently embarked on my formal journey towards getting certified as a coach.
Coaching is ideally best experienced than explained.
For the uninitiated, The ICF, International Coaching Federation definition of Professional Coaching is, partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
It can also be defined as a process of facilitating a positive & progressive shift from where the person is to where he/she would like to be by creating self-awareness that creates self-responsibility.
This definition is good to begin with, but I however am searching for a simpler way to explain what I do as a coach.
I have always been fond of metaphors, they actively demonstrate our central way of thinking and am going to attempt using a metaphor that resonates with me and will hopefully appeal to you too.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated but which share some common characteristics.
My metaphor for a coach is mirror, yes the humble, silent mirror you look at first thing in the morning.
A mirror reflects-back to you the feelings you have about yourself. It makes you immediately aware of what you are resisting and where you are open and flowing.
Mirror holds the space for you.
Mirror is there and yet not intrusive, it reflects what is there, there is no scope of any bias, it is what it is. You can check-in as many times as you like.
One role of the coach is to help client look at their blind spots and areas where they are not aligned in thoughts and actions to their core values or beliefs. Mirror does just the same. For most of us sitting in front of a mirror and facing ourselves is difficult at first, but as we continue, we become less critical and mirror becomes a dear friend.
Self-reflection is a natural result of gazing into the mirror. I am sure all of us would have experienced, an epiphany, a lightbulb moment, or a breakthrough while examining ourselves intently or glancing cursorily in the mirror.
To insure that my chosen metaphor explains coaching in entirety, I did a quick run through the core coaching competencies and compared vis a vis mirror and it does tick most of the boxes.
Like a Coach…
- Mirror establishes trust and intimacy with the person reflecting, it creates a safe environment.
- Mirror demonstrates personal integrity and sincerity (can anyone challenge mirror’s integrity, some days I wish its less honest)
- Mirror has inherent coaching presence –Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the person reflecting (coached), employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.
- It allows to access own intuition and cannot be overpowered by strong emotions.
- Mirror like a good coach uses humor effectively (ever tried making faces at yourself, it’s fun ain’t it)
- Mirror promises confidentiality, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I mean dressing room.
- Mirror also demonstrates active listening –it “mirrors back” what is being said to ensure clarity and understanding (quite literally)
- It allows “venting” the situation without judgement or attachment
- Mirror has no personal agenda other than offering a true reflection
- A gaze into the mirror and it is sure to throw back powerful open ended questions.
- Mirror captures not just the words but the tone of the voice, mood pace and the body language, global listening for sure.
- Mirror creates self-awareness, it invokes inquiry.
- Mirror helps identify major strengths and areas for learning and growth.
- It can brainstorm and assist in defining actions.
- It can positively confront on agreed upon actions.
- It will happily celebrate success or continue to nudge if goal is still far.
To excel at these core competencies much is required from the mirror/coach as well.
It is said coaching is as good as a coach.
Reflection in the mirror is as good as the clarity of the mirror.
If mirror is hazy, the reflection is hazy.
If mirror is sparkling, so is the reflection.
Hence for a good coach it is required that there is deliberate and effective polishing of self which will involve continual journey of professional development & self- awareness.
Mirror is a metaphor for a coach, squeaky clean mirror is a metaphor of a great coach.
Indeed, The journey of a coach is journey of a human being.