Self – coaching?

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julio 1, 2009
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Self – coaching?

coachingcommonsAnswer to the postCoach Yourself to Make More Money: CEOs and Little People Alike Can Benefit From Guidance” Original post: msnbc
By Selena Maranjian, May 18, 2009
The Coaching Commons

Hi Billy,

I decided to translate part of my article “Self-Coaching?” to English in response to your comment.


O. Introduction

First of all we must answer what we means to be a coach of yourself (self-coaching). Then see how it works, and finally conclude if it is really possible.

In advance, the conclusion of my argument is that:

Self-coaching is not coaching. By definition is a contradiction in itself, and creates confusion about the real benefits of coaching as a discipline. This does not imply at all that this procedure call “self-coaching” has some useful as mental exercise of self-reflection, and is quite useful in different contexts that could be created by coaching.


1. Background and Objective: What is self-coaching?

In brief, coaching is a process where a client hires an expert coach to help him to think and develop action plans to achieve their most desired goals (primarily through questions). The basic idea of the so-called “self-coaching”, would mean the possibility that oneself is who takes those questions and reflections to determine, without the interaction of a coach, their action plans, and also achieve those objectives.

2. How would “self-coaching” work?

Therefore, to make “self-coaching” work, you should ideally be trained as a coach, and then “auto-apply” the process of coaching. He or she would constantly make a question in his/her mind such as “If I had a coach at this point, what does he or she ask me? What would he or she do right now?, etc..” You must take a “double game” or “role” of a permanent coach and coachee to achieve the result of the process in yourself. It is clear therefore that anyone who wants to apply himself to the process of coaching, at least, he must be a coach (in the sense of training and developing the necessary skills, know the principles and models that are used in coaching , etc.). If not, the “auto-coaching-process” would be inefficient (in this case it’s actually possible).

3. Relevance and efficiency in human learning: Is this possible? Can you be a coach of yourself? Is it as effective? How useful is it?

We can conclude that “being a coach of yourself” requires:

a) That you must be a coach, or at least be trainied as such (if that is not so, whoever conducts self-coaching will be limited by their lack of knowledge about the process of coaching, even with the help of a multimedia system, test or form).
b) That you must take a double role (coach and coachee) permanently.
c) That you must follow all the steps and requirements in the process of coaching.
d) That you must ask yourself the questions and listen as you would do with an external coach.
e) That you must obtain the results of the self-coaching, like those obtained from an external coach.

Is it really possible to achieve that? Definitely, NO.

Why? Let’s see in detail…

a) Be trained as a coach: It’s obvious that anyone can be trained as a coach (coach training is becoming increasingly diversified and specialized). However, it is equally clear that no one becomes a good coach. With this statement I am not prejudging people’s abilities, but simply recognizing a reality that is evident in any profession. Anyone can study to be an engineer, architect, doctor or a musician, but not all those who do that become effective and/or efficient in its performance (in fact, many end up changing or leaving the profession). The same applies to coaching.
Training in coaching is essential, but not necessarily sufficient to act as such (and this applies to coaching and “self-coaching”).

b) Assume a double role: Technically speaking it is impossible for a human being to “transform” and act as if he/she were two. It is impossible for a human mind to divide into two minds, and try to interact independently of one another, asking and listening as if one are two people or individuals. An individual (indi-visible) can never be, or act as if they were two individuals. What we can do is to “play to be another” with the logical limit of time and space alternating, never paralleling (this limits the ability to get a real coaching)

c) Follow the steps and requirements of a coaching session: obviously one can follow, for example, the GROW steps model (or other) itself. However, good coaching does not have preset models or guides. The coach will act according to listen to his client, he never follows a pattern of conduct or behavior. Doing this is anti-coaching. This point is closely linked to the next.

d) Self-questions and self-listen: One can ask questions and answer them by and for itself, but it is precisely when those questions and answers have been exhausted when you look for an interaction with a coach or third party (another person). Coaching is by definition a process that must be made between at least two people. The effectiveness of coaching is the result of the INTERACTION or inter-relationship that breaks the “intra-activity” or “intra-relationship” (these terms do not exist because they are a contradiction in itself, is not possible to speak technically of a “relationship” for oneself… understood as a ratio of two units).

e) Results of self-coaching: Someone may argue they have applied “self-coaching” and that it has been instrumental to define and achieve his or her goals. Nobody has denied that what is called “self-coaching” it would be useful. Saying that would be the same as to say that personal reflections or thinking that one makes with oneself is useless and ineffective.

No, I´m not saying that. What I´m saying is just that the self-reflection (which is useful) is not coaching. Those who have seen the benefits of “self-coaching” really see the benefits of reflection (or self-reflection), but that is not coaching. Who hires a coach wants to interact because they understand (explicitly or implicitly) that the interaction will arise necessarily new thinking (knowledge) that self-reflection alone does not provide… or may take longer to achieve.


For all these reasons I consider that “self-coaching” isn´t possible.

1) By definition (since it requires at least two people); 2) By the reality of human nature (an individual, is just that, ONE); 3) By the dynamics and methodology (the interaction is a different process to “intra-action”, and the application of coaching process is not limited to a pattern of behavior or conduct); and finally 4) By results obtained (one thing is to think and act for oneself, and another thing is to stimulate reflection by an INTERACTION).

Ravier, L.

Excerpt translated from Spanish. Original text in spanish: ¿Ser coach de uno mismo?

Self – coaching?
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