Dr Maike Neuhaus
The 7 skills required to coach yourself
Self-coaching is the process of identifying the reason for a misfit between hopes/ intention and outcome, as well as solutions. It’s really the same as coaching, except that you take on the role of both the coachee and the coach.
If you have a goal or problem, you can guide yourself through the steps of the GROW model (or any other model you may be more familiar or comfortable with) by asking yourself the corresponding questions. Self-coaching is all about opening one’s own mind, thinking outside the box, having a strategy to explore what the problems are and tapping into one’s resourcefulness. In fact, you could say self-coaching is the art of getting out of your own way.
Sure, it’s not as effective as coaching as it doesn’t necessarily involve speaking your thoughts out loud (although you can be that weirdo if you want to), receiving objective feedback or hearing someone else’s perspective. But if you don’t have the luxury of a coach, it is better than nothing.
If you’re new to coaching, I recommend diving into the literature about its philosophy, approach and technique first, as well as using a guide to help you identify effective coaching questions for different life areas (for some examples, see the recommended readings list here, in particular the works by Julie Starr, Tony Stotzfus, and Patrick Williams and Diane Menendez).
Self-coaching involves seven key skills, throughout which you need to put everything you learnt about self-leadership into action.
1) Identifying the right format for you
If you’re anything like me, having a proper conversation in your head, where questions and answers follow each other consecutively and in an orderly (/sane) manner, is difficult if not impossible. So the best thing for me to do when I coach myself is to write everything down. It’s a bit like journaling, just a little more structured. If ‘thinking it through’ is something that works for you, go ahead. Or maybe you’re more comfortable with speaking it through. You can record your own voice or ask a friend if they would be happy to help you explore your problem using a coaching framework you learnt about. If you’ve both read this book, you could also start to coach each other. Whatever self-coaching format works best for you – go for it.
2) Utilisation of a framework
It’s good practice to take yourself through the full cycle of a framework such as the GROW model to ensure that you explore the full landscape of your problem or goal and conclude with a tangible next step.
3) Mindful observation
It is crucial to be open and upfront with yourself about what is going on, i.e. what your goal or problem is. For example, if you’re procrastinating, what is the cause? Is there an underlying fear? Explore how the issue is linked (aligned or misaligned) to your values. I named this step mindful observation because of the importance of remaining non-judgemental during your observations. Remember that full acceptance is a prerequisite of change. So, give yourself unconditional permission to acknowledge every feeling that is coming up - whether this is grief about something you feel like you shouldn’t be grieving for (any more); whether it’s envy that you think is silly or unfounded; or whether you feel like you shouldn’t be feeling or thinking this, because it is a ‘first-world problem’.
4) Identifying false limits and excuses
As I mentioned earlier, you could define self-coaching as the art of getting out of your own way. Sounds silly, but is so true. What we perceive as rigid obstacles in front of our feet, are often our own (false or unfounded) beliefs and attitudes. If can catch yourself out on any of those, you’ve nailed it.
5) Changing perspective
Fair enough, you can’t actually be a coach or any other person for that matter. But what you can do is you can pretend to be another person. Believe it or not, it is one of the most powerful techniques in coaching and a great tool to demonstrate our own (i.e. the coachee’s) resourcefulness. This is what you do: First, think of your problem that you’re hoping to get support with. Then imagine that you are 80 years old and wise and are looking at yourself and the situation you’re finding yourself in right now. What advice would your 80 year-old self give you? Alternatively, you can think of any other person you look up to, because they usually handle problems like the one you are currently faced with, successfully. What do you think they would do if they were in your shoes? Or, just ask yourself: What would your fearless self say or do?
6) Identifying actionable steps
This includes formulating SMART goals to go forward. I’m sure you’re familiar with this acronym to prompt goal optimisation: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
7) Establishing accountability
While you won’t have the convenience of a coach to hold you accountable, you can easily find an alternative by calling your own cheerleader squad as soon as you’ve got your SMART goals figured out.
Have you tried self-coaching yet?