As a coach and facilitator who works with people from enterprising families, one of my roles is to engage with people in ways that are useful to them, as a “thinking partner”.
While I’m a big fan of understanding each person’s context, requiring a certain amount of “explanation”, my real preference is to get to a place of “exploration”, finding the best way forward for each person, and by extension, their family.
With that set-up taken care of, I’d like to explain where I’m coming from on this, before moving into a mode where these thoughts can be explored further.
Coach Training and Certification – Check!
Having recently completed my coaching certification program, (with the Co-Active Training Institute, making me a “CPCC” – or Certified Professional Co-Active Coach – many of the ideas that came from that program are still fresh in mind, and continue to serve me as a coach, as well as someone who writes a weekly blog.
This week’s is another example.
One of the aspects of being a coach is that we’re much more interested in the process of coaching our clients, as opposed to getting buried in the content and detail of their situations.
Our role is to help them see and understand where they are, figure out where they’re trying to go, and then overcome whatever obstacles are in their way.
We’re there to act as a guide, and our training makes us versatile guides; no matter what the situation or obstacles, we’re about the process. And that process is more focused on the future and its possibilities than on the past.
It’s more about exploration than about explanation.
The Rambling Back Story
Some coaching clients love to go on and on, telling their coach about every minute detail of the story that has them in a quandary.
Many beginner coaches are typically all too happy to think they’re doing a great job of being good listeners, since the client keeps talking. It can feel like a win-win; but alas, it’s typically a missed opportunity.
This is where the wise words of my “CPL”, or Certification Pod Leader, Alex, come in.
In explaining the importance of interrupting rambling clients, he said, “Coaching is not about EXPLANATION, it’s about EXPLORATION“.
Bingo, there is it, the simple phrase that I’ll never forget.
Family Members Who Dwell on the Past
I’m sure that anyone who’s part of a business family will recognize the case of the family member who spends most of their time talking about all of the problems they have to work through, as if to justify their job and pay, because it’s so much work.
When that family member is able to drive all of the discussion, it can really limit the progress of the business, and also the family.
When everything they talk about is an explanation of the current situation, including plenty of excuses and lots of blaming, the focus is on the past, and current obstacles.
Focus on the Future – Let’s Explore
Imagine now a family where much of the time is spent on exploration, and talking about possibilities for the future.
Yes, it’s important to understand and appreciate the current context, knowing where we are now, which includes a back story of how we got here.
At some point, everyone already knows that story, though, and rehashing it over and over again, to make clear the obstacles, the errors of the past, the other people who are to “blame” for the shortcomings, and all of the excuses for why things aren’t better, well, all this gets tiring and anything but productive.
What if we get family members together to talk about the future, and how they can all explore, together, a way forward where they all make progress?
Coaching, Facilitation, or Mediation?
Whether it’s for one motivated person in a family, or for a family group, quite often the presence of a trained outside person can stimulate more exploration, without the need for excess explanation.
Maybe its coaching for one person, or even several. It could be facilitation of group meetings that haven’t worked so well without an outside neutral third party.
When things are truly tense, someone who knows how to mediate might be the answer.
What they all have in common is a focus on a better future. Exploring ways forward can work wonders for your family.