Awareness. Insights. Aha moments. The stuff you love to experience in your coaching, right? What you love to offer your clients. An important aspect of coaching, so much so that Creating Awareness rates its own Core Coaching Competency  (ICF).

And yet…

Awareness has a dark side. A seductiveness that tells you the (temporary) sweetness of a new insight is sufficient. That once your client reaches an aha moment, your job is done.

This is the Aha Trap and it can set you up to miss the most valuable aspect of your work: Your client’s opportunity to learn. To invite and foster the growth required for sustained change.

In fact, settling for awareness, stopping short of learning and growth, is like going to a wonderful restaurant and having just a plain salad when you could have a much richer dining experience. Yes, salad is good for you and has an important place in nutrition, but it is NOT all there is to food.

And catalyzing awareness is not all there is to the transformational potential of coaching.

Why this is crucial?

When aha after aha does not produce desired changes (because learning does not occur or is not applied), trust and confidence erode – in self, coach and coaching….and ultimately, life. It is a faith shaker and a hope-killer. Enough of this and a person’s creative thinking and resourcefulness can wither. Which means the person withers because humans are, at heart, creative beings.

So what do you do about this as a coach? You can’t force learning, but you can invite and facilitate it.

For starters, put the learning first, put the learning first, and …(you guessed it) put the learning first.

Then, be so present you notice the opportunities for learning. And be willing to linger in those moments to fully explore the opportunity.

Listen beyond the new insight to the potential impact of the insight and invite your coachee’s exploration.

Ask your coachee how s/he will apply a new awareness. Ask what might change through this application.

When you  – and your coachee – can learn to:

  • Experiment with a new awareness by applying it,
  • Explore to see what does or does not happen, and –
  • Allow the results to inform your thinking,

You build self reliance, expand access to creative thinking, and develop resilience for setbacks.

The value in that? Goes wa-a-a-ay beyond awareness and insight!

Is awareness crucial in coaching? Absolutely yes, but – awareness is only as significant as the change it leads to because of the learning it initiates.

And – all those results your clients want? They are the side effect of the learning that takes pace.

Invite your clients to the space of results-as-by-products, to the lasting sweetness of a life changed through learning.  Do this and they won’t have to tell everyone about your marvelous work because their behavior, their way of being, their lives will.

 If you like this article, you will likely enjoy the audio of the August Heart and Soul of Coaching program. Members of the H&S community receive a monthly email with direct link to that audio.

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In celebration of all that is possible in coaching!