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coaching has a definition


when the International Coach Federation defines coaching, it uses words like "thought-provoking", "creative process" and "potential". I took a close look at that definition, which lead me to slightly rephrase it. If you want to know what type of coach I am, you definitely should read this.

the International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential". According to ICF, this is "particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole" (ICF FAQ's).

put together in a sentence, I must admit the definition doesn't read easily at first. What I like though about the definition are the single words it brings together.

thought-provoking. This refers to this magical moment during a coaching session, when you just asked the client a question or reflected on something he said and you see something like thunderbolt and lightning going through his head and body. Most of the time, it brings a moment of silence. And after that, it opens a new world, or at least one or more new options for the client. And that's exactly one of the reasons why I'm doing this job: bring an external point of view to give people a broader view on the surrounding world.

creative. When you start a coaching session, you never know what will come up. And there lies the beauty of it. The coach controls the process, but there is no control over the content. The coach's toolbox is potentially unlimited. Creativity comes into the picture when the coach is connected to his intuition and the combination of training and experience allows him to chose the right tool at the right moment. And most of all, when the coach to be creative in the way he adapts and combines the tool to fit the client's current and specific needs. It feels so good to do that.

process. The process of coaching is often compared to a dance, a metaphor I can relate to. A strong relation will come to exist between the coach and his client, one based on trust and confidence, going both ways. With the power of that relation, the coach leads the client through the process. The dance floor is limited by the coaching contract, the moves are sometimes initiated by the coach, sometimes by the client. The music evolves throughout the session, throughout the process. There are breaks, there are surprises. And the final move is the one that will lead the client to more autonomy, first of all in choosing when and in what direction he leaves the dance floor. Described like this, the coach and the client really are partners, another word the ICF definition refers to.

inspire. The basic belief in the client's autonomy is essential to coaching. And so is the reference made in the definition to the fact that the client gets inspired by the thought-provoking and creative process lead by the coach. Inspiration comes from within the client's own life. The coach helps the client create the environment in which the inspiration will be able to emerge, and stands by the client while he tries to figure out what his inspiration is telling him.

maximize potential. With those last words, we have the elements to build, understand and adhere to a full sentence, because that's the basic goal of coaching: maximize potential according to the client's needs. Being a coach is being the client's partner when leading him through a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires him to maximize his personal and professional potential.

that's my job now. When do you want to dance with me?

charline desmecht


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