# 251: Coaching, not Coaches
Story behind the Passage
Today, I had a wonderful meeting with a person I had never met before. This person said a remarkable sentence: “The world needs coaching, not coaches.” He based this on a similar saying about something else which I forgot. I had never heard this phrase before in this context but it immediately made sense to me. The reason why I have been neglecting coaching and the positive impact it can create is because I started seriously rejecting all the “coaches” around. You see them everywhere now — at least on the web — and it stinks. Do not get me wrong. Most of the people behind the faces might be wonderful human beings. And many of the most respected people around me are coaches in some way. But I neglect the way many other coaches do business and I constantly wonder how difficult the situation must be for their clients if they invest in people like this.
And this exactly is the reason why the world still needs coaching!
If you take coaching seriously, you learn that the methods behind it are actually quite valuable and based on sound research. That is not the case with every “truth” out there. Coaching, as I might have written in many other posts before, is based mostly on positive psychology, communication, and pedagogy research. There is nothing wrong with these fields and there is nothing wrong with most of the methods. There are methods which might appear strange to some and helpful to others. That is a matter of taste and personal learning preferences. Still, the methods are the tools to achieve effects. And coaches who do not know these methods because they never learned them are not coaches.
This is why you do not need them.
So, what does that say about my own journey? The point is, whenever I coach people, I love it — most of the time. Now, as with any kind of client relation, you need to figure out with every project who your preferred clients are. And if you end up having the “wrong” clients, that changes everything. That was the trap I had not watched out for. And that was what changed my own perspective at coaching. But as my contact today made me aware — it is not coaching that I reject, it is the coaches — at least some. One might wonder how this can happen so someone who calls herself coach and had proper coaching training but I guess, it is all about the people you meet who have an effect on you, no matter how reflected you are. This is the simple story and stories are usually at the center of my work — even in coaching.
“Der Coach ermöglicht dem Coachee durch eine gezielt angeleitete Selbstbesinnung, seine persönliche Lern-Geschichte zu einem bestimmten Thema als <<Panorama>> zu erleben.“ / „The coach enable the coachee, based on facilitating reflection, to experience his/her „learning story“ as a panorama.“ You know, the word „panorama“ is what seems to make this story special in the section. This is what all coaches and authors about coaching aim for. Fischer-Epe is a great author and not one of these “below the quality line” coaches. Still, she has to name things and methods in order to make them stick. This is what marketing and branding are all about. This is the case because human beings need these things in order to remember things.
It is that simple.
Just like stories are simple.
If they are good.
What I am much more intrigued by, and this is the reason why I have chosen this passage, is the word “learning story.” This is exactly what stories are there for, at least in my opinion: You should learn from them. Now, “should” is a command and coaches do not actually work with commands. As I showed earlier, coaches work with questions. Nevertheless, stories have more power than anything else to answer questions. The fascinating thing is, however, that human beings are also very good at interpreting the stories of others. But they shy away from dissecting their own stories.
This is what I encourage the people I work with to do.
The only recipe that is out there to really understand stories is by reading them. There is no other way. You might be saying now that people do not read anymore, which is partly true and partly not. The book sales have not declined as much as people might think. The point remains, however, that reading is a skill that is highly needed. The false belief is that people think you need to read in order to learn facts. That is not the case, actually. Yes, it is a nice side effect. But the most important thing you learn by reading is actually: writing.
In other words: If you are able to read well, you are also able to write well — particularly when it comes to your own story.
This connection between reading and writing is also something that I have written about many times before — at least, I think so. What I just want to point out is that the questions used by coaches aim at training people to develop these reading skills and to, at the same time, encourage them to apply them to their own lives. This is key. You can always talk about others and their stories. Well, fine. So what? If you are able to read your own story from the distance, from the perspective of an observer, you will catch yourself being a more powerful human being than before. That is for a simple reason:
Stories have power.
So, before writing stories.
Learn to read them first.
1) If you were a coach — which people would you like to coach as your preferred customers?
2) Are you good at reading people? How did you learn it?
3) What do you associate with the concept of “story”?