What does a good coach do?
A lot of it is about noticing the subtext or the expression of the person they’re coaching. Calling it out, shining a light.
In an episode of “Beyond High Performance”, one of the coaches talks about their job of noticing, and shining a light on something their client is expressing or experiencing. Calling out something that may be hidden.
Why are we hidden from ourselves? Because we are looking out, and we are looking _through_ ourselves. We are not looking at ourselves looking.
Journaling out thoughts or doing exercises to find out what our thoughts are can serve as a way to self-coach.
One thing my coach pointed out is that we are creating our experiences. We filter what happens through our thoughts and our attitudes. Our beliefs, our foundational _narratives_ about the world around us are something we choose, and they are not something that can be uprooted by counter-evidence. Everything is interpreted through the lens, and if you refuse to choose a different lens, everything will support your interpretation.
I am reminded of this scene in The Last Battle, which I read to my eldest daughter a few years ago:
“Aslan,” said Lucy through her tears, “could you – will you – do something for these poor Dwarfs?”
“Dearest,” said Aslan, “I will show you both what I can, and what I cannot, do.” He came close to the Dwarfs and gave a low growl: low, but it set all the air shaking. But the Dwarfs said to one another, “Hear that? That’s the gang at the other end of the stable. Trying to frighten us. They do it with a machine of some kind. Don’t take any notice. They won’t take us in again!”
Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs’ knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn’t much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had got a bit of an old turnip and a third said he’d found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets of rich red wine to their lips and said “Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey’s been at! Never thought we’d come to this.” But very soon every Dwarf began suspecting that every other Dwarf had found something nicer than he had, and they started grabbing and snatching, and went on to quarreling, till in a few minutes there was a free fight and all the good food was smeared on their faces and clothes or trodden under foot. But when at last they sat down to nurse their black eyes and their bleeding noses, they all said:
“Well, at any rate there’s no Humbug here. We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”
“You see,” said Aslan. “They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”
The dwarves have a foundational narrative that can’t be shaken by the evidence. They see what they’re given through that narrative. It’s unshakable. And so their experience of what was good was a very bad one.
Obstacles and challenges are frequently (always?) wonderful opportunities. But do we experience them that way? Or do we grumble?
Exercises such as The Work or The Metanoia Catholic Journal (they have a free sample exercise if you sign up for their mailing list and don’t want to pay for a physical thing), are good to help you notice your thoughts and question your thoughts, and decide what thoughts you want to think.
What beliefs are you looking through instead of looking at? Could you start by pulling apart just one of those, and seeing if you want to hold onto it?