Shaun Achor was one of the first researchers to purport that more happiness can be gained in service of others rather than helping yourself. Now more recent research by Michael Norton has viewed this from a slightly different perspective in that more happiness can be gained from having an experience rather than acquiring a product. So it might be fair to say that “Absolute Happiness” comes from providing a great experience to somebody else. What has this got to do with coaching, you might ask?
On the one hand you have a coach who is in service of somebody else. Because of this they are typically very happy with the work they are doing. In many respects this is the draw for why many people enter the profession in the first place; “I’m really happy and satisfied when I am helping others”, is the rhetoric you often hear from aspiring as well as experienced coaches.
On the other hand for clients, their actual experience of coaching is typically very positive and something they look forward to. Clients have the opportunity to engage in real meaningful experiences for themselves to advance whatever is important to them. This is not to suggest that these activities are easy, but the growth and the insights that emerge are very often great sources of satisfaction and happiness.
Recent research coming out of Harvard (Beer, Finnstrom and Schrader) also points to the importance of coaching. Their argument that training is a total waste unless there a leadership buy in as well as business context, and also suggests that good coaching helps create a vehicle for learning integration and therefore meaningful change; one where everybody is happy.
In summary, as coaches the role is to facilitate positive, forward moving experiences for clients. This in turn leads to a sense of happiness which becomes both the fuel, for continued growth, and the reward, for real change.