• Ethics in coaching

Enough is Enough

What are the ethics of providing less than 100%?   When is 80% or maybe even less ‘enough’?     Does it feel right?  Sometimes – less is more.  In a moment I will show you how this relates to a recent coaching supervision conversation.  For now though – let me tell you a story about my Sunday morning painting.  Here’s the result.

Not Good Enough?

I asked myself ‘is it good enough?’    My first response is a definite ‘no’.  I am not sure if you can spot that I fiddled around a bit to make it passible as a finger labyrinth.  But – it doesn’t work.  It’s not what I had intended.  Hmmm ….. what now – start again?

‘That looks cool’ said my daughter tilting her head from side to the side as her eyes followed one circular path or another.

‘That’s nice’ said my mum.  Of course she would would say that – she’s my mum after all.

I posted it on facebook and friends made positive comments because they could connect to it – even though it isn’t perfect and doesn’t work.  One friend said the picture is exactly represents how lost she feels sometimes – mentally and geographically.  ‘Really?’

The process had been a joy.  Inspiration came from perusing a page in Jackee Holders book ‘49 Ways to Write Yourself Well‘.  Way 15 – walk the labyrinth.  Way 15a is an exercise finger walking the labyrinth.  Instant inspiration.

Hmmmmmm …. maybe I could paint a finger labyrinth.  Who knew there is a website dedicated to researching labyrinths.  You can find out where your nearest walking labyrinth is.  I also learn  about the history of the labyrinth and that there are 5 categories of labyrinth ……………….  Wonder if my labyrinth falls into the ‘classical’ category.  Except it doesn’t work.  Doesn’t fulfil what I’d set myself to do.

‘So where the link to coaching?’ I hear you ask.  Here it comes.

On another Sunday morning we (my client and I) ended the coaching session after 25 minutes.  My client had simply had enough.  She disconnected from our skype call.  I sat alone in silence.  Had I only provided half a service in less than half the time we’d planned?  It felt strange.

Our session ran something like this.

05 minutes – check-in including  whether we need to contract for anything differently this session

10 minutes – we are exploring her topic

15 minutes – she has major aha.  Suddenly she could envision a different future – a different way forward

20 minutes – we explore options and she decides next steps

25 minutes – we are closing our session down.  Her words are …..

‘That’s huge for me

That’s enough

‘That’s absolutely enough’

She’d made a major breakthrough.  Her insight was all she could process right now.

Later I pondered the ethics around charging the full hour we had agreed?  I ask myself ‘Is coaching best exchanged for an hourly fee?’  How do we balance the time of a transaction versus the value of a transformation?  Questions many coaches and coaching supervisors are familiar with.

The good news is my client was clearly delighted with the outcome of our time together.  Like the painting it turned out differently to what I had in mind yet it provided the other with something of true value.  Value is determined by the receiver after all.  It is they who determine when enough is enough and what’s good enough.  And yes, 80% or less of something might be all that’s needed.

Coaching and Coaching Supervision provide safe spaces to explore ethical dilemmas.  Recently I joined an Embodying Ethics – Intervision group.  More about that in a future blog.  With perseverance I also figured out how to draw a labyrinth so that it works.  I made a short video of how to draw one in case you want to give it a try yourself.






By | 2018-06-19T16:05:02+00:00 June 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Shirley is a Fellow of the CIPD and certified coaching supervisor. Shirley is passionate about the continuous development and coaching capacity of HR professionals, Leaders and Change Enablers - taking care of their own resilience & wellbeing in a dynamic world

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