Coaching, Trust and a Toddler’s First Swim

February 22, 2018 | Jenna Filipkowski | HCI
Share This

During Sunday’s swim lesson, my two-year-old son swam on his back. This achievement was a big moment for both of us! Even though our time in the water was filled with more smiles, songs, and splashes than tears, for weeks, he would resist and cry whenever we attempted the “aided back swim.” Then at last, this past Sunday, he ever-so-slowly laid his head on my shoulder and began to kick his feet.

He trusted that I would keep him afloat in the warm pool, and I trusted that he could do it on his own. His accomplishment evolved out of trust (and time) and it was beautiful to watch my son grow in a new way.

Since October 2015, when we welcomed our newborn boy into our world, I have spent more than 100 hours per week parenting, cuddling and caring for him. I started coach-specific training last February, and spent upwards of 15 hours per week inside the virtual classroom, reading about coaching and coaching my clients, working toward my coaching credential. Each of these experiences has shaped my understanding of the other. While not intending to trivialize either role, numerous parallels between good coaching and good parenting became clear. However, good coaches unlike parents do not guide, mentor, and advise.

Trusting your client, trusting yourself as a coach, and trusting the coaching process is paramount. The best coaches have unconditional positive regard for their clients. They let go of their assumptions, their control of the conversation, and their thinking that they know what’s best for their clients. Letting go and trusting the process is often challenging to do as a coach, and even more so as a parent. However, when this happens you can be fully present with your clients and give them the space to just be, and to change.

Creating trust and intimacy is third of eleven ICF Core Coaching Competencies. Coaches are expected to acknowledge their client’s work, express support, and encourage the client to fully express themself. As humans, we build trust to express our vulnerabilities. We cannot change without becoming vulnerable.

Whether you are an HR leader, an executive coach, or a L&D professional, I challenge you to reflect upon the trust you have in yourself and the trust you have in your team.

How strong or weak is that trust?

How are you creating trust in your team?

How are you experiencing trust from others at work?

What is the impact of your trust?  

How does trust make you feel?

What enables you to trust others? What stops you from trusting others? 

What would happen if you let go and trusted others fully? 

I’d imagine that with patience and support, profound or wonderfully simple changes (like my son’s swimming) would happen.