My Top 10 Principles for Being a Powerful Coach
Since I was a little kid, I have been infatuated with power. Having power, gaining power, playing with power and accessing power. I loved model rockets, burning things and making things explode. I loved driving power boats and fast cars. I was pulled over by the police nearly 50 times in my first 10 years of driving! The common thread of my otherwise diverse careers and interests in physics, finance, computers, business and personal growth has always been power.
Throughout my entire life I’ve asked myself questions around how to become more powerful.
In more recent years, I’ve been asking questions like:
– What makes a coach ‘powerful’?
– Is it simply me being ‘fearless’ and going ‘deep’? Or is there more to it?
– How does one actually become more powerful as a coach?
Power is important in coaching because power drives creation. The more power there is in your coaching, the more impact you will have and the more money you will make.
Following is the first of my top 10 principles on being a powerful coach. These may not be the paths to power for you, but they are what have helped me to impact the lives of inspiring leaders around the world and to make enough money to provide the life my wife and I once dreamed of.
I will post another one of my principles here each week.
Principle #1 – TRUTH
What I focus on more than anything in my coaching is something I learned from my parents as a young boy. In fact, at our house, it was the MOST important thing. That is, to tell the truth.
When someone in a courtroom is called to the witness stand, there is a short ritual where they recite the phrase:
“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.“
These words actually contain four distinct pieces of wisdom for powerful coaching.
1. ‘Tell the truth.’ – I do my best to always speak what is in my gut, heart and mind. My truth shows up as a sense of curiosity, dissonance, harmony, certainty, uncertainty and other feelings. Whatever it is, I share it. I share what I see, hear and feel. I do my best not to hold back out of fear that I might be wrong. I no longer keep secrets because I’m worried I might hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t hide anything my body is pointing me to because my head thinks it might not be relevant.
For this affect, I am reminded of the first of two principles Quakers have for meetings where they sit together in silence.
‘To not speak when moved to do so is a sin.’
2. ‘Tell the whole truth.’ – Besides telling a truth of mine that may challenge a person, I try to remember also to share the full context surrounding that truth.
A context I used to leave out was the reason WHY I was challenging the person. Reason’s like ‘because I believe in your potential’ or ‘because I love you’, were true but I didn’t always tell it. Often I assumed the fact that I was their coach was enough. I’ve since found that speaking the truth of my belief in people, my commitment to people and my love for people, while ALSO telling them or asking them something that is confronting, can be as (and sometimes even more) powerful than sharing just the confronting truth.
Another place I find this is useful is in creating total clarity around the reason for inviting someone to a conversation. A partial truth would be ‘because I want to serve you’. The WHOLE truth would be ‘because I am serving lots and lots of people who inspire me, a handful of which I will offer coaching programs to and whom will become my clients’.
3. ‘Tell nothing but the truth.’ – Through listening back in my mind to what I have spoken to people, I have learned not to include anything extraneous when I tell the truth. No longer do I pad my truth out of fear. Instead I just do my best to be direct with people.
This doesn’t mean I am curt as I am also remembering to tell the ‘whole’ truth. It does mean, however, that I do not water down the truths I am speaking. I have come to be willing for a long period of silence to follow the dropping of a ‘truth bomb’. These moments are like the ringing in the ears one gets when an explosion happens close by. It’s scary, but also peaceful.
Following on from above, the second Quaker principle is;
‘To speak when not moved to do so is a sin.’
There is so much power in nothing.
4. ‘So help me God.’ – In my early days as a coach, five or six years ago, I thought it was easy for me to tell the truth. It was a high value of mine, so I assumed I was just always doing it. Acknowledging that telling my truth was not easy, however, actually helped me to discover deeper truths within me.
As soon as I acknowledged that there were things I was scared to say, new things began to reveal themselves to me. Questions I hadn’t been aware I was curious to ask, started to surface. These days I often look for which aspect of the conversation I feel discomfort around and then I move towards it, descending down the rabbit hole to a deeper truth.
For me, ‘God’ is the unfolding of life in and through all things. In this sense, I relate to my deepest truths – the ones that I contact not through reason but through body and intuition – as the current of life unfolding through me. To NOT speak these truths then is thus taking an active role in obstructing the unfolding of creation.
To be helped by ‘God’ in telling the truth is a reminder to me that my deepest truths are actually not mine, but they are life’s unfolding.
To get in the way of this (by not speaking them) reminds me of when, as a little kid, I used to try to build dams in the small streams in the forest behind our house. Sometimes it would work, but then the water would go everywhere and make a mess and eventually a pool of water would build up and come crashing through the dam. It was just like how hurricanes and tsunamis take back from man what he put in mother nature’s way.
Nature always finds a way to where she wants to go. I figure I may as well just go with her flow.
Doing so doesn’t make ‘me’ powerful, but it does gives me access to her power. And it is so immense!
*** Coaching Questions to Ask Yourself ***
– What feels like an uncomfortable direction to take this conversation?
– What else is true and relevant here that I am not communicating?
– Am I about to say this because it will serve them or because it will make me more comfortable?
– How am I getting in the way by NOT sharing this?