…..And so it was on a Wednesday morning that I found myself full of trepidation, wondering what the hell I had done, driving into the Dukes Arts Centre. A very surreal experience for me as I lived in Lancaster for a short time 18 years ago when I attended Lancaster Uni before I thought I could fly, fractured my leg, got stalked and had a bit of a breakdown… back then my plan was to save the world but I gave it up in the name of art…. maybe I still want to save the world if I’m honest… anyway that is another story….
Back to this one…
Although I was nervous this did not last long, the relaxed atmosphere in the room soon put me at ease. I find my wheelchair incredibly uncomfortable if sat still for too long and so asked if I could sit on the floor, no one minded and I was kindly handed a cushion ripped off a sofa to perch on … I like to think it made me look like the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.
As we only have 8 full days of training (plus coaching practice in between) and accreditation the course is very intense and as you are dealing, in some cases with such big emotions (no one makes you talk about a huge problem but I thought why not, in for a penny…), this translates into major exhaustion.
The course is split into learning sessions and coaching practice so that you can implement the skills you have just been learning about. The first coaching skill you learn is “reflecting” something that I have to admit I really struggle with at the moment unless I attach a question to it.
There are certain things you should and should not do in coaching. The main focus is around what is called “Active Listening”. I am quite happy to do this as it is something I have been learning through the Action Learning Set I am a part of for a different thing.
What is Active Listening? I hear you ask via the voices in my head. Well it is essentially listening without prejudice. There is no judgement and, very difficult for me and some of the others on the course, there is no self – you have to be completely impartial and not try to solve the problems of those who come to you. Your job instead is to be a mirror and a sounding boards, providing them the space to find their own solutions.
To carry on with what you should and shouldn’t do, another one which I struggle with is that you should not, unless you have a genuine rapport with the person, nod to what you are hearing. The reason for this is that if on occasion you do not nod, then the coachee may wonder why and feel judged. I am a nodding dog in human form and so I am finding this very hard. It is my natural instinct to nod when I am listening, not blindly but actively and at present I find the more I try to suppress it, the more crazed I probably look.
A key component of the course is to improve your leadership skills and to gain a greater understanding of yourself… and so there are elements you are taught that are not typical (we have been told) of a coaching course. Things covered include the old chestnut that is Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs and their preferred version of this which I think (it is in the manual) is the ERG Theory of Motivation. There is also a lot of stuff on Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, of which there are some elements I have an issue, that being that in certain circumstances I do not think people’s actions are due to a need and much more.
So how do I feel a couple of days after returning home. It may sound a bit ridiculous to say but I do feel I am actually really learning from the course already. I have already started to re-frame how I think about things and how I interpret the actions of others. I am also working on how I can start to re-frame my limiting beliefs and become more aware of these things as simply beliefs that are holding me back; they are not truth, although they can become their own truth (self-sabotage).
So what now, well before the next session I have two coaching sessions and coachee sessions with the person from the course I have been paired with. I also have a session set up with someone I know and I am going to offer coaching to one
lucky person from our membership. I also have plans to begin the process required to establish an Action Learning Set for artists as soon as our new space is open.
I have also begun to make a move on realising the realisations that dawned on me during my coaching sessions last week… so at present all is going well