Discovery vs improvement

While working on this coaching process series, it occurred to me, I like the idea of “self discovery” verses “self improvement.” I’ve spent years addicted to self-help and self-improvement books. Coaching changes all that for me.

Coaching asks “What’s strong?” not “What’s wrong?” There’s certainly times when the “what’s wrong” question is important. Especially if you have a compulsion to run down streets naked or kick puppies.

As a tool for learning about one’s self, “self discovery” is a more healthful approach. Why? Because “self improvement” always start from the basis that you are defective. It’s really shame management dressed up in psycho talk.

Please don’t get me wrong. When I was homeschooling my kids, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie was one of our read-alouds. There is a difference between learning how to give a good handshake vs feeling like you’ll never be good enough.

There’s a joke that when you go to a therapist, you come in with one diagnosis and leave with five. It’s the same thing with the self-improvement merry-go-round.

When you look at the “what do you want?” question through the lens of strengths vs weaknesses, it changes everything.

My years in evangelical Christianity drilled into my head the notion of “original sin.” I don’t buy into it anymore.

I believe in original goodness. I believe there is goodness in heart of each and every human being. I believe there is greatness and beauty wrapped up in each individual. Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of shitty things happen and people can do evil things but that is another discussion.

In the context of the coaching process though, it’s all about self-discovery and learning about your strengths. Improvement, where it is needed, will follow.


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