“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes…” Vanier
For decades my role in business and personal life is to be a coach: life coach, business coach and yes, sports coach. My job is first to attempt to understand people—their hopes and challenges—and then to offer some kind of insight regarding self-understanding and ideas for next steps.
What is the Role of Coach, Friend, Mentor?
I think there is a misunderstanding about the role of a coach. A coach is not the “answer person,” not a good coach anyway. A coach is a partner-in-thought who can find some way to identify with another person and then discuss the nature of their life, their dreams, and their challenges.
That means the best coaches are experienced with success and failure, as well as with the emotions that underlie all that we do. In fact, experience and deep self-understanding are essential attributes necessary for good coaching.
The Use of Vulnerability
For that reason I so agree with Vanier. I have found that personal vulnerability is essential to serving others. Unless they are convinced that I can truly identify with their needs and challenges (and yes, weaknesses) I compromise my effectiveness.
And I can only “identify” with the pains and failures and miscues after, unfortunately, I have experienced something similar. And when I can touch those feelings, I have the potential to be useful to someone else in pain.
On My Vulnerabilities
To be honest, there are periods of time when I am haunted by feelings of being “less than.” You know what I mean. During these times I feel that I do not match up to my personal ideals and even more, I do not match up to the ideals I believe others expect of me. Therein can be found my fears of incompetency and disapproval.
I experience an almost bipolar self-evaluation which at times I am confident and self-secure, but with an almost hidden underlying sense that all my self-assuredness is nothing but a sham. But, to have feelings such as these is simply a matter of being human.
Just Being Human
Being human is all that is required. And when I can express my feelings of inadequacy and fear others discover the freedom to be their own selves— “Naked and ashamed.” And, indeed, as Vanier, proclaimed, “…sharing difficulties can [many times] be more nourishing than sharing success.”
What does your friend or client need? That is the question: vulnerable love or encouraging wisdom—most likely, both!
Understand the Needs and the Feelings
Respond with Kindness and Vulnerability
Photo courtesy of StockRocket at istockphoto