Coaching moments are everywhere.
I only half-believed this back when I was working as an administrative assistant in the Physics Department at the University of Virginia.
My coaching training program ran from January to October of 2015, with the bulk of the coursework occurring between January and May. (From June to August, our main objective was to accrue as many of our required practicum hours as we could before coursework resumed in September.) I resigned from my university job at the end of May, and Dana and I hit the road full-time at the end of June. So, there was no actual overlap of Admin Helen and Coach Helen. I was a part-time coaching student and a full-time university employee...and then, presto-change-o, I became a full-time entrepreneur (because, let's face it, I didn't leave my job-job for a fully-booked coaching business; I left it and still had to build that coaching business). At the start of 2016, Entrepreneur Helen metamorphosed into Coach Helen.
Lately, though, I've wondered what it would be like to work my administrative position while working as a coach.
Don't misunderstand me: I have no intention or desire to return to office work. Not now, not at any foreseeable point, please and thank you. But I'm curious; I have a strong suspicion that my experience as Admin Helen would be very different—nothing short of enlightening, really—now that I understand the transformative power of good questions. Of truly curious questions that ask that which no one else would dare to ask. Of deep-digging questions that won't be satisfied with face value answers because something more interesting, undoubtedly truer, is buried beneath the surface.
And I'm seeing this everywhere: people who aren't necessarily coaches in the traditional sense, but who have brought coaching elements into their work with great success and insight.
Today, I want to share with you a few examples of folks on TV and radio who use a coaching approach in their conversations in order to arrive at a deeper truth. If you're interested in hearing some really fabulous coaching questions, you might like to check out one or more of the programs below; if, on the other hand, you're already familiar with them, but the coaching lens is new to you, go ahead and revisit them to see what I mean. But first, an important point:
"Coaching without permission" is a real thing. At best it's unhelpful; at worst, unethical. I have no idea if or how the folks listed below obtained permission to coach the people with whom they're engaged in conversation; however, a coaching dialogue should never be something that happens without everyone's consent and agreement. (In case you're wondering, yes, I've totally tried to coach without permission—sorry, Dana!—but it was in the early days when I wanted very badly to be helpful, but didn't yet appreciate the fact that the other person has to agree to coaching, or, at the very least, has to want help.) Permission is the first rule of coaching.
T H E P R O F I T
Marcus Lemonis is the chairman and CEO behind Camping World who visits with small, struggling businesses and determines whether or not to invest in them in exchange for partial ownership and a percentage of their profits. Before investing and in order to get to the root of the company's money troubles, Marcus asks a lot of questions; I've noticed his coaching approach across several episodes, though parts of Episode 402, featuring the brand DiLascia, were particularly powerful. [Side note: I disagree with all kinds of shaming, always. You'll notice there is a bit of shaming in one scene, which is less coach, more bully, and entirely uncool. Besides that, though, you'll hear some good stuff in what (and how) Marcus asks Patrick.]
S U P E R N A N N Y
Although I haven't watched this show in years, it's now clear to me that Jo Frost implements what is definitely a coaching methodology. You don't have to agree with her child-rearing techniques to understand her approach: She visits and observes families suffering from some level of dysfunction (invited by parents who are expressly seeking transformation), and teaches them a new set of tools to use in restoring order and harmony within their homes. Like any coach worth her salt, Jo gives her clients the opportunity to implement on their own what they've learned with her. Later, she provides any necessary fine-tuning, and she always reviews the families' success before closing their coaching relationship.
C E S A R 9 1 1
Cesar Millan's approach is remarkably similar to that of Jo Frost, but his work centers around dog-owners and their dogs. Episode 105 still sticks with me, particularly the segment on cancer-survivor Marilyn and her aggressive Mastiff, Cupid. I know there's quite a lot of controversy out there about Cesar's methods; still, you don't have to agree with his techniques to appreciate that they merely represent one way of supporting the transformation of others. Who knew that such powerful conversation abounds on reality TV!
D E A T H , S E X & M O N E Y
Every time I listen to this podcast, I catch myself thinking I'm listening to someone's coaching audio. Anna Sale is a top-notch interviewer and I suspect it's because she's an incredibly empathic human being who both listens and hears (that nuance is important). In addition to asking the hard questions without holding back—and I sense she's able to do this because she's genuinely curious...and true curiosity is innocent, not nosy or prying—Anna holds space for her interviewees; she allows them to be exactly as they are, exactly where they are, without making any part of the interview about a desire or need to help, fix, steer, or control. I've listened to Death, Sex & Money since it began and have thought on numerous occasions that Anna must've had training as a coach. Specific episodes I recommend to a coaching-curious listener? Try "Life Is a Mystery" or "We're Not Going to Have Karl Again". Warning: Both might make you cry.
Hit 'reply' and tell me about the powerful conversations you've encountered in unexpected places. I love hearing from you.
P.S. Next Monday, I hope to have some new-city adventures to share with you. As we speak, Dana and I are on our way out to begin a quest to find the best cracker crust pizza in this town...
Merchant + Mills Camber Set Tee in Liberty of London Summer Tana Lawn (I'm obsessed with those waves and the tiny, bushy trees tucked amongst them.)
“A huge field of dark green lake balls, like all the tennis balls in the world had gathered for their annual meeting.” Naturally, I grew curious about diatoms and allowed myself to rabbit-hole a bit, landing me here. (I love how, upon first glance, I'm not sure if I'm looking at fruit slices or fabulous Art Deco brooches. And I love that it's neither. It's nature. Holy wow.)
The Travellers by Birte Kaufmann
Hello from St. Louis! We arrived early evening yesterday after three days of short-stint driving, and we expect to be here until December. For real this time; no Oklahoma repeats, I hope. What tickles me is that we passed through St. Louis just over a year ago (left, goofing at the Arch) on August 26, 2015, while road-tripping in the motorhome. We had no idea that, in the all the days it takes for the earth to road-trip a single time around the sun (incidentally, a sojourn of 584 million miles), we would find ourselves back here (having loop-de-looped many thousands of miles, ourselves).