A powerful statement a coach once said to me was that as a coach, one of the most important roles we have is to hold space for the client. This has stayed with since and I have been reflecting on how this has been true for me, both in the past as the client and now as the coach.
As the client, initially in counselling and latterly in coaching, space and time to express my thoughts and feelings, without judgement or a sense of needing to sensor, was the key ingredient to enable my cogs to start turning again. People approach a coach often because they have a sense of being stuck with something, in my case this was a profound lack of direction and purpose and a sense of needing “something more” in both my career and my life generally. Over time this led to deep frustration, anger even and sadness at my own perceived inability to get out of this dark hole.
In our busy lives, as we jump from one project to the next and in many cases try to balance our time between work and home, we often sacrifice time for ourselves. And by this, I mean time to think, to develop and to grow. The term ‘self-care’ is now more widely recognised, and it is one I personally associated with going for a run, being in nature, having a coffee with a friend; it’s my down time and it is vital; but self-care for me has also become about “who am I?” and “who do I want to be?”. I now appreciate that my coach, first and foremost, held space for me. Allowing me to explore what was really going on and shining lights in areas that I had not given much notice to myself. There are few opportunities where we can unselfishly focus and work solely on ourselves and I now begin to appreciate the true value in this.
I am now in the other chair (or more frequently now on my feet moving with the client -albeit virtually!) and the lesson takes on a greater richness as I observe my clients benefitting from this same sense of space. It would be all too easy for me to belittle my involvement in my clients’ increasing self-awareness; they hold the answers, I do not. They make their decisions, I do not. They chose to approach me and make this commitment to themselves. However, it is me as their coach, that shows up wholly by their side to listen, to hopefully shine some lights for them, but most importantly, to give them some space to explore.