Welcome back to Unlocking Motivation! Over the last three episodes, we discussed content from my book Mapping Motivation, published in 2016, which outlined many of the theories and practices of Motivational Maps. This week, we will be taking our first dive into Mapping Motivation for Coaching (co-written with Bevis Moynan), the next in the series, which deals with how the Maps can support one-to-one coaching, self-coaching, and personal development.
Before we get going, I should say that if you are sceptical about the number of books in this series, I don’t blame you. These days, there are so many publishers and writers and film-makers and all sorts cashing in on the idea of a series that largely repeats itself with every entry. However, it is my express intention not to do this. The subject of motivation is rich and can be applied to many different fields. This is partly why I have recruited experts in various fields, such as Bevis Moynan, Director of Magenta Coaching Solutions, an organisation that fosters excellent coaches, therapists, trainers and consultants. My hope is that each entry in this series is as fruitful as the last and offers new insights rather than endless re-iteration. So, on that note, let’s look at coaching!
So, firstly, what is coaching? Professor Nigel MacLennan defines it as: ‘the process whereby one individual helps another: to unlock their natural ability; to perform, learn and achieve; to increase awareness of the factors which determine performance; to increase their sense of self-responsibility and ownership of their performance; to self-coach; to identify and remove internal barriers to achievement.’
Phew! This is a comprehensive definition, and needs some unpacking. Firstly, at a basic level, it is a process where ‘one individual helps another’. In other words, it is one-to-one, unlike training or teaching, which can be one-to-many. Interestingly, a recent survey showed that training (one-to-many) increased organisational productivity 22.4%, whereas select one-to-one coaching increased organisational productivity 88%! That is a significant difference of 4x!
When most people hear the word ‘coach’ they immediately think of a sports coach. It conjures the image of a sweat-suit clad person standing at the side of a race-track or basketball court, yelling advice at the top of their lungs. However, we should not dismiss the association. The purpose of a sports coach is to get the best out of their player, their performer, and this is through one-to-one interactions before the game / event, and also by offering advice and strategy through the day itself. As business people, we need coaches too. We need someone helping us to unlock our best performance throughout the day-to-day stuff, and ‘on the day’ too. ‘On the day’ could mean many different things depending on where you work and in what role; it could be a major sales event, a management meeting, a performance review, a pitch, a presentation, or a networking event. The point is, there are certain occasions, whether we are Olympic athletes or marketing executives, where we need to perform at our very best.
I think one of the most powerful definitions included in MacLennan’s quote is ‘to identify and remove internal barriers to achievement’. The role of the coach is not just physical, passing on wisdom, practical advice, and techniques to get them to the next level, but also psychological. It is about overcoming the inhibitions present within our own minds! And I’d argue it is almost impossible to do this yourself. We need coaches, or at least a role model, to help us do it. We also need tools. I mentioned in an earlier article that the Motivational Maps function as a mirror, allowing us to see ourselves in a way we previously could not.
There is one aspect missing from MacLennan’s awesome definition, and that is motivation itself. One of the primary roles of the coach is to motivate. Motivation leads to performance, as we have already seen in previous blogs in this series. Motivation is the fuel, the driving force, the energy, that allows us to do great things. A coach should inspire those motivation levels and be able to maintain them. The problem is, we are all motivated differently, and discovering what drives someone has hitherto been quite a lengthy and laborious process, more akin to a series of therapy sessions. Most trainers or managers or leaders follow one of two modus operandi. Either, they define motivating people as a ‘carrot or stick’ approach, effectively reducing people to one of those two boxes. Or, even worse, they commit to a cookie-cutter ‘one approach fits all’. In the latter, we often see what has aptly been termed ‘Ra Ra’ motivation: fire-walking, motivational speeches, away-days doing extreme sports, activities that are sure to raise the adrenaline and motivation levels temporarily, but wear off within a fortnight.
So, what we propose is that by using the Maps, which provide immediate insight into motivation levels, we can empower coaches to work even more effectively with their clients, and we can even empower people to become self-coaches too!
“Coaching starts with considering the issue of self-awareness for the simple reason that the person who is not self-aware has – by definition – no awareness, or consciousness, that there is anything on which to work within oneself.” – Mapping Motivation for Coaching
So, to become a coach, we need self-awareness. But not only that, to benefit from coaching, we need self-awareness as a first step. We need to identify whether something is wrong and get at least an approximation of where that something is. Here is a model that can help you with these early stages of self-awareness. We call it the four strands that form a person: the body (physical – doing), the mind (mental – thinking), the emotions (feeling), and the spirit (knowing / being). Well-being is critical in all four areas. Whilst the areas each have separate domains which I have extrapolated in brackets, they are also deeply connected, and one affects the other. We only have to look at studies such as psycho-immunology, the effect that psychology has on the immune system response, to know that each part of us is interconnected with the whole in more ways than we can imagine. Let’s look at this another way:
PHYSICAL HEALTH Health
MENTAL STRENGTH Clarity
EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING Optimism
SPIRITUAL HEALTH Mission
EXERCISE: As a starting point for self-awareness, ask ‘How resilient am I in each of these four areas (or strands)?’ Rate yourself out of 10: 1 being the lowest, and 10 being the highest.
You should now have a rough picture of where you are and what areas you feel are weaker. Note that Spiritual Health does not necessarily mean religious in the strict sense. It could be another core belief, such as vegetarianism or responsible ecology. How connected are you to that ‘mission’ and purpose? Do you feel it is being fulfilled?
Now, take your lowest score, and use this as the basis for forming an ongoing development plan that takes at least 18 months to complete. Nobody can change their life overnight. It takes a while to introduce new habits, and to transform thought processes. We’ll be looking more into how you can form this plan, using Kaizen and other methodologies, next week. Until next time, thank you for reading; stay motivated!
If you want to read more about Motivational Maps and unlocking the secrets of coaching, then you can find Mapping Motivation for Coaching at the Routledge website.