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What Coaching Is and How Does it Work?

Posted: May 19th, 2022

According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Coaching is a partnership between the Coach and the Client in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximize personal and professional potential. Coaching is a process of uncovering the limitations in your thinking patterns, learning to overcome them, and train your brain to be more efficient and productive.

In order to define who we are and make sense of the world around us, our brains develop constructs and rules that we strongly protect without much thought. In Who’s in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain (Ecco, 2011), neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga says we get stuck in our automatic thought-processing and fool ourselves into thinking we are right. When someone asks us why we did something, we immediately come up with an answer even if the response doesn’t make complete sense. We instantly come up with a brilliant reason for procrastinating on a task, for prioritizing  checking your social media feed over a project deadline or for making life decisions based on how we will feel in the future when, in truth, we can never be sure how the circumstances will impact us emotionally.

Studies have shown that our brain is in its "default narrative" as much as 70% of the time. So, we tend to solve problems in this default method and get the same old results.  In this mode, our thinking becomes quite narrow and inflexible. Thus, negatively impacting our ability to reason and make good decisions.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

Many of you have heard of the term neuroplasticity, which is "the brain's ability to re-organize and reshape itself by forming new neural connections throughout life." In order for us to learn new things, or to change unhelpful behaviors, we have to create new neuronal connections and hardwire new maps into our brains. 

Executive Coach and Psychologist, Marcia Reynolds, reiterates that we cannot disturb the automatic thinking processing on our own. For the same reason we can’t tickle ourselves, our brain resists self-imposed testing of thoughts and reactions. “We don’t learn anything if we don’t allow ourselves to be uncomfortable, so we stay stuck in seeing things and doing things the same way,” Reynolds explains. “I always say that in the moment of discomfort, where we become uncertain of who we are and how we see the world, is the opportunity to grow.” Reynolds says that taking someone out of their comfort zone is also key to breaking the patterns and defense mechanisms that often stop people from reaching their potential.

So, sustainable change and growth can only happen through your own thinking that is being stimulated by the Coach through a conversation. To disturb this automatic processing, Coach will reflect holes in your logic and ask questions that reveal the fears, needs and desires keeping the constructs in place. This coaching approach is the only science-backed way to stop the automatic processing. Reflection and questions crack the force field that protects your sense of reality, enabling you to explore, examine and change strongly held limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors.

Coaching takes on a collaborative and empowering approach, pointing you towards your own resourcefulness and insight. The idea is to make the unconscious conscious, as you discover blind spots and opportunities. My agenda as a Coach is to help you see better and gain valuable insights - the kind of knowledge that comes from the inside - and behavioral change. Insight and self-awareness are critical because, in my experience, if someone doesn't see something for themselves it doesn't exist. 

It would be nice if there was an overnight fix to personal and professional growth. Coaching isn’t a quick fix. It’s a scientific approach to sustainable improvement and growth. Working with a coach is an incredible and powerful tool that will help you create meaningful and sustainable changes both personally and professionally. 

In this video, I invite you to join a Live Coaching Demonstration and get an insider look into the power of coaching conversation to help you get unstuck, create focus and directional clarity, and move confidently in the direction that is aligned with what matters most to you.


"Anna is a wonderful executive coach. Regardless of the goals I set out, and the pivots that I needed to make, she was continuously able to steer me in the right direction so I could get past the hurdles in front of me. She has been quick to understand the root causes of roadblocks and ready with guidance on how to approach and overcome these obstacles. She is very patient and caring and always had a positive attitude when working with me. I..."

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"From the beginning, I have found Anna to be an insightful and caring coach with a natural intuition about how to tackle issues that otherwise were not apparent to me personally. Anna has patiently worked with me to think through ways to improve my outlook and actions and has not hesitated to bluntly remind me of when I have not followed through with the plans we have developed. Anna is both supportive and demanding, the best combination I..."

Casey L.

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"Working with Anna, there was no doubt she was completely invested in my success. She takes a highly personalized approach to coaching and is a terrific listener—always helping me to uncover those lightbulb moments for me. I came to her to work on professional development, and I finished with having a clearer understanding of myself, which benefitted me beyond just my career. She is a trusted partner who is motivating, patient and asks the..."

Ariana F.

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"Anna is a thoughtful, brilliant coach. Anna helped me shape my own authentic leadership style rooted in my values and supported by the best practices in the leadership field. I’ve worked with Anna on a wide range of topics including leadership, team management, talent development and managing my anxiety. Anna has given me very concrete ideas that I’ve been implementing daily at work - and she tailors her coaching to me, my leadership style..."

Baira D.

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"Anna is a phenomenal coach. I have worked with a couple of coaches in my professional life. I felt her approach was more insightful and non-judgmental. She gave me time and space to speak out what I am trying to resolve or work towards. She listened carefully and pointed out what the overarching message she was hearing. I felt like she helped me self reflect and self resolve many issues. I resonated better with the outcomes or decisions..."

Navneet Sachdeva

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"Anna is hands down the best coach I've worked with. She's intuitive but doesn't make assumptions, so her style is one of guiding versus directing. This allows plenty of room for self-exploration, which has enabled me to grow professionally (and personally) in a short space of time. I highly recommend working with Anna."

Alison

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"I’m a professional and creative who typically considers herself to be a highly motivated go-getter. However, at the stage I met Anna, I was lost, angry and stuck. I wanted to blame anyone and everything but myself for my “being off my game”. Under all the layers of shame, guilt and procrastination lived the truth – I was 100% responsible for healing myself. Anna helped me uncover this reality. It felt as if her light gave me the..."

Michelle H.

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"Anna is wonderful! She helped me pick myself up during a difficult time. She gives you the tools to help yourself. I was numb just going through the motions. Anna helped me figure out what I needed to be happy. I finally feel like I am the person I am supposed to be. I highly recommend her. My life has completely changed for the best! "

Becky McGregor

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"I cannot recommend Anna Barnhill highly enough. As my coach, I can always count on Anna to actively listen and provide meaningful input during our sessions. She has thoughtful responses and makes it a point to ask if there is something she can help with. The tools she has provided me with, will help me for a lifetime to come. I am grateful for finding Anna, and all the progress we have made together! "

Christian G.

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"Anna is an excellent coach, that is extremely results-focused. She has a strong ability to create awareness of what is holding you back, as well as a plan for moving forward. She asks powerful questions that help to create amazing discoveries and helps to build you up to be able to pursue your big dreams in life. She is calm, professional, and committed to your success. As a result of her coaching, I was able to take significant steps in my..."

Chris A.

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"Anna was a great coach to work with! She listens really well and asks pointed questions to get to the bottom of an issue. She makes me feel challenged … and inspires me to think in different ways. Her mental traps framework is very effective in helping me catching and labeling self-sabotaging thoughts as they occur, and I like the perspective switching to ask myself "what would I say/do to my best friend" to cultivate self-compassion. Thanks..."

Anonymous

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"Anna has been the single most helpful voice in my coaching journey. Within only a few sessions she provided me with spot-on good insights. This advice would stick to me, as powerful helpful reminders throughout the weeks to come helping me deal with anxiety. From day one she had an accurate and deep understanding of my concerns, and from there, we outlined action plans that were straightforward and effective. After our sessions, I always feel..."

Laura N.

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"Anna has been great to work with. Her knowledge on the material and how our brain works has been extremely helpful. She has coached me and gave me tools to develop and help me when I run into problems. We have talked about multiple topics and she has found ways to help. How she is different from others is she will make you think and give your homework. She will make sure you are challenged and practice your tools to help develop your skills..."

Mike D.

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"Anna has been an amazing coach. She has given me the necessary tools to allow me to be mentally aware and be as present as possible in order to navigate any situation at hand. Her guidance in how to use these tools and how to navigate mental traps has been fundamental and have helped me reduce stress, approach life with a much simpler outlook, and balance my time in ways I was not able to do before. - Thank you so much, Anna. I was able to..."

Daniela M.

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"Anna is absolutely amazing at what she does. She has helped me to overcome some very difficult things in my life such as being my worst critic, help manage my anxiety/stress, and giving myself self love. I couldn’t be more grateful for my sessions with her. Dealing with such raw emotions and not having the tools to know how to handle them have been extremely difficult for me. She has changed my outlook on life, I would recommend her to..."

Alyssa K

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"Initially my goal was to improve Executive Presence under Pressure and I am really thankful that I got in touch with Anna. We have spoken at length at Thinking Traps, Opposite Reaction, Breathing techniques etc. etc. that have really helped me be more mindful, calm & composed. Anna is a great listener and asks very good questions which at-times makes me really & deeply think about the Why! Thank you Anna for your support on helping me improve..."

Siddharth S.

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""Anna was a wonderful coach - she provided me with tools that helped get my anxiety under control, manage my stress better, and practice mindfulness. Anna has a very thoughtful and caring approach and I found it very easy to communicate with her. She helped me realize that I was frequently falling into the catastrophizing "mental trap" and I am now better equipped to challenge that thinking trap and stop myself from catastrophizing, which has..."

Daniel S.

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"Anna is an incredible coach and has helped me tremendously on my wellness journey. She’s been able to help me work through my issues on a large and small scale by identifying the root cause and offering concrete solutions. I understand myself in a way I didn’t before, and I am eternally grateful for Anna because of it. I highly recommend working with her!"

Anonymous

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"Anna has been instrumental in providing me new tools to increase the effectiveness and impact of my communication both professionally and in my marriage. Anna coached me through various techniques to improve my perception of information presented to me while also improving my approach to connecting and delivering my message with maximum efficiency. All of Anna’s coaching has been backed with supplemental materials and role play scenarios..."

Matt H.

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"I have greatly appreciated my time with Anna! She exuded an amazing balance between care and constructive guidance. She met me right where I was at every point in time and did so without judgement or critique. She offered thoughtful advice founded in both personal experience and knowledge. Anna always made sure to communicate prior to our meetings what specifically I wanted to cover, which I always appreciated. "

Luke R.

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"Working with Anna has been so beneficial to my career development and personal life. Her approach to coaching, identification of areas that need to be worked on, and finding solutions to life's challenges is incredibly motivating to me. In addition, she is always sharing helpful resources that I can easily follow through. Her kindness and honesty during our sessions made our conversations feel very comfortable. Thank you, Anna! "

Patricia S.

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"I absolutely recommend Anna as a coach. She is gentle, intuitive, and intelligent. She debriefed my ELI assessment and did an amazing job understanding where I come from and helping me be go through my blocks with compassion. If you are looking to understand you fears and the things that are stopping you to do better at work and life in general, she is the right person! Her work is amazing! Thank you, Anna! "

Katherine M

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"Anna is an amazing coach. She is a great listener and provides useful feedback regarding my career struggles. She is also providing me with effective frameworks that I haven't used before. Which is key to my momentum. I'm making significant progress personally and professionally with Anna as my coach."

Anonymous

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