While watching a movie (The World Before Her) last night with my family, I was reminded of a lesson I learned the hard way when I started my coaching career. The movie was about two women from very different backgrounds — one was an aspiring model; the other a religious fundamentalist. They had very different world-views influenced by their situations and their environment. Both had a narrow view of society and how they fit in and both felt they were right in what they were doing.
Anyway, the lesson …
“Never judge anyone for the choices that they make, and always remember that the opposite of what you know is also true. Every other person’s perspective on reality is as valid as your own, so no matter how certain you are that what you’re doing is the ‘right thing,’ you must humbly accept the possibility that even someone doing the exact opposite might be doing the ‘right thing’ as well. No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place, and circumstance).”
Hawkeye, Timber (2013-02-19). Buddhist Boot Camp. HarperCollins.
So what you ask? It’s important to recognize that clients are often stuck in a specific context, a set of beliefs, and a defined approach. Good coaches serve as change catalysts and help them see other plausible states while always treating them and their view points with respect (even if counter to your own).