I think of coaching as offering you 'heads-up navigation' to make change happen. Navigating is an activity I am regularly engaged in through both orienteering and sailing, as well as the more day-to-day of 'getting to places'. Spending time outdoors looking at and reading maps, landscapes and weather means this constantly developing metaphor of 'heads-up navigation' has become a powerful and fundamental part of my coaching practice. Given that, I want to share here some of what it currently means to me, and therefore to my coaching.
It's an important starting point to acknowledge that I 'do' orienteering and sailing nav not because it is something I think I am really good at but because it gives me opportunities to practise something I want to get better at. In the past, navigation may well have been one of those skills I referred to as something, "I can't do". But I am a passionate advocate of the 'growth mindset'. Therefore, it's not that I can't it's simply that I don't currently possess all of the tools and experience I need to demonstrate the level of competence that I want; so now I say, "I'm working on that".
So firstly, to engage in 'heads-up navigation' we need to know how to be open to wanting change to happen and the belief that it is possible.
My particular personal tendency when navigating is to spend too much time looking at the map. Focusing on the minutiae of the representation of the path and not taking in my surroundings presents me with a threefold problem:
I don't get to enjoy the actual view and the feeling of exploration
I miss opportunities to alter my course by quicker or more attractive routes
I can end up getting lost because I fail to actually align the map with the landscape
For many of us, this can be true of navigating life itself. We do all of the prep work and plan with infinite care but then rather than let the route plan help us get on our journey towards our goal we let the plan become 'the thing'. A particular quote shared when I was studying NLP has really stuck in my mind to explain this distinction,
"A map is not the territory"
Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity (1933, p. 58)
A map is something that represents, it is similar to the territory or landscape in some way and this is what accounts for its usefulness, but it should not be confused with being the same thing.
Once we are out on our journey we need to pay attention to the territory around us. With our 'heads-up' we can use all of our senses to find solutions and answers to help us get where we are going - be that a cairn, the sound of a bell in the fog, asking someone we come across for directions or spotting when something new comes over the horizon (usually in my experience a large bull, but sometimes an unexpected tea shop). We can take time to be present in the now and enjoy the experience of the journey as well as the idea of the end destination.
Without descending into cliche, life is a journey. I believe it is a journey that benefits from knowing where we want to go and be at certain points along it and having an idea of a plan that will help us there. But journeys need to be executed with 'heads-up navigation' to get the most from both the journey and give us the best chance of being in the places we want to be.
For me this 'heads-up navigation' is exactly what coaching supports you with by helping you know where you want to be on your journey, gather the self-belief that you can get there and develop the awareness and understanding what is going on around you that will both help and hinder you on the way.