“There are no such things as wrong turns,
Only paths we never knew we were supposed to take.” Proverb
It's all about change
“Change is the only constant” goes the refrain. There would be little need for coaching, training, mentoring, counselling or any development if people were happy to stay the same as they are now.
Being coached by someone is all about being empowered, equipped and enabled to change. Coaching empowers people to find new jobs, work though transitions, enhance performance, build better relationships, make wise decisions, transform organisations and reach new spiritual levels. Coaching is about establishing a vision of the future and reaching goals. When coaching is successful, it's about bringing and maintaining change.
But coaching is more. We also help people determine what needs to stay the same in times of constant flux. We encourage our clients to stake out their core values, established strengths, basic beliefs, ethical principles and lasting relationships that remain firm and provide an anchor to their lives.
Coaches are both change agents and constant agents. Coaches help people see what needs to change and what needs to remain constant.
Change is difficult!
Let's start by recognising the obvious: Change is difficult. Going on a journey with people through change can be challenging and exhausting. Bringing sustainable change is even harder. Most people resist change even when they see the need and believe it can occur.
The owner of the first hotel I managed was just 40 when he suffered a heart attack. His lifestyle, booze, food and a lack of regular exercise were contributory factors but prior to the heart attack, there were no significant symptoms. Life was good, then BAM! He was on the floor in agony. He survived. His doctor told him bluntly that he had to change his diet, give up alcohol, smoking and take up regular exercise. Change or die! A stark choice. And one that many people face. Initially, my boss came out of hospital ready and eager to take this advice seriously and changed everything that was harming his health. It wasn't easy for him, but he stuck with it and now enjoys a slim, healthy life retired and sailing around the Mediterranean.
Yet, in the US alone, some 90% of heart bypass patients can't change their lifestyles, even at the risk of dying. It's not surprising then that changing people's behaviour in business is a challenge.
How people face change
People respond to change typically in four different ways depending on their personalities and past experiences:
Innovators – who value change and often try to make it happen.
Embracers – who thrive on change and accept it with enthusiasm, sometimes without thinking too much about it.
Acceptors – who initially resist change but eventually go along with it because there is no alternative.
Resisters – who may not even notice the change, deliberately ignore it, or be so overwhelmed that they push it out of their awareness. Some even deny any need for change and refuse to budge an inch.
People usually lean towards one of these responses. There's some excellent news though: simply because you are reading this, you are likely to be an innovator or embracer. If you are reading this reluctantly, you're an acceptor. And those who aren't reading this… well, they're the resisters (but of course they won't know that because they didn't read it!).