I had several impactful coaching appointments this last week. My coaching approach involves working on clients’ inner and outer game. The outer game focuses on tasks the client would like to get better at: giving feedback, delegating, listening, building relationships etc. The inner game focuses on (often unconscious) beliefs, assumptions, patterns of thought that are driving the outer game and perhaps are preventing the client from making lasting, transformative change. It can take several months to really surface these beliefs. I use many different assessments, tools, and questions to help the client along this path. It takes courage on the client’s part and trust in me that I will be with them all the way.

In coaching, we often talk about being able to “get up on the balcony.” This shorthand really means the ability to take perspective, to rise above the specifics of a situation and see patterns. I had one client realize that the current situation they were in of taking on tasks and jobs that they really don’t enjoy (just because they’re asked) was part of a pattern of their whole adult life. Another client realized that a habit of avoiding important discussions had affected many relationships over the years and was holding them back from more meaningful interactions. A third realized that a really deep assumption (that they didn’t have as much to offer as other colleagues) was untrue, and they stepped into their power in an important meeting and it was liberating.

What all three clients did was step out of their comfort zone. And that takes courage. Stepping onto the balcony is only the beginning though. Self-awareness is a huge first step; from there, clients make choices of what they’re going to do with that awareness. What changes are they willing to make? Awareness precedes choice which precedes change. I am often amazed at the courage of my clients, and I feel so honored when they step onto that balcony and let me stand there with them as they bravely enter a more authentic, meaningful relationship with themselves and others.