I like being challenged. It stimulates the mind and pushes me to think, but I recently had a core belief about my work as a coach challenged and I’m still not quite sure what to make of the experience.

For me, coaching has always been a ‘gentle’ intervention, a soothing balm or helping hand, a sounding board and a safe space. It’s about finding ways to solve problems, make things work better and for people to be happier. 

Yes, I use observations and expertise to push behaviour change and encourage different thinking but, as I’ve explained (more than once) to people that I’ve worked with, I only ever use those ‘powers’ for good.

Good. An interesting word, with more than one meaning. A word you don’t expect to be repeatedly shouted at you as a coaching client…

My nephew is a fan of Jocko Willink, former US Navy Seal turned leadership consultant, author and podcaster. 

Jocko is very shouty. And he shouts “good” a lot. So much so, it’s his predicted response to any negative situation his clients and audience find themselves in. 

You can see him in action here (complete with aggressive metal soundtrack).

His principle for motivation and success is that if things are going bad then there’s going to be some good that comes from it.

Didn’t get promoted? Good!

Unexpected problems? Good!

Injured your ankle? Good!

Electrocuted yourself with a faulty kettle? Good. 

I made the last one up, but I imagine Jocko would look at you, convulsing on the floor and stoically say ‘Good’ in his (I hope authentic) growl.

It seems that anything and everything bad that can happen to us is…good. A chance to learn, to do better, try new methods, fix things, move forward. 

It’s direct. Bold. Brutal. Not the words usually associated with coaching. And perhaps in the current climate, not an empathetic or sensitive approach, however, I can see the relevance.

I’m not a fan of the delivery, too much thrashing metal and growling vocals for my taste, but then I’m not the target audience. However, I’m coming to realise that I’m aligned with the premise that there is good to be found in any negative situation – we just have to find it (or at least believe it exists). I use the question “What’s the worst that can happen?” in my coaching practice to help people step away from their limiting beliefs and safety net of inaction. Is that the same thing? Perhaps.

As a coach, I focus on the solution, not the problem, look at how to shape the future and not dwell on what happened in the past. My delivery is different but the basics seem to be the same as Jocko’s.

Listening to my nephew talk about how Jocko inspires him to do better and how Jocko’s messages reinforce his sense of optimism, it made me realise coaching needs to evolve, that different audiences like and need different approaches and as coaches we should acknowledge, respect and explore that.

I’m not going to start shouting “Good!” when I’m talking to someone who has just lost their job or is trying to manage a difficult boss, but it is going to make me think twice about how to flex my style and find out more about what works for my client.

Maybe it’s time to revisit our practices and challenge some of our accepted wisdom?

If you’d like to explore a new way of thinking to help you move your career forward, then why not try a session of career therapy?

Email louise@careertherapy.co.uk
Twitter @cvtherapyuk
Photo of Jocko Willink

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