Here are some thoughts, based on my experience, about being a coach.
I realized it’s not about technology, processes and frameworks.
It’s not about teaching people how to do stuff, although it helps if you can show them a new way or help them finding a solution.
But that is not at all, the most important thing about coaching people.
Coaching is about inspiring.
People are smart enough to study stuff and find better ways of doing their work, but only if they are motivated to do so. Or if they realize they have a need and that they must create their own time for personal and professional growth.
My experience says that if you want to be a good coach, you need to: inspire people
Inspire so they feel motivated and eager to come to work
Inspire so they feel worthy, useful.
Inspire so they feel eager to learn.
Inspire so they feel HAPPY and FUN.
Inspire people to do and be better, to be all they can be, because that’s all they need: inspiration. Just a little push. All the rest they can handle it pretty well. And, oh boy!, once inspired you can’t imagine the potential ahead of you!
And last, but not least: Inspire them to be empowered.
Empowerment – not given but taken
Empowered people can change the world, or at least the things they touch. But empowerment is a tricky thing.
Most people, maybe due to education or culture, think that empowerment in a business environment is something that must be given by someone having a position of power. Meaning, if you are a developer you feel like you can only be empowered if you line manager or technical lead says so in front of everyone else.
This is not true. This is not empowerment- this is task attribution or delegation.
Life in an office is not that much different from life in… well, life.
As such, empowerment is not given but rather taken (taken as in assumed not taken as in steal for someone).
Once you put your mind to solve something in your personal life, there is no one who can stop you as well there is no one who can actually give you the energy and will power to do it, except yourself.
Same in office. You should not expect to be empowered, you should take the chance to change or do something and embrace the power and greatness of doing it. Take it, don’t wait for it.
Really powerful people are not in a power position, they make it. They are the one’s you recognize as leaders, opposite to those you consider just silly bastards with illusion of power, the one’s you comply with but whom you’ll never follow wholeheartedly.
Gandhi was a powerful person. And he did not have any high position in the hierarchy of kind lawyers, he was not DR. PHD Master MBA Mr. Gandhi. He was powerful because he chose to be so, he took every single chance to make the difference and change people’s life and or mindset.
It’s up to you to be powerful. It’s up to you to be different and drive for yourself your own path. If you choose to do so, then, you might as well consider yourself a coach.
What about people who don’t want to change?
Yes, they exist. Sometimes out of fear, sometimes envy, sometimes ignorance, but yeah, they are out there. You can bring knowledge to people, but only if they want they will learn. And some, let’s face it, just don’t want to. And that is ok. If we were alike and all inspired people, life would be boring and expectations too high.
So, Know when to give up. Some people don’t want to change and they won’t let you do it. Just go and use your energy somewhere else. You deserve it, as well as all the others waiting for you to arrive and waiting for the chance to evolve with you.
Expectations are good, they drive you. They help you aiming and they lead you there.
But, on the other side, expectation can also be a time bomb in your hands.
I’ve always had problems managing both my temper and my expectations. I’m not a patient person, so it’s really hard for me to contain my expectations to a sane level.
If, on one hand, this is good because it helps me eager and open for growth and new experiments, on the other hand it’s a big problem because I may never be satisfied with what I’ve achieved.
So, my personal advice, coming from my own pain, is: Plan your expectations.
For example: Write them down in a paper whenever you accept a new goal. Then, just track them down. Once you’re done or the time is up, you’ll know where you are and how far you are from your initial expectations.
Things will evolve and I really hope you add more and more expectations to that plan of yours, but the point here if for you (and me) to be able to look down to that plan, and know that your achievements are actually good, and although it may feel like they are not, you’ll (we’ll) know that this is only our big-mouth expectations talking and trying to trick us by overlooking what has been achieved.
I once heard a sentence from a writer I never forgot, because it makes a lot of sense on my way of living, he said: It’s extremely arrogant and hypocrite to judge the past, having the advantage of being in the present.
This is how I always managed my expectations. I would judge what I did, but having as basis my current mindset. And that is wrong. I should always fit the results into the expectations defined at the time and considering the situation when they were set.
I did that, now I won’t do it anymore. I learned and now, I know better.
Have a nice weekend, and, please… Go make the difference is this little world of ours.