Ten minutes of co-doing can be worth one hour of coaching
I don’t know why holding ourselves to account is so hard, but it is. People who request coaching almost always ask for help to do this and co-doing has been an effective tool to get there.
Whether they are finding it hard to get back into the job market, to find calm in their team, to step up into a senior role, to lead from a place of strength or to make their business function better, there is always one thing in common when people ask for coaching help: once they know what they need to do they find it hard to do it.
In my book, The Mentor Within, I describe the Monster Within as our inner voice that gets in the way. Until we learn to turn down the volume of the Monster Within, we can’t hear our benevolent and wise Mentor Within.
A powerful formula to turn down the volume of the Monster Within is the three C’s – clarity, confidence and commitment.
Clarity to know what we want and what is in the way.
Confidence to do what is needed.
Commitment to take the steps to make it happen.
As a coach, I become, at once, their accountability buddy, their teacher on how to not judge but affirm their progress, and their partner in celebration.
But here’s the rub: even though my clients have their accountability structure (a weekly accountability email or laser phone call) they often still struggle with the commitment to act on their plans every day.
However, much we talk about it, there are some things that just don’t shift. This is where ‘Co-doing’ works effectively.
Here are some examples of ten-minute bouts of co-doing.
Client A needs to get fit. It’s holding her back in all kind of ways. While we’ve set walking challenges throughout her coaching, she doesn’t stick to the promises she makes to herself.
The last session while I was coaching her remotely, I asked her what shoes she had on. I then asked her to step outside and go for an eight-minute walk and phone me a minute before our session was up.
Instead, of it being a top-down request, I promised I would do the same, and I did.
12h50 is a great time for a walk – and I took a gorgeous photo and texted it back to her. At 12h59, she called back. She’d walked! Co-walking worked, even though we were miles apart.
Time spent? Ten minutes. Result? A feeling of accomplishment that can be repeated daily.
2. CO-WRITING A STORY.
I often use co-writing. Client B was about to stop working at his project. There were good reasons for stopping, but he was afraid that people would not understand.
He told me his story of leaving, and I wrote it down (we were skyping at the time so I could write as he spoke). I sent it back to him.
He agreed it looked like it was written as if he was the victim of circumstance. I asked him to tell me the story again as if he was the manager of his own life.
It improved a bit – he was now taking responsibility for how he wanted the story to be heard. The third time he told the story, I made a few small tweaks and sent it back to him. He edited it one last time, and the result was an authentic, powerful story about his leaving and the way forward in his life.
Time spent? Ten minutes. Result? A story that would frame the next few years of his life.
3. CO-CREATING A PROFILE.
Client C wants the world to see her differently from how she presents herself professionally.
We’ve talked about what her online profiles say to those who read them. In her coaching sessions, she has become clear about what she wants people to understand about her skills and work history.
She’s edited it a bit, and she’s looked at a few profiles that she thinks are great and sent them to me. But it’s taking her ages to get right.
We stopped the back and forth and allocated ten minutes to get it right together.
I reminded her of her great achievements that were underplayed in the profile, and we removed unnecessary information. Ok, it took a bit longer than ten minutes, but the result was a new profile that accurately described who she is and what she offers.
Co-doing trumped pure coaching, and she told me she would be able to do it herself the next time it was needed as she had the experience of getting it right quite easily. Something she had been talking about for months was complete within the session.
There has always been a debate in coaching circles about boundaries, and how involved you should be with outcomes. The key here is to notice when a particular task if done together, can free the person to focus on the other important areas they are working on.
In my opinion, co-doing, even for just ten minutes, can be empowering and worth a whole bunch of coaching.
[First published in 2019.]