PROFESSIONAL coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses or organisations. Everyone can benefit from receiving coaching.

Some of the most impressive changes made by people I have coached took place because they felt empowered, supported and motivated to make a difference in their lives.

And the results include external and obvious changes, like choosing to get fit again, making significant progress in a new job role or with a new team, treating their children and families significantly better, making great decisions about their projects, jobs, and relationships that yielded wonderfully supportive feedback from people who matter to them.

There are people who also make amazing internal changes in such domains as self-belief, self-confidence, identity, adaptability and action orientation.

These people learn to harness their own strengths and apply them in directions most of us wouldn’t believe we could do unless we had tried it or seen it for ourselves. And these are positive normal people like you and me, who have chosen to be coached for a variety of reasons.

In Part 1 of this article, we will discuss what coaching is. Part 2 tomorrow will look at what coaching is not.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a tool for facilitating personal change, for developing ourselves, our thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and setting and accomplishing goals.

Coaching can focus on developing our role or business methods to become more strategic, and it can help to develop our character or specific characteristics and work on specific skills such as developing our EQ or emotional intelligence.

Coaching can assist us to harness our discontent with the present and create a better future for ourselves and those we interact with.

Coaching can and typically does involve us describing the present, identifying what is working and what can be improved. It helps us to harness our strengths to leverage on what is working and change what isn’t.

Ripple effect

This simple process can be applied to complex situations, indeed it is most suited to them, since small positive changes will have a ripple effect that can lead to larger scale changes.

For example, a person who is willing to try something that has worked before and achieves success doing it, will develop greater self-confidence. This can create the platform for better decision-making, which can lead to more positive changes for that individual and those touched by his decisions.

Just having a coach listen to you and your perspective can be very helpful, especially if you are in a leadership role. It may help you to focus better. You may find yourself better able to listen to others again, as a result of shedding what is on your mind.

Coaching has grown alongside the field of positive psychology developed by American psychologist Martin Seligman. It has developed within domains as wide as sports performance, executive coaching and life coaching. It is the fastest growing domain of psychology.

I suspect this is because it has recast the emphasis of psychology from its roots in traditionally attending to people with problems, to helping those who want to enhance their well-being, happiness and good health.

Both positive psychology and coaching focus on facilitating development, performance and personal growth.