GOALS THAT DON’T DEVELOP
Here’s something else that could go wrong in coaching and this happens to be a subtle one— your client’s goals don’t develop. Obvious you begin with the question, “What do you want?” and you supplement that question with the intentionality question, “Why is that important to you?” In fact, you repeat that question five times or more to make sure that the goal presented is indeed a real goal, an important goal, a goal that is relevant to the person’s life, and a goal that’s connected to her values.
And yet … as you well know, often the goals are small selfish goals that won’t really make that much of a difference in the person’s life. At that point you, as the coach, are at a choice point. “Should I go with this goal that my client has presented or should I challenge him to get something really significant?” There is no one “right” answer to that. For some clients who are not very trusting, they may need you to first accept what they offer without much questioning so that they learn to trust you and enter into the experience of coaching.
Yet for other clients, to go with the goals they first present, could very well be a sign that you don’t believe in them very much, that you are okay with them thinking small, and that you don’t care enough to challenge them. That’s the condition I have set for ACMC training— for training Meta-Coaches. We expect that you use the practice sessions to present your goals and to make them big enough and significant enough to give the coach something real to work with. If you don’t, and a really important question arises again, “Are you, as a coach, coachable?” If a coach-to-be only gives minor little goals, we cannot tell if that person is actually a self-actualizing person willing to stretch out of his comfort zone or not.
That’s one point and yet this is another one. Healthy goals develop. As you are reaching forward to a significant goal, it will expand, evolve, develop, and become a much more significant goal. Clients normally start with an outer goal— lose weight, begin exercising, learn a new skill, etc. Then, within the coaching process itself, the person begins to grow and change and as they change, so do their goals. What started off as a shortsighted little selfish goal develops into a goal for achieving something much more noble.
- Making more money becomes creating a business that will enrich the lives of many others.
- Losing weight becomes wanting to become a more beautiful person on the inside.
- Getting rid of the smoking habit becomes wanting to be energetic as a model for one’s children.
How often it is that a client enters coaching and has no intention of achieving some noble purpose, but in the process they catch a vision. They begin to think of higher and more noble reasons for living. Their goals change from outer goals to inner goals— goals of being and becoming, goals for how they live their lives from the inside-out. Now they want to be more resilient, more loving, more contributing, more patient, etc.
That’s what happened to me when I first set a financial goal. At first it was just about money. It was just about increasing income. Later, my financial goals expanded to include budgeting, saving, investing, and later passive income, etc. Later the goals evolved from money to creating value, to seeing opportunities, to seizing opportunities, to becoming a wealthy person within myself— wealthy in ideas, time, relationships, health, joy, etc. What started out as an external goal evolved into some self-actualization goals, goals about being and becoming.
So again, I ask: Are your client’s goals developing? Are they becoming self-actualization goals? Are they moving your client to living more of a self-actualizing life? When your client’s goals develop, the person moves more and more into generative goals. Instead of focusing on fixing problems and finding remedies for various hassles of life— the goals become about becoming. They become about becoming the very best version of the person. Now they have goals like:
- highly resilient
- a great learner
- more charming when frustrated
- more forgiving when mis-represented
- more contributing
If that is yet another thing that could go wrong, now you have a heads-up and an idea of what you can do as a Meta-Coach.