Rob West

My Coaching Philosophy

Published 8 Sept 2022

What motivates me to be a coach? The simple answer is that I enjoy helping others to realise their potential. In my experience if you scratch beneath the surface of any human being, you'll find a huge reservoir of untapped capabilities. Our brains are amazing but the way they evolved can cause us to get in our own way, to miss opportunities and focus on the wrong things.

I want to help people step out of their busy day-to-day work, creating a calm space in which they can gain a greater understanding of their unique talents and the limiting assumptions that are holding them back. I want coachees to leave me feeling that they are in a resourceful place to achieve what they want from their lives.

I see a coach as a thought partner, something that is beautifully described in the work of Nancy Kline. The tenets of her thinking environment just feel right in my bones. Kline argues that thinking for yourself is still a radical act. I believe she has a point. When did you last think? Really think, deeply, about your life? What are your values? How do they show up in your life, day to day? Are you on track? When you are old, what will you want to say about your life? The frenetic pace of modern life, and the structures of our institutions, often lead us to "sheep walk" through life.

Kline points to a deep truth about the human mind: that high quality attention from another human being enhances the quality of your thinking. This idea might seem radical, almost bizarre. How can the quality of my thinking depend on another person's attention? If you find yourself doubting the importance of attention, that isn't surprising, it is incredibly rare in our society. We are so wrapped up in our own thoughts, what we want to talk about, or our ideas for how to solve the other person’s problem, that we don’t really listen to what they are saying. Our advice monster slips the leash after a few sentences and we have snuffed out any opportunity for that individual to even figure out what the real issue is before we have solved the one we think they have. Workplace meetings are usually an ego-driven bun fight to get our ideas heard, we aren’t listening, we are reloading.

I first started to understand the value of attention when I experienced being coached. Just knowing that my coach was fully focused on what I was saying, that I would not be interrupted, that I could have the space to explore thoughts, produced a sense of freedom that was almost unnerving. It felt like waking up from autopilot and thinking independently for the first time in years.

In almost every coaching session I have done, there has been a point where the coachee will say something like: “now that we are talking about it, a thought has occurred to me”. It is a privilege to be present for those moments of insight.

My absolute commitment as a coach is that I will never interrupt you.

I layer onto the thinking partnership ideas from psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness that enable us to understand ourselves and achieve lasting behavioural change. I believe in an evolutionary perspective on human behaviour, which allows us to understand our three types of emotional systems (drive, threat and affiliative). This explains why we are wired for survival not happiness, which is why we often self sabotage. That stance also allows us to recognise the importance of the mind-body connection. I want to help people move beyond treating their bodies as taxis to access their full embodied intelligence.

If you are interested in exploring how I might help your thinking then please get in touch.

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