The old adage, you don’t know what you don’t know… until you do, rings true in coaching. There are many ideas about what coaching is and isn’t, and they run the gamut from counseling to consulting, with some coaching sprinkled into the mix. In this articles we will explore our coaching growth as we consider ways to thoughtfully development of a coaching mindset.

Growth Arcs for a Coaching Mindset

When I decided I would embark on my MCC, I had heard a lot of people coaching. What I had not heard was a lot of MCC’s coaching. And, again, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was hungry to understand what made an excellent MCC a great coach. What were they doing differently than I was? And, what did I need to be more consciously intentional about bringing forward in my own coaching?

These are some of the ways that I keep myself growing and developing as a coach. I am transparent about my own need to continually be stretching myself so that I can continue to be of service.

Four Methods to Deepen Your Coaching Competency

1: Listening to as many other coaches as you can.

If you want to learn to coach, and/or you want a coaching designation through a professional organization like the International Coach Federation (ICF), Board Certified Coaches (BCC), or European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC). I highly recommend Moore Master Coaching (affiliate link) as a resource for hearing a lot of very wonderful coaches coaching. Gail Moore’s program really helped me to “hear” other coaches. Choosing to explore new ways of asking questions, and also recognizing what I didn’t align with as far as coaching styles.

Listen to coaches who have gotten credentials through the organizations you want to align with. I am serious, listen to them a lot and learn about the different coaching approaches. See what styles of coaching fit within these certifying organizations. You may be amazed at how people learn to be curious with others.

2: Self-awareness and Self-Reflection

One tool I use regularly is to transcribe my coaching sessions. Transcripts accelerate you to embody a coaching mindset—a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered. Coaching Mindset is a process that requires ongoing learning and development, establishing a reflective practice, and preparing for sessions. For me, the self-reflective and ongoing learning happen when I go through a transcript and really look at what the client said and what choice point I noticed. This process supports my coaching ear to become tuned to nuances. I use Raenotes (no affiliation) religiously to work with my transcripts.

Here is an example from a session in the Agreement Setting Stage:
00:00 Lyssa Well, I love that you brought your hand up so quickly. Um, what is showing up That’s important That you would like to do a bit of coaching around ?
00:10 Client Um Well, um, lately, I have been, um, like, in a space of, like, hurry up and wait for a lot of different things. Um, And now kind of, like, a lot of things. They’re converging all at the same time. So I’m finding myself in the space. We’re like, I have too much on my plate where I’ve been waiting for, like, something to be on my plate. Um, and specifically, I have found myself in the partnership, That kind of feeling like I can’t decide. Uh, like, whether or not it’s fruitful. Yeah, um, I’m trying to figure out, like, what do I do? Because I just have so many things on my plate Just trying to sort, right? Yeah. I feel like I’ve been I feel like I’ve been really mindful on, like what I’m saying Yes and no to. And we now
01:09 Lyssa You have a really full plate [talk over]
01:09 Client Yeah. So, now I really need to say no to things. And I’m like, I was so mindful to saying yes. So I’m just feeling overwhelmed.
01:19 Lyssa So when you look at this really full plate, given that we’re going to be talking for 15 to 20 minutes, what would you like us to do with this plate by the end of our conversation ?
Other Choice Points for my follow up question:
  • Choice point: I hear the overwhelm as you talk. What would you what to be different by the end of our conversation?
  • Choice point: Would exploring what you say yes to and what you say no to, be useful in our time together?

Be Willing to Play and Be Curious with Your Work

By playing with what I actually asked and what other directions I could have gone, I began to develop a habit of listening more deeply. Noticing the nuances of language, energy, and again, listening deeply to tune my ear for what is important to the client.

Any of you who know me know that I will always use the powerful metaphor that the client brings forward. So, at the end of the day, I still like the question that I asked, what would you like us to do with this plate by the end of our conversation.

There is something powerful about getting the words on the paper that your client actually said. Our memories can be biased. Then, using those verbatim words to support you to notice what you heard, maybe what you missed, and where your focus went.

3: Mentor Coaching or Coach Supervision

One of the ironies of coaching, really many of the helping professions, is that coaches often don’t have their own coach supervision or mentoring as an ongoing practice… We run the risk of being in a silo, with no outside perspective on the things we might be struggling with in our practice. It’s an interesting intersection when you consider that we offer our services to support others to grow, heal, thrive. And, yet, we often choose to muscle through alone.

I can’t over-communicate the value I have gotten from the 100’s of hours of mentor coaching and supervision that I have received over the past 6 years. I probably get between 15-20 hours a year of mentoring or coaching supervision. I value the introspection into my own coaching. Exploring places where I can get hooked or where I feel stuck in a coaching experience.

4: Get Your Own COACH 🙂

I also have a coach coach. Therapists go it alone often also. White knuckling through our own situations when we could easily get support.

When I practiced therapy, I had a therapist. My therapist was helpful in my muddling through my personal relationships and navigating my own stories. My bias is that we are in this helping field, and we too, need support to thrive. And, frankly a coaching mindset invites us to get the support we need, so that we can show up fully with our clients.

Compassion fatigue, overwhelm, boundary setting, perfectionism, and frustrations can impact us just as much as these emotions impact our clients. Plus, what are we energetically communicating to potential clients, when we ourselves don’t invest in coaching?

What Do You Do to Grow?

I would love to hear from you. 

  • What tools or strategies do you use to deepen your Coaching Mindset?
  • How do you support yourself in your coaching journey?

“Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.”  Rumi


Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC, author of StoryJacking: Change Your Dialogue, Transform Your Life and the Reflective Coach, and the new book, Light Up: The Science of Coaching with Metaphors. Lyssa is a Confidence Coach, Certified Mentor Coach, Coaching Super-Vision Partner, ICF PCC Assessor, and coaching educator. Using her understanding of the ICF Core Competencies and her knowledge of Neuroscience, Lyssa works with Professional Coaches to expand the capacity to partner with their clients through how they show up and hold the space for those with whom they work.

Lyssa is the creator of the Power of Metaphor Certification Program. Giving coaches new ways to tune their ears to hear the powerful metaphors their clients bring forward and discovering how to leverage the important metaphors to create stronger agreements, build trust and safety, allow the client to lead, and ultimately evoke powerful embodied awareness.

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