• Nicola Ellwood

Getting perspective...

When you become a Coach you learn that your own ‘lived experience’ - experiences, knowledge, expertise, opinion, perception, beliefs and thoughts are irrelevant when working with coaching clients.


In fact, they ‘muddy your client’s water’- your own thoughts are a disservice, distracting your client’s own thought, stopping them from following through. And stopping you from being ‘client centred’,


As a Coach, what works for you is unlikely to prove a complete success them. They are a different person, with a different life experience, different values, motivations, capabilities, beliefs, and preferences.

So with this knowledge, it won’t come as a surprise that I don’t like reading books to where the author shares their lived experience and tells you ‘how to do it’ ... ‘how to X’ - what you should do, must do, need to do to get to a desired outcome.

Although the principles within these books are sound, in many cases they aren’t ‘apply-able’ because they come from the author - the concepts work for that person with their lived life experience but likely won’t work as well for the reader. The reader hasn’t seen the world through their lens. They are reading through their own lens. Just as they live their life...through their own lens.

What I do love reading about is people in their world. People sharing their life. Their experiences. But without telling us what we should do.

Instead we jump into their world to look through their lens we see its richness, their excellence. The lessons they have learnt. We gain insight perhaps identifying our own version of what they are saying.

I love jumping into the authors perspective and seeing the world through their eyes. For me, there’s learning in their perspective.

This book (which I recommend wholeheartedly) has widened my own perspective and influenced my thinking on the value of lived experience. It has made me value my own perspective and made me explore the value of that in being a coach, helping people be their best.

It is a fascinating read (especially if you love reading about expertise) This neurosurgeon talks about his career, surgery experiences, his ego, how he got over it. How he does what he does in graphic sometimes gory detail. He talks about his mistakes (which in neurosurgery means the patient dies) and his triumphs (which means the person survives).

This book talks about brain tumours, and brain tumour surgery.... I’m March 2019 I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour that I now manage with medication.

Somewhat unexpectedly, as I listened to the book, he described my tumour - where he has operated on such a tumour successfully, and where he has failed.

For me, a roller coaster read.

This book grew my perspective because I find myself grateful to have had this version of my experience. I’m a person who has this type of tumour (that’s very common, by the way) that doesn’t have to have surgery.

But the main shift is that this book shows me that my lived experience is potentially relevant to what I do and how I help people.

I know first hand what emotion management is-trust me there is nothing like a consultant telling you that you have a brain tumour (or cancer for that matter - 2012).

I have got very good at being ‘present’ and managing my state, good at tuning in to what’s important and developing beliefs that serve me better.

The training i did in NLP before the tumour and the cancer meant I’d learnt how to think ‘well’. My lived experience means that have put it all to practice, lived by it and come out the other side.

What does it mean for my practice? Not a huge amount. I will always have the belief of a ‘pure coach’ - that to input my thoughts or opinion is to ‘short change’ my client because I derail their though path.

I just feel slightly more congruent – living and breathing what I talk about with my clients. I realise that my lived experience is something I am grateful for and proud of who it makes me today. Does it make me a better coach. Maybe - Ask my clients. Although most of them have no idea until now.


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