The Client’s Agenda

John Owens

The Client’s Agenda

The date may suddenly loom up on your calendar…”Gee, I’ve got a call with John tonight. What should I coach on? Gosh, I don’t have the slightest idea…Hmmm, maybe I’ll just wing it and see what I think of when I call.”

That’s one perspective, isn’t it? “I’ll just ad lib and see”.

Another perspective might be “I’ve got to be prepared and get this RIGHT”. So you choose to spend time thinking about the biggest problem you’ve experienced over the week, and rehearse what you’re going to say, and maybe anticipate some of the questions the coach will ask.

Another choice might be to ask someone you trust what you should coach on (the ‘let Wise Annie lead my life’ perspective). What perspectives have you had toward your coaching sessions?

Let’s face it: sometimes there is just no burning issue that begs for coaching. Sometimes you may feel just NOT up to the task of spending another 45 minutes talking about your finances, your significant other, or your career, etc. AGAIN. So there you are, stuck on choosing a topic that is not excessively wimpy and weak, and then again, not about that big, excruciating boulder that you keep finding in your path every time you try to move forward with your life.

Sound familiar? I’ve been there myself as a client with my own coach. It happens because we are human, and thrive when we have a balance of all those parts of the Wheel of Life: environment, career, family / friends, fun & recreation, health, personal growth, spiritual/community life, love/romance, and wealth/abundance. We might be stuck in a perspective that coaching sessions have to BE about one sort of thing and not something else. So there’s a place to start!! Look at your wheel in that folder you have for your coaching notes. What have you kept off the table for coaching? What feels out of balance, stuck, empty or dull? What in your life is just sailing along with a strong breeze? Coaching is not JUST about problems, saboteur, and attaining goals (the upward mission). It can and does encompass the downhill parts of life: being, relating, holding oneself and others in particular ways. Curiosity. Creativity. Play. Deepening learning means also exploring what is going well, to see what is present and manifest in those moments. It can be taking time to celebrate change or actions that you have taken that required effort. Coaching can be about celebrating your failures—the sure indicator that you really stretched it out there and took a risk!

Another place to look for an agenda topic is your original goals for coaching. Review the things you said you wanted out of coaching. Are you there yet? What remains to do and be? There is some rich and fertile ground there for taking life to that next level of fulfillment and achievement. Maybe you have achieved your goals. Write some new ones and share them. What could be your topic then? Still stuck? How about redoing the Wheel, see where fulfillment is not yet at level 10. Maybe you just feel bored or enervated. Great! Let’s explore that together and see what treasures lie in those rooms. You get the idea I’m speaking to here, and I trust that you can find several more ways to focus your coaching agendas to walk confidently along the path of your Future Self.

Two cornerstones of Co-Active Coaching (what I do as coach) are to hold the client naturally creative, resourceful and whole (NCRW), and that the agenda comes from the client. If the coach does not hold the client NCRW, it does not even matter where the agenda comes from. There cannot be a powerful relationship between equals, and inevitably, the coach tries to ‘fix’ the client, and the powerful alliance is deflated. From the coach’s perspective that we are all NCRW, I know that the client is completely capable of coming up with their agenda, and will solve their problems in the best possible way: using the coaching session as a means of exploration, testing, and choice for action and deepening the learning.

So here’s my request to all my lovely clients: From this moment on, promise me you will take charge of your coaching sessions by having at least one agenda item or topic, and preferably three or four things you want coaching on. Remember, you can say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or counteroffer to the request. Write me back and let me know what you will do and when you will do it. AND I promise to hold you up to the magnificent, capable human that you are right now.

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