Epiphanies for Everybody

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Why I Coach

June 19, 20233 min read

Why I Coach

Before becoming a coach, I spoke with a friend about the idea. I wanted to know who I should offer coaching to, and what would encourage them to pay me. I had experience, but wasn’t sure this was something I wanted to do, or that people would be willing to pay me to help them.

Rather than answer my question, my friend asked me a question. They asked, ‘Why do you want to coach?’ I’ve been thinking about it since, and it turns out the answer is related to why I do what I’ve done for the previous 10 years. As an experience technologist, agilist, and technology leader, I was sad to see so many people doing a job that I found exciting and rewarding, but being miserable while doing it. I wanted to improve people’s lives. We spend a considerable amount of time at work. If work sucks, life tends to suck. I had studied quite a lot about systems thinking, psychology, technology, organisations, and knew that nobody has to be miserable at work. Nobody has to feel that way.

Life is too short for us to work somewhere that makes us miserable.

My work with organisations has taught me that the majority of how an organisation works, its culture, and its environment, is a result of the collective beliefs and subconscious assumptions held by the people who work there. The more influential the people, the more influential their beliefs and assumptions. Not all assumptions lead to healthy outcomes. Over the years, it has become clear that the fastest way to change an organisation is to expose and question the assumptions — by bringing them into the light of the day, they become fair game for change. What’s more, it’s good for business — hidden assumptions often hinder the organisation’s ability to function, so by exposing them, it gives the organisation an opportunity to thrive that it didn’t have before.

It turns out that exposing these beliefs and assumptions, and helping people confront them and reconcile them is something that a) I’m really good at, and b) I really enjoy. Leaders tell me I have a way of seeing to the heart of a problem, and asking deep, thought-provoking questions that help them see it and grapple with it themselves. They also tell me that they appreciate that I understand both technology and people, and how they relate to how organisations function.

I want to do more. I want to spend my time helping technology leaders because they’re largely underserved — many are promoted into positions of leadership without the support necessary to help them understand the people side of the organisation — and I want to help executives because the scope of their influence is so great that when they have an epiphany, it has the power to change the lives of everybody in an organisation for the better.

Coaching has been an integral part of my approach for years. It’s time for it to come out of the shadows and stand on its own.

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