I love the turning of the calendar to a new year.  It’s one of those rare opportunities to look back and look ahead.  The Romans had a deity for this kind of passage.  Janus was the god of gates, doorways, passageways, beginnings and endings.  He’s the namesake of January.  The Romans depicted the deity as having two faces – one looking ahead and the other looking back.

Not a bad posture, especially at this time of the year.

Since it’s still the month of January, I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned this year about coaching and what I want to incorporate in the coming year.

Top of list: more client-focus between sessions.  In 2008 I really ramped up the time and energy I give to clients between sessions.  I reviewed session notes, did some research based on sessions, and prayed for my clients.  I also tried to stay more in touch via e-mail to encourage them in their actions and to provide a reminder for maintaining momentum.  I want to do more of this in 2009.  This might mean higher quality coaching with fewer clients.  We’ll see.

Next on the list: more backbone.  Mary Beth O’Neal has written one of the better executive coaching books and it sums up the two postures of great coaches: backbone and heart.  The upgrade in my coaching in 2008 was to begin exploring how to incorporate more backbone in my coaching without resorting to mentoring or consulting.  I tasted some morsels of success and see this as an area for much growth in 2009.

Finally: more spontaneous coaching.  I look back on 2008 and see plenty of missed coaching opportunities.  Like many coaches (I suspect), my default setting is still very much “TELL!”  With my wife, children, neighbors, co-workers and the list goes on, I typically lean toward giving advice, solving problems and telling people what I think they ought to do.  When I pick up the phone for a coaching session, I’m able to flip the switch to asking and exploring.  In 2009 I want to work on taking a coaching posture more readily in the warp and woof of everyday life.  I think those around me will be grateful.

So what about you?  What have you learned about your own coaching in 2008?  What do you want to do differently in 2009?