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In these complex times, we are bombarded by more news, stimulation, and information than ever before in history. The stimulation comes in the form of visuals: Billboards, advertising, newspapers, magazines, television, DVDs, video games, the internet, e-mail, social media, loud ambient noises, music, radio, TV, cell phones, and even the noise in our heads that never seem to shut off.

This is the reality of the world in which we live, and it will only increase. In addition to the constant barrage of stimuli, we must also contend with task-saturated lives in which responses are expected in nanoseconds, and there is less and less time available to process information and data. This is what has triggered the need for coaching, the second fastest growing profession after Information Technology!

n Phases of coaching

The coaching process has three phases: 1) Clarifying what you want; 2) Mapping the action plan to successfully achieve what you want; 3) Being supported in the realization of the vision, goal, or mission.

If you are to coach another person, you need to believe in her/him. If you are to believe in her/him, you must first believe in yourself. If you have had the experience of discovering your own answers, it will be much easier to believe that someone else truly has their own answers within them.

n Enlisting support of executive coach?

When the stretch between where you are presently and your desired future reality is more than you can imagine, a coach helps you bridge the gap between “here” and “there”. A coach helps the executive manage their stretch zone step-by-step; the possible “I can’t” reaction or any trace of Negaholism that might surfaces in the form of confusion, doubt, uncertainty, and/or fear that could sabotage their professional development. The individual may have outstanding technical skills or s/he may be a strong people manager, but rarely do managers possess both sets of skills. Coaching helps develop people so that they are more balanced, well rounded and functional in multiple areas.

n Start your year with focus

Each December or January you can meet with your coach to help you determine your goals for the upcoming year. If you don’t have goals, you could easily become confused as to where to focus your energy. If you want to take control of your own destiny then you have to do the work of establishing your professional aspirations, assessing your preferences, your talents and capabilities, and then formulating your goals. Once you have formulated your goals, then your coach can know what you want to achieve. If you don’t know what you want, a coach can also help you determine what you value and where you want to direct your time and energy.

n A sounding board

A coach can also help you externalize your thoughts and feelings regarding your current situation juxtaposed with your professional goals. Formulating goals is important, but stating them doesn’t automatically guarantee that they will happen. You must focus, intend, and do whatever actions are required to make your goals become reality. Your coach will encourage you to share your secret wishes, desires and goals. A coach helps you track your progress, recognize, reinforce and reward the achievement of your desired outcomes.

Your coach will also act as a mirror enabling you to see “Blind-spots”, that evade your view. Imagine that you are cutting the hair on the back of your head. Of course, it is possible to do this with mirrors surrounding you, however the activity might require some double-jointed positions. Your coach enables you to see that which obscures your view, without being double jointed.

n Learning to believe in you

Another area in which your coach can be incredibly useful is in helping you to believe in yourself. Research has shown that people who believe in themselves are much more likely to make their dreams come true than those who don’t. If your dream requires you to stretch your self-image, then your coach can help you find the building blocks between your current perceptions of self to your desired identity.

A coach can also help when you encounter disappointment, disillusionment or rejection. When your big goal seems to constantly be shutdown, you’re told that “You’re crazy”, or everyone says, “I’m not interested”, your coach can either help you reframe these experiences or assist you in overcoming the objections and breaking through the blocks.

n External accountability

You may be a very positive person who is surrounded by people who are negative, diminishing, have exceedingly high expectations, or just plain “Negaholic”. If you are in such a situation, you probably take your accomplishments for granted, have difficulty being acknowledged for your achievements, and maybe even discount, discredit, disqualify or justify why you don’t do what you agreed to do. In this circumstance, you could use an external person to serve as “external accountability”. A coach will support you in acknowledging yourself, in doing what you said you wanted to do, and in being strong with any negative people surrounding you.

You may want to do something that is a big stretch for you, and fear may paralyse your motivation. You may be caught between the desire for the objective and the fear that is convincing you that you can’t be it, do it, or have it. Your fear, “False Evidence Appearing Real” may seize and immobilise you. A coach can help you overcome your fears and make the seemingly impossible happen.

Dr Cherie-Carter Scott is a renowned life coach and the founder of MMS Institute, the executive coaching organisation.