In recent weeks, I have had some discussions with a good friend and his plans for 2016. To my surprise I was told he is planning to summit Kilimanjaro in August! To many, this may seem like a relatively ‘doable’ challenge as the route does not look particularly steep or requiring in depth experience in mountaineering or climbing. To most it looks like a medium to hard hike through forest, moorland and desert terrain, with the summit hike being on relatively tough terrain (mountain scree and ice capped summit), but for a short intense distance. I then did some research on what goes into preparing oneself for such a challenge and was intrigued. The planning aspect in terms of gear, accommodation, travel, etc., is easily managed by any one of a large number of companies specialising in these trips. However, the hardest preparation seems to be of a much more personal nature in that often folk underestimate the conditions on the mountain and the mental and physical effect these conditions exert upon individuals. Sadly, some people do not achieve what they had hoped for and never reach the summit at Uhuru Peak.
Similarly, in life and our careers, often the journey is seemingly straightforward to most. Study hard, get some sort of tertiary qualification, enter the world of work and grow in your chosen career path. While the initial stages of this career path should be relatively simple, the challenge begins to mount as your career begins to mature over time. Soon enough the individual is faced with numerous challenges and choices about how to progress. If you are put into a position which also manages the output and deliverables of others, the challenge becomes even more complex.
In my experience, this is where professional coaching comes into its own. The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as:
“Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:
• Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
• Encourage client self-discovery
• Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
• Hold the client responsible and accountable
This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential”.
Having gone through a coaching journey myself some years ago, after coming to a major crossroads in both my personal and professional lives, the single most important lesson I learned… I should have done this sooner! My coach and the practise that accompanied it was instrumental in assisting me to unlock true potential, hidden or blocked by negative self-belief. Throughout the journey however, I was held accountable for my own progress as this was my journey and only I would benefit from the work put into it.
I soon realised that if I wanted to grow, mature and have enhanced awareness, I would need to manage my ego down (the voice in your head that says coaching is for the weak…), allow honest introspection, face those issues that held my success at bay and then implement a plan of work to assist me in becoming better at who I was, both personally and professionally. At the end of my formal coaching journey I was left with an innate sense of sustainable empowerment, not just a temporary high. Due to enhanced awareness of myself and my environment, I was better able to navigate my personal and professional pathways with significantly more clarity and engage more successfully with those I came into contact with. The amount of stress which was lifted and removed from within was immeasurable. In addition, my mental and physical energy levels were somehow raised, allowing more time to consider and pursue my goals, ambitions and purpose.
I know that for many a seasoned manager the question of whether to seek out coaching may come into conflict with your ego at some level as it is seen as a sign of weakness or even incompetence. My experience has shown that this is indeed the exact opposite; those who embark upon a coaching journey are already stronger and hold more fortitude than they realise; they soon see the untold potential trapped within and now find a way to unlock it.
Attibility Human Capital offers individual life and executive coaching. Contact us today to enquire about our services.