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A Brief History of Positive Psychology and Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart


Two fields, positive psychology and coaching, have radically expanded how we think about personal growth. They've taught us that human beings have far more potential for happiness than we previously thought. Both began in the 1990's, but until recently, they developed largely in parallel. Now they are directly influencing each other and a new profession, positive psychology coaching, has emerged. It's time to look back at how it all came about...

Both positive psychology and coaching reached back millennia for inspiration from western and eastern philosophies, as well as other ancient wisdom traditions, including some indigenous influences. In addition, 20th Century influences sought to describe what was best and highest in human beings and how more people could amplify their personal development, success, and wellbeing.

The most notable difference in the development of positive psychology and of coaching was that positive psychology always had a strong academic and research basis, while coaching had its beginnings as an innovative entrepreneurial service. Research into what actually works in coaching came later.

Positive psychology and coaching each have a "founder" or "father", respectively. For coaching, it was Thomas Leonard (1955-2003), a former financial advisor, turned coach, who founded what many consider the first professional coaching school, Coach U, in 1992. Thomas later founded the first not-for-profit professional association and certifier of coaches, the International Coach Federation (ICF) in 1995.

The recognized Father of Positive Psychology is Martin Seligman (1942- ). An address Seligman gave, while president of the American Psychological Association (AMA), is often cited as the official advent of positive psychology. Under Seligman's leadership, several initiatives proceeded over time, including the founding of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) at UPenn in 2003  and the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) in 2007.

This short blog post can't cover all the achievements of these two great men, nor does it include all the contributions to both coaching and positive psychology by many other brilliant pioneers, but you can learn more by clicking links throughout this article, which will lead you to my references.

There were two 20th Century giants who seem to have had an impact on both positive psychology and coaching. They were Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970, and Viktor Frankel, 1905-1997. Maslow, himself a former president of the AMA, is referred to as the "Grandfather of Positive Psychology" by positive psychology professor, Tal Ben Shahar. Maslow may have even coined the term, "positive psychology", which appears in his 1962 classic, Toward a Psychology of Being (highly recommended). More important is Maslow's theory of self-actualization, often referred to as, needs-based psychology, which states that all humans have physical and psychological needs and that as we meet these needs, we grow and develop. The ultimate state we can attain via needs satisfaction is self-actualization, which is characterized by authenticity, flexibility, and even humor.

Viktor Frankl was born in Vienna and became a psychiatrist and neurologist, but during World War II was interned by the nazis in a series concentration camps, including the infamous, Auschwitz. He survived the war under dreadful conditions, which he later wrote about in his best-selling, Man's Search for Meaning, 1946. Frankl concluded that those who survived the nazi camps did so because they had something to live for: the need to see a loved one again, the desire to help a friend, or in Frankl's case, the passion to write his book about Logotherapy, literally the psychotherapy of meaning. According the Frankl, one cannot become self-actualized without becoming self-transcendent, or growing beyond oneself and one's own ego, which requires that we find meaning by helping others. Seligman later identified "meaning" as one of the most durable pathways to happiness. Echos of both Maslow's and Frankl's theories can be found in Thomas Leonard's Needs and Values.

Maslow and Frankl were especially important in their time, because the second half of the 20th Century marked a turn toward identifying, diagnosing, and curing mental illness, almost exclusively. Psychology's original purpose included psychopathology, but also the psychology of healthy people, and the study of genius. Seligman and colleagues were intent upon rebalancing the field of psychology to include the positive, as well as the negative, and their ultimate goal is to do this so thoroughly that "positive psychology" becomes obsolete, as a separate field.

Positive psychology and coaching are a natural fit, because positive psychology researchers and coaches ask similar questions: How can people become happier, more successful, and enjoy greater wellbeing? In other words, how can people Flourish, as Seligman would put it.

Although it's likely that early coaches and coach trainers drew from research into human potential, such as positive psychology, they usually didn't reveal their sources, which created a "guru-like" image for some and allowed others to make unfounded claims. Eventually, this caught up with the reputation of the coaching field and it was time for coaching to grow up and become a true profession.

By this time, the positive reputation of coaching had also grown. Clients, organizations, and researchers we curious how coaching was changing lives. Research into coaching started to boom and the Institute of Coaching formed in 2008 to foster research into coaching, positive psychology, and emotional intelligence.

One particularly notable researcher is Richard Boyatzis (1946 -) of Case Western University, who is associated with coaching, leadership, and emotional intelligence. His books, such as Primal Leadership, offer sophisticated evidence-based tools for coaching.

In 2007, Robert Biswas-Diener (1971 -), of Portland State University, published the first notable book on Positive Psychology Coaching and he has become a leader in positive psychology coaching research, writing, and teaching.

Today, there are numerous university programs in positive psychology and some in coaching. There also are a few short positive psychology coach training programs. The Certified Positive Psychology Coach program is currently the only positive psychology coach training program that includes the full 125 credit hours required for the ICF PCC credential. It was launched in 2014 and 75-100 additional hours will be added for the new master CPPC version in 2017.

If you'd like to learn more about positive psychology coaching, download the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook, below.

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook






Topics: Coaching, ICF, Thomas Leonard, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Institute of Coaching, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Martin Seligman

5 Coaching Lessons Learned from Adele at Madison Square Garden

Posted by Julia Stewart


One week ago, today, School of Coaching Mastery quietly closed its doors for a much-anticipated event: Adele's last show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. My daughter and Office Manager, Jessie Stewart, and I had scored tickets last November for the sold-out show and traveled together to our former hometown for a little R&R and to see our favorite singer.

Adele did not disappoint!

As I made my way home from NYC I reflected on my takeaways from the event. Delightfully, there were many.

5 Coaching Lessons Learned from Adele at Madison Square Garden:

1. Be yourself. Adele models this better than anyone. She spent two hours alone onstage in front of over 18,000 people. No warm-up band, no spectacular floor show, no dancing, no pyrotechnics, just one woman in a modest dress and THAT VOICE. Her songs sounded just as sublime as all her records and between them, she told hysterical stories. As Jessie's friend, Meg, said after the show, Adele probably could have a career in stand-up comedy. She is enough as she is. So are you.

2. Hold out for what you really want when it matters, but settle for good enough when it doesn't. Researchers say that people who always want the best are less happy than people who settle for good enough. This probably is true most of the time, but in my experience, holding out for what you really want when it matters is key. Adele was what I really wanted. A fancy hotel room at inflated NYC prices? Not so much. As my mom always said, nobody stays in their room, anyway. So we found a hotel several blocks from MSG with fewer stars and better reviews, were perfectly happy with it, and spent the extra money on heavenly meals.

3. Take happiness breaks. I rarely take days off from work, except when I'm enrolled in a course. But if you want to do your best work, get out of the office occasionally and do something special. We went to NYC at the perfect time. The temperature was ideal, humidity low, no clouds. Our first day, we walked over six miles just enjoying the West Village, SOHO, NOHO, etc. The second day, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By then, we were walked out and took a cab all the way back to the hotel, exhausted but happy.

4. Step out of your comfort zone. As awesome as Adele's show was, one of the most unique few minutes came before we even entered MSG. One member of our party couldn't make it, which left us with an extra ticket for a show that had been sold out for months. I didn't know whether to give it away or sell it, but I knew if I sold it, I wanted to get at least as much as I paid, which was a bit over $100. As we approached the Garden, I heard a scalper yell, "Does anyone have tickets to sell?" I held up one finger and said, "I have one!" Next I knew, we were huddled on a dark corner. First we had to let him inspect the ticket for authenticity. That took some trust, because he could have snatched it and run off. He offered $60. I countered with $150. Then he came up to $100. I said I paid more than that. He offered $120 and let me feel his cash to be sure it wasn't counterfeit. That took trust on his side. I said, "Sold." We went into the Garden $120 richer, and me feeling a bit pleased to have just done something a bit risky that I'd never done before and I even got the scalper to come up twice as much as I came down. I spent all of the money on T-shirts and beer, just in case it really was counterfeit. By the way, Thomas Leonard's 28 Principles of Attraction includes the advice to be a little bad sometimes, because it gets us out of our safety zones and stops us from feeling superior to others.

5. Appreciate what you have. It was so much fun being back in NYC that I fantasized a bit about moving back, but my last morning was cloudy and rainy, which always makes the city look ten times as dirty, and I remembered an old rule of thumb: that when everything goes right, great weather, great food, cabs are easy to get, the scalper buys your ticket, etc.; NYC is the BEST place in the world, but when it doesn't go well, weather is dreadful, passing buses drench you, there are no cabs anywhere, somebody steals your wallet, etc.; NYC is the worst. I was ready to go home, enjoy the quieter, slower pace, and get back to work doing that I love. How fortunate I am to have found my calling and to be able to afford to play hooky once in a while.

So those are my chief takeaways from my quick trip to see Adele.

By the way, we have another Adele at School of Coaching Mastery, who is also delightful, and she's hosting our Positive Psychology Coaching Study Group, starting this Thursday. It's a perfect way to learn more about positive psychology coaching and it's free to everyone. If you'd like to join, click below.

Join the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group


Topics: Coaching, School of Coaching Mastery, Thomas Leonard, Attraction Principles, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Coaching Study Groups

The Future of Coaching: New 2016 ICF Global Coaching Survey Results

Posted by Julia Stewart

ICF_Logo.jpgThe International Coach Federation (ICF) is the oldest (est. 1995) and largest (23,790 members, as of June 2016) not-for-profit professional coach association and certifier of life, business, and executive coaches (18,710 current ICF certified credential holders).

Periodically, the ICF, via PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, administers a global study of coaches worldwide (including non-ICF members), the results of which, comprise a snapshot of where the profession of coaching is, right now, and where it seems to be headed. These coaching results may be the most accurate available.

Here are some fascinating highlights...

  • Over 15,000 respondents, from 137 countries, took the survey.
  • The ICF estimates there are over 50,000 professional coaches, worldwide.
  • Coaching earns over $2 Billion per year in US Dollars.

How much do coaches earn, yearly?

  • Income varies widely, but then, so does purchasing power.
  • Other factors include number of years practicing and type of coaching practiced.
  • Globally, coaches average $51,000 per year USD.
  • The highest earners are in Oceania ($73,000+), followed by N. America (almost $62,000), and W. Europe ($55,000+).
  • Lowest earnings are in E. Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean ($18,000+ - $27,000+).
  • Most coaches (75%) expect their annual income to increase in the near future.
  • Some coaches (45%) expect their fees to increase in the near future.

Do coaches need coach training and certification?

The future of coaching:

  • The largest numbers of coaches see the greatest opportunities in Increasing awareness of the benefits of coaching (38%) and credible data on the ROI/ROE of coaching (26%).
  • An amazing 84% of coaches believe coaching can influence social change (that's one of the reasons I started this school).
  • 54% believe coaching should be regulated.
  • 85% of those believe professional coaching associations should be the regulators.

Get 125 ICF Approved Hours of Coach-Specific Training Here:

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach


Topics: Coaching, coach training, ICF, life coach salary, Coach Certification, future of coaching

Top 12 Secrets: How to Write a Coaching Bio that Sells Your Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

coaching bio

For a new executive, business or life coach, writing your first coaching bio can be pretty scary, because you don't have tons of experience or credentials yet, so you don't feel powerful when talking about what you do. Even for experienced coaches, writing a coaching bio can be daunting and you may be looking for help with it. My friend and colleague, Barbra Sundquist, MMC, wrote a great post for this blog on How to Write a Coaching Bio in Twenty Minutes and it has become one of our most popular posts, because who wouldn't like to get this uncomfortable job over and done, quickly?

But what if your coaching bio could actually sell your coaching for you?

Bios are a powerful form of marketing and as you grow your business, you want to get even more power out of everything you do. In fact, it's ideal if you marketing brings you plenty of potential clients, especially if those clients are sales-ready. In other words, you don't want emails, texts, and/or phone calls from everybody on the planet, just they ones who are dying to hire you, right?

The following secrets, employed by search engine optimizers, copywriters, sales people and savvy coaches can help you attract potential coaching clients who may be ready to buy even before they talk to you – or who are ready to buy after a short conversation. You don’t need to use every secret in every bio, but great bios usually contain 3 or more of these secrets…

SECRET 1: Use the right words and phrases. The world’s greatest bio is worthless if nobody finds it, so your first job is to write for search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing, because people find coaches with search engines. Search engines change their search algorithms periodically and don’t share exactly what they are, but marketers have found that certain basic SEO (search engine optimization) practices can help you get found online. For example: Use keywords (words and phrases that people search for), especially long-tail keywords (very specific phrases), in your title, first and last sentences, as well as any highlighted lines (titles and bold text) and in hyperlinked text (text that you click to get to another page). An example of a long-tail keyword might be: “Life Coach, Jane Smith, White Plains, NY”. While you wouldn’t use exactly this phrase throughout your bio, with some creativity, you can use variations on it enough to get a search engine to send a searcher who just typed, “Life Coach White Plains NY” into the search box. People tend to search for coaches in their hometowns, so you can stand out quickly by including yours. (Bonus tip: People hire coaches, not companies, so list yourself by your name, not your business name.)

SECRET 2: Tell them what they want to know. Stop thinking of your bio as a biography of you and your experience/credentials and understand the only thing potential clients really want to know about you: "Can you help me?" Mostly share details about you that they want to know, i.e. Do you understand people like me? Have you been in my shoes? Have you helped someone like me? If your bio has lots of room, or if it has a second ‘details’ page, add more details about you further down. But for a short bio, just tell people what they most want to know: “I can help you reach your goal”.

SECRET 3: Write for your ideal client. Stop writing for everybody and write for just one person, instead. How? The simplest way is to pick an existing ideal client and write just for them. Before you do, ask that client what they most wanted to know before they hired you. Then show them your bio and ask them to critique it, so it says exactly what they would want to know. Does that sounds pushy? It's not, because your best clients are grateful to you. They are also high-functioners who love to give back. Don’t hesitate to give them that opportunity. And don’t worry that you’ll be excluding potential clients who are different. Most bios fail to grab attention from anyone because they are simply too vague.

SECRET 4: Use the magic word. While we’re talking about grabbing attention, here’s the simplest way to grab your reader’s attention: Use the word, YOU. Because our brains are wired to focus attention on what is most pertinent to us, personally. When a reader sees the word, "you", in a line of text, their brain naturally pays more attention. Think about it: the word, "you", probably grabbed your attention, just now.

SECRET 5: Customize it. One bio probably isn’t enough, so think of your website as more of a hub than a store front. I’ve had clients hire me without even a phone conversation, because they found me on specialty websites and memberships that mattered to them. The fact that I was interested in what interested them was enough to for them to say, “She’s the coach for me.” Use social networks, coach directories, and special-interest memberships as an opportunity to send potential clients to a landing page on your website to sign up for your coaching – but do give them a chance to talk to you, because usually they’ll want to do that before hiring you.

SECRET 6: Create curiosity. Great copywriters say that each sentence you write has but one purpose: to make readers want to read the next sentence. There are many ways to do this: Ask questions that your potential clients need to ask themselves. Use visual imagery. Use emotional words, or high-intensity words.

SECRET 7: Create trust. Multiple bios at several locations help your clients to research you. Create a consistent image, while tailoring your bios to each site. This also helps people to find you. Add your most important credentials, if credentials would matter to your potential clients. Graduation, certification and memberships from well-known coaching schools, or associations, can give you an edge. Someone who’s reading your bio on a coach directory, for instance, probably is getting to know you for the 1st time, so share what a stranger, who is searching for a coach, would want to know. On the other hand, someone visiting your website, probably already knows a little about you, so share a bit more. (Critical tip: Lying about your qualifications and credentials creates mistrust that can destroy your business, so don't claim credentials you don't have.)

SECRET 8: Let others do the selling for you. Most of us loathe bragging about ourselves, but hiding what’s great about us is a disservice to your potential clients. So let others do the persuading. This is what today’s consumers are already comfortable with anyway: reviews, ratings and testimonials. If you have the space, include some of your best testimonials in your bio. Even if your bio has to be short, try adding a short comment from a happy client. Coach certification can also help do some of the selling for you, because it's a stamp of approval from a trusted source.

SECRET 9: Be easy to find. Not only do you want your bios to be easy to find, you want your clients to be able to find YOU. Always add your webpage and contact information to your bios. Because a link to your website is SEO gold. This is reason enough to join every directory you can. It helps search engines find you and your website, which in turn, helps potential clients find and hire you. Coaches who work from home are often conflicted about how much contact information to share online. If this is a concern, here are some possibilities: Rent a post office box for your physical address. Get a business phone number or even a toll-free number. They’re inexpensive. In addition to your web address and email, share your city, business number and PO address, but never your home address.

SECRET 10: Be easy to see. Definitely add a photo of you, if you can. Don’t use your logo, except as a secondary image. Because people hire people, not logos. The best photo is a headshot of you, smiling. You don’t have to be young and beautiful, but in most cases, looking professional works best. It’s worth getting your photo professionally done.

SECRET 11: Let them know how easy it is to work with you. Most people have never hired a coach, before. They naturally feel a little confused about how to do that. Confused people don’t buy. Spell out a couple of easy steps, such as, “If you think you’d like to coach with me, contact me by email to set up a phone conversation. In your session, we’ll talk about your goals and how you can reach them. Usually, it’s a lot of fun. If I can help you further, I’ll tell you how, but there’s no pressure.”

SECRET 12: Tell them what to do next. This is critical. Tell people specifically what to do next to get started with you. In marketing, this is called a ‘call to action’. If that feels too directive, think of it as an invitation. Depending on where your bio is located, your call to action might be to visit your website. Or it might be to fill out a short form and email you, or simply telephone or text you. Decide what mode of contact would appeal to your ideal client and don’t be afraid to make a prominent call to action. You might even want to offer something of value to them, just for getting in touch. Examples: “Email me to receive a copy of my ‘Top Ten Easy Ways to Instantly Stop Procrastinating and Get Everything Done On Time’”. Or “Call me at this number to schedule a complimentary coaching consultation and, if you decide to continue, I’ll discount $50 from your first paid session.”

Want to see this approach in action? View a few listings on our new coach directory and notice which coaches grab your attention and make it easy for you to hire them. 

Join the Find a Coach Here Directory Today

Topics: Coaching, Life Coaches, social networking, Google, Coaching Bio, SEO, FIND A COACH

Should Business and Life Coaches Ask "Why" Questions?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Questions The_Forgotten_Jetty_by_Daniel_Sallal_CC.jpg

Coaching questions are the stock and trade of professional life, business, and executive coaches. Knowing what to ask, when to ask, and how to ask coaching questions is a major part of becoming an effective coach. But there are certain types of questions that tend to be frowned upon, because they often yield poor results.

Those include "leading questions" that back clients into corners, as well as "closed-ended questions" that reduce curiosity, and then there are "Why questions" that slow down the process.

The ICF Core Coaching Competencies encourage a different type of question, what coaches sometimes call "powerful questions", or "awareness-building questions". These can often be spotted by the words they start with: What, When, How, Who, If.

Some powerful awareness-building questions:

  • If you had everything you need, what would you do?
  • Who would you have to become to succeed?
  • How could you do it?
  • When have you been in a situation like this, before?
  • What does this mean to you?

Questions like these help to open up a client's awareness of who s/he is and what's really possible. They take coaching to a higher level and help clients expand their impact in more ways than just goal completion. They also make coaching more fun.

So why shouldn't coaches ask, Why?

Sorry, I couldn't resist that one. Here are some reasons:

  • Why questions encourage analysis of the situation and you'd be surprised at how little analysis helps in coaching.
  • Why questions often lead to interpretations that may or may not be true, but more importantly, usually aren't helpful.
  • Why questions can turn the client's focus on the past, rather then the present and future, where the action really is.

I used to discourage Why questions until I listened to an advanced coaching session in which the student-coach asked her client several carefully-worded questions that focused on analyzing and interpreting the past, but avoided the word, Why.

Example: What do you think the reason is that you have this problem? Which is gobbledygook for: Why do you have this problem? Not surprisingly, the session wasn't successful.

That said, I've heard dramatic turning points in coaching sessions when coaches asked Why questions. As I tell my coaching students, if it works for the client, it works for me, because ICF coaching may be powerful, but it's not the only way to coach. So if you feel compelled to ask Why, just ask Why.

What makes some Why question work in coaching, instead of just slowing things down?

Ah, I thought you'd never ask! Here's why: 

WHY matters more than anything else in coaching!

You read that right. That poor little much-maligned word, WHY, matters more than all the Who, What, When, Where, and Hows. Those still matter, but not as much.

“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor was an incredibly wise man. As much as I love How questions (and I truly love How questions) they are pointless until you get the Why. In fact, What, When, If, and even Who don't make total sense without the Why.

Here are some Why questions you MUST ask:

  • Why does this matter to you?
  • Why is this important, right now?
  • Why does this mean so much?

Powerful Why questions uncover what the client most values.

Values are the Why.

Our most important personal values are the driving force behind everything we do. As sociologist, Paul Ray says, values determine our behavior more than anything else. More than demographics, education, strengths, needs, you name it.

Values are what matter most. 

Asking about values in a coaching session is like asking Google an important search term. Within a few moments, you get a useful answer. But invite Google to analyze and interpret the past, and it might reply, "Well I was going to answer, but I wasn't feeling well, plus my boss is mad at me and I had an argument with my wife, plus, plus, plus... Not useful.

So should coaches ask Why questions? YES. 

Focus Why questions on values, not analysis, interpretation, or the past. My 2 cents.

Positive psychology coaching tends to focus on strengths, which are the HOW of coaching. At School of Coaching Mastery, we focus on strengths and also emphasize values, because we are all about making coaching as powerful as possible. Two modules that will help you master values are the Psychology of Values and Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths. Both are included in the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program.

Curious about positive psychology coaching? Get the free eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Coaching, executive coach, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, coaching questions, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Values

Trump, Clinton, Spiral Dynamics Integral, and Coaching - Part 3

Posted by Julia Stewart


Here's the third and final installment in my three-part exploration of 2016 Presidential candidates and their Value Systems. As one reader on Facebook commented, this approach makes sense of a really messy topic. Each installment focuses on a different candidate.

Part 1 introduces Spiral Dynamics integral Values System, which is a theory used by coaches to understand their clients better, and it is mostly about Donald Trump and his supporters. Part 2 took a detour to look at the predominant Values System expressed by the Bernie Sanders campaign and today's post, Part 3, views Hillary Clinton and her supporters via their Values Systems. If you're brand-new to Spiral Dynamics integral, please go back and read Part 1, because it'll introduce you to the basics. Otherwise, this post will sounds like nothing but gobbledygook.

As Part 1 mentioned, the candidates' own Values Systems may differ from their supporters', because the candidates hone their messages to the voting blocks they hope to attract. It's important to note, though, that any candidate who makes it this far in the United States Presidential election is very strong on Orange, the Values System that is associated with rationality and productivity, because it tends to have an emphasis on winning and its values are consistent with those of democracy. Also, our media tends to be dominated by Orange values, so the information we get about the election is almost always filtered through Orange, which can't make sense of much of what's happening this year.

What we've found, so far, is that Donald Trump is attracting voters from the lower end of the Spiral, (Purple, Red, and Blue), while Sanders is hyper-focused on classic Green issues. And if you're wondering why Beige hasn't been mentioned, it's because we don't usually see Beige thinking in healthy adults, under most conditions, so Beige doesn't comprise a voting block. 

And before you Sanders supporters start to feel superior because Green is higher up the Spiral than most of the other Values Systems, I want to note that the Spiral is about Values, not I.Q. or sophistication. Thinking at the lower end of the Spiral doesn't make someone stupid; it just means their thinking is working for them, so they haven't been forced by circumstances to change it. For example: If you are a bully and it's working for you, you may live at Red your entire life, but you could be a very smart, very sophisticated bully.

Besides, there are levels beyond Green.

So where does Hillary Clinton live? That's a challenging question that points to why some people don't like her. She shows signs of nearly all the Values Systems. That's complicated and confusing. Voters prefer simple and clear.

However, that complexity points to the Yellow and Turquoise Values Systems, which are the first and second systems that become aware of, and see value in, all the systems, depending on circumstances. This allows tremendous flexibility to take approaches that works best in any situation. There are, so far, relatively few people who've evolved to these levels, which care about many of the same things people at lower levels care about, but in new ways. The general population is moving up the Spiral, though, rather than down, so numbers are growing, and there are notable politicians who've already taken this approach.

Among them are Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barack Obama, and Tony Blair. Sometimes called, the "Third Way", this approach seeks to integrate the best of conservative and liberal approaches. The results tend to focus on cooperation vs. competition, solutions vs. problems, positivity vs. negativity, and even forgiveness vs. blame.

The Third Way is a great idea, but it does trigger resistance from people who don't resonate with it, which so far is a lot of people. Obama came into office wanting to compromise with Republicans to get things done, but instead met resistance from Tea Party Conservatives who shut down the government, rather than talk to him.

No doubt, some of that resistance was based in racism, but some may have been for another reason: people intuitively understand others who agree with their Values Systems and even intuit the thinking of those who operate at lower Values Systems, but when they encounter someone who operates at a higher level, it feels false, foreign, and untrustworthy.

They can't get a gut or intuitive feel for them and that's scary. Democrats and Republicans working together? Government and business? There must be backroom payoffs! Something fishy is going on! These people are crooked!

I'm not claiming Third Way politicians are automatically more honest than other politicians, but I am saying that we can't assume they are corrupt just because what they're doing is different.

Is Hillary Clinton a Third Way politician? Yes, she appears to be. Her politics are generally liberal, but she seems to take the approach that she can destroy her enemies best by making them her friends (a point of view championed by Abraham Lincoln, who may have been a forerunner of Third Way politicians), rather than making friends into enemies, as Sanders does, or simply making everyone an enemy who isn't a supporter, as is Trump's approach.

But there's something else. Clinton, being female, has a tough time running for what has traditionally been a masculine job. She seems to resonate best with the values most obviously associated with female concerns, for instance, Purple family and children. She picks that concern up again and again at the "feminine" levels of Blue, Green, and Turquoise. Each level approaches it a bit differently. But these "soft" concerns don't play well next to grand visions of wiping out terrorism, or of retooling the entire economy. 

Also Clinton is not a great speech maker. She doesn't attract enormous crowds. If she talks too loudly, people complain she's screaming. If she talks too quietly, they say she's "low energy". She is pioneering how a woman can run for president, because no other woman has made it this far.

What do they say about pioneers? That you can always spot them, because they're the ones with the arrows in their backs.

There's another thing about Hillary's reputation for being dishonest. If you recall the Jimmy Stewart film classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the main character, perhaps the only honest man in Washington, was vilified for profiteering and worse, by the corrupt old guard who didn't want him and his idealistic plans getting in the way of their graft. My point is, you can't believe what politicians and their surrogates say about each other. Whenever I've taken the time to look up whether Hillary has done something dishonest, I've been pleasantly surprised. 

But she has some cards on her side. Yellow and Turquoise are disinterested in rallies and protests, so you won't find them there. They are too busy in their offices, labs, and workshops; innovating solutions and creating the future. But they do pay attention and they vote. This is one reason Clinton fails to attract the crowds of her rivals, but still gets millions more votes.

Crowds don't elect presidents. Voters and delegates do. 

Plus, with Trump running as the ultimate alpha male, he has handed Hillary the opportunity to run like a woman, as a woman. She's at her best in small groups talking to women and children. Women, people of color, and those at the highest levels of the Spiral are her base. When Sanders drops out, his liberal supporters will mostly go to Clinton. His populist supporters will mostly go to Trump.

May the best man or woman win.

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Topics: Coaching, Spiral Dynamics, Barack Obama, Values, Trump, Sanders, Clinton

Trump, Clinton, Spiral Dynamics Integral, and Coaching - Part 2

Posted by Julia Stewart


Yesterday, I published Part 1 of this blog series, which now looks like it'll be three parts long. I mostly focused on Donald Trump, because people (love him or hate him) are absolutely fascinated by his campaign and Spiral Dynamics integral (SDi) explains a lot about it.

This is a theory that helps coaches understand their client's more quickly. When we understand what matters to them, also known as their values, we can empower them to get what they want more easily. 

I finished that first post with some research that claims Trump appeals to authoritarians ("Authoritarian" is one of those words, like "communism", that freaks out Americans) and I described what authoritarian values look like through the SDi lens. It explains so much!

If you missed yesterday's post, start with it here, especially if you're new to the levels of SDi.

Well, it turns out there's other research that refutes Trump's authoritarianism (So relax, already!) and it helps explain why Trump and Sanders supporters share some characteristics, even though they live at different levels on the Spiral. And since Sanders has been eating up the headlines, lately, I thought I'd wrap up Trump and compare and contrast Sanders, today.

Stealing the cable news cycle from Donald Trump for 24 whole hours is like getting your song to Number One on iTunes the day after Adele releases a new album, so let's reward Bernie with the attention he deserves. We don't know how much longer he'll be with us, but he's loud and clear, right now. (Don't worry, Hillary, I'll get to you, Hon.)

So this other research measured populism, contrasted with authoritarianism, and focused on several candidates' supporters, instead of just Trump's. It turns out Ted Cruz's supporters scored higher on authoritarianism than Trump's. Yup, I'm sure they did; as a candidate playing to evangelicals, Cruz's message appealed mostly to Blue traditionalism/authoritarianism.

So what is populism and where does it live on the Spiral? Populism combines anti-elitism, mistrust of experts, and nationalism (American identity) and it can live almost anywhere on the Spiral, except Blue, because Blue reveres those at the top.

Populism believes The People are good and the elites and experts have stolen their power away from them.

How does a billionaire, like Trump, who travels around in a Boeing 757 with his name plastered on it, attract anti-elitists? Simple. He's an amateur, when it comes to politics, so he's a Washington outsider, not a member of the Party elite. That gets him around mistrust of experts, as well. The dumber his policies sound to pundits (elites), the more his populist supporters love him. His followers hate Washington, but love their country and they mostly live at the lower levels of the Spiral: Purple, Red, and Blue. Remember, he also scores pretty high on Blue traditionalism, so apparently some of his followers do love the American-Royalty veneer of Trump's family.

But Trump's not the only populist in the race.

Sander's supporters, who live mostly at the level of Green egalitarianism, also score high on one dimension of populism: anti-elitism. They don't mind experts, in fact most are at least college educated, but they're not particularly patriotic.  They hate both government leaders and the very rich (elites). That helps explain why they detest Hillary Clinton so much, even though her policies are often similar to Sanders'; she's a political insider and multi-millionaire, so she can't be trusted. That's not the only reason, though.

The brand of populism that fits with Green is sometimes referred to as, "flatland", because Green hates hierarchy (Blue), only recognizes its own values, and wants everybody to be on exactly the same level (Green thinkers, by the way, hate the idea of levels so much, they will argue that the Spiral in Spiral Dynamics integral should really be flat, but that's another conversation.) No surprise that promises of socialized medicine and free college tuition are hugely popular with Sanders' supporters.

Green populism demands rights for the disenfanchised.

We need Green, because it helps point out what's unfair in our world, but it reacts emotionally and distrusts rational Orange, while detesting traditional Blue (remember, when Blue is weak, Red spills out). Because it blames the elites, who it believes have stolen its power, it is particularly prone to paranoia and conspiracy theories.

That last point is interesting, because the Sanders campaign has been accused of intentionally spreading misinformation about conspiracies against his campaign and some of his supporters say things that are mind-bogglingly paranoid. I'm not so sure the Sanders campaign even has to try to scare their supporters; they seem to come pre-loaded with paranoia.

A few days ago, Sanders' supporters failed to add any delegates to his side at the Nevada State Democratic Convention. There was anger and yelling; a few chairs were thrown, but nobody got hurt. That's actually not unusual for a political convention. But then they emailed the contact information for all the delegates and party officials to their supporters, who then sent hate texts and voicemails to the NV President of the Democratic Party, saying they were going to set her on fire, hang her in public, and that they knew where her grandchildren went to school. Wow.

To be fair, not all of Sanders' supporters engaged in terrorizing Democratic officials and, so far, nobody has turned up dead, but it's hardly surprising that party officials are incensed and demanded that Sanders publicly condemn the actions of his own supporters. For four days, he avoided saying anything, while campaign officials claimed he couldn't control them (Previously, Trump also claimed, for a while at least, that he wasn't responsible for violence among his supporters.) Last I checked though, a great leader say, Martin Luther King Jr. for instance, could definitely cool public outrage by appealing for calm.

Finally, Sanders made a public statement condemning violence, but it focused primarily on perceived slights against his campaign and hinted that those slights excused his supporters' behavior. That hurt him. A lot.

But with Green blame and self-righteousness, mixed with populism's foregone conclusion that The People are always right, while elites are always conspiring against them, that statement is hardly surprising. Remember, Green only recognizes its own point of view, so their own viciousness feels completely justified to them.

The philosopher, Ken Wilber, dubbed this thinking, "The Mean Green Meme."

So both political parties appear to be cleaving apart amidst a hot campaign. Where does Hillary fit in? Do you see her anywhere on the Spiral, yet? No? Don't worry, you will. Just give me a couple of days.

We'll revisit all of these questions in...

Trump, Clinton, Spiral Dynamics integral, and Coaching - Part 3

You're welcome to comment on this post, below, but keep it respectful. Comments are moderated and trolls and spammers won't be tolerated.

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Topics: Coaching, Spiral Dynamics, Values, Trump, Sanders, Clinton

Trump, Clinton, Spiral Dynamics Integral, and Coaching - Part 1

Posted by Julia Stewart


These days, everybody is trying to explain the Trump phenomenon. How did this guy, Donald Trump, who expresses bigotry against practically anyone who isn't a supporter, who has no experience in politics, and whose own party seems to want nothing to do with him; how did he become the presumptive Republican Party nominee for President of the United States? And what makes people at Trump's rallies so passionate, so unruly, so violent, even? And why did each of Trump's Republican rivals shrivel up like the Wet Wicked Witch of the West, every time Trump made fun of them?

Then what about Hillary Clinton (Donald calls her, "Crooked Hillary")? How is it this "unlikable" female Democratic candidate takes Trump's insults and, instead of shriveling up, turns them into millions of dollars in contributions? (Woman Card, anyone? How about the Stop Trump Fund? Republicans for Clinton?)

And then there's that liberal guy, Sanders, who Hillary can't seem to shake off, completely. What keeps him going? What makes people so passionate about his promises? And why do his followers troll the internet, attacking anyone who disagrees even slightly with their candidate, virtually mirroring violent Trump supporters, only with liberal views instead of conservative? How can it be that Sanders' supporters have anything in common with Trump supporters?

And finally, what does all of this have to do with coaching?

Three words: Spiral Dynamics integral (SDi).

What is Spiral Dynamics integral (the "i" in "integral" is usually small case)? It's a psycho-social-spiritual "theory that explains everything", based on the research of psychologist, Clare Graves, and popularized by the 1996 book, Spiral Dynamics (by Don E. Beck and Christopher Cowan). I had the opportunity to study Spiral Dynamics integral intensively with Don Beck several years ago and have been teaching it to coaches ever since.

Understanding this theory is like turning the lights on: suddenly you see everything clearly.

The theories of Spiral Dynamics integral can be complex, but they make perfect sense of our crazy political dramas in a way that nothing else can. No, the nuttiness of this political season isn't just because older white men are angry that they don't always get special treatment, anymore (although that helps fuel it), and no, it's not because feminists just want a woman President (although many do), and no, it's not because millennials are saddled with student debt and a lousy job market (although they certainly are).

Governments, politicians, and political campaigns, among other groups, have been employing Spiral Dynamics integral consultants for decades to help them understand how different demographics think. For instance, SDi was used to help peacefully transition South Africa from apartheid to democracy. No small accomplishment!

Here's the bottom line: It's Values, or Values Systems, to use SDi jargon, that make the difference.

Values are what matter most to you. As any great coach knows, values are one of the most, or perhaps the most, important topic for any coaching conversation, because they are often transformative. But what we've learned from Clare Graves' research is that people also develop psychologically, (or evolve, as SDi puts it) according to their Values Systems.

Values change our brains as well as our choices. They impact individuals and entire cultures.

We think of values as being positive, but they often conflict with each other, which causes real problems. If you value freedom, but also security, for instance, you may desperately want to quit your job and travel the world, but may choose to keep your regular paycheck, instead. We all experience conflicts like this and they often point to our level of development, as well. Savvy coaches help their clients understand their values and make the most of them.

In addition, our values conflict with the values of other people and most of us are so unconscious of this that people who disagree with us can seem like idiots, or crazies, because what's most important feels obvious - but different - to each ot us.

This is why most people avoid talking about religion and politics at parties. Our religious beliefs and political choices are governed by our deeply held values. In fact, sociologist, and author of the book, Cultural Creatives, Paul H. Ray, says our values determine our actions much more so than our demographics.

So how do we talk about Values Systems? Don Beck, co-author of the book, Spiral Dynamics, devised a color coding system while consulting in South Africa, to take people's focus off skin color and ethnicity (types of people) and focus instead on Values Systems (types of thinking). Focusing on types of people, versus types of behavior or thinking, leads to  stereotyping and bigotry.

Here, very simply, are the identified Values Systems of Spiral Dynamics integral:

  1. Beige: survival and comfort, kind of like a baby.
  2. Purple: safety and nurturance, family and tribes come together for this.
  3. Red: self expression and adventure, adolescents and warriors break free from the tribe to embrace these.
  4. Blue: tradition and rules, we find our place in the larger order.
  5. Orange: productive and rational, we work to create a better world through progress.
  6. Green: compassionate and sensitive, we notice and stand up for those who are disadvantaged.
  7. Yellow: flexible and aware, we innovate solutions to the world's problems.
  8. Turquoise: holistic and integrated, we feel one with the whole world.

Each of the above Values Systems has a shadow side (less healthy), which may comprise a rejection of the previous Values System, or a perverted version of it. Some Values Systems are more masculine or feminine than others, while certain Values Systems may resonate with others. For example, both Orange and Green tend to resonate with Red. No healthy adult exhibits just one Values System, all the time. In fact, most of us think at a variety of levels under different circumstances.

Here are some shadow sides of Spiral Dynamics integral:

  1. Beige: infantile and regressive.
  2. Purple: suspicious, controlling, over-protective, us against them.
  3. Red: angry, rebellious, destructive, violent.
  4. Blue, judgmental, rejecting, rigid, holier then thou.
  5. Orange, shallow, sleazy, corrupt, materialistic, win at all costs.
  6. Green: blaming, passive, irresponsible.
  7. Yellow: disloyal, dismissive, impatient, above it all, overly reliant on technology.
  8. Turquoise: hubris, superiority, overly reliant upon intuition.

Back to the Trump phenomenon:

Donald Trump was identified in the book, Spiral Dynamics, as a great example of Orange thinking. This productive and rational Values System dominates the world of Big Business and politics. In fact, virtually any successful politician has a strong streak of Orange. But Orange gets its ethical underpinning from Blue tradition and rules. Without a good streak of  Blue rules and traditions, Orange becomes sleazy and will say and do anything to win, succeed, or make money.

Sound at all familiar? Both Democratic and Republican leaders are shocked by Trump's refusal to follow the rules and traditions of American politics.

Also, Trump projects an air of hyper-masculinity and seems to be weak on the more feminine Values Systems of Purple, Blue, Green, and Turquoise. With these weaknesses, especially weak Blue, Orange tends to resonate strongly with unhealthy Red: angry destructive, even violent.

As Don Beck says: When Blue is weak, Red spills out. Remember the Trump supporter who was interviewed after sucker-punching a protester at a Trump rally, who said, "We may have to kill him,"?

This brings us to the research of Mathew MacWilliams, which shows Trump supporters are strong on authoritarianism. Authoritarians obey. They become angry when others don't obey the same rules. This group is similar to what Paul Ray calls, "traditionalists", and is strongly consistent with the SDi levels of Purple, Red, and Blue.

Whether you call them traditionalists or authoritarians, it's helpful to know why they think as they do. Purple, being about family or tribe, tends to follow the rules laid down by the chief, parent, or head of household; because that keeps everyone safe and avoids conflict. Think of the wife who doesn't follow politics, because she just votes the same as her husband.

Red, being about freedom, believes "might makes right" and tends to only follow leaders who who are "mighty" in some way. Tony Soprano from the old gangster TV show, is the perfect example: he was bigger and smarter than all the other members of his crew.

Blue, believes in a rightful order that includes a hierarchy of privileged elites. Think of the Queen of England, the Catholic Pope, or Hitler.

As a billionaire, Trump qualifies as an elite. If you've seen pictures of his homes, you know they are palatial. He's also a Big Boss, who seems to bully anyone who gets in his way. If you're thinking at Red, you will actually find this attractive. Finally, when talking about women, Trump says all they want is to be safe and secure, so he tries to present the image of the big chief who will build a big wall and keep all the terrorists out.

Trump may think primarily at Orange, but he resonates with Red. And, being weak on Blue, his sleazy Orange will say and do anything to stay popular with Purple and Blue authoritarians.

So are Trump supporters really authoritarian? Some disagree. Are authoritarians the same as fascists, as some Trump accusers say? Is this something to be alarmed about? What levels are Clinton and Sanders playing to? Are they any better?

Would you coach any of these people? And if so, how?

We'll revisit all of these questions in...

Trump, Clinton, Spiral Dynamics integral, and Coaching - Part 2

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Topics: Coaching, Spiral Dynamics, Values, Don Beck, SDi, Trump, Clinton

What's Really Behind the Huge Success of Professional Coaching?

Posted by Julia Stewart

love_is_more_powerful_than_greed.jpgToday I turned down a potential client whose business would have brought me thousands of dollars. She seemed a like a good client, with clearly defined goals to build her coaching business, which is a coaching specialty of mine.

But there was one big problem: Her goals were simply to make more money.

And her requirements were that her mentor coach must  have made a certain amount of money, which I've made, but I still turned her down.

Why did I turn her down, when helping coaches succeed is one of my specialties? Because I went into coaching and coach training to help people succeed at creating a better future for themselves and others, a better world, if you will.

Money matters. Helping others matters more to me. That's because one of my highest values is: Love.

The funny thing is that coaches who love what they do and love helping others to have better lives and careers, are the coaches who most succeed at professional coaching.

And they often make the most money.

Because the professional coaches, who are most likely to succeed, want to thrive by helping others thrive.

They're not martyrs. And they're also not greedy. They're more complex than that.

Probably only 5-10% of people, worldwide, who are interested in becoming coaches, have achieved this level of complexity.

Have you achieved this level of complexity?

If you're interested in coaching only because you've heard it's one of the highest paid professions in the world, don't train at School of Coaching Mastery.

And if you're only interested in helping others, instead of also helping yourself and the people you most care about, then coach for a hobby and make a living doing something else.

I wrote a blog post about this, The Top Ten Worst Reasons to Become a Coach, nine years ago, and it is as true today as it ever was.

If you want to thrive and help thrive doing what you love, let's talk.

School of Coaching Mastery's training programs may be perfect for you. And my mentor coaching often includes training, as needed, at no extra charge. It's expensive and well worth it.


I'm in the thrive and help thrive business.


By the way, if you love someone or something so much that you'd change the world for them, World Clan Mothers on Facebook may also be right for you. It's about turning back the tide of Climate Change so our grandchildren, and Nature, have a chance to thrive like we do. I invite you to join and get involved.


Visit World Clan Mothers on Facebook

Topics: professional coach, Coaching, professional coaching, coaching success, successful business

5 Positive Psychology Findings that Blow Holes in the Law of Attraction

Posted by Julia Stewart

LOAwithholesPositive Psychology is sometimes confused with positive thinking and even the Law of Attraction. But positive psychology differs in one very important manner: it is subject to rigorous scientific research.

The Law of Attraction is a collection of beliefs about how you can attract more of what you want into your life. People who believe in the Law of Attraction may disagree on some aspects of it, but in general, the focus is on positive thinking and tools such as gratitude, affirmations and visualization. It’s sometimes presented as an ancient “secret”, or simply a tool that some of today’s most successful people employ to reach their goals. Now there is a growing body of scientific research into tools used within the Law of Attraction framework.

Science doesn’t always get things right (remember when cholesterol was bad and nobody ate eggs?). But good science keeps asking questions and testing its theories until it does get it right, whereas belief systems, such as the Law of Attraction, sometimes get it wrong and when they don’t deliver, blame can be cast unfairly on the wrong people.

DISCLAIMER: If you’re already practicing the Law of Attraction and getting everything you want – and you’re generally happy with your life – read no further. What you’re doing seems to be working for you. But if, like many, you’ve read books by Law of Attraction experts, or taken classes with Law of Attraction teachers, or attended a Law of Attraction church, or you’ve coached with Law of Attraction coaches and you’re disappointed or frustrated by your lack of results – and in particular if your experts, teachers, ministers, or coaches told you it’s all your fault because you’re doing it wrong – it may be time to ask for a refund and this article may just help you.

Experts, teachers, ministers, and coaches are responsible for finding out the truth and sharing it. If what they tell you is true, you’ll find evidence of it when you test it in your own life. If not, maybe what you’ve been taught is incorrect. The following is based on over 20 years of peer-reviewed research and it turns out that much of what has been taught about the Law of Attraction is just plain wrong…

1. First the good news: positive people do tend to get more of what they want. Purveyors of Positive Thinking and the Law of Attraction got this one right – at least up to a point. However, if your Law of Attraction teacher offers some quasi-scientific-sounding explanation such as, your thoughts send out magnetic vibrations that literally attract what you want to you, start looking for the exit, because that’s baloney. MRImagnet

The brain does emit weak electromagnetic waves, but fortunately for your head, they aren’t nearly as strong as those emitted by the MRI machine, at right, which can cause metal objects to fly through the air towards it and apparently is thinking really hard about a metal chair.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, who wrote the book on Positivity, has spent 20 years researching positivity, which she defines as moments of positive feelings. She says positive feelings tend to broaden our perspectives so that we notice the multitude of possibilities that are already there. There’s no need to attract good things; they are already all around you. The trick is to notice them and positivity helps you do that by broadening your perspective. Shift your perspective to greater positivity and over time you can transform yourself and your life for the better. But…

2. You can overdo it: Too much positivity is associated with chaos, failure, and mental illness. The right amount of positivity elicits greater openness, curiosity, connection and wisdom, but beyond a certain point, increased positivity tends to become self-centered, grandiose, and even greedy and it causes people to take foolish risks, or fail to notice potential problems. Many purveyors of positive thinking and the Law of Attraction tend to encourage limitless positivity, which ultimately harms rather than helps. But here’s a shocker…

3. The bad news: Getting what you want doesn’t actually make you happy. If thinking about what you want feels good, that’s the main reward you’ll get from it (read #4 for more on why that is). According to research by positive psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, most people believe that getting what they want, such as a million dollars, a fabulous home, the perfect mate, will make them happy, but those things only account for about 10% of your overall happiness and they boost your mood for only a short time. And this…

4. Worse news: Visualizing what you want may actually prevent you from getting what you want! Yep, researchers have found that people who only visualize the positive outcome of reaching their goals actually are less likely to reach them. There are some exceptions to this rule, which may account for why visualizing has become so popular – that and the fact that it’s so easy to do, but most people think the reason it’s not working for them is because they’ve been told they’re doing it wrong, so they keep trying to get it right. There are ways to use visualization effectively, but if you’re only visualizing positive outcomes, your visualization may do more harm than good.

From the Institute of Coaching: "In their 2011 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology article, authors Heather Barry Kappes and Gabriele Oettingen argue that “positive fantasies that idealize the future are found to be inversely related to achievement over time: the more positively the fantasies are experienced, the less effort do people invest in realizing these fantasies, and the lower is their success in achieving them” (p. 719)."

Then there are these pitfalls of the Law of Attraction…

5. A little bit of knowledge is indeed dangerous. It’s all too common for people to hear the amazing power of positivity and then make erroneous assumptions. The benefits of positivity are mind-blowing. In addition to boosting happiness and helping people succeed at goals, positivity also strengthens the immune system and helps protect the heart from disease. Some positive psychology tools have even been shown to lengthen life and protect the brain from mental illness. That doesn’t mean that people who get sick, or experience problems, or feel depressed are to blame for their misfortunes (blame is negativity, by the way). There are thousands of causes for every outcome. It also doesn’t mean that anyone should ever police their thoughts and try to drive out all negativity. That’s just crazy-making. It’s also not necessary to avoid people who are suffering, unless they significantly contribute to your own stress and misery. Compassion and loving connection are extremely positive. The foregoing aren’t just pitfalls of the Law of Attraction, but also of Positive Thinking, in general, and even of positive psychology, when it’s not fully understood. Okay, one more point that’s a bit scary. This one doesn’t come from positive psychology, but…

The Law of Attraction has this in common with cults: The Law of Attraction is not a cult, but it has something in common with many cults. It is the insistence that you replace your current worldview with a completely new one in order to get what you want and that you must control your thoughts and eliminate any deviation from what is prescribed in order to succeed. That robs you of your inner knowing, common sense, intuition, confidence, etc. Then you become dependent upon the Law of Attraction “experts” to help you succeed. Usually they’re happy to sell you more books, programs, coaching, seminars, etc. that explain all over again what and how you should think. Folks do get rich with the Law of Attraction, but it’s usually the sellers, not the buyers.

There are more positive psychology findings that counter claims of the Law of Attraction, but this handful of findings should be enough to plant healthy skepticism in most folks and perhaps spark curiosity about the exciting science of positive psychology.

And again, the Law of Attraction is a collection of beliefs. Not all version of it share all the problems described in this article. If you’re getting what you want while using the Law of Attraction, maybe it’s working well for you. But be a curious skeptic, not a passive consumer.

Learn everything you can about positive psychology and you’ll probably enjoy a better, healthier life. If you’re going to offer it as part of your profession, get professional training. If you want to coach with positive psychology, I hope you’ll consider the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, which thoroughly integrates positive psychology and other relevant sciences with advanced coaching techniques and is approved/licensed by the ICF and IAC.

Find a Certified Positive Psychology Coach® here.                  

Download the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Fact Sheet below:

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Topics: Coaching, Barbara L Fredrickson, Law of Attraction, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Institute of Coaching, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching

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