James Flaherty’s book, “Coaching – Evoking Excellence in Others,” (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999) has been described as the ‘mother lode’ of coaching’s guiding principles. It is an essential primer for any Quantum One Life Coach because it identifies five essential guiding principles for coaching:
1. A Relationship based on mutual respect, mutual trust and freedom of expression between coach and client is the core principle.
2. Pragmatism brings an outcome based approach with a corrective feedback loop.
3. Coaching occurs on two tracks as both coach and client are engaged in learning and breakdowns may occur in either person’s commitment or competence.
4. Clients are always/already in the middle of their activity/journey and they come in with their own concerns, and commitments. They are not empty vessels.
5. Techniques don’t work but guiding principles do.
It has been the experience of this practitioner of Quantum One Life Coaching that although specific techniques in session do not work, guiding principles such as the “GROW” model of coaching can be very effective. Certain tools can be very effective, such as including exercises and creative expression assignments. A case in point is a “money exercise” that was recently done by a writing coach, in which she was able to deeply explore her personal relationship with money. This process took a couple of weeks of deep introspection and she did not hesitate to “put pen to paper.” The most profound question that required a shift in her way of being was “what did she have to give up” to have a more positive, wholesome relationship with money. This exploration not only required the client to change her patterns of consumption but also her way of being in her work and in her relationships as a mature human being responsible for effective management of her time and creative energy.
Flaherty’s most profound contribution to the art of coaching is his introspection about the nature of a “human being,” which goes to the heart of the question about our fullest and highest potential. The human being is the “focus, center, and subject of coaching.” This practitioner of Quantum One Life Coaching had success with a gay client who was unable to maintain steady employment because of his diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. The focus of the coaching with this client was: “can a human being be complete and whole without having a self-definition as an “economic being?” Instead of coaching this client to become employable by teaching him skills such as resume writing and helping him become more comfortable with the interviewing process, which other counselors have attempted in vain to do, this Quantum One Life Coach challenged the client to look at how he defined his very humanity, and become more comfortable with who he was rather than what he could do. One of his assignments was to watch the movie “Rivers and Tides” which is about an artist who does not work within the context of creating art for the market economy. The outcome of this was that the client was able to let him self enjoy knitting, gardening, playing the piano and volunteering as a sign linguist – all of which brought him joy and some measure of satisfaction.
Another useful analysis presented by Flaherty is to look at an overview of the coaching process, specifically the “Flow of Coaching.” This flow, he breaks down into, 1) Establish a relationship, 2) Recognize an Opening, 3) Observe/Assess, 4) Enroll the client
And 5) Coaching conversations.
Establishing a relationship is of course the fundamental foundation for a successful Quantum One Life Coach and has been addressed by most authors on the coaching process.
Recognizing an opening and making assessments are also essential to the coaching process since it is often the entry to a domain of life that needs attention and self-cultivation.
Flaherty identifies the openings for coaching into 1) performance assessment, 2) breakdown, 3) Broken promises, 4) Request for coaching, 5) Need for a new skill and 6) Business need.
Flaherty presents several models of assessment which can be very useful in planning the way forward with a client. The Five Elements model looks at 1) Immediate concerns, 2) Commitments, 3) Future Possibilities, 4) Personal and Cultural History and 5) Mood.
A second model looks at the Domains of Competence: 1) the “I” Domain which assesses self-management, 2) The “We” domain, which looks at relationships with others, and 3) the “It” Domain which looks at facts and events. A third model is based on Components of Satisfaction and Effectiveness and assesses for 1) Intellect, 2) Emotion, 3) Will, 4) Context and 5) Soul.
The enrollment phase is of course vital to the transformation of the client and the potential outcome of the coaching because it addresses the specific commitments of the client and the coach, and also the possible impediments and hindrances to meeting those commitments.
The final phase addresses the types of conversation that can be pursued in the coaching session. He presents three overviews. The first model looks at the initial coaching conversation – the possibility of coaching, enrollment in coaching, beginning to coach, supporting coaching and follow up. The second overview looks at conversations that might occur after the third or fourth session of coaching: reporting, connecting, changing, practicing, completing and follow up. The third overview is recommended for the completion of the coaching program.
In conclusion, one of the most important topics covered by Flaherty is the importance of self-development or self-cultivation for the coach. This requires a continuous honing of skills, self-assessments, personal growth and a cultivation of personal qualities, without which a coach cannot really be true to the coaching profession.