ISM article: Value of personal coaching to musicians

The lovely people at the Incorporated Society of Musicians asked me to write an article on value of personal coaching to musicians for their website, as part of their agenda of caring about holistic wellbeing of their members and wanting to make a variety of services available to them.

This post was published on the ISM website on February 3, 2012 but is no longer available as a direct link, so I have captured it here for you to read:

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Value of personal coaching to musicians

As professional coach I believe that everyone deserves and is capable of creating an extraordinary life filled with joy and love. Personal coaching or life coaching is a practical and effective way to create a fulfilled life for yourself.

Personal coaching or life coaching includes:

  • career transformation,
  • expressing yourself fully & freely,
  • work-life balance,
  • maintaining artistic integrity,
  • managing creative collaborations,
  • overcoming self-doubts.

Is your career in line with your core values?

We all hold a core set of personal values. Some are aware of what those are and some are not. During our lives we sometimes live according to our values and sometimes end up compromising them so badly that it throws us off balance. We may get angry, sad or depressed, others experience feelings of insignificance and inertia. These can all be symptoms of living against what is essential to your wellbeing.

One of my clients, a professional session musician, spent most of his career loving every second of playing music but terrified of picking up the phone or typing an email asking for more work, and thereby frustrated from lack of work. He also kept his rates very low as he didn’t believe anyone would pay much for his skills. In the first coaching session we uncovered the personal values that he expressed in full every time he played music, and how that was the source of his confidence. He realised that by staying true to his values in everything he does, he’ll be able to transform the direction of his career.

“I’ve always had confidence in my playing and musicianship but hadn’t been able to translate that into confidence in my career, and that’s what I wanted to be coached on. After just 1 session with Heli I was able to make that leap and go looking for new contacts and opportunities with the same enthusiasm I have for the music itself!”

Suggestion: Pick an area of your life where you feel fulfilled. Consider what feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations are present to you at those times – this will help you start uncovering your personal values. Can you identify them?

How do you contribute to creative collaborations?

Skills that many musicians have either on stage or off stage, but not always both: being present and listening not only to what is being said (played) but what is actually going on (being expressed) and responding constructively (feedback). These are all elements of musicianship and essential to effective creative collaboration.

Blocks in effective communication can have both an artistic and financial impact on collaborations. In recent months several music magazines have featured interviews where music producers, composers and artists talk about key components of effective collaboration: awareness, listening and communication. For example, producer Brian Eno (TapeOp Nov 2011) talks about people who spend studio sessions glued to their iPad, oblivious to the people and the mood in the studio, let alone what is being created, neither learning nor contributing, and how this hinders the creative process and limits what is possible for the production.

Suggestion: Pick a person that you don’t communicate with as effectively as you’d like. Next time you meet & talk, let them finish what they are saying – then see how it was different to what you thought they were going to say. What did you learn?

Myth busting – what coaching isn’t

There is a lot of misinformation about what coaching is and isn’t. Personal coaching or life coaching is a form of personal development consulting, and it differs from counselling & therapy in 3 important aspects:

1. There is nothing to be ‘fixed’ – In a coaching relationship your coach will always assume you are a creative, resourceful and whole human being who has not yet managed to achieve all that they want to achieve in their life, career and relationships. That’s why many coaches talk about ‘anything’ being possible – we have seen it be true and we know it can be true for you.

2. The only way is forward Whilst your past life can have a huge impact on who and how you are right now, coaching will start from what’s going on for you right now and what is and isn’t working for you. We then establish what you would like to achieve and immediately start building life and career strategies that will get you there.

3. You won’t get told what to do – You are the expert on your life. Your coach is professionally trained to nurture that expertise so that you can make valuable life and career choices. A coach is trained to ask you questions that help reveal what’s going on for you on a conscious and subconscious level. The coach will then provide reflective observations and insights. It’s like holding a mirror for you to see what’s going on so that you develop a heightened awareness of your choices and personal values.

Suggestion: When choosing a personal coach, make sure they abide by a solid code of ethics (mine is the Code of Ethics set by the International Coaching Federation). 

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