The Rewards of Curiosity
July 21, 2022
One of the things I most enjoy about coaching is the opportunity to learn from clients. So far this journey has allowed a wide variety of diverse exploration:
· What constitutes the highest quality vintage from the perspective of a certified Sommelier.
· The impact of location and climate in maple sugar farming.
· The correlation between the seemingly unrelated disciplines of music and mathematics.
· Leadership principles gleaned through the eyes of a fighter pilot.
· Challenges, demands, and expectations that fall on the shoulders of major college sports information directors.
· Storyline and equipment considerations that go into the development of engaging podcasts.
· The unrealized and unintended discrimination that frustrates and demoralizes members of “protected classes.”
· The value of a simple phone call to former colleagues during the peak of Covid.
· How taking a minute to repair a cyclist’s flat tire translated to a totally unrelated sales lead.
Currently I’m revisiting some of the fundamentals of coaching in an effort to earn more advanced certification. Through that process I am reminded that besides being ethically grounded, one of the foundations for successful coaching is to possess an attitude of curiosity. Healthy curiosity is non-judgmental, empathetic towards the client, and most importantly not predicated upon the coach’s own value system. An effective coach does and should not try to convince or persuade a client.
That last part for me can be especially difficult as I, like everyone, has my own system of values as well as inherent biases. What I have learned though is that through establishing an environment that is open and supportive it will build trust in the relationship, creating an atmosphere where the client is freed from influence and eventually will derive their own high-quality solution.
Some time back I had the honor of working with a young man who was employed as an engineer with a major company. He was well rewarded by his organization, important as he resided in an area notorious for high living costs. He was generous with his earnings, sharing unconditionally with members of his family who were not as fortunate or financially disciplined. His reason for reaching out to me was predicated upon identifying another passion that would not only augment his current vocation, but also bring some level of further monetization.
Given his lifelong disciplined mindset he began to explore the possibility of developing a service specifically designed for millennials, many of whom are debt riddled and finding dreams of financial security, home ownership, and raising a family bleak. The “side” endeavor launched. He continues as a financial coach having positive impact for his clients.
I might add too that this client had another dreamful aspiration for coaching. Lovelorn, he was hopeful that he might meet a special lady, make a connection, find romance, and build a family. Never losing sight of or abandoning that dream and with my encouragement, he made that happen.
They married last year. I always tell my career coaching clients, “life” invariably intersects career.
Earlier this year, there was another career coaching client frustrated in his job search. This individual was well-seasoned in his professional field, yet found not only rejection, but difficulty even getting through corporate “gatekeepers.” Was it age? Was there lack of demand for his trade?
A coaching curiosity compelled me to ask how he might leverage his experience? Rather than allowing age to present an obstacle, how could he advantageously “sell” it and his experience? Further, what about the possibility of launching his own enterprise?
Obviously there were a number of other different questions and conversations, but at the end of the day, that is exactly what he did, establishing his own LLC, specializing in a particular service area that though important, flies under the radar of many small- to mid-sized companies. Creating that safe, supportive environment facilitated his creating and now living his “ideal job description.”
Several years ago, one of my very early clients was an admittedly “introverted” middle-aged woman, seeking not only future financial security, but a current passion. We considered her interests and I learned she was a big reader who also had a strong interest in history. Curious, we talked about how she might feed that fascination. She shared that there were several historical venues and sites in her area. Passion overcame introversion. In a future conversation she shared that she had not only signed up to serve as a volunteer at one of those locations, but had happily adorned herself in historical clothing, reflective of a mid-19th century pioneer woman.
Through confidence gained in that assignment, I learned as well that she was also participating in a door-to-door solicitation campaign for a candidate for political office.
As a coach, there are few things more gratifying than seeing a client’s energy shift when they discover that “aha” moment. The joy of being a curious partner on that path of discovery is beyond reward.
The Seed Sower