Future Foggy? Need to Get Unstuck?

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Calgary Public Library is thrilled to be hosting our second annual Taste of Coaching event on May 22–23rd. Along with learning more about what coaching has to offer, Library customers will have the chance to sit down with a coach to get a taste of the coaching experience.

I had the pleasure of working with a coach in the past year and know personally how the coaching process can create focus on personal and professional issues, provide insights into dilemmas, and encourage a commitment to personal goals. Each one of us has something we want to work on and improve in life, and sometimes there is great value in having a skilled coach meet us where we are in life and help guide and support us.

To help give you a sense of how coaching works, we talked with local coaches Gary Armstrong and Nancy Love:

What attracted you to the profession of coaching?

Nancy: I was a classroom teacher for many years. What I noticed was that when I ASKED students about things they remembered. When I TOLD, them they forgot. So I spent a lot of time finding the right question to ask to get them to think about things differently. I love coaching because it does the same thing. It provokes learning, self knowledge, and self confidence. I love to watch the lightbulbs go on and to see people believing in themselves and their goals.

Gary: I had a coach. The experience was significant in moving me forward and inspired me to learn to do the same for others. Coaching is a strong fit with the skills that I picked up in my career as a police officer and educator. Both professions required that I listen intently to what was being said and ask thoughtful probing questions, two hallmarks of great coaching. I was amazed how asking questions which reflected intent listening could uncover thoughts I had never articulated before—thoughts that were the catalyst to new and sometimes very personal discoveries about how I was being perceived by others.

Coaching can be a transformative and profound process. How does it affect your clients?

Gary: What I notice most is the impact being heard has on people. Consistently people will delve deeper within themselves to find the answer to their own toughest questions when they believe someone else is their willing to hear them through. I am awed by the progress people make in their careers when they explore their own thoughts and devise strategies they know are right for them. It is extremely rewarding to help people move forward in such a significant way.

Do you believe that many of your clients have the answers to their questions hidden inside them?

Nancy: Everyone knows what they need to do to change a situation. Most just need a nudge in that direction. I like to use time-lining. I ask the person to consider a future point or a point in the past and look at the present situation from that perspective and describe it in detail. It removes the emotional response or adds a different emotion to the understanding of the situation.

Gary: I believe we all know our best path. Early in life we develop a set of values which guide our conduct and help us chart a direction in a career, or for that matter life. Understandably we all differ and from time to time we face situations which collide with our values. In those moments we may make small sacrifices to our values for the sake of harmony. For me coaching, in part , is an opportunity to affirm my values and return to a course of action I know is right for me.

Have there been any books or articles you have read that really explained or spoke to the power of coaching?

Gary: Mary Beth O'Neil's book Coaching with Backbone and Heart stands out for me. My opinion is that for most friends the heart piece of being there for someone comes naturally. It is the backbone that can be harder to call on. However there are also friends who have more backbone than heart. They are the ones who sometimes are too willing to tell it like it is. O'Neil does a great job of showing how both are needed in a balanced coaching relationship. Moving between backbone and heart is quite similar to teaching someone a new skill or task following the old adage two steps forward one step back. Being challenged to take two steps forward at times can be quite daunting. Being able to judge when to take a step back is heart. Balancing both is an acquired skill that a coach brings that a friend may not always be able to.


Gary Armstrong is an Executive Coach and President of Empowered Employee Education. Gary’s services appeal to enterprises developing current and next generation leaders. Those who wish to positively implement and navigate change with a collaborative, communicative, strategically thoughtful leadership team that possesses the skills required to focus others on a clear mission and vision, centered on confirmed values. gary@empoweredee.com


Dr. Nancy Love, PhD, M.Ed. works in many cities across North America to present the PULSE programs to government agencies and private industry. She is the author of PULSE Conversations for Change. Her continued interest in how people use conversation and language lead to the formation of the PULSE Institute which studies People Using Language Skills Effectively. http://www.pulseinstitute.com/


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