Are you a fox or a cat? Can you keep coaching simple?

What is coaching? What does it entail? Is it necessarily complicated? Or can you keep coaching simple?

As professional coaches, we have studied coaching and we continue to study it to enhance our practice and professional development.

As such, we encounter many techniques and approaches. Here’s a few that come to mind: clean language, balance, life coaching, goal planning, self-belief, neuro-linguistic programming, transactional analysis, co-active coaching, GROW, OSKAR, SIMPLE, the differences between executive coaching and life coaching, business coaching and performance coaching, career coaching, evoking choice, generating responsibility, provocative coaching, Theory U, The Wheel of Life, being a thinking partner, the reality check, well-formed outcomes, neurological levels, parallel processes, projection, transference, resilience, incisive questioning, Level III listening, mirroring, reflecting, mindfulness, paradoxical intentions, therapy, Street Wisdom, the Gestalt cycle of experience, MBIT, Mindfulness, Total Dutch Coaching, …

Okay I made that last one up, but you see my point? There’s potentially a lot to consider.

Also, whilst deliberating all these choices that might inform the killer coaching question to ask next, the coach must also remain humble, calm and highly self-aware; a curious, focused, expert helper who models aspects of what she is coaching (performance, life balance, resilience, etc).

Blimey! It’s no wonder coaches are still and reflective. They are sitting there processing all of that!

Oh yes, and remember coaches are usually highly experienced professionals who have mountains of advice, anecdotes and experience to share, but No! You aren’t allowed to do that as it would be directive and might cross a professional boundary into counselling, consulting or management. Nor can you become a crutch or a buddy or friend.

Have you stopped to consider these challenges recently? Do we need to have all these choices in our heads or should we focus on one approach, one type of coaching? Perhaps listening is enough.

I am reminded of Aesop’s fable The Fox and The Cat: A fox and a cat are discussing their approach for evading danger. The fox, known for his cunning, boasts of having hundreds of tricks and deceptions, whereas the cat confesses to having only one. When the hunters and hounds arrive, the cat quickly runs up a tree. The fox is caught out deliberating which of his clever strategies to pursue and falls prey to the dogs.

Perhaps, like the fox, you have many techniques in your coaching kitbag; perhaps our challenge as coaches is to “be more cat”, and rely on ourselves in-the-moment?

Methinks there is a lot to be said for keeping things simple.

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