Susan Granfield, trainer with The Coaching Academy has kindly written this very topical article all about finding your inner balance.

Susan Granfield, trainer with The Coaching Academy has kindly written this very topical article all about finding your inner balance.

Why did you become a coach? Pause for a moment and consider your answer. Was it to make a lot of money? Was it to fulfil a childhood dream? Or was it to help people be the best they can be (or words to that effect)?

The driver for most coaches that I meet centres around a desire to support, encourage and perhaps challenge people so that they can get clarity on their goals, get unstuck, become more confident and ultimately have the life that they want to have.

For all of the positive impact that driver brings for us and our clients, there is a downside. The downside is that whilst we are focusing a lot of our energy and attention on what we can do for others, we might be forgetting about ourselves!

Being a coach is about more than just turning up, asking great questions and ensuring your client commits to clear actions. Being a coach, particularly if you are an independent coach, also entails all whole host of other activities such as marketing, social media communication, networking, keeping financial records, continuous professional development, supervision, preparing materials or resources for clients…..and lots more.

There is good chance that you also have family and friends who seek some of your precious energy and attention in the form of preparing meals, transportation, conversations, attendance at an event, a sympathetic ear…..and lots more.

It is fair to say then that there are a lot of people and tasks vying for your attention and energy, so where do you position yourself in relation to all of those demands? Do you have the balance right?

Paul Gilbert, author of The Compassionate Mind, talks about the three emotion regulation systems that help to keep us in balance. He suggests that for many of us our lives have been knocked off balance by a constant striving for the achievement of goals and rewards combined with the need to mitigate threat and survive in a competitive world.

Coaching is goal focused and creating a successful coaching business means operating in a competitive environment, which potentially means that as coaches the world we operate in is disrupting our inner balance.

To truly be the best coach for your clients it is vital that you have that inner balance. Without it, you will not be fully present, you won’t pick up on the subtle nuances in what your client says that could lead to a break through, you won’t have the mental energy to deal with emotional or challenging sessions.

Expending lots of energy and attention on building your business, developing great client relationships, attracting new clients and coping with the peaks and troughs of workload means two of our emotion regulation systems are fed but the third is missing out.

That third system is the one which brings about inner balance. It is the one which requires us to turn our attention to ourselves and ask the question “what do I need right now to feel connected, content, nourished?” Pause for a moment and consider; what are the activities which would make you feel nourished? Write down at least 10 things that make you feel connected, content and balanced.

It is likely that the list you now have in front of you includes mention of spending time with people who are important to you, being around nature, doing something creative, activities that allow self-reflection or inner contemplation and that almost everything you have written down is a relatively simple thing to achieve, i.e. it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, money or organising.

These kinds of activities make you feel good because they activate parts of your brain which release hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin and counteract the negative effects of cortisol. They allow you to move from the energy intensive cortical regions of the brain to the more nourishing and creative parts of the limbic system.

Taking time each day to engage in a nourishing activity addresses the inner balance which enables us to be the best coach we can be for our clients. These are not “nice to do” if you have the time, they are a vital part of maintaining equilibrium in your mental and physical functioning.

David Clutterbuck has written a blog called “The Dangers of Wall to Wall Coaching” in which he highlights the fact that many coaches try to cram in too many coaching sessions to a day and as a result are reducing their effectiveness. He suggests planning a 45 minute break between sessions, which is an ideal time to take a walk, do some meditation, play with your children, listen to some music, call a friend... or whatever else nourishes and rebalances you.

Your clients, friends and family will benefit from this not only in terms of the time you spend with them, the renewed attention you can offer them but also because if you are modelling this kind of self-compassion their mirror neurons (clever neurons in the brain which reflect back what they experience from others) will activate and it may encourage them to follow your good example!

It would be great to hear what you do to nourish yourself and maintain your inner balance. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.



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