I had this moment about four years’ back
[bear with me, I have a LOT of moments]
standing on a subway platform at Penn Station, NYC. It was rush-hour, trains were delayed, and the platform was filling up with commuters keen to be on their way to their daily business. Things were relatively calm, that common acceptance of the state of things; another train would be along in a few minutes, so we were all just waiting
[except for those with a deadline, who skittered through the throng like ants through grass]
As always, I was leaning back on a wall, listening to music on my iPod, drifting in that early morning, not-quite-there feeling; sensate and sensing, feeling energy currents and catching insight into people walking and standing. I let my awareness drift away from the immediate, and pressing, crowd around me. Growing aware of the other platform, I began to focus on it as a whole. I was on the uptown, and was looking at the downtown – and it was chock-a-block full of people heading to Wall Street and environs. This wall of people, largely between the ages of 25 and 40, men and women dressed for the office.
Drifting as I was, I didn’t really take in individual faces, but instead the mass.
And I thought to myself
Every one of these people could benefit from having a professional coach
I felt like walking up to each and every one of them and saying
Hi. Where are you going? Can I help you get there?
and, at the same time, I knew that the majority, if not all, wouldn’t even have considered the idea, because
Only SENIOR EXECUTIVES have coaches.
Immediately, I began to run through the arguments to undermine that assumption:
- Developing yourself early in your career pays dividends later
- Coaching in role is assumed to be done by managers (who are not always the best coaches)
- Executive coaches are as much status symbol as they are development agent
- Coaching executives is as much about remediation for long-standing habits as it is for future potential
- Companies pay for executive coaching
And, as I began to think through how I might help people
[as ever, searching for the improvement I can help them make]
it was number 5 that really stuck with me, leaving me with the question
Would people pay for their own professional coach?
Logically, I could build the case – I could point to sports coaching at High School level, to personal fitness training, to golf lessons, to relationship mediation – there’s more than sufficient evidence to suggest that people are willing to pay for their own development
[even if, sometimes, they look for easy resistances]
but in my own experience, and in sounding out others, including Chief Talent Officers of Fortune 500 companies, I couldn’t come up with any examples of a structured approach to professional coaching. I continued to hear:
Only SENIOR EXECUTIVES have coaches
A prevailing cultural norm, if ever I’d heard one – so I set about checking the system underpinning the norm:
- FINANCIAL – Companies pay for coaching, therefore the justification is toward perceived value of current asset (i.e. the executive), over potential future asset (i.e. up-and-comers)
- POLITICAL – Coaching is brokered by HR and/or Learning and Development, functions which are resource-strained, risk-averse, and politically motivated to please Senior Executives
- SOCIAL – Professional development – or, more appropriately, the desire to seek self-development – is felt as prideful, vain, narcissistic, and as daring to step out of the herd. There is a powerful peer pressure to conform.
- ECONOMIC – Self-development beyond higher education is perceived as an investment in delivering work (i.e. to the benefit of the company) over delivering enhanced capabilities (i.e. to the benefit of the worker)
- TECHNOLOGICAL – Coaching has been a high investment, personal interaction (i.e. big bucks) so perceived as out of reach of the everyday worker.
And yet, if I’d been able to talk with any of those early-morning commuters – I would have heard opportunities for coaching, for the removal of blockages, the optimization of skills, the navigation of organizations and collaboration.
[I hear them every time I talk with people now]
I came to a simple realization:
I can make this work.
And I’ve spent the time in between making it work – and it feels great.
So, here it is: if you are looking to grow your capabilities, manage conflict, change careers, enhance your current role, better manage and develop your team, or chart a course through difficult times, I can help you. Right now.
- It’s not expensive (think of how much you pay to belong to a gym)
- It’s under your control.
- It’s portable (you can take it with you if you shift employers).
- It beats any other investment you can make in yourself.
- If it doesn’t work, you don’t have to keep going.
I love helping people change for the better, and am told I’m very good at doing it.
[and receive a referral bonus if they go forward with View Beyond]
Imagine yourself, stood on a platform waiting for a train that’s late arriving. Imagine yourself, staring ahead at a career with little sense of direction, wondering if you made the right decision all those years ago. Imagine yourself, dreading the first meeting of the day because of that one person who seems committed to destroying your self-esteem. Imagine yourself, stepping up to a new challenge but unsure whether you have the strength to pull it off.
As you stand on that platform, you see someone looking in your direction. He sees you looking, smiles and says
Hi. Where are you going? Can I help you get there?
What do you say?