A Good Sherpa

By Alan Fayter – mental mountaineer!

I’ve been coaching for well over 10 years now. Heaps of times I get phone calls and emails asking questions such as “can you make me more successful?”, “can you stop me procrastinating?”, “can you make me stop smoking?”, “can you stop me from being depressed?” etc. I am in the business of helping people achieve their goals and perform at their absolute best personally and professionally. Most people’s goals involve questions such as those mentioned; and this means either Coaching or therapy.

It’s all too easy for coaches with less experience to answers such questions with “Yes, of course”. But answering in this way is dangerous as it accepts the presupposition that we can “make” people do something. This can lead to the client becoming dependent on us for their change. They want us to ‘do something to them’ and make their problem disappear or results to magically appear. In traditional therapeutic terms this can lead to all sorts of trouble;- ‘transference’; the client blaming the therapist if they don’t get the outcome they expected; guilt and self doubt on the part of the coach; and ultimately – burnt-out coaches!

Does understanding this relinquish the coach from all responsibility for the client achieving their outcome? Certainly not! But client and coach must each have a clear understanding of their roles in a coaching or therapeutic relationship. In order to explain these roles, let’s do something typically NLP and use a metaphor…

In 1953 when the (later to be Knighted Sir) Edmund Hilary conquered Everest, henavigation-instruments3 himself was motivated to achieved his goal. He put in the effort, he did the work… but he could never have done it without the guidance, support, expertise and safety provided by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Sherpa Tenzing didn’t make Sir Ed reach the summit, he didn’t carry him. No, instead he was an expert guide that showed the way and helped him make his own journey, achieve his own glory.

So as a Neuro-Semantic & NLP Practitioner, Trainer and MetaCoach, I consider myself to be a ‘Good Sherpa’. Being a good Sherpa means being damn good at my role; practicing what I do, honing my skills, training more, learning more, becoming an expert in the tracks and pathways that lead to the summits of people’s minds… and steering my client away from pitfalls on their journey so that they can stand on their mountain top of achievement and know that they did it. And the bonus for me is that just like Sherpa Tenzing – I get to stand on that summit and celebrate my client’s success too!

As the client, having your outcomes dependant on others, or having problems solved for you robs you of your own powers of ownership and personal growth. If you constantly have everyone else solve your problems for you, you end up in an endless cycle of needing to be rescued. Good coaching (and therapy) empowers the individual to find their own resources, to become powerful in standing up for themselves. “Give a man a fish and he’ll feed himself for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll feed himself, and his family for a lifetime!”

So anytime someone asks me “can you make me…” you can expect an answer similar to this; “I can’t make you do anything, but I can coach you, support you, empower you and show you how to make changes that will give you the results you want”

Drop me a line for a chat sometime (+64) 021 260 5486 or talktoalan@optimum-mind.com or leave a comment below about the things you’ve achieved that made you feel proud


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