There’s the essence of coaching in a nutshell.
Clients want problems solved, and coaching will change their thinking about the situation, so new possibilities emerge.
Coaches change client beliefs about their situation.
That’s all they can do, but it is enough. They can’t change the situation and they can’t change the other people involved.
What’s a belief?
It’s essentially a prediction about the future.
If I do this, then this will happen.
It’s based on the person’s past experience – and then it gets applied in the present and so shapes the future.
(Sometimes it’s not even their experience, it’s something they have been told and they act as if it is true.)
That means they won’t put themselves in a situation that might challenge the idea.
The first resource we bring to any challenge, large or small, are our ideas about it.
These are our beliefs or mental models we bring to the party.
Are they limiting or helpful ideas?
Suppose the beliefs are limiting ones, built from mistakes, partial information and confirmation bias?
Then we may be in trouble.
We need to know the tricks, and traps, confirmations bias and shortcuts our brain applies, so we can sort the reliable information from the rest.
Let me tell you how I wrote my first book.
I was a professional guitarist and had just been to a great workshop on music, performance, and stage fright. It was given by Eloise Ristad who had written a superb book on these themes.
I got back to my apartment in an inspired mood, flopped into a chair, opened a beer and said to myself, ‘I want to write a book!’
Immediately, my brain came back with, ‘You can’t write a book!’
(Add a slight pitying and contemptuous tone to that, and you’ll get it pitch perfect).
Cue confused mental images of endless research, hours at the computer and immense difficulty.)
‘Just a minute,’ I said to myself, ‘I have never really tried. I have no idea if I can or not.’
That created a space for the next question, ‘Is it important to me? Do I want to find out?’
The answer was yes, and twenty books later, I am glad it was.
What’s my point?
My brain made a prediction based on past experience and a dash of fantasy. Then that belief almost shaped my future, making a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The truth is we do not know what we are capable of and the best questions to ask are,
‘Is it important to me?’ and ‘How can I find out?’
Then have a lot of fun finding out, whatever the outcome.
This is why beliefs are so important, they can stop you creating a future that is different and better to the past.
Beliefs should help us fly to new heights, not put lead weights on our wings.