If there’s one skill set you should adopt in 2022 it is how to coach yourself. While this term might sound like a concept that should be reserved for psychologists and coaches, there’s something truly empowering about improving your own self-awareness and creating the clarity you need to inspire positive action.
Careers today don’t always follow a linear path and the world of work is often fraught with uncertainties. This increases the need for everyone – regardless of age and experience – to take a step back and ask themselves some powerful questions to make progress on their career paths. For those looking to develop a growth mindset, navigate obstacles or move in a new direction, self-coaching can serve as an additional self-help resource, provided that you start from a place of seeing yourself as a work-in-progress.
According to Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis, Co-Founders of Amazing If, everyone has the capacity to coach themselves and become more self-sufficient in the process. However, an important part of this involves mastering the skill set to be able to do this effectively. They define self-coaching as an approach rather than a person-dependent activity.
“Self-coaching is the process of guiding our growth and development, particularly through periods of transition, in both the professional and personal realms,” says executive coach Ed Batista. While many of us might perceive it as a solitary activity, Batista believes that self-coaching is actually a “highly social and interactive” self-directed practice.
“There are a number of people in our professional and personal lives who can serve as members of our ‘coaching team,’” he says. When considering who your coaching partners should be, it’s worthwhile considering what ways these individuals can help you and whether they are a good fit for offering you guidance and support. These people could come in the form of mentors, managers, family members or colleagues.
“A key to maximising the value of these relationships is ensuring that our partners have a basic understanding of coaching as a methodology,” Batista says.
Self-coaching tips for leaders
Viewing your life from a distance and reflecting on your experiences should be an ongoing process that involves engaging yourself in conversation. It enables you to examine your patterns, strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, values and current skill set. Importantly, taking the time to review yourself can improve your work or leadership performance by helping you to integrate lessons learned.
Often there is a mismatch between our intentions and how we actually show up in the world. These self-awareness gaps can be identified with a simple exercise that involves using one word to describe the impact you would like to make in a few different situations throughout the week. This could be a meeting or a team problem-solving session. For each scenario, invite a person who was present to give their feedback on the impression they thought you were making at the time.
Listen to yourself
Reflection involves becoming aware of your thoughts and beliefs, as they guide your actions. If you give in to distractions that prevent you from accessing this you won’t be able to make positive changes or engage in deeper reflection. Consider removing technology devices and other disruptors, including people, in your environment.
Self-awareness is also about becoming mindful of the types of voices that inhabit your mind. For instance, statements such as, “I can’t do this,” or, “Maths was never my strength, therefore I won’t attempt this,” are most likely from your inner critic. When you notice this voice, it can be helpful to visualise a supportive friend talking to you with more encouraging feedback on your situation.
Consider replacing closed questions such as, “Did I enjoy that meeting?” with open-ended ones like, “What did I enjoy the most in that meeting?” In this way you’ll elicit more insightful responses.
Taking responsibility for your actions can happen more easily when you frame questions with the word ‘I,’ which places you in the driver’s seat. It’s also important to recognise when you make other people responsible for your circumstances. For instance, “Why didn’t this happen sooner?” could be replaced with, “How can I make this happen sooner next time?”
Remember to ask one question at a time rather than raising two ideas in one sentence. “Why am I always late and feel stressed out most of the time?” could become, “Why am I always late?” and “Why do I feel stressed out most of the time?” Structuring your coaching session in this way can elicit more feedback and create greater mental clarity.
When do I feel most energised at work?
At what moments does my self-doubt creep in?
Who could give me the insights I need to tackle my career challenge?
How can I receive more feedback on a regular basis?
What is currently not working for me in my life that I would like to be in 12 months time?