I had my first business coaching session with Sharon from SLJ Coaching and Training on Friday. I thought I would share my experience. Before I do…
The difference between business coaching and mentoring
People often use the words coaching and mentoring interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference between the two.
Business coaching is very focussed and specific. It’s performance and goal orientated with specific time bound actions. The coach and the coachee enter the relationship as equal partners. It’s not the role of a coach to offer advice, opinions, training or to solve your problems.
A coach is essentially a facilitator who asks questions to help the coachee identify goals, options and develop an action plan to assist reaching the specified goals. A coach need not have intimate knowledge of your business sector or your role within it.
Mentoring is often more informal. Mentors are chosen because they have skills or knowledge they can pass on. They’ve been there, seen it, done it, got the tee-shirt and often written the book too! Mentors can help give direction and advice to reach your goals.
My Relationship With SLJ Coaching and Training
I met Sharon several months ago now via a business contact. I immediately connected with her – I think it was the soft Irish accent teamed with no bull attitude. Let’s just say she is respectful and positive but very straight talking. I love that, it’s so refreshing.
Late last year I installed WordPress for her and a couple of weeks ago went to explain the dashboard a bit more. While I was there, I mentioned I was stuck again. Not particularly with my goals, I know what they are and what I should be doing to reach them!
Sharon offered to coach me to help to identify my blocks, look at other opportunities and if necessary redefine my path to my goals. Since Sharon has a wealth of experience in coaching, counselling, training, business and organisation skills, both from her corporate background and running her own business – I almost bit her hand off!
My Coaching Session
The first session was on Friday and we met over coffee. We flew through the coaching agreement. I have trained to be a coach and know the boundaries, roles and my responsibility within the relationship.
The session started predictably with my long term goals, what success means to me and what I wanted to gain shorter term from these sessions. Sharon guided me through my thoughts with her questions, allowing me to talk (and rant a bit) while she took notes.
She often looped back to certain words and phrases I used and probed a bit deeper. I’ll be honest, some of it was very raw. I was grateful for her professional but empathic handling, keeping the session as coaching and not dropping into a counselling or advisory role. Neither of us were there for that. It’s testament to her coaching skills that she recognised when the line started to be crossed and smoothly steered it back without breaking my train of thought or stopping the session.
Sharon asked permission to offer her opinions. She put her words to what I had already said.
I have a fear of success (irrational, but true). I’m playing martyr to my past and hanging on to it (again, true. I wear my past like a comfy cloak – it’s my comfort zone).
I laughed when Sharon said I use “male” language when I speak of strategy, tactics, logic and consulting and yet don’t see myself on the same level as a male consultant. I deny that I am a powerful woman and still hide behind a strong character. Yes, that’s true too…
The biggest kick though was when Sharon pointed out how animated I became when talking about being the toolbox, or facilitator to help small business use the web without all the bull that people get lost in. How alive I became when I talked of the buzz I get when people take a seed from me and go on to succeed with a particular task or project.
I’m paraphrasing but she said something along the lines of – how can you effectively help these people and aid them in success when you deny your worth and knowledge. By holding back your own success, you are preventing the success of others.
I’d never thought of it that way, it was an eye opener!
I came out of the session feeling lighter and refreshed. The act of talking through my concerns and goals without any negative judgement was invigorating. I have a way forward with the more personal stuff I need to sort out.
While some of the issues I need to address fall way outside of the coaching relationship, there’s still plenty to work on that coaching will help with. The background work has been covered, I have my “homework” from this session and can’t wait for my session next week.
A small step for man, a giant leap for Jan…
Since coaching on Friday, it is even more clear to me that I need to get over myself, show my face and just be who I am. I don’t actually have any recent photos where it isn’t obvious I’ve had 1 too many to drink! Not that I drink regularly or that they are particularly embarrassing poses – the glassy eyed look just isn’t me!
Even as I write that, I am shouting at myself to stop making excuses. So deep breath…
Here’s me at my sister’s wedding in August 2012. Yes, I did have 1 glass too many! I’ve scanned it from a calendar of the day sent to me and cropped everyone out, so the quality isn’t wonderful. I really don’t have pictures of me on any media, I have always avoided the camera.
This is the first time in over 20 years I have put a pic of me online. I do plan on taking a photo that is a bit more useable in the coming weeks.
Enough about me. Over to you…
Do you have a coach or mentor? What breakthroughs have you had?
Sharon works with small businesses and youth organisations in the Halton and Merseyside area. You can contact her via her blog (which she will be using more this year!) http://www.sljassociates.co.uk/contact/My Business Coaching Experience – Creating Clarity, Focus and Showing The Real Me by Jan Kearney