I’ll never forget when my business partner had the courage to ask what I was doing differently in my coaching. It was 2020, and we were in the podcast studio nearing the height of Covid. We’d been growing NLU together for 4 years, and he was starting to see a significant transformation in the people I coached.
He was a coach, too, less confident but eager to grow and improve. For me, coaching was always one of those things that came naturally to me, but I really didn’t understand why. This became especially evident when I first started coaching coaches, but when Kevin first asked, I had no idea I was doing anything differently. We hit the whiteboard, and it changed our lives forever. Here’s why.
Back then, Kevin unconsciously believed coaching was about tactics. In other words, coaching was about helping someone figure out what to do and how to do it. On the surface, that appears valid, but truly transformational coaches go far beyond that.
Anyone can tell you what to do or how to do it. Very few people, however, can get you to actually do it, and even fewer can get you to see yourself differently, which is where real transformation happens.
When your car breaks down, you call a mechanic. When your pipes burst, you call a plumber. When you’re struggling with fitness, you call a personal trainer. When you’re sick, you call a doctor. When you’re struggling emotionally, you call a therapist. Those are all obvious and widely accepted, but when is it time to call a coach?
You call a coach when your life isn’t headed in the direction you want. You call a coach when you want to create better life outcomes. You call a coach when you want to be more successful and maximize your potential. You call a coach when you’re looking to develop a certain skill or improve your career. Coaching is an extremely powerful tool, but very few people ever fully take advantage of it.
From my perspective, the purpose of coaching is not just to help you achieve a goal. The purpose of coaching is to help you see yourself, other people, and the world more accurately so you can make more effective decisions and become the most holistically capable version of yourself.
Think of that old adage, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Telling someone what to do to get a goal is like giving them a fish. Teaching them how to do something via a new process is like teaching them to fish, but as you can see from Figure 1 above, that’s only 2/3 of the equation. Truly transformational coaches tap into your deepest identity and beliefs. Not only do they give you fish and teach you to fish, but they also get you to see yourself, fish, and fishing differently.
Imagine 3 people all want to lose 10 lbs, but only 1 identifies as an athlete. Person 1 and 2 both are out of shape and don’t consider themselves athletic. All 3 have the same goal and training program (process), but persons 1 and 2 are unlikely to follow through because it conflicts with their current identity. Unfortunately, this is completely unconscious, and it’s why most people never achieve their goals.
That’s why I’m writing this blog. I don’t want you to lose any more time, effort, or money playing a losing game. Instead, let’s set you up for success by aligning your goals, process, and identity in a congruent way.
Let’s start small.
- Goals – What’s one small goal you can commit to achieving this month?
- Process – What’s one process (daily habit) required to achieve it?
- Identity – What would you need to believe about yourself to follow through consistently?
And it can be anything you want. One example might be a goal to touch your toes comfortably by the end of the month. The process could be to stretch daily, and the identity could be to start seeing yourself as a yogi.
Remember, identity is the most subtle but most powerful. It can feel weird at first, but human beings almost always act consistently with whom we believe we are. For example, if you believe you’re a great mom, you’ll do all you can to be there for your children. If you believe you’re a great friend, you’ll do all you can to be there for your friends. If you believe you’re a great employee, you’ll show up early and work hard.
The need to stay consistent with who we believe we are (our identity) is a very powerful part of the human condition, and unfortunately, it’s often overlooked or brushed off as hocus pocus. But not today. If you want to create amazing life outcomes, you’re going to have to align your goals, process, and identity. Give it a try, and be sure to reach out and let me know how this framework helped you.