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Surprise, fear, doubt and confusion are four things to conquer.

Surprise, fear, doubt and confusion are four things to conquer. I was struck by the relevance of these words to my ongoing development, for me as a coach and for my coachees. However these words did not come from a coaching website, but are words from the website I’m developing for my kendo club and written by my instructor.

Our club has strong links with traditional Japanese kendo, and the club website features a section on kendo concepts and states:

The four things you must conquer in kendo are:

  • Kyo (surprise): do not be startled or taken by surprise.
  • Ku (fear): do not let awe of your opponent or fear of failure overcome you.
  • Gi (doubt): do not hesitate or enter into half-hearted action.
  • Waku (confusion): do not let your mind wander and become disordered.

Shozankan 5

How do these connect with coaching?

Kyo (surprise) – how many times have you been surprised by a coachee? This could be a surprise discovery about achievements or skills, or about hardships overcome. There are times when I have been startled and ‘hooked’ by what a coachee has said, so much so that their agenda has become my agenda and I focus on my thoughts and feelings rather than theirs.  This takes me off balance and disrupts my coaching presence.

Ku (fear) – are there times when you are in awe of a coachee or the context of their story? This could be a coachee who is more senior than anyone you have coached before, or who is in an inspirational business. I have experienced the pressure of presenting to a large audience that has created the fear of failure that inhibits my natural relaxed performance.

Gi (doubt) – have you doubted what you said or did with a coachee? Have you edited what you were about to say or do, doubting the impact, and so said something less impactful?  I know I stumble on words as I question what I am about to say and before my words catch up with my thoughts.

Waku (confusion) – has your mind ever wandered in a coaching session? Have you ever been distracted? Has what your coachee said confused you and left you uncertain? I can think of examples of when this has happened to me.

With coaching and kendo, the more I practice, the better I get. The more I focus my mind, the sharper I become. The more I challenge myself, the more I improve.

There is a process for conquering inhibitors: develop awareness, acknowledge and accept, then focus on action. Repeat this; experiment, observe and review.

I’ve written several times about how kendo helps my coaching, the strength of the connection between the two continues to inspire me. The development of my coaching practice and my kendo is ongoing.  These are endless journeys to achieve continual growth and improvement. I am not rushing to arrive at a final destination, but enjoying the journey of continual development. I’m writing this blog on a train, watching the countryside go by with the lovely autumn sun shining down. Apt for a blog about journeying!

If you could conquer surprise, fear, doubt and confusion, how much better a coach could you be?

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