Month: May 2020

What is coaching?

It all starts when you know something needs to change.

Things may be good overall, or it might be a time of troubles.

Either way, you have decided that things need to be better and you’re looking for something that can help make that happen.

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Coaching Defined

While the word coaching comes out of the sporting world, in making the leap to the worlds of life and work, some changes have occurred and I (and some others) class the intensive teaching that sports coaching might involve as Mentoring.

Coaching, for me, is about creating a supportive environment for you to work out what changes you want and how you want to make them. The key role of the coach is to help you do your best thinking, to help you be the best problem solver you can be.

Why emphasise your thinking and you as the problem solver?

1) The evidence shows that changes you want to make happen most consistently and most effectively if you have devised them. We buy into change when we have conceived it.

2) No-one knows and no-one can plausibly know your situation as well as you do. The most efficient scheme for creating change is not for you to spend months explaining your situation to someone else and then for them to try to conceive of problem solutions.

Instead a skilled coach can create a supportive environment that allows you to take all the things you know about “how things are” and start making connections. From there you’ll start to notice assumptions you are making. From here you can find those assumptions that are stopping you making the progress you want and that is the seed of change that sticks.

What makes the best environment for thinking and problem solving?

I’ll write a separate post about the full set of Ten Components in Time To Think practice, but here I want to concentrate on just a couple of key ones.

First, the component of generative Attention, because this is one I, as a smart introvert, didn’t really believe in until I experienced it with an open mind.

Many of us know we are good at thinking by ourselves, in a nice quiet spot – why would we need generative Attention? Simply, having someone listen to you makes a difference. How? Well, you do need to be confident that they won’t interrupt you (this is the usual problem of thinking with others) and of course you need to feel free to let your thoughts roam (so there are elements here of trust and confidentiality). Once you have that kind of reassurance then the presence of someone else actually relaxes the brain. We don’t really know why in a deep sense, but the fight or flight instinct is calmed and crucially this allows us to think with more clarity about the most difficult issues. Putting it simply, however good we are at thinking on our own, we all know there are issues we shy away from because they bring on feelings of stress or even panic. (And after all, it’s not like you need a coach for the easy stuff, is it?)

Second, the component of Encouragement, which is another virtue of having someone with you. It has been observed that we generally think in waves and pauses – and the last thing you need is someone interrupting you while you are still thinking. But it is when you come to the end of a wave of thinking that a Thinking Partner can make a huge difference by encouraging you to think some more. Not by directing you to stay on topic, or pushing you in particular direction, but simply by being there and saying and showing they are ready to listen. I suspect the power of this relates to how we live our lives with so many distractions and so it’s an incredibly easy thing to stop after a few thoughts and distract ourselves. After all thinking about change is hard work – it’s often easier to go back to safer brain activities – so encouragement to keep going is very useful.

Finally for now, the component of Incisive Questions™, which may well be a blog post in itself another day. For now I want to note that for Thinking Together to become Coaching there needs to be a mechanism for assumptions to be examined, for the key blocking points in your mind to be surfaced and then some kind of shift in perspective needs to happen so that change becomes possible. Part of the genius of Nancy Kline is to have carefully constructed and tested an approach to this part of coaching that fully respects your knowledge, position and thinking style. This is critical to making sure that you own both the form and content of change, which in turn is crucial to making the change happen.

In my next post, I’ll turn to what I class as Mentoring and how I think it can help.


I offer Time To Think™ Coaching, an extremely pure form of coaching, in London and online. It is particularly effective for people feeling extra pressure in work or life, people starting or ending major projects and those embarking on serious change. In a busy world, we all need Time To Think™ and a Thinking Environment™ is the perfect place for you to do your best, freshest thinking.

Pricing: £100 per hour session. £125 for Central London appointments when lockdown is over.

Discounts available for block bookings or those with special circumstances.

Click here to book a free introductory conversation, or to book a full appointment.

Contact us to ask about discounts.


Posted by Indy Neogy in Coaching