What is your client’s true agenda? By helping them surface their deepest wishes, we can help support them to make their dreams come true
Neil Scotton and Alister Scott
Peter Drucker wrote in The Practice of Management “…the important and difficult job is never to find the right answer; it is to find the right question.”
Coaching conversations usually begin with the same question, and its variations: ‘What do you want?’
It’s a fascinating question. It clearly sets the scene for the hugely important ‘client’s agenda’. But is it the right question? Indeed, how many of us actually know the answer? For many, the coaching can become a valuable journey of insight to find a deeper answer to that question.
So here’s something you can try: think about what clients often ask for. And then how you would answer, ‘What do you want?’
Now think of a birth of a child you are close to: your own, a friend’s or relatives. If that hasn’t happened yet, feel free to use the wonderful gift of imagination.
Take yourself to the time of the child’s birth. What do you/would you wish for them? If you were to write them a card, ‘I hope you…’ what would you write?
What do you notice as you compare your responses?
The last time we did this exercise was a few weeks ago with the ICF coaching communities in Moscow and St Petersburg. The answers to the ‘wish for a child’ were hugely moving. Profound.
And…it was impossible to avoid adding: ‘And knowing that the advice that we give others is often what we most need to hear for ourselves, in what way is your wish for that child also something that you would like or need for yourself?’
There were tears.
The work with the communities in Russia followed an arc. It began with recognising that dreams do come true – that everything man-made around us was once a dream in someone’s mind – or many people’s. And then made real. And, quoting Martin Bell, that good things happen because we make them happen.
But making dreams come true is rarely something we can do alone – as the African proverb goes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’
And that, as coaches, we needn’t be alone. You may be part of a local, national or international coaching community.
And it isn’t about being heroic – as Derek Sivers points out in his brilliant How to start a movement TED YouTube video (http://bit.ly/2kiG6Sw), “leadership is overrated”. As a leader “it takes guts to stand up and be ridiculed”, but the movement starts with the first follower, who is, by example, themselves easy to follow. Because “people imitate the follower, not the leader”.
As leaders, the people in Russia shared their dreams. As followers, they embraced and supported the dreams that colleagues voiced. They considered impact, engagement and alignment with their values. It brought them together.
Their chosen projects will take them out into their communities, and to work with young people, and sports and other coaches internationally, and more.
Non-members present decided to join to be part of what was happening. We wish them all well.
We hope you have discovered what really matters, and that you have people around you to help realise your dreams. And that you can support the dreams of others.
Good things do happen – if we make them happen.