I Dreamed a Dream

I came across a coach this week who wasn’t sure how to handle a client who dreamed of becoming a writer for the NME. She felt that this was an unrealistic goal. My response was: Why is that unrealistic? The next generation of NME writers has to come from somewhere, why shouldn’t it be this particular person? I specialise in coaching people in media, so I often see former clients in the paper or on TV, living their big dreams. Because really, big dreams only stay dreams if you don’t back them up with any action.

I feel it’s vital for a coach not to judge what a person’s dream might be. Instead, help them take the practical steps and say “OK, how are you going to make this happen?”. You’ve got the rest of the world to dampen your enthusiasm, you might as well rely on a coach to believe that you can do it. In times like these, when many are in the gutter, it helps if at least one person is looking at the stars.

I think it’s true to say that, in some quarters, coaches have got a bit of a reputation of being airy dream-mongers. So maybe it’s good that some coaches will take a view on how practical a client’s goal is. As I am at heart a very practical person, though also an airy dream-monger, this is how I approach it when a client has a particuarly earth shattering dream:

  • Establish the essence of the dream
    A person who says they have a particular dream, doesn’t always want that exact thing. Sometimes it’s not so much that a person wants a Ferrari, but that they want whatever that represents to them (freedom, escape etc). Once you’ve established what this essential quality is, then you can look for easier ways to get that into their life straight away, without having to save up for the big red car.
  • What’s the ecology of the situation?
    What else is going on in their life that this goal impacts on? How much time and other resources does the client have to bring to reaching their goal. Who else is affected by this? For some people, without dependants or debts, a goal of jacking in their job and travelling the world is entirely achievable. For others it might take a leetle bit more arranging.
  • What will they do to start the ball rolling?
    Not what should you do, or what might you do, but what will you do, starting this week. You don’t need a map of the whole journey, just take a first step and the next will follow. If a client starts squirming or making excuses at this point, then we retreat a little and look at what is really going on.

What do you think? Does a coach have a responsibility to support a client’s goal, no matter what? Should we say anything if it all feels a bit far fetched?