Overcoming the Small Stuff

Every school, organisation and individual experiences challenges when they learn and embed coaching. One of the biggest challenges we recently identified is focusing on the small stuff.

Ever read the series of books Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff? If so, you’ll know how powerful its message is. And if not, we highly recommend reading it!

What we notice about people who learn coaching or who bring it into their organisation is that they can get bogged down by the little things. During our courses, we often hear statements like, ‘this feels unnatural’ or ‘it’s hard to stop giving advice’ or ‘I forget to focus on the person and instead get lost in the problem’.

If you worry about the little stuff, you ultimately miss the big picture. Or, as the inspirational and influential late Stephen Hawking once said,  ‘Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.’

We get it — we understand all those concerns — but that’s the little stuff. It’s easy to get lost in the details and minutia, so we want to offer a few pointers for how to refocus yourself and start seeing the bigger picture.

Practice: There’s simply no replacement for actually coaching and helping people make decisions. So do it — a lot. Get into pairs or trios and coach. No excuses!

Get feedback and mark progress: It’s likely going better than you think, so find a way to evaluate the progress. Ask for feedback, find markers of success and share them with the right people.

Focus on what and who you can change: Find the low hanging fruit and the easy wins. Forget people who don’t get it or potential obstacles and start to look for opportunities. Shift your lens and see what you need to see, not what you are currently seeing.

Be a role model: It’s easy to forget the impact you can make by just being a coach and role modelling positive behaviours. Reconnect with yourself and what you love about coaching. Then, go out there and be the best coach you can. Spread the power of coaching to everyone and anyone you connect with.

So when you find yourself sweating the small stuff, remember to look at the stars. Remember your job is not just a job. You are an influence. You have more power to affect change in yourself and others than you give yourself credit for. How do we know this? Because you have been trained to coach.

Perhaps coaching isn’t exactly fairy dust or magic potion, but the short term connection and lasting impact it makes can be life changing for many people… very, very many.

So, stop reading this right now and go do the work — keep coaching.