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Founders Journal #3: Coaching culture

In my first coaching sessions at 25 I remember squirming when attempting to articulate how I felt.

It was new to me, feelings. Words like sadness, anxiety, hope, desire, vulnerability – they were new words. It was like I was learning another language. 

It was like being in the gym. Hence why the Sanctus vision of a mental health gym on the high street was so clear to me.

Coaching enabled me to articulate how I felt and to reflect on my life and my behaviours in a way I had never previously done. It woke me up and popped the bubble on my life, allowing me to see myself within my life, responding to the world around me. 

I discovered myself through coaching, all these different archetypes of me. Whereas previously I wasn’t quite as rounded. Coaching helped me to fill out and become all of me. 

A huge benefit of coaching too, which I believe is less discussed, was being inspired by the coaches I worked with. Coaches are great role models. They have done a lot of work on themselves, are amazing listeners, ask incredible questions and create safe and welcoming spaces in conversations for you to talk freely. Coaching is a very impressive skill. 

Anyone who has been a manager or been in any form of close relationship knows how hard it can be to truly listen and to ask questions or say words that encourage another to talk openly about their challenges. 

I learned a lot from coaching too, simply by being in sessions with coaches. Their presence would rub off on me and I’d carry it into my conversations with colleagues or friends. The way they listened to me, with eye contact and a gentle nodding of the head. I’d be inspired by that too, and maybe next time I was having a 1:1 with a team member I’d listen like my coach listened to me. 

Then, over time, I’d copy a few of the questions I might have picked up. “What’s stopping you?” Or “What else is going on?”

Very basic open ended questions, whereas before I might have wrapped up my judgement in a “Do you” question. Like “do you think it’s because you’re not in the right role for you?” 

Coaching questions are powerful and create openings. Before, I’d never learned how to ask great questions, because I’d never been asked any myself. 

Receiving coaching permeates through your life into the cultures of your communities. Most notably at work. Because I revived coaching all the way through Sanctus I was able to ask different types of questions to the team, I was able to listen and listen deeply. 

Plus, our team were receiving coaching too. So they can listen, they can take feedback and they can all ask good questions. A coaching culture is awesome, because everyone is aware, everyone is reflective, people’s ego is more likely to drop out and you create more chance for high quality interactions at work

I’m glad to have received the personal benefit of coaching to support me in working through my own issues and supporting me to grow personally. Yet the skills I have also learned for myself that I’ve taken in my life and work in particular in how I have conversations have been huge and very beneficial. 

My belief is that a coaching culture in the workplace is the only kind of culture we’ll have eventually – we’re just not there yet – the ability to have high quality interactions and fulfilling relationships at work is crucial to health and performance. Coaching for people facilitates that, it’s like the lubricant that makes it all work. 

Expand that out into our communities and our families and I love the thought of a world or a country with a coaching culture. Imagine if our MPs could have high quality interactions in parliament. Imagine if all of our world leaders could listen and empathise.

That’s a world I want to be part of.