Before you can change or improve anything you must increase your awareness of how it is now

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Coaching Skills Series

This is one of many articles I intend to post this year considering the range of principles, skills and experiences you’ll need to be an effective coaching manager for the people in your team.

Here we consider the key coaching principle of awareness. Next time we’ll look at the thorny old subject of motivation.


  • How comfortable would you like to feel as you sit reading this post?
  • How comfortable are you feeling right now?
  • How much difference is there between the two?
  • What could you change to get more comfortable?
  • What are you going to do?

A quick coaching session using the ARROW sequence (did you spot it?) on increasing comfort. All founded on making you more aware of the state of comfort. Aware of the state of comfort that you have, aware of the state of comfort that you want and aware of what you can alter to get more comfortable. Coaching is all about change and improvement, but before we can change or improve anything we must increase our awareness of how it is now.

Try this. Think of an item you know well but that you can’t actually see. For example, if you’re sitting reading this in your living room, think about say, your alarm clock in the bedroom. If you’re reading this on the train on your way to work, think of say the contents of the top drawer in your desk. Grab a paper and pen and draw whatever item you’re thinking of in as much detail as you can. Think of every feature. Think of the colour, the shape, the texture and size and try to capture these things as accurately as you can. Now go and find the item in question and compare it with your drawing. You’ve probably missed some important details or got some features wrong. You may even have included some aspects that aren’t actually there at all. At a seminar I ran recently, I asked all the attendees to give me their watch at the start. Twenty minutes into the talk, I asked them to draw their watches in a similar way to I’ve asked you here. One guy was stunned. He’d carefully shown beautiful Roman numerals on his drawing only to discover there were none on his watch when I returned it. “I can’t believe I did that” he mumbled for the rest of the talk.

What this shows is how little use we make of our awareness in everyday working life. We move through the working day in a sort of daydream; we think we’re aware of what’s happening but in truth we are not. Think what might happen with our awareness increased. The things we’d see, the details we’d notice. We’d read other people’s reactions better and become much more sensitive as a result. We’d understand our own feelings better, be less susceptible to them and more able to take control. We’d notice the subtle differences in the tone of voice of our customers and colleagues as they respond to the content and style of our own communication. Things would improve just by a process of taking better notice; that’s all we’d have to do; it would be that easy.

Coaching brings about this state of increased awareness.



Matt Somers

Matt Somers

Matt Somers is the UK’s leading trainer of managers as coaches. His coaching skills training programmes, books, articles and seminars have helped thousands of managers achieve outstanding results through their people.

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