“Building awareness and responsibility is the essence of good coaching.”
– John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance

In my work coaching clients and in my experience being coached, I’ve discovered that self-awareness is an important result of coaching conversations. I used to think that coaching was only about action steps. The measure of a good coaching conversation for me was the number of practical steps identified. I understood that awareness was a necessary part of discovering appropriate actions, but I never would have been satisfied with greater awareness without action steps. However as I have continued to develop my coaching skills, I have seen incredible benefit that comes from helping a client to increase their self-awareness. In fact, now I see that raising the client’s self-awareness as an important outcome of coaching (with or without additional action steps).

John Whitmore notes, “The first key element of coaching is awareness, which is the product of focused attention, concentration, and clarity.” Let us return for a moment to the Concise Oxford Dictionary: aware means “conscious, not ignorant, having knowledge.” I prefer what Webster’s adds: “aware implies having knowledge of something through alertness in observing or in interpreting what one sees, hears, feels, etc.” Like our eyesight or our hearing, both of which can be good or poor, there are infinite degrees of awareness. Unlike eyesight or hearing, in which the norm is good, the norm of our everyday awareness is rather poor. A magnifying glass or an amplifier can raise our sight and hearing threshold way above normal. In the same way, awareness can be raised or heightened considerably by focused attention and by practice without having to resort to the corner drugstore! Increased awareness give greater clarity of perception than normal, as does a magnifying glass.

While awareness includes seeing and hearing in the workplace, it encompasses much more than that. It is gathering and clearly perceiving the relevant facts and information, and the ability to determine what is relevant.

Awareness of what’s going on around you is important, yet it is self-awareness that really enables you to understand what you are experiencing. The greater your self-awareness, the more likely that you will demonstrate responsibility. As a coach, I work with clients to help them become more self-aware. This is a huge benefit of coaching. And often leads to responsible action.

Today’s Missional Challenge

Consider how you can become more self-aware. Maybe working with a coach will help.

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