Coaching Skills – Asking is about Connecting

Today I sit on my terrace early in the morning, preparing in my own way for coaching calls with two new clients from an organisation I am supporting as they bravely transform.

While sitting quietly as I tend to do before such calls, I opened my online notes of “things to read, watch, listen to” when I have this kind of space, somehow serendipitously choosing to watch a TED Talk by Amanda Palmer called “The Art of Asking”

So, a “Tom-ism” is: “A leader is someone others choose to follow”

If you make someone follow you, you are a boss, not a leader. If you ask them to follow you and they choose to, things are very different. In addition, those first followers are truly important, as once they follow you, others join them. The more enthusiastic your followers, the more others follow you, and then you have a movement.

Asking people versus making them is more powerful, but why would people choose to do what you ask? The answer is because you have connected to them and we all crave connection.

Amanda Palmer’s superpower is connecting with people, she has done this her whole life, it is her supreme gift.

Some five years after her TED talk, Amanda Palmer has over 11,000 paying supporters on Patreon. We, her patrons all subscribe to buy whatever art she chooses to create.  We pay because she asks us to, not because she makes us.

She has the most loyal and passionate fan base I have ever seen and it has changed her life. She is an absolute master at asking and people generously and passionately give to her to support her.

I was introduced to Amanda Palmer, her work, her Patreon, through my friend and force of nature Rosie von Lila. In May this year I went to a “SUPER-SPECIAL SUPER-SECRET AFP PATRON-ONLY LONDON THROW-DOWN!!!” and wrote about it in “Will you always do what is true to you?“. It was one of the most amazing concerts I have ever been to, and I finished my writing about it with the words:

“It was a truly special evening with a human being who deeply cares for others, and who attracts a tribe to her who deeply care for her.

I would imagine she is always like this, this is who she is, and yet… she can do exactly as she likes now as she has the Patrons. She can #BeMoreAmanda.

What would be possible for you if you knew you were financially supported if you knew that you had a powerful tribe behind you, believing in you, your vision, your passion, your purpose ?”

So, it all started with her asking? No, it all started with her passion for connecting to people. Do watch her TED talk, this shines through from her, and for now, I give you some snippets from it:

“How did you make all these people pay for music?” And the real answer is, I didn’t make them. I asked them. And through the very act of asking people, I’d connected with them, and when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists. They don’t want to ask for things. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy to ask. And a lot of artists have a problem with this. Asking makes you vulnerable.”

“I don’t see these things as risk. I see them as trust”

“the perfect tools aren’t going to help us if we can’t face each other and give and receive fearlessly, but, more important — to ask without shame.”

“when we really see each other, we want to help each other.”

So, as I get ready for my coaching calls, let me reflect on what coaching is.

Coaching is asking, coaching is not telling.

Coaching is “full body listening”, it is making connections.

When you ask questions with the intention to understand, people open up to you, people connect with you.

When you connect with people, they connect to themselves, their drivers, their self-limiting beliefs on the one side, their full potential on the other side.

Coaching is about connection, asking is simply what coaches do.

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