How to upgrade your coaching skills without rebuilding them

Maria’s run in with Standard Coaching

Many years ago, I believed that I needed to get some credibility for my coaching practice and so enrolled on a standard coaching course. It was personally disastrous. I went from being a highly competent coach to a gibbering wreck, while I saw the people around me who had come with no experience or ability develop some skills. Over the course I had migraine-like headaches and I felt annoyed. I suppose annoyed that the course was so basic, and yet it was ‘doing my head in’. To be clear, it was not the level of learning that was the problem, it was the level of Unlearning! And if there is one way to take a highly competent person and disable that competence, then I had discovered it. Similarly, this can be applied to effective natural and holistic coaching to your clients.

Neuroscience to explain this experience

We learn theoretically and then practice, take feedback, adapt, learn to establish the basic behaviours, practice, practice, practice until it becomes ‘natural’. During the learning we are committing to our explicit declarative memory. Here we are aware of the process like learning to drive a car. In the beginning you can only do it when you think about it hard, because every element has to be consciously drawn back into your declarative memory. You tell yourself what to do at each step. Over a period of time this will become embedded in your implicit procedural memory. At this point you no longer have to think about each element, the processes just happens.

Coaching for me from my years of experience meant it was like driving a car, natural. When I went to this course, they pulled me out this implicit procedural memory by ignoring my previous experience. It was their way or the high way, with no cross over or complementary work. This was a retrograde step. The learning that was firmly established and part of my day to day life, was now fragmented as I was forced to take apart my practice, piece by piece until I felt it would collapse.

Therefore, if you are learning new skills or upgrading a skill you need to be careful not to undo your existing learning . A refresher may bring some ideas that rely on explicit declarative memory that are not fully embedded and  too and help to establish these in the implicit procedural memory – if you also practice these things!

On the other hand if you are taking your coaching skills, for example, to new heights, the one thing you want to avoid is a process that ‘breaks you down to build you up’. This will take a unconsciously competent coach and turn them into a consciously competent at best, or, potentially, into a state of incompetence.

Roads to upgrade your practice with Neuroscience

Most coaches who want to develop, and in particular to bring neuroscience into their skill set and practice there are a few possible roads to take:

  1. Learn from standard coaching perspective – the most likely to reduce competence or potentially lead to a traumatic learning experience
  2. Learn some ‘neuroscience tools’ – unlikely to be traumatic, but also unlikely to enable the coach and coachee to get properly under the skin of the problem
  3. Learn a neuroscience-based approach coaching, with a structure that relates to brain development and change and that builds new skills that overlay onto the existing skill set – most likely to create a positive learning experience, providing the training allows the learner to bring their own skill set to the learning experience

You can guess which road leads you to learning at the School of NeuChem Coaching can’t you? It’s 3. We recognize the potentially damaging practice of ‘starting from scratch’ when you are an experienced coach. So I don’t want to tell you some Matrix style story that ‘everything you think you know is a lie…’ because it isn’t. If you have coaching experience, it is very relevant and very important. Work with us to add an extra scientific level to your practice, to really help your clients understand the roots of what is stopping their brains from functioning to their full potential.

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