Chris has been chatting about what self-coaching means to him.
For me, self-coaching is developing the information you have inside of you, right here, right now, to tackle the task at hand.
Several years ago, I was due to travel to a swimming competition in Wales. Even when I booked it into the diary, I knew there was just something not fitting quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t understand why I was feeling uncomfortable, because it was just a normal competition. We got closer and closer to the competition and I’d had a few little injuries.
I really wanted to stay at home and just train, but I packed my bag and got ready as I had to take a flight. At the time, I was working with a sports psychologist and mindset coach called Simon. We’d often worked on sessions around making decisions and choices. On the day I was due to travel to this competition, I called Simon several times to ask him whether I should go or not, but I couldn’t reach him. As the taxi pulled up outside my house, I walked out with my bags and I had an overwhelming feeling of, ‘You know what to do, and it’s not to go’. I stopped in that moment, reflected and then made a decision. I went back into the house and started unloading my bags. I wasn’t going. I realised I was always meant to utilise the skills that I’d been working on with Simon, and not rely on him. That skill is self-coaching – utilising the information we already have locked inside of us, by asking ourselves the questions that a coach would ask us.
I had a feeling about not doing the competition, but what actually transpired was that I needed to stop focusing on other people in the process and I needed to start concentrating on me. I struggled with that shift in mindset as it felt uncomfortable, especially in my international days of swimming, as I was still trying to please people. This story still resonates with me today.
Essentially, as coaches, we’re here to make our role almost redundant through the independent individual work (the self-coaching) that the person can take with them everywhere.
For self-coaching, it’s understanding and knowing when you’re stuck in that rut again and remembering to ask yourself, ‘Is there something more? Is there something I’ve been missing? Have I created other blind spots?’ Self-awareness is the thread that runs through it all, no matter what level you’re at. We have to take these challenges on by ourselves, but sometimes we can’t do it alone and we need to know when to ask for help from a coach.
When I’m asking my self-coach questions, I sometimes hear the voices of the people who’ve positively impacted me. I deliberately pass my self-coach questions through their filter. ‘What would Simon do?’ or ‘What would my granddad do?’ I’m just checking in with the influencers in my life.
I often self-coach automatically. This morning I was driving to work and I got stuck in traffic, so I changed the Sat Nav as it said I could shave nine minutes off the time. It didn’t! I wasn’t late, but I arrived late by my standard, which is an hour early for the session. I like to be prepared. I’m a bit of an over-planner and I had this rhetoric going through my mind that I was behind time. And the question that popped into my head was, “Is that the standard you want to set for the rest of today?” That was the one question I asked myself and the answer was no.
I also passed it through my ‘coach filter’ who would say, “Is this the way you want to continue for the rest of the day? Should we talk about it?” That was the conversation I had with myself, which only took 10 seconds. I quickly went back to, ‘Actually, yes, I might be late, but this is where I’m supposed to be at this moment in time’.
Self-coaching is just as much a conversation with yourself as anything else. You can continue to have that conversation with yourself every single day for your entire life.
Self-coaching helped me realise I was the centre of all the successful things that I’ve done. Just because I moved on to a different job or industry, I can still challenge myself in a different arena and take with me all the great lessons I’ve already learned.
That’s what self-coaching does. It allows you to take yourself wholeheartedly and fully into the experiences ahead of you.
So, how do you self-coach?