The coaching profession is sometimes mistakenly oversimplified: “You’re so good with people, why don’t you just become a coach?” But is there really a ‘just’ in becoming a great coach?

Like any level of expertise, the skill of artful coaching—the kind that inspires and transforms—is built gradually. It takes hours upon hours of education, practice, mentoring, supervision, and client-facing sessions. As much as we would like things to be simpler, learning to become a skilled coach is a far cry from ‘just’ happening, but rather a process of becoming.

becoming a coach

Building Coaching Skills

There’s a song by the Supremes: You can’t hurry Love. According to its songwriter, Lamont Dozier (source), the message behind the lyrics is: “take your time, feel your direction, find out where you’re going, study the terrain more before you dash off into an unknown place. You can’t hurry anything”.

This sounds so reassuringly true, and yet, in today’s rush-rush, quick-fix society, it’s more easily said than done. The speed of technology with its overload of information and cries for “instant results”, promises of “immediate delivery”, and menacing calls for action like “buy now before it’s too late”, is sending us a daily dose of a very different message which is surreptitiously hypnotizing us into the belief that fast is somehow always better than slow.

But Rome was not built in a day, nor will your coaching practice be.

Building the coaching skill requires us to be patient with the two-steps- forward-three-steps-back nature of learning something completely new. Like when it’s the umpteenth time you catch yourself in a session directing instead of inquiring. Or you cringingly watch a video of yourself missing yet another perfect opportunity to facilitate an insight. At such times you may wonder if you’ll ever get it right … but should that stop you from marching onwards?

how to become a great coach

Studies About Coaching

It might help to know that studies have shown that when learning happens slowly over time, it lays a stronger foundation with many advantages over a faster learning route (source). A methodical learning process that grows slowly over a longer time may solicit more patience and diligence, but it sticks. And once this solid foundation is built in the brain, the knowledge can be applied creatively to solve new problems or take in more information, raising our performance. Similar to when you learned to drive and finally got that manual stick shifting right, which then made it easier to focus more attention on managing the traffic.

become a coach

Become A Great Coach!

You’ll find the answer if you look the other way. The conclusion is that if you want to find greatness, you’ll have to look in the opposite direction of where our quick-fix modern society is pointing. It’s not in speeding up, but in slowing down, that you’ll build your skill and eventually find it. The focus should be on progress: enjoy the learning journey, celebrate the effort in each of the tiny steps, and remember this quote:

“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop”.

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