Coaching Philosophy:
What you need to know

A different coaching philosophy is behind different coaching strategies.

There is no single coaching philosophy that supports the coaching profession. However, there are two outlooks that predominate.

One strategy has its roots in Behaviorism, a philosophy of psychology that proposes that everything we do is a behavior.

The other approach has its roots in Existential Philosophy and the Philosophy of Language. It argues that all behavior is the result of language actions.

Each outlook has a different understanding of what coaching is, what the roles of the coach and the client are, and which strategy the coach will use.

Each is used in the many different areas of coaching, such as in life coaching, business coaching, career coaching, wellness coaching, and executive coaching.

Behavior or Perspective

For coaching based upon Behaviorism, the results we get in life are due primarily to our actions. To produce different results, we change our behavior until we finally get the results we want.

Within this outlook, the role of the coach is that of a teacher. The role of the client is that of a student. The coach helps the client get better outcomes by identifying what the client is currently doing, then suggesting different behaviors to produce new outcomes.For the coaching philosophy that is based upon Existential Philosophy and the Philosophy of Language, the results we get in life are fundamentally due to our perspective. If we want to create different results, the most effective way to do that is to change our perspective, the way we look at reality, not our behavior.

Our perspective is what we look through rather than what we look at when we try to make sense of what is going on in our lives. We look at events and interpret what they mean to us through our personal experiences and the cultural and historical worlds we inherited. Most of the time, we are not aware that we are doing this. This means our perspective is always limited by what we know and by what we have experienced.
The Limitations of Perspective
The limitations of our perspective are such that they allow us to take some actions but not other actions. If I see life as a rat race, I have to constantly be racing if I hope to survive. I can never relax.

Since our perspective controls our behavior, it also controls what kind of results we get. If I am racing all the time, I occasionally win, earn a few metals, and have some fans. But I also lose, and not just races. I lose friends, my health, maybe my family. Having to run and win all the time does that.

The role of a coach following this coaching philosophy is to work with clients to discover their perspective, then to supply tools to help them change it.
New Tools for Creating Change

The new tools are new distinctions in language and new practices. By using new distinctions in language, clients see things differently and so discover new ways to behave.
For example, If a client shifts her perception of her career from that of a rat race to an opportunity for learning and for personal growth, her behavior will change. And so will the results she gets at work, as well as at home and in other areas of her life.

But making this shift will not be easy. The old perspective will not go without a struggle. That is why new practices are necessary.

New practices help the client reinforce the new perspective so he or she can perform the new actions and create new results.

To learn more about the coaching philosophy underpinning this and other approaches to coaching, go to coaching books.

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