In this post, I’d like to share with you some helpful insights related to issuing a challenge to your client. A challenge is an idea you (the coach) come up with that you suggest to your client.
Let me start with a recent example.
A few weeks ago I was coaching a young lady on the topic of moving across the United States. She was trying to decide whether to move from the Bay Area of California to Nashville, Tennessee. The conversation unfolded like one of those old-fashioned paper maps, with new layers revealing additional issues, complexities and factors to consider. No wonder she was having a tough time making the decision.
As the conversation progressed, the client and I both noticed that her thought process was a jumbled mix of brainstorming and evidence gathering. That is, she was quickly switching gears back and forth between brainstorming future scenarios that would make the move a good or bad idea and noticing the evidence she needed to gather in order to make her decision. For a while she’d spin scenarios about how this could work and then some scenarios about how this could be a dumb idea, and then she’d talk for a while about her need to research job opportunities and housing costs.
After several minutes of this external processing, I offered her a challenge. I said, “Julie, I have a challenge for you. You can accept the challenge or reject it or you can edit it into something you want to say yes to. Here’s the challenge: Stop dreaming about the future until after you’ve finished your research. Then your research can fuel your dreams instead of clouding them.”
We train coaches at Coach Approach Ministries. And one thing that sets us apart is that when you train with us, you will do a lot of coaching. There are lots of ways to learn coaching, but perhaps the best way is to coach in front of others and get immediate feedback. When we do this, we always add one element that always makes it much harder. We limit the amount of time you have, anywhere from ten minutes to twenty.
I don’t think I know one coach who prefers a fifteen minute session to a sixty minute session. There is something about the clock that makes us nervous. Fifteen minutes just isn’t enough time to establish a coaching relationship, discover an actionable topic, deeply explore the possibilities, design appropriate and action, and build in accountability. Too short!
Let me give you five advantages to short coaching sessions.
- You can concentrate on the person.
- You can clarify their desire.
- Use most powerful questions you have.
- You don’t have to stick the landing.
- Give the person permission to act.
You Can Concentrate on the Person
I don’t know anyone who can be fully present for an entire hour. At some point, you will lose focus and fade into another thought. But fifteen minutes is a nice challenge. Listen to every word your client says. Listen to how they say it. Listen for any pain behind it. Listen to when the joy releases. Listen to their word choices. Listen for where they get stuck. You won’t create a solution. You will hear it.
It is fair to say that no one has given them a full fifteen minutes of full presence in a long time. You will bring hope and healing just by making yourself available. Turn up your curiosity about what makes this person tick. Coach the person, not the problem.