Coaching is based on modern research and insights from 5000 years back.

Already the old Egyptians realized that everyone has an inner struggle. A struggle that could be formed if only the possessor was prepared to realize that he or she had something to gain from the change. They also realized that through communicating with the surroundings in the right way one could easier make way for one’s aspirations.

A few thousand years later coaching moved out of sports arenas and in to company managers and others who sought encouragers to their jobs and their lives. Answers were sought in the strong behavior-knowing healing arts and it was understood that the inner power of every individual is the strongest engine to raise the individual on his or her own merits above the clouds towards a brighter existence.

A hybrid
Today coaching is considered a mixture of several forms of methods to create human being: communication theory, sports psychology, organization psychology, therapy and self-development. Coaching has by taking an eclectic standpoint for a long time been able to gather ”the best parts” of these methods. This may have been the reason why some people have regarded coaching through its development phase as unclear. People have noted that coaching has great similarities with many other approaches, but there are also a few fundamental differences.

Sickness or health
One can divide closely related forms of behavioral sciences in two groups: One of them assumes that the individual in focus has a sickness or a shortage. The intention is to treat this individual to recovery. The approaches that are used have the task to, by expertise, treat, counsel, educate and guide the person towards recovery. The other group assumes that the individual is well and that the process is about developing the positive sides and strengths that the individual already possess, so that he or she alone will find their way and their potential.

Inferior or superior position
Another feature that separates the different forms is that some schools assumes that the individual is in an inferior position – healthwise or competencewise. Those taking care of the individual is in a superior position – doctors, psychologists, experts or mentors.

In coaching we always assume that the individual is in a superior position. You have the answers. The coach is only an encourager helping you to find your best way. We don’t claim to know your professional role, we don’t have more experience of your life, we don’t work to treat your lacks. We focus on your strengths.

Past or future
Last but not least coaching separates itself by focusing on the future. Psychoanalysis and many other methods devote almost all their effort to look back in time. They search for problems in the past that they aim to cure in the present. Coaching is aware of the past, but all exercises, methods, approaches and activities focus on the individual’s future opportunities to better exploit his or her potential.

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An important source to these facts is Susann Gjerde’s book ”Coaching, what-why-how” (In Swedish?)


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The earliest proof
The curlicues above are the oldest proof ascribed to coaching. It is an essay that has been dated 3000 years BC, which gives good advice about how to better communicate with each other to reach success. In other words, it’s an over 5000-year-old instruction with good intentions.

The next sign that coaching was there to stay one finds in one of the world’s oldest scriptures, written 2675 years BC by Ptahhotep, a mayor in ancient Egypt. This past thesis also described how one could communicate effectively and act in a successful manner towards the surroundings. The thesis was written on papyrus and is today preserved in the Louvre, Paris.

About 2000 years later a man named Socrates began to communicate with people of Athens. He did so to encourage them to realize and understand the opportunities they have to affect their own life situation. With his skill of speaking he wanted to provoke them to take responsibility for their own life and opinions.

Another few hundred years later the stoic philosopher Epiktetos took the opportunity to develop his cognitive thoughts. He claimed that man is not plagued by events themselves but by how they are valued. That is to say that what counts is not how things are but rather what we make of them. We control our own ideas, attitudes, and feelings and therefore also our actions.

More on Ptahhotep can be found here.
More on Socrates can be found here.
More on Epictetus can be found here.