• sarah07003

The First Step in the Coaching Process--Clarify the Goal


As I shared with you in the blog entitled Awareness is Always Job Number 1, there are three steps in the change process anyone goes through (awareness, motivation, and then functioning capability or tools and skills). The first step in making a change in behavior, perception, or goals is always developing awareness. I then explored the question: “Awareness of what?” We looked at awareness of specific behavior and the outcome it was creating so the individual can make an informed decision about whether this is something (s)he wants. I also explored “awareness” of that inner voice we all have that teaches us about our interests, strengths, and needs and what we want as part of our vision and goals.


So when we are self- (or peer-coaching) we need to pay attention to what we are currently aware of and what we may not be aware of and need to bring to awareness.


What we are currently aware of is what is bothering us at the moment or a goal we know of. Another way to put this is: “This is what we know that we know.” And it is what we bring to the coaching process. This is always the place to start.


What we may not be aware of is what we don’t know that we don’t know. And we can deal with that later.


But starting with what we are aware of, we usually bring to the coaching process an unrealized goal or an obstacle to achieving it. The intent of the coaching process is get us moving again toward goal attainment. That goal becomes our motivation for taking the action. Without it, we are unlikely to take the next step in the face of an obstacle. And we are certainly unlikely to go on a quest to figure out what we don’t know we don’t know.


So, let’s take an example. Let’s say I bring the following problem to the coaching process (to either myself or a peer coach): “I am so frustrated because I am having to spend so much time on technology and logistical problems: There is a leak in my downstairs bathroom, one of my websites just crashed, and a prescription for my mother is lost in transit.” This really happened, by the way.


So my coach and I are aware of these “obstacles.” And after talking about this with my coach, I am very aware of how much resistance this situation is causing me. I am angry, I am stuck, and I am convinced the Universe is conspiring against me. These are very real feelings, not so real thoughts, but certainly what is in my current awareness. And it seems to be blocking me from goal attainment.


And so the first step is getting clear about what the goals are and the priority of those goals. As I talk about this more, I am clear that my goals are to make sure my mother is taken care of and that I gain a few more corporate clients. Those are my real goals and I want to keep them in perspective.


But, let me add here that a situation like this could bring up for you that you are lacking clarity about a goal. Or the situation you face could actually clarify that what you thought was a goal is not really a goal. In other words, the situation could act as your teacher to bring to awareness what are real goals for you. Let’s go back to my situation again. What if I were laser-focused on growing my business to the exclusion of all else. The prescription for my mom that was lost could bring to my mind that my mother’s well-being and our relationship is actually a goal and priority that I want to be more prominent in my life.


In any event, by talking this out, I am clear that I have two goals now—to grow my business and take care of my mom. So the actions available to me and the tools/skills that I can seek or use become a little more apparent, at least to the individual at the center of the process.


Are you curious what I did in my own situation? Do you know what you would have done? Before I tell you what I did, think seriously about what you would have done and why.


Now, I will tell you. The leak was not a disaster and not a priority. It needs to get done but not at the expense of my other goals. I was able to turn the water off and I am now waiting for a plumber who will eventually show up.


The prescription was a priority. So I pulled some detective skills out of my bag of tricks and went to work on finding the prescription. It was eventually found, but it did take 48 hours. I was able to take the next logical step and then put the problem aside so that it did not distract me from my other work.


The website was clearly a priority, but frankly not a disaster. It did not need to take the time and attention I was giving it. I outsourced the problem to a technical wizard and went on with my business while he did his thing.


Those 3 obstacles were occupying a lot of space in my brain and awareness. By getting clear about my goals, I was able to lower the intensity of all of them and continue to move forward. It was also an opportunity to clarify what is really important to me.


Just to review: By focusing on what we are aware of, the coaching process can help us to use any situation to get clear about (or bring to awareness) what we really want, eg the goal, and to get back into action toward achieving it.


When we get this clarity, we can dial down the intensity of the situation and figure out how to move forward. This create the motivation—the second step in the change process I described above.


So, what would you have done in this situation? Would you have made different choices? If so, why? Do you have different tools? Perhaps you can share them with your peer coach. The really important thing, however, is are you clear about what your goals were or are now?