Out of the Box, Into the World: Expanding the Impact of Coaching

“We shape our self to fit this world

and by the world are shaped again.

The visible and the invisible

working together in common cause,

to produce the miraculous.”

—David Whyte, “Working Together”

Coaches witness and participate in creating the miraculous. We see it every day with our clients. Yet, coaching hasn’t even begun to touch the impact that is possible if we become a more integrated partner with the world. We still stand separate and build our businesses. We guard our turf and look to define ourselves in relation to other professions.

The successful coaching businesses of the future will be the ones that step out of their corner and take full advantage of networks and collaborations. They will share information and expertise and build business models based on the assumption that they will be more successful through cooperation, contribution and the free sharing of information. They will broaden their definition of profit beyond the bottom line and include lessening of human suffering, political and economic justice, and human satisfaction as success.

Imagine coaching reaching into every corner of the social fabric, part of every political debate, business decision, philanthropic grant, peacekeeping force, grade school lesson, and family dinner table discussion. Perhaps no one even uses the word coaching in these arenas but coaching principles and skills are used everywhere.

Coaching can help the world see the gifts in all people. Coaching attitudes could help us to learn about and honor faith and commitment from Islamic fundamentalists. We could discover the meaning of innovation from oil company executives. We could learn about community, loyalty and a call to rites of passage from gang members. We could learn about passion, determination and idealism from teenagers. If coaching were part of the social fabric, we would be looking to bring out what each person has to offer for the good of the whole.

Of course, we have all thought of making a significant contribution to the world. It is what drew most of us to coaching in the first place. To make it real we need fully integrated partnerships with the individuals and organizations that are already making the differences we want to see. Philanthropy, non-governmental organizations, political parties, schools, visionary corporations, non-profits, and human potential organizations will all do their work more effectively in collaboration with coaching.

What does coaching offer to these partnerships?

Coaching trains us to look for the gifts in everyone and everything rather than focus on the problem. Coaching helps make meaning. It clarifies what is important. It helps individuals and systems recognize what they do best and where they need to change. Coaching looks beyond accepted beliefs in order to open the door to new ideas and solutions. And, coaching takes these ideas into action, helping to make the changes real.

How do you begin to create these partnerships? First, get clear about the impact you want to have. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do? Find out who is already working in this area and get connected to them. Give away coaching until there is hunger for what you have to offer and a clear understanding of the gift of coaching. Then expect to be paid, but look for the profit in many forms, including money, satisfaction, good work and expansion of coaching into the world.

Written by Virginia Kellogg