Coaching and its wide range of specialities is here to stay since it is now embeded in society’s modern lifestyle. Preaching focus on the solution to a problem and the limitations that hinder people’s lives rather than on their causes, the Coaching process puts an emphasis on action within pre-established deadlines, bringing Coachees to their desired results in a relatively short time. And Neuroscience plays a great role in this.
Coaching is a Partnership
According to the International Coaching Federation, Coaching is a partnership between the “Coach” (the practitioner) and the “Coachee” (his/her client) in a process of joint reflection and creativity, which inspires the client to optimize his personal and professional performance in the uncertain and complex environment we live in these days. The Coach must respect his/her client as the “expert” in his own life and career but, aligned with his goals, he/she should encourage self-awareness and accountability concerning the final results. Among other gains, Coaching should provide the Coachee with the creation of strategies to reach desirable solutions.
Neuroscience sheds light on the understanding of how our brain works not only to help us survive but also to influence or even control our behaviour on our life’s trajectory. We know that our brain is made up of billions of neurons that form permanent connections in response to stimuli from the outside world. It is very difficult – if not impossible – to break such connections, but neuroplasticity allows new connections to be created at any time.
Neuronal maps are the internal representation of the outside world. We know that the greater the attention directed to a certain neuronal map, the greater the energy load it receives and, consequently, the stronger and deeper the connection between the neurons involved in that map. In general, when neurons are stimulated, chemical substances are released and released over the spaces between them called synapses, causing connection to happen. Once a neuronal map is fixed it becomes “familiar” to the brain. We also know that the brain likes old habits and everything that is familiar to it, rejecting change and “the new” at first. Over time, however, as the new patterns that represent change become familiar, they receive new energy focus.
The role of a good Coach here is to try to direct the focus of the Coachee’s attention towards the solution he seeks, helping to create new neuronal maps, new habits, new patterns. It seems easy in theory, but it requires a lot of co-working, with the use of powerful questions and Coaching tools that induce reflection and self-awareness.
Last but not least, we know that the brain reacts to external stimuli in two different ways: either as a threat or as a reward. These automatic responses are emotions, connected to our limbic system. David Rock, creator of the Neuroleadership Institute and Neurocoaching® methodology, says in his book Your Brain at Work that everything we do in life is based on the brain’s decision to minimize danger or maximize reward. As far as possible, the Coach should try to minimize the defensive responses in his Coachee and maximize the reward status.