Lights Out Articles

Life Coaching In Boarding : Act now for 360 success.
“Like everything in life, it is not what happens to you
 but how you respond to it that counts.”
 Steve Backley
Coaching in boarding – don’t we already do that ! I would have to agree to some extent that this is the case as when you hear the word ‘coach’ we automatically think of sports coaches. Let us consider for a moment what the job of a sports coach actually is. They motivate and support their team using specialist skills with the aim to win or improve their performance. Success is generally measured in a black and white fashion through points, goals and the final place in the relevant league. 
But, how can we measure ‘success’ in the game of life ?
What does the word ‘success’ mean to you? How will you determine when you have it! The meaning of the word ‘success’ for one person may be the worst case scenario for another. A life coach adopts the same skills as a sports coach – except the definition of success is unique to each person. The aim is to help unlock a boarders potential by reinforcing strengths and counteracting negative beliefs to maximise performance.
“All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself.”
Bill McCartney
I now throw down a challenge to you as a boarding professional – How can we meet the individual needs of ‘success’ for all areas our boarding community? Is it possible to create a culture of success that is international yet unique in approach for all ages? I say welcome to life coaching in boarding – the journey starts here and the good news is we are already half way there ………….
A great life is nothing more than a series of great conversations. Coaching is a conversation with the purpose of success – your success. Think about the conversations that you have had in your boarding house today. Life is all about the conversation that we have, the way that they are interpreted and the action we take as a result of them. If we can find a way to integrate coaching models into our daily practice we are moving towards empowering young people to be the best that they can with the gifts that they have.
The principle of life coaching is to take you from where you are now to where you want to be. As house staff there are two main conversations that we seem to have with our boarders – one to sort out the tangled web of what actually happened and the motivational What if ? . There are many more depending on what is happening (especially after a school disco!) and the day to day issues that our boarders are facing.  Meeting the pastoral needs of the growing number of third culture kids is a challenge in boarding. The need for identity is imperative as they may not know what place to call home. It is exciting to note that the way in which we deal with incidents as boarding professionals actually follows a coaching model! 

To find out what actually happened!
Lets now take all of the students statements in detail (usually with them writing it down) to analyse. How does the detail in the statements compare?
 What are the options for dealing with the incident? Who do I need to involve? 
Way Forward 
What decision needs to be made? When does this need to happen?
It is great to think that our day to day practice is actually based around coaching! However the hard work starts here – we need to turn our focus around to deal with the future of these young people in our care.  What is their goal in life ? What are their dreams? How can we help guide them to their final destination in the Game Of Life ? The conversations that we have need to become more focussed to let them fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential. The goal for us is to employ active listening skills with young people to listen for their goals and help them move forward.  Their goal will change and that is okay as they navigate their path and the key is not to give them advice. The temptation to give advice is great but as soon as you step into this role you mentoring not coaching.
 I hear you say where are we going to get the time for this ,but the good news is by changing the way that we ask questions to empower young people to think, they  do all of the work. If we take the analogy of the sports coach at the beginning of this article, you will see that they guide the players but the players do all of the running on the pitch to get the goals!
As I was writing this article, I remembered the six honest serving men in Rudyard Kipling’s book - Just so Stories .
I keep six honest serving men.
They taught me all I knew.
Their names are What, Why and When,
And How and Where and Who.
When asking questions we need to bear two important points in mind. Firstly, we need to respect the boarders map of the world. We all have our own map of the world based on our experiences and it is important that we take time to step into their shoes to look at a new perspective.  Are they ready to have the conversation? Secondly, the questions that we ask need to be carefully crafted. When was the last time someone asked you Why ? A question like this puts us straight on the defensive so any good work that we may have done would be gone. Empowering questions are open ended and do not really use why.
What do you think the best way forward is?
When could you see the member of staff about the work that is overdue?
How can you see a way to resolve this issue?
If we follow the model that we are already using and add in empowering questions we are already well on our way to motivating our boarders to follow their dreams and achieve their goals .As boarding professionals we have an important job to meet the needs of the students in our care. By adding the principles of life coaching to our professional portfolio we are helping the adults of tomorrow achieve their dreams. 
‘If you can dream it, you can do it !”
Walt Disney