Co-Active Coaching as a Tool for Maximizing Utility—Getting Where You Want in Life

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A safe bet is that coaching of all types will be a growing sector of the economy. The Wikipedia article “Coaching” lists these types of coaching: ADHD coaching, business and executive coaching, career coaching, Christian coaching, co-coaching, dating coaching, financial coaching, health and wellness coaching, homework coaching, coaching in education, life coaching, relationship coaching, and sports coaching. The types of coaching—as well as the number of coaches in each type—are likely to expand in the future.

I think the growth of coaching is a very good thing: ideally, everyone would have a coach, or more than one for different areas of their lives. And with manufacturing productivity improving so much that a smaller and smaller fraction of the population is needed to make all the things people need from factories, there is room for several percent of all workers to be coaches.

Coaching now runs in my family. My wife Gail and my daughter Diana are both career coaches, as am I. I have found the training in Co-Active coaching I have received from The Coaches Training Institute to be fascinating. Having a coach myself has been very helpful. And I have found working as a coach to be very fulfilling, even though I only have time to do a small amount of coaching.

I have decided to go on to get more advanced training as a coach, and am looking for clients to work with in that training. Anything you want to make happen in your life, I am game to work on with you.

How Co-Active Coaching Works. First, a fundamental tenet of Co-Active coaching is that the client is “naturally creative, resourceful and whole.” The idea is that if a coach asks the right open-ended questions, the client is likely to figure out for herself or himself what to do. And sometimes people need someone to hold them accountable for the things they choose to commit to do to get their lives to the next level.

There are three powerful modes to Co-Active coaching (I’ll use the names for these modes that speak best to me):

1. Optimization Coaching. Optimization coaching is the type of coaching that has the most obvious relationship to economic theory: optimizing subject to constraint is the central tool of economics. If you are getting Co-Active coaching, it’s important to identify your values and express those values powerfully. What do you want? What do you want not to happen? What would the world look like if it were a better place? What motivates you? What saddens you? What bothers you? What makes you overjoyed?

It is also important for you to connect with your inner strengths. People often don’t realize the inner resources they have that can help them tackle big things.

Finally, sometimes things you want conflict with one another. Different parts of you may want different things. Bringing to the surface and exploring all of those desires can help you clarify for yourself which way is good for you to go, according to the deepest values that you have.

2. Creativity Coaching. It’s easy to get stuck. Creativity coaching helps to get you unstuck. Using random, fun, spur-of-the-moment associations, it gets your mind and heart into a different place than where you were when you were stuck. People often talk about “getting a different perspective.” But often, it isn’t enough for your mind to get a different perspective; your heart needs a different perspective too. Once you get to a new, wild and wonderful perspective, it becomes so easy to brainstorm that you will have to narrow down all the possible things you can do about the situation where you were stuck. But the creative approaches are not just about what to do, they are also about what you want to feel like when you tackle the thing you were stuck with.

3. Presence Coaching. Our emotions and feelings have a lot to teach us if we avoid the polar opposite traps of either trying to suppress our emotions or obsessing about them and amplifying them. In presence coaching, the coach helps you to stay with your fear, your anger, your disappointment, your sense of accomplishment, or whatever you are feeling for the 90 seconds or so it takes for the emotion to transform into something just a little different. The wisdom you gain by going with this natural flow of feeling can enrich your life.

In presence coaching, there is no attempt to resurrect emotions from long ago. It is all about understanding what you are feeling right now. This is in line with the general orientation of coaching toward the present and the future, not the past.

Conclusion. I’m looking for eight clients to work with during my six-month advanced training program. Contact me if you are interested in the possibility of being one of those clients. (It’s easy to find my email address.) We’ll set up a time to do a quick demo of coaching (with no charge and no commitment) and you can see if you want to continue. People often get a lot out of even a quick coaching demo like this.

My hope is to coach people from very different backgrounds, who have very different approaches to life. From this blog, I hope you get some sense of the breadth of my outlook. I hope to broaden my outlook even more by working with people like you!