Don’t get me wrong. I love it when a session with a client is full of emotion. Maybe they burst into tears and are on their growth edge, or they are so fueled up with energy that they cannot wait to take on a new challenge. If I’m honest the best coaching sessions—the ones that have the most lasting impact—are the boring ones. But this is hard for most coaches to understand, especially new coaches.
The difference between swings and homeruns.
If you want a truly masterful coach you’ll likely be impressed by their ability to cause big tectonic shifts with relative ease. In the world of coaching, you might call these home runs.
- The questions that crack a client open
- The reframes that shift perspective in a big way
- The words of appreciation that open a client’s heart
I love home runs. I remember watching coaches like Rich Litvin, or Steve Chandler, or Michael Neil, or Byron Katie and many others. And being blown away by their home runs.
And I remember going out and trying to replicate them.
I’d ask BIG QUESTIONS
I’d stare intently at the client willing them to cry
I would pluck on heartstrings
I would give bold speeches
A lot of this ‘worked’ in that it created a reaction in my clients.
But much of it wasn’t great coaching.
Slowly I began to notice something. While the home runs were great, they didn’t lead to change.
So I went back to the drawing board. I began watching sessions in a new way.
I stopped looking for the home runs. I started watching in between them.
Eventually I began to see what these great coaches were doing.
They weren’t trying to hit home runs at all.
They were trying to take swings.
They would listen and take a swing.
Sometimes it hit, sometimes it didn’t.
But that was ok.
They would learn from the last swing.
They would listen even more closely.
They would lean into the client.
And then they would swing again. And again. And again.
With each swing, they would notice what landed or what didn’t.
No one swing mattered that much to them. Their swings were graceful, elegant.
They were mostly unattached to hitting a home run, they swung because they loved to swing.
That’s when it hit me.
If I want to be great, I need to learn to swing.
Even when I don’t hit the ball.
Maybe even especially when I don’t hit the ball.
I need to learn to swing.
And sure enough, the better I got at taking swings the more home runs I hit.
But it was only by letting go, by not needing to hit home runs, and by letting myself be boring that I saw the results.
So now, when I have a session that’s all swings and no hits, I don’t worry about it as much;
I simply let myself swing. I feel the motion of the conversation. I enjoy the sound of dialogue. I know that if I keep swinging and paying attention, eventually something will open.
A whole session of swinging can feel boring. But these sessions are often the ones that create the momentum, lay the groundwork, and inspire the big changes that come later on.
Please don’t get attached to hitting home runs, or making your clients cry.
Focus on the swing, the being, and the way you stand for your client.
If you put your attention there not only will you get better home runs, but you’ll also enjoy being a coach so much more.