When the word ‘coach’ comes up, we normally associate it with the image of the voluble individual on the sidelines, directing the movement of players and instructing them on their specific techniques. Professional coaching has a much different style though. Coaching is a process that aims to help people achieve their specific goals, with a focus on overcoming obstacles to achieve results in terms of performance.
At its core, coaching is about maximising the God-given potential in each of us. Everyone at any stage of their life journey can find coaching useful, as the process of powerful questioning can reveal aspects of ourselves that are beyond our normal levels of introspection. Our understanding of our potential comes through exploration when we test our abilities and our own intuition. But with coaching we are guided by a sounding board whom we can bounce our thoughts and insights on. The coach becomes the channel through which we discover our inner capabilities.
As I experienced my own life transition in my mid-30s, personal self-development became more critical to me than ever before. I was fortunate enough to attend a one-day coaching introduction workshop which was my first exposure to professional coaching. Following that workshop, I went through the rigorous certification process under the International Coach Federation (ICF) guidelines to become a Certified People Coach.
At the beginning of my coaching journey, it was very important to learn the distinction between coaching and other disciplines such as counselling (which focuses on mental well-being) and mentoring (which focuses on imparting skills through advice). Coaching is primarily about improving performance and helps realise the latent possibilities in our life. In other words, coaching helps the coachee achieve the best results in their career, family scenario or general life.
On 17 February, I gave a talk on the ‘The Power of Coaching’ to students from the Peer Counselling unit of Sunway University. The idea was to introduce coaching as a practice for students to consider in their personal and professional journey. I demonstrated a couple of coaching tools which I use with clients, including providing quick feedback to coachees and using a scaling system to assess how close they are to achieving their goals. The students showed a keen interest and actively participated in the proceedings.
I believe many of us are already performing coaching roles in the way we interact and assist people in our own circles. But understanding coaching as a discipline has the power to transform thinking and action in a truly positive way.
Mr Saqib Sheikh is a certified coach, trainer, communication specialist and social innovator. Saqib works with executive leaders to improve their communication and team-building abilities to lead to transformational change in their organisational culture. Saqib is also the founder of several social enterprises, including Urban Hijau, a sustainable urban farm showcase, and The Rohingya Project, a grassroots initiative for financial inclusion of statesless people using Blockchain technology. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.