In a recent meeting with a coaching client and her CEO, she talked through how coaching was supporting and helping her and where she’d like to focus on next.  As she was talking she described that stage one “crisis management” was complete and that for her stage two was to build resilience, learning from experiences and identifying vulnerabilities and ultimately reaching her goal: “an authentic version of me”.   

As she finished her summary she smiled, looked as us both and asked, Is this coaching or is it my mental health? 

Well, what an interesting question! One which is often posed by clients and potential clients alike getting to grips with whatever has led to coaching.  With mental health constantly in the media, there are often discussions around breaking down the taboo of mental health, its impact on work performance, its impact on sickness in the work place indeed its impact on our balance and wellbeing.   

With this client, I suggested that her support and development was very much coaching based.  Our coaching sessions were working to support her, develop awareness of emotional intelligence, behavioural habits and self-beliefs. Our coaching sessions will help her to grow or change aspects she wants to be the best version of herself. 

Another benefit is that it will also support her balance, wellbeing and mental health.  Her CEO at this stage was very much supportive of this brief synopsis of coaching and recognised the value and impact this has on work and life balance. 

The power of coaching can take on many forms –Helping people to improve their lives is one of the world’s oldest professions.  It has assumed many forms—philosophy, fortune telling, shamanic healing, religious rituals, informal relationships, psychotherapy, and so forth…. the underlying process of people seeking guidance for life changes has endured” – Stephen Gilligan (2013) 

 What does Coaching mean to you? 

I love my job! Seeing the journey my clients go through, is empowering and rewarding.  Each session is different with no two clients going down the same road. Common themes emerge and the solutions and willingness to change is very different. 

Coaching is such a wide term defined in many ways.  The precept of coaching is change and this long-established process of seeking to improve, bettering ourselves through growth and change, is the basis of self-development; reaching new heights of personal fulfilment and emotional contentment.  

Fundamentally Coaching is about management of change.  Gilligan and Dilts (2009) suggest “Effective coaching involves balanced consideration and exploration of both the outer and inner game”.  This involves equal attention to a person’s outer game i.e. goals, experience and practical choices and the inner game supporting this through emotional intelligence and resilience. 

In broad terms having worked in sport for many, many years, coaching is the enabler of a person or team to meet their and fulfil their (sporting) potential and performance goals.  The impact of this does also cross over into wellbeing and mental health in terms of finding balance, self-belief and confidence to support an individual to manage their day to day with more ease.   

So, in business it appears we struggle to accept that coaching around emotional intelligence and behaviours has a place to support fulfilling our potential and performance goals, until crisis hits!  This is when our mental health is really affected if we delay seeking the support we need. 

When I deliver talks on the power of coaching, I often mention how easy it is to know that we may need coaching and even know that it can support and work for us, i.e. common sense and knowledge and not common practice!  We shy away from seeking help to help us in the day to day.  

What stops you from investing in the help and support you need? 

The main barriers I see are a fear of failure or questioning what others will think of us if we make it known that we are having coaching.  We need to change this mind-set! I openly tell my contacts that I have my own coach who helps me review and monitor my actions and behaviours – allowing me to perform at my best.  I see it as an investment in my wellbeing, supporting me at work and at home. 

Emotions and behavioural habit play a vital role in our day to day performance.  Coaching can support the ability to recognise how emotions, habits and indeed attitudes impact.  Examining how to manage, replace or change these can begin to affect positive change through increased self-awareness. And it can have a positive effect on our mental health! 

So, is it Coaching or is it my mental health?   

The honest answer is both. Coaching can give you the tools and techniques you need to boost your mental health and wellbeing.  A happy, healthier and consistent you will make all the difference.