Coaching - Connection

I joined three other fellas on a group coaching call with Robbie Swale recently. We’d never met before, but we had common ground in wanting to use the session to ‘improve and develop our coaching practices. By the end of a fascinating 90 minutes, there it was: connection.

What each person had shared with the rest of the group had resonated, been brave in its vulnerability, and supported the building of a connection that was forged in just 90 minutes. We were now each other’s champions and we had all made real progress.

Credit: Inc.

This is the second time this year that I’d felt this level of connection at an event full of strangers. The first time was at one of John Holder’s events, again based around mindset, where the atmosphere was set for trust, vulnerability and objective support. Amongst the whooping, high-fiving and uplifting music that backed up the content, there they were again: connection and progress.

So, this connection thing is clearly pretty powerful, and seems to happen naturally in the right environment. Look at the disparate team of celebrities that headed up Kili earlier in the month, or the atmosphere at a gig, and you see the same thing happening. There are opportunities out there to achieve connection despite a growing belief that the world we live in is increasingly narcissistic.

The 2019 Comic Relief Return to Kili team (Credit: Northumberland Gazette)

I’m going to put it to you that coaching is just one of those environments in which connection can thrive, but that during coaching, it does so in such a way that it catalyses self-awareness and actions which are life-changing and sustainable.

The coach and their coachee don’t necessarily have shared interest or common ground. The coach is a coach, complete with all their experience and coaching skill. The coachee is initially a relative stranger who could have an infinitely different background to the coach. Even if the coach has a niche field there is no ‘cookie-cutter’ that created their client base; they’re all individuals with an individual story and background. If we look at the UK military – an organisation steeped in procedure and training, even they recognise that individualism is very robustly immovable.

The coach and coachee come at the meeting from opposite ends: one is a client, the other the servant. One is there to be supported, the other to provide the support. Often a coachee may not have clarity on what they want to achieve. There is of course no way that the coach can predict what that looks like either – if we could we’d be psychic!

But if connection is exactly what the word suggests, then there must be something in coaching that creates this commonality, this aspect that allows the development of professional closeness, of rapport, of support and championship.

The answer is simple. Both parties are after just one thing: progress for the client. Progress that wouldn’t have been made without support. And a coach is unique in their take on this: the coach exists purely to support the client, to serve them in whatever way is most powerful. A good coach manages to make the common ground the client.

Achieving that isn’t easily won. The coaching concepts behind achieving it are theoretically simple. In practice though, the concepts are sound until real life throws in the first curveball.

That curveball can be as simple as the most common I see: that of the coachee finding it uncomfortable to spend a significant amount of time and focus on themselves. We’re great at helping other people with their problems. How many of you thrive on a crunchy challenge that someone else needs to solve? How often do you practice the same on yourself though? I’m willing to bet not that often. At the other end of the scale, consider the coachee who has denied or buried experiences from earlier in their life which are fundamental to how they behave and act now. Extracting those requires more than just a formulaic process with a natty acronym. The coach’s job is to turn that experience into positive and constructive learning.

If you want connection, spend time with friends doing what you love, go and feel the high of dancing with 10000 people in front of your favourite band, go to a Tony Robbins event. But if you want all the stuff that a coach can do: impartial, honest, objective support focussed and tailored entirely to you so you can find that way to see possibility, then you might be surprised to find that connection is a welcome assistant in that process too.

Glastonbury - The Pyramid Stage (Credit: Designing Buildings Wiki)

Join me for a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded people at my Wild Coaching event on 27 Apr 2019. For more information check out

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