I had a 3:45 am wake-up for a flight recently. Departure was at 6 am, so you can imagine my brain wasn’t fully functioning. I perused the United entertainment choices for a distraction that would not require significant brain function. I love comedy shows, and I found a Chris Rock documentary on his life and the creation of one of his shows called “Bring the Pain.”

Before watching this documentary, I had yet to learn how complicated comedy truly is. I was further surprised at the commonalities between comedy and coaching. Comedy is about more than just telling jokes, just as coaching isn’t simply about helping people organize their lives.

I’ll explain-

Chris Rock’s version of comedy is not solely to tell surface jokes. He digs deep to find what will make his audience squirm and feel uncomfortable. The audience laughs because it’s uncomfortable but painfully true, and they have never consciously admitted this truth to themselves.

Thankfully, the flight went by quickly as Rock discussed his creative process. What I was not prepared for was the parallels between coaching and comedy.

Both prompt us to take a hard look at ourselves to discover the truth about who we are and our beliefs. Both require the listener or client to dig deeper and not focus on what’s on the surface.

Both use words and wisdom to transcend what you thought you knew. When clients come to coaching, they present an issue they believe is the “problem.” The magic of coaching is learning that the presenting issue is not really the “problem.” Coaching, like comedy, helps you focus on the absolute truth. In coaching, you focus on the blocks that keep you from moving forward so you can find the truth about yourself.

Comedy and coaching help us look at ourselves and life from an uncomfortable perspective. This new perspective allows us to discover the uncomfortable truths that have held us back. We don’t grow when we are comfortable. It’s that simple. In coaching, clients must shake up the belief systems that no longer work for them. That is usually not comfortable.

These conflictual feelings can be painful and usually cause us to cringe. That’s ok; that’s how we grow.

I especially love coaching when clients are surprised when they explore those uncomfortable feelings. Chis Rock describes how he leads the audience one way, then makes a shift, and the audience doesn’t know what hit them. That same thing happens in coaching!

Take Joel, a well-established attorney who came to coaching with a “simple” weight loss goal. Joel had worked with a dietician for a year but could never manage his weight successfully. If he lost weight, he quickly regained it. Through coaching, he realized that his inconsistency with weight had more to do with his dissatisfaction with life choices. Once Joel understood that his personal relationship choices compromised happiness and life satisfaction and he made significant changes, he was able to lose weight easily. He even began running and completed his first half marathon this February! He laughs when he says he had to lose the weight on his shoulders before he could lose the weight around his middle.

It’s funny that even though I have been a coach for six years, many of my friends have no idea about the coaching process. They make remarks about coaching, such as “I don’t need a coach. I know how to set goals.” Coaching is so much more than that. Coaching reveals new truths and worlds and helps the client create a unique and fulling perspective of life and how to navigate it. As you read about Joel in the above paragraph, you may understand that problems are more than what we see or admit at the surface. Change happens at a deeper level. Healthy relationships, boundaries, letting go of judgment and negativity-that’s all more profound work. Coaching is designed to help clients unlock their subconscious and confront stubborn thoughts that keep that heavy weight on their shoulders.

Chris Rock says, “Bring the Pain;” meaning bring the truth, and the joy, the insights, and laughter. And that, my friends, is what coaching can do for you.

Curious about the truth or how coaching can lift the weight from your shoulders? I’d love to hear from you.