When reflecting with clients on the value they get from coaching, one common theme is that of “space.” Coaching creates a space in people’s lives to stand back, reflect, review, re-energise and recommit. In particular, there are four kinds of “spaces” that regularly appear through coaching conversations.
Coaching provides, first and foremost, a safe space. Every conversation someone has in a work or business setting has an agenda attached to it. There’s either something you can give to the person you are speaking with, or something they want from you. Every piece of information you give, or piece of yourself that you reveal, carries with it some level of risk as to how that information may be used. In coaching, the one item on the agenda is you. Coaches take confidentiality very seriously, impressed at the level of trust clients invest in them. This is what, for many people, makes the coaching conversation so unique and precious.
Second, coaching is often described as an insight space. Whilst “insight” is much over-used phrase, it has a natural home in coaching. Clients get to “see inside” themselves and their motivations, their deep-seated passions and hopes, the uncertainties that hold them back, and their foundational beliefs as to how the world works. Over time, clients also see more broadly as well deeply, the wider context in which they live and work and how these often less-visible factors influence their motivations, choices, and success.
Third, coaching provides a brilliant creative space. In coaching you have the freedom to express and explore ideas that you may be reluctant to articulate elsewhere, to assess alternatives and to track the progress of various avenues towards your objectives. One of my clients described our conversations as less about thinking outside the box, and more like taking the box away completely. To be involved in conversations like that is, for a coach, humbling and exciting in equal measure.
Finally, coaching provides an open space or what some have described as a prophetic space. Whilst coaching usually starts with where we are now and explores possible directions, there are dimensions of coaching which explore possible futures or destinations. This goes far deeper than vague wishful thinking about where you might want to be in a number of years time. These are explorations which emerge out of a profound and realistic sense of who you are as a person, what you have to offer the world, and with and for whom you are living life. As well as realising your potential, you may well begin to see potential you never realised existed.
And none of this happens by accident. Whilst many good coaches have a natural aptitude for their work, to walk with people through these various spaces takes considerable expertise and practice.
A great way for you to begin to put coaching into practice is to find a coach who will give you give you a taster conversation – someone who will begin to make the space for you, to find the spaces you need to explore.