A few months back I was lying in bed awake for the second hour in the middle of the night, looping in my very unproductive but addictive thoughts regarding work. Until I finally managed to stop myself by asking one question: "What's the purpose behind this thinking?". This question not only caught my attention, but changed my emotional state, and I slowly started to fall back to sleep...
You may not be aware of it, but you have been coaching yourself since you were born. As a child you coached yourself on how to get back in the game after falling and hurting your knee. Later, you have coached yourself on how to get back on track after your business idea failed or you needed to let go of a relationship. In other words: you are already your own coach, and you are probably the most important coach you will ever have in your life, because no matter what happens you will always be there.
Self-coaching is a mindset
"Your self-coaching stems from your ability to harness your inner wisdom and experiences to make choices that are best for you"- and perhaps for your family, team and organization. Research has shown for years already that we can solve our own problems better than we think. Self-coaching is the process of guiding our own growth and development, taking the lead to help us overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. In other words: self-coaching is a way to self-mastery, so for us to become our own master, our own leader - the CEO of the Me Co. This is something that no-one else can do for us.
Many people think of coaching as a technique and a set of tools, and as a result they also fall into the trap of thinking of self-coaching as the practice of using some self-coaching model to guide a person's own thinking. Taking some time to go through some questions can be a fun way to expand your thinking and help you change perspective. But essentially, like coaching, self-coaching is more than that; it is a mindset. It is not only about what you do, but how you think that makes the difference.
The essential self-coaching skills
According to the Evercoach program of Mindvalley there are 3 essential coaching skills that great self-coaches (including you with a little practice) possess:
Self-observation: Coaches are usually a great help because they look at us and our situation from a distance. They are not personally involved, and they help us see what’s going on in different areas regarding the situation, including what’s going on inside us. To be a good self-coach you need to be a skilled observer of not only your external, but also your inner world - your thoughts and your emotions. Why? Because powerful change starts with awareness. [I was very aware of me feeling anxious and looping in my thoughts lying in bed that night.]
Non-judgement: Coaches are also a great help because they look at us and our situation objectively and neutrally, without judging us and our decisions. Judgement is harmful because it tends to trigger us and to activate unhelpful reactions like self-doubt and overthinking. Non-judgement, instead, leaves space for curiosity and mental clarity, and lets you set aside overthinking and uncertainty and step into analyzing what's going on and what you could potentially do about it. [Momentarily I got sucked into the black hole of judging myself being awake and thinking about all those issues, but at some point I just let myself go, took a step back and thought: "Ok, here is what's going on again - interesting! Let's have a look at all of this".]
The third skill, Conscious response is about using your observations and choosing conscious responses that work best for you and your specific situation. Thus, instead of reacting automatically, great self-coaches have control over their thoughts, emotions and behaviour, and choose conscious responses that are aligned with their values and principles in life. [Eventually, I came to the question (one of my favourite self-coaching questions): "What question do I need to ask myself right now?"; and the rest of the story you already know.]
Where are you in terms of these essential skills? Do you perhaps already find yourself strong in all of them? And if so, what has made you develop these skills in your life? Or perhaps you find some of these skills quite difficult to cultivate. Which muscle could use most of your attention right now?
The great thing about self-coaching is that you can do it anywhere and at any time - in other words, your coach is always with you. Self-coaching works wonders informally: for instance, if you just had a team meeting that did not go according to your expectations, or say you received some bad feedback from one of your colleagues or friends. After that meeting or conversation, on the go, you can just pause and reflect on a few core questions that will help you reflect on the issue; e.g. "What’s the goal behind this challenge? What would person X, who is so excellent at solving situations like this, do?". Self-coaching also works formally, which means that you have made a coaching agreement with yourself: you dedicate a time to reflect and coach yourself, maybe using a self-coaching model such as the ROSA model or just a few crucial questions.
No matter how you coach yourself, just keep in mind that the better you get in coaching yourself, the better you will be able to coach the people around you. If you know yourself, if you can support and challenge yourself and ask yourself those important and sometimes difficult questions, then you can support and challenge other people and ask them those questions, too. In other words, your ability to coach others deeply and powerfully starts with you.
We will be sharing more about the concept and different ways of practicing self-coaching in our upcoming GrowthLab New Year's event called Become your own master coach. A few of the 30 seats are still free, so grab yours asap!
Picture: Sarah Manson, Unsplash