Coaching: Helping People Discover Their Inner Diamond.
When a Sports coach works with an athlete, he seeks to help them sharpen and refine their abilities, smooth out their rough edges, and polish their performance.
In that sense, their work is akin to cutting a diamond and creating a gem. That is what good coaches do.
The same is true of an Executive Coach or Performance Coach working with clients in an organisational setting. They help them to sharpen their resilience, refine their behaviours, smooth out some rough edges with managing relationships, and help them clean and polish their performance.
Good coaching can be equated to cutting a diamond and creating a gem.
Finding the Diamond Within.
One of my coaching mentors uses a wonderful metaphor that describes each person as possessing a diamond at their core. That diamond represents a person’s true potential and their inner wisdom.
Unfortunately, life with its many trial and tribulations, and our responses to them, cause that diamond to become obscured, hidden, and covered-up over time.
But the diamond is always there, always present, always with the potential to sparkle like the most brilliant gem.
Coaching Helps People Find Their Own Inner Diamond.
A few years ago, I was approached by a manager at an investment bank in London.
The manager felt that one of his better and more experienced traders was performing well below his potential. Though he was hitting his performance targets, he believed he had much more to give.
I was thus asked to coach the trader.
The trader himself was concerned that the coaching would make demands on him, which did not agree with his direction in life.
He had been trading for about 20 years. In his younger days he use to perform to a higher level but had now settled at a more mediocre level of performance .
The trader had no strong compulsion to take on more risk or additional responsibility, and was concerned that the reason for the coaching was to take him somewhere he did not want to go.
I assured the trader that the coaching was not there to make him into something he did not want to be, but rather to make him more of what he already was.
So the trader agreed to the coaching, and over the next year we met at approximately monthly intervals, discussing all aspects of his work and how he brought himself to it.
At the end of the coaching the trader told me he was feeling more confident, more certain of himself and more sure of his process, but had not known where or when that change happened.
He said was seeing better results, yet did not feel like he was taking on more risk or responsibility. He also said he was noticing coincidental life improvements, both inside and outside work.
The first measurable year after the coaching, saw his trading performance more than double.
This improvement was to be sustained and over the next 3 years he generated close to an additional $10 million profit, relative to previous performance levels.
This trader always had the potential within him to achieve this level of performance, but over the years, life and his reactions to it, had conspired to dim his potential and obscure his inner wisdom.
The coaching had been a catalyst to help him rediscover his potential and allow his inner wisdom to once again shine on through, like the most brilliant gem.
Rediscovering My Own Diamond.
Prior to becoming a coach, I worked as a trader for more than 20 years.
I started in the mid-80s and by the early 1990s was progressing well. I had moved on to the rates trading desk at Credit Suisse, where my strong performances were being recognised.
By the late 1990s I had moved onto a new role at Commerzbank. However, my former glories were beginning to evade me. I was still scoring the occasional home run, but these were becoming increasingly rare.
As fortune would have it, I was enrolled into a trial coaching programme at Commerzbank.
That programme was to lead to the discovery of my own inner diamond, which despite its early appearance, had become obscured as I wrestled with the challenges of life in a complex and uncertain world.
Those years after the coaching were to be the most productive and enjoyable of my career as a trader.
The coaching had been the catalyst for the rediscovery of my own diamond, and the lifting of the clouds obscuring it.
I can not say for sure when I realised my diamond was now a gem, but I had a different level of confidence and much greater self-belief.
I recall one day, in about 2005, during one of my occasional bouts of self-doubt, that my manager turned to me and said: ‘I do not understand why you beat yourself up like this, you are an alchemist, you seem to make money out of nothing.’
These were powerful words, and with the benefit of hindsight I now realise that this signalled that my own diamond was now shining bright.
Helping People Find and Polish Their Own Diamond.
Today, I hear my clients share with me their own versions of this story. The coaching acts a catalyst for them to discover, or to re-discover, their own inner diamonds and to enable their inner wisdom to shine brilliantly through.
A Thank you
In writing this post, I would like to honour two outstanding coaches:
Peter Burditt who coached me when I was a trader at Commerzbank. Peter is the preeminent coach today in the Financial Market’s industry, and remains an inspiration and a friend.
Maria Iliffe-Wood who has had a huge influence on my coaching and introduced me to the metaphor of the Diamond to represent a person’s potential.
If you liked this article:
You may enjoy some of our other articles which explores a range of themes related to Human Performance in Financial Markets. This includes, ‘Improving Performance: Growing Into Your Discomfort.’ and other posts on our Articles Page.
Steven Goldstein is a Performance and Executive Coach who specialises in working in the Financial Markets industry. He is also a former trader with over 30 years’ experience of Financial Markets. Steven’s work as a coach focuses on helping people to perform better, and to develop the emotional and behavioural skills to succeed and thrive in challenging environments