Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coaching for change

The fundamental of coaching is to provide a context for change. This is true whether the coach is an external coach, an internal coach, the manager acting
as coach, or even if is self-coaching.
 
Change, especially for adult people, is not easy due to the way that our brains are wired and, the older we get the more we tend to get more used to "our ways" of working and thinking. Science explains why old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form and so, a coach can work as a facilitator for change using the this knowlegde about the way our brains work.
 
Let take this example; to execute a task, our brain first breaks it down into diferent components that are stored (memorized); those parts are associated with each other by "highways" (neuron connections, neural pathways). When practicing or further learn something related to the same issue those neural pathways will grow larger the more neurons are "recruited" in order to provide more resources for learning and performing the task. The more we repeat and practice, more connections will be "fired up".
 
It is similar to when we physically perform some activity; the movements required can be challenging and hard at first, but they will become encoded in our brain motor cortex  - the more you practice, the stronger the neural pathway will become as your ability to perform.
 
Take learning how to drive as an example; for most people, we start to drive as we are told like when to change gears without much idea of the mechanical process involved. Even tough, we do learn; initially every movement of gear change needs to be thought before proceeding, but not before long, driving will be something ‘natural’ that you will do without conscious thought. This means that with practice brain will absorb all information needed to do
the task.
 
Coaching focus on helping people in creating "new neural pathways" for positive behaviours - this should be the base for facilitating change, since it can be far more effective to focus on creating new positive actions that stopping old negative ones.
 
And as a coach, I must point my clients towards this choice every time.
Which pathway will it be? What will be your choice?
Some clients really need a lot of help as they strive to create new patterns and behaviors, but this is the way for starting a positive path for change.