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6 Ways Life Coaching is Like Hostage Negotiation

Posted by Julia Stewart

hostages freed by Mohammed Ghafari resized 600
Hostages being freed, Egypt, 2008. Photo by Mohammed Ghafari, Flickr, Creative Commons.

 

 

Life coaching is confused with a number of other professions. Hostage negotiation isn't one of them. So it might shock you to know that effective hostage negotiation shares quite a lot with effective life coaching.

 

Why? Both coaching and negotiation are basically conversations between human beings. The same 'magic' communication skills work well, whether between coach and client, salesman and shopper, parent and teenager, or negotiator and terrorist. In fact, these conversations are really not all that different from each other.

 

I discovered this yesterday while reading Wired magazine collumnist, Eric Barker's interview with former top FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, who now teaches business negotiation at places like Harvard. In it, Chris shares tips and secrets on how to negotiate successfully, stop thinking like a schizophrenic, and why you should never settle for a one-boob breast augmentation.

 

Here are six ways Hostage Negotiation is like Life Coaching:

 

  1. You can't ignore emotions. Chris says one of the biggest mistakes many negotiators make is that they try to ignore emotion and just be rational. The problem with that, as he says is, "There’s a lot of scientific evidence now that demonstrates that without emotions you actually can’t make a decision, because you make your decisions based on what you care about." In coaching, what you care about is called your 'Values'. Great coaches always clarify their client's values, otherwise their clients can't make good choices. I tell my coaching students that emotions always have an underlying logic. Once you understand the meaning behind the emotion, it always makes sense and moving forward gets easier.
  2. You have to really listen. Most people don't really listen to each other; they just formulate their responses while the other person is talking. The result is that they don't really hear everything the other person is saying. Worse, it means most of us go through life without anyone ever really hearing us. That's a soul-slaughtering experience. No wonder some people go postal. Chris says negotiating with a schizophrenic is especially challenging, because a schizophrenic is often distracted by voices in their head. He says when you listen to your own voice in your head instead of to the other person, you're behaving like a schizophrenic who can't really hear what's going on. I couldn't say it better.
  3. Feed back what you're hearing. Chris says, "The idea is to really listen to what the other side is saying and feed it back to them. It’s kind of a discovery process for both sides. First of all, you’re trying to discover what’s important to them, and secondly, you’re trying to help them hear what they’re saying to find out if what they are saying makes sense to them." In coaching, this is called mirroring, or you can double-duty it and also acknowledge them as you mirror. Both of you will get more clarity. The other person will know you're really listening, which helps make a stronger connection. The result is greater openness and willingness to work with you.
  4. Keep clarifying. Chris suggests, "You can say, 'What are we trying to accomplish here?'  Then, 'How is what you are asking for going to get you that?' Great coaching questions! Most people, terrorists and schizophrenics included, need help clarifying what they really want and how they're going to get it. That's what coaching's about. Apparently, that's an important part of hostage negotiation too.
  5. Never compromize. According to Chris, compromize is a terrible thing. The metaphor he uses is the husband who wants his wife to get a boob job. She doesn't want to do it, so they compromize and she just gets one. In other words, nobody gets what they really want. Coaches exist to help people get what they really want. Most people are so used to compromizing that what they tell you they want is usually just what they think they should want or what they think they can get instead of what they actually want. Trust me, your clients can get what they don't want on their own. They don't need to pay you thousands of dollars to help them compromize.
  6. Don't argue. If each side is presenting its arguments, neither is really listening (See #2). Instead of resolution, you get more conflict. If you want the other side to hear you, let them get their whole story out. Otherwise, that story will get in the way of their ability to hear you. It'll get in the way of getting what they want, too. 

 

Obviously, there are key distinctions between life coaching and hostage negotiation. For starters, a negotiator has an agenda to resolve a horrible situation without anyone getting hurt or killed. In coaching, our only agenda is to help the client think and act more resourcefully so they can get what they really want. The negotiator may only be trying to buy time until the SWAT team can either rescue the hostages or arrest the terrorist. Big difference.

 

But people are people. They want you to hear what matters to them, even if they can't articulate that, yet. Maybe if more people were coached, fewer people would go ballistic.

 

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Topics: Coaching, coach training, coach, coaching classes, clients, Life Coaching, life coach training, Coaching Certificate, Strengths, Needs, Values

New Coaching Niche: Longevity Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

There are almost as many coaching specialties and niches as there are professional coaches and longevity coaching is a niche with legs.

What does a longevity coach do? This is lifestyle or personal development coaching with a focus on the lifestyle choices that support a longer life. Perhaps even more importantly, a longevity coach can help clients make choices that lead to greater freedom and happiness in old age.

In addition to coaching around diet, exercise, relationships and stress reduction, don't forget the importance of financial planning for happier senior years. Speaking of which, to coach in these areas, you really need some expertise. For both ethical and legal reasons, you need to be qualified to advise clients on physical and mental health, the law, and on finance.

Curious what it takes to live to be 100 years old? See the infographic  from howtobecome.org below. Perhaps Centenarian Coach will be the next big niche!

Becoming a longevity coach


Thinking about becoming a coach?

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Topics: Coaching, professional coaching, become a coach, Coaches, coach, personal development

Can You Coach a Nazi?

Posted by David Papini

Coaching

Guest post by David Papini, CCC.

Coaching is about conversations and human beings.

Conversations happen in different contexts and human beings can be criminals. Coaching is powerful, but has limits. Can you coach psychotics? Can you coach evil clients? Can you coach a Nazi?


There is a scene from Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List where Oskar Schindler (actor Liam Neeson) is talking with Amon Goeth (actor Ralph Fiennes) and tries to convince him to change his evil criminal “behavior” toward the prisoners.

 

Here is the conversation from a coaching technique point of view where Amon is the client and Schindler the coach:

If you put aside the maybe weird and scary feeling of coaching someone seriously mentally ill, with criminal traits and in a position of real power (as Amon Goeth was, in reality and in the movie) you may recognize that it is possible to meet clients with at least one of these trait (hopefully with lower intensity). Among the three traits (mental illness, propensity to criminal acts, power in an organization) I think that mental illness is the one that “technically” excludes the possibility of coaching because a coach cannot address the real (neither the great) self of the client, because that self is seriously damaged: only therapy maybe can.


Propensity to criminal acts poses an ethical problem, because it is possible, technically, to coach a client while embracing his criminal or violent self, but this puts the coach in the position of supporting a criminal (which is a moral and legal issue, not a technical one). For the sake of the discussion, if you are a criminal and a coach, you can coach a criminal, if you do not share the same criminal background, you may want to coach a client that wants to change his criminal behaviors in the future, but even in this case you cannot have a hidden agenda (like “helping the client to become a good citizen”) only an agenda that is shared with him.


If agendas (yours or client’s) are illegal or unethical or hidden, you cannot coach.


Coaching a powerful person, of course, can be done and I think that when my client’s real power (or status) is higher than mine, what makes the coaching relationship a good one is establishing that “us” mindset.  Which is the only part that I would save of the otherwise poor Schindler’s coaching performance.

Coach David Papini, CCC

Visit David Papini's Coach 100 Page Here.

David was born in Florence in 1966 just a few months before the deluge, and that's a kind of destiny. As an executive is in charge for general management in a IT Firm, as a certified NLP counselor helps clients to explore their life experience, as a Coach helps clients getting what they really want, as a conflict mediator witnesses how tough and creative a relationship can be, as a trainer helps trainees in stretching their brain, growing and learning, as a public speaker enjoys co-creating experience on the fly, as a dad loves his two children. As a man he is grateful and worried that he’s got this wonderful life. And he’s fond of categorizing his professional roles :-). More about him at http://papini.typepad.com/lifehike/
Flicker Creative Commons photo by HistoryIn An Hour

Topics: Coaching, Coach 100, coaching clients, coach, coaching ethics

7 Concerns About the New Board Certified Coach (BCC) Credential

Posted by Julia Stewart

BCC - Board Certified CoachYesterday, I received a letter in the mail congratulating me on my new BCC (Board Certified Coach) credential from CCE (Center for Credentialing and Education).

 

It was nice to get, but no surprise.

CCE, a non-profit which has been certifying a variety of counselors for years, recently stepped into the realm of business, executive and life coach certification, with this very impressive-sounding new credential. But any executive, business or life coach who was previously certified by the ICF or IAC and who could demonstrate that they already have coach-specific training, got grandfathered into the BCC for $100. The only catch was that we had to take a norming exam to help CCE establish appropriate exam questions for future coaches who test for the BCC.

Even though I have reservations about the new BCC life coach certification, I decided to take the plunge and get it for the following reasons:

  • Life coach certifications from independant not-for-profit certifiers are generally the most respected in coaching, because with no regulation, coach training schools (at least the ones that are disreputable) sometimes have very low coach certification requirements (or no requirements other than a fee). 
  • I think competition between not-for-profit certifiers is good for coaches, their clients and the coaching industry, because it forces the certifiers to listen to us and upgrade their services in order to stay relevant. So a new not-for-profit coach certifier may be positive for the profession.
  • At this stage of the game, no single life coach certification organization is the recognized leader, worldwide. The ICF claims this distinction, but most coaches do not agree, especially in fast-growth markets, like Asia. So it may be a good idea to be certified by more than one not-for-profit life-coach certification organization.

That said, I have plenty of reservations about the new Board Certified Coach credential and don't plan to use 'BCC' after my name in most situations - at least not yet. Here's why:

  1. As one of my colleagues, who is certified by both the IAC and ICF, recently commented, a certification from an organization that mainly certifies counselors may further confuse the public about the difference between coaching, therapy and counseling. Appearances to the contrary, business and life coaching are completely different from either counseling or psychotherapy. Coaching is based on different paradigms and does not target clients who are mentally ill or in crisis. A decade or so ago, when I became a coach, the profession of coaching was under attack by psychology professionals, who claimed we were practicing therapy without a license. Then a landmark lawsuit in the state of Colorado established life coaching as a separate profession from psychotherapy.  Furthermore, the reason coaching is still not legally regulated anywhere is because coaches don't work with vulnerable populations. Since that landmark case, therapists and counselors have jumped on the coaching bandwagon in large numbers, because they aren't hamstrung by regulations, they've seen how effective coaching can be and because they can charge more for it. As another coaching colleague commented: The confusion between coaching and therapy isn't because coaches are practicing bad therapy; it's because too many therapists are practicing bad coaching. One of the reasons I decided to get the BCC anyway, is so I can watch from the inside how CCE's influence plays out and can speak up as needed. If CCE does its job well, it could actually cut down on the confusion and erroneous assumptions that counselors and therapists sometimes make when they hang out their Life Coach shingles.
  2. CCE bases the BCC credential solely on college degrees, coach-specific training and passage of a multiple-choice test. Reputable life coach certifications always require demonstration of coaching skills. Why? Because unlike virtually any other profession, including counseling and psychotherapy, efficacy in business and life coaching is not based on expert knowledge, but on the skill of assisting coaching clients to leverage their own knowledge, thoughts, actions, gifts, etc. In other words, coaching is a skill set, not a knowledge base. A degree has little or nothing to do with competency in coaching. Coach training is a very good thing, but doesn't automatically ensure a skilled coach.  And multiple-choice tests measure knowledge, not coaching skills. To get my stamp of approval, CCE needs to add an oral test to their certification requirements.
  3. CCE claims its multiple-choice test is the first scientifically-based measurement of coaching knowledge, but is it really? The 'science' is based on the answers to test questions that coaches who are certified by the 'less scientific' IAC and ICF gave on BCC norming tests. In other words, it's piggy-backing on knowledge collected by thousands of non-science-based coaches and calling that scientific. In any case, one of the reasons coaching has rocketed to the forefront of human development is because coaches have been free to mix findings from neuroscience and positive psychology with ancient wisdom traditions, plus their own insights and intuition, to create new approaches to human growth. Science is good, but results are what matter.
  4. CCE claims to be the first certifier of coaches that is itself 'accredited'. That's good, but it may not mean what you think. Usually, when we talk of accreditation in education, what we're referring to is the 'gold standard' in accreditation, which in the United States (which influences education around the world), means that your educational institution is accredited by a not-for-profit regional accrediting agency that is in turn, approved by the U.S. Department of Education. CCE is not accredited by such an agency. I tried to trace its accreditation back to the USDE, but only got as far back as an agency that accredits engineers (not exactly related to coaching). To my knowledge, no not-for-profit coach certifier, nor educator of coaches, possesses the gold standard in accreditation. That doesn't mean they aren't good, it just means they don't have the ultimate stamp of approval in education. (Beware though, of phony 'associations' that are invented by un-scrupulous 'coaching schools' or more-aptly, certification mills, just so they can claim to be 'accredited' by somebody.) CCE's accreditation doesn't make it a better source of life coach certification. In fact, they may not understand the profession of coaching as well as either the ICF or IAC.
  5. There has been some suggestion (unconfirmed) that the CCE may require its Board Certified Coaches to administer a psychological profile that measures the mental health of new coaching clients, in order to refer them out to psychotherapists. This would be no more appropriate than requiring Certified Financial Planners to test the mental health of their clients (after all, behavioral economics is the latest hot specialty for therapists), or requiring bartenders to test their customers for alcoholism (shouldn't some of those barflies be in rehab?). I know many psychologists believe 90 - 100% of all people are at least neurotic and could benefit from therapy, but coaches aren't in the mental health business, are untrained in the area of diagnosis and in many locations it would actually be illegal for an untrained professional to try to diagnose a mental illness. What coaches are responsible for is helping their clients reach the clients' desired results. If coaching isn't effective in reaching those results and the coach suspects psychotherapy could help, they can best serve their clients by sharing that observation and declining to waste the clients' money by continuing the coaching. But coaches testing for psychopathology? That won't serve coaching clients (but might serve counselors and therapists), because the real test of whether coaching will 'work' for a client is not the client's diagnosis, but whether or not the client is ready to take full responsibility for his/her own life. If it comes between keeping my BCC or succumbing to a requirement to administer  psychological tests, I may give up the credential and I'm sure I'm not alone. But I am so far taking a 'wait and see' attitude towards this.
  6. CCE's ethical standards for BCCs are more appropriate for counselors and therapists than for life coaches. That's not automatically bad, but suggests that CCE itself, is confused about the differences between counseling and coaching. For well-written and appropriate ethical standards for coaches, view the ICF's ethical standards.
  7. The BCC hasn't yet stood the test of time. Thus far, the Board Certified Coach credential is not widely recognized, nor is it the the gold standard in coaching. At this writing, Master Certified Coach credentials from the ICF and IAC share that distinction. For the time being, I would recommend the BCC only as a provisional certification, on the level of the ICF's ACC (Associate Credentialed Coach), that a new coach might want, while they work toward a more recognized coach certification.

What do you think? Share your comments and concerns about the new Board Certified Coach credential in the comments area below.

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Topics: Coaching, executive coaching, certification requirements, Coaches, coaching clients, ICF, coach, Become a Certified Coach, CCE, life coach certification, certified life coach, certified business coach, future of coaching, coach training schools, coaching vs. therapy, Master Certified Coach, BCC, IAC

Should Your Life Coach Be Old or Young?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach Traci McMinn-JoubertOnce upon a time, in a land far far away, where everything always looked as it should, if you hired a life coach, s/he was most likely older than you. Prevailing wisdom said more experience meant greater wisdom and that's what you want in your life coach, right? Maybe.

In the world I live in, life coaches come in all ages and aren't necessarily all sages. Does that even matter?

At left, is Life Coach, Traci McMinn-Joubert, CCC. She's one of the many under-forty coaches who studies at School of Coaching Mastery and who hold their own with most of us older coaches. Apparently, that's surprising to a lot of people, including some coaches.

For instance, yesterday, the New York Times ran an article called, Should a Life Coach Have a Life First? about the growing trend toward younger coaches in this profession. I found the online comments on this article more interesting than the article, itself. They're loaded with misconceptions and skepticism from folks who aren't sure what life coaching is but suspect they don't like it, plus the occasional plug by an actual life coach that tends to seem self-serving. So I thought I would try to help clear up the confusion. Here goes...

1. One reason younger coaches do well is that life experience is only a fraction of what life coaches offer. As I tell my students, advice is the least of the deliverables you have to offer your clients. Coaching is far more than that. Author, David Rock, says life coaches help people think better. That might not sound like much, but if you need to make life-changing decisions, having someone help you think better is priceless. And that pretty much explains  why coaches command such high fees when everyone knows that advice is free.

2. Another reason is that experience is relative. Clients hire life coaches who are on a similar path, but further along. If you just graduated from college, for instance, and want a coach who can help you make that enormous transition from student to full-fledged adult in today's world (that's a big need), it makes sense to hire a coach who's a few years older than you, rather than someone your grandma's age.

3. A third reason younger coaches do well is that experience has a short shelf life in today's world. Maybe you have awesome experience on how to climb the corporate ladder from the 1960's through the 1990's, but you struggle with social media, smart phones, apps and tablets. If so, then you may not understand the culture, much less have the skills needed by today's workers, who are intra-preneurial and know that there's no gold watch, nor life-long pension waiting for them.

Let's face it, young coaching clients are an ever-renewing potential source of business for life coaches and some of them want young coaches who they can relate to.

Then again, Baby Boomers are still asking themselves questions like, "What do I want to be when my children grow up?" And in some cases, older coaches are the ones who can help middles-aged clients make better choices that lead to happier lives (another big need).

The real issue isn't how old your life coach is, but how much 1) personal development, and 2) coaching skill, they have under their belts. Too little personal development and their egos and issues will get in the client's way. Too little coaching skill and their clients' thinking and behavior won't be impacted enough to make a difference in their lives.

Rather than choose your coach based on age, I'd suggest you ask the following two questions:

1. Did someone you know and trust highly recommend a life coach who helped them achieve something that you want? Don't hire a coach just because his/her age is appropriate or marketing is convincing. Look for outside evidence of results.

2. Does your life coach have substantial coach-specific training (not just a related degree) and/or a certification from the IAC or ICF? Unless your coach has been at it for 15-20 years, they need to be well trained and the IAC and ICF continue to have the most-reliable coach certifications.

A good coach doesn't have to have both of the above, but they probably have at least one.

Here's my last thought on age and coaching, for whatever it's worth. In my twenties, I personally, would have made a lousy coach. I was too immature and had too many issues to work out. Not everyone improves with age, but I suspect that, like me, many coaches do.

What do you think? Should your life coach be older or younger?

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Topics: life coach, Coaching, Coaches, ICF, Life Coaches, coach, Life Coaching, IAC

Why Coaching by Phone is Better Than Coaching in Person

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching by phoneI finally have an answer for you to the age-old question: Which is more effective, coaching by telephone or coaching in person?

The coaches who prefer coaching in person, invariably assume their way is better. Those of us who prefer to coach by telephone sheepishly counter that coaching by phone seems to work just as well.

But is telephone coaching really just as good as coaching face-to-face?

After all, we've all read the scientific estimates that up to 90% of the information we receive in a face-to-face conversation is visual, not verbal. So how can telephone coaching possibly work as well as face-to-face coaching?

And from another perspective, face-to-face coaches often brag that they make more money per hour, but do they really? Yes, telephone coaches charge their clients on average slightly less per contact hour, but they also spend less time in non-contact hours.

I'll explain: While I don't recommend scheduling your clients back-to-back (a 15 minute break helps you refocus), I've done it and I know lots of other phone coaches who do it and I can tell you that a few hours, earning $300/hour, from my home office on a snowy Monday sure beats traffic jams, commuter trains, crowded elevators and cafeteria lunches, ad nauseum, by a mile. And when you add up the extra time spent in transit, plus tolls, tickets, parking, gas, wardrobe, wear and tear on your car, eating out, not to mention all of the above which also has to be spent on in-person client attraction, versus attracting clients via the internet, I'm willing to bet telephone coaches make more per hour, keep more of it for themselves,  and enjoy more of their working hours with less stress. A coach who's relaxed and having fun is always better than one who is not.

But here's why telephone coaching is actually more effective than face-to-face coaching:

Remember how up to 90% of information taken in during a face-to-face conversation is visual? That should make face-to-face coaching 10 times more effective than telephone coaching, but it doesn't. Why? Because nearly all of that visual information is unconscious, meaning the coach isn't even aware of it.

It gets worse. Many assume that our brains absorb continuous information, like video cameras  making a movie, but they don't. Not even close. Your brain takes a couple of snapshots of visual information and fills in (nearly all) the rest with your expectations, assumptions, beliefs, shadows, biases and prejudices. In short, while you're talking to that person, you're taking in some new information from them, but you're unconsciously adding 80-90 times as much information from your past.

And you don't even know it.

With telephone coaching, if you're well-trained, you learn to consciously hear more. And if you practice those hearing skills in hundreds of coaching sessions, you develop the kind of hearing - at least for conversations - that usually only the blind possess because thousands of hours of coaching changes your brain. That means you can hear far more than most of us ever thought possible. And you do it without adding tons of info from your past.

Are telephone coaches completely free of their past assumptions? No, of course not; no one is. But a strong case can be made that, because telephone coaching is a skill that's consciously learned from the ground up, the coach is aware of a larger percentage of incoming information, which helps them interface more fully with the present and the uniqueness of their client and the client's situation.

Here's an example: I've lost track over the years of the number of clients I've coached who were of a different race, socio-economic background, or sexual orientation, and I didn't know it. I'd like to think that wouldn't make any difference (unless it was pertinent to the topic of the coaching), but I've seen the studies on that and know how unlikely it is that anyone is completely free of biases.

Telephone coaching doesn't eliminate all assumptions and biases, but it narrows them down and makes it less likely that a bias or shadow can lurk undiscovered.

Here's another reason coaching by phone is more powerful: When using the telephone (or Skype), you can coach with anyone in the world. That means that out of over 7 billion people worldwide, you can match up with your ideal clients and be their perfect coach. Coaching in person is almost always constrained by distance and travel, forcing people to coach with whomever they can find in their home city.

You'd think with the ease and low cost of talking via online video, that video coaching would catch on quickly, but it hasn't so far. I'm guessing it's because video tends to highlight the visual in a way that makes it even harder to listen and really hear - and raises the likelihood that unconscious visual information is triggering a conditioned response. And if people can see their own image, they are more self conscious and less likely to show up authentically. Some find video coaching more distracting than anything. Indeed, some find talking by telephone t o have an intimacy that's lost with video.

Last but not least, from the client's perspective, lower prices for telephone coaching, plus higher quality coaching, means a greater ROI (return on investment) for clients. Who doesn't like that?

In short: phone coaching is not only just as good as in-person coaching, it's actually better. Do you agree?

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Topics: coaching business, Coaching, money, coach training, Coaches, coaching clients, coach, clients, coaching call, phone coaching

Best Coaching Films: How NOT to Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

 Best Coaching Films

 

Article by David Papini and Julia Stewart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia: Below is the winning entry in the Best Coaching Films Contest. I chose it, not because it was the best example of coaching, but because it was presented in a thorough manner that made it easy for David Papini and me to analyze it, which we were interested in doing. In that sense, it's an awesome entry and it provides a terrific opportunity to disect something that sounds like coaching, but actually isn't. At least it's not very good coaching. See if you agree.

You may or may not be surprised to know that the character of John Keating, in Dead Poet’s Society, is not an example of a good coach. Yes, he opens up new worlds for his students, something that great coaches do, but he is burdened by enormous assumptions and a huge agenda, which leads him to a crucial conversation with Neil Perry and may have helped cause Perry’s later suicide. Not a desirable outcome in coaching!


Actually, this film is a wonderful example of what happens when Values Systems collide. It ain’t pretty. The parents and teacher’s are all of the modern values system: rational, materialistic, conforming. Think: Business Executives. (And read Spiral Dynamics or take our Spiral Dynamics for Coaches course, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Keating’s values are post-modern: creative, individualistic, passionate. Think: Hippies.

There is nothing wrong with either system, but in evolutionary terms, post-modern comes after modern, which makes it more inspiring (that’s just how it works). Keating and his student’s assume that ‘inspiring’ is better. However, the only thing that makes one Values System better than another is whether it solves your problems best.


The film, itself, is passionate and can inspire and trigger the viewers’ own adolescent memories of struggling to become authentic while being pushed and bullied to conform by parents and teachers. But for one very sensitive, vulnerable, conflicted boy, Neil Perry, who is the ‘client’ in the following ‘coaching’ session, this schism presents a problem so overwhelming, he pays the ultimate price.


David: I think that here Keating is not coaching Neil, he is more trying to help him as parent would do. One of the risks of a “parenting” coach model is that parenting brings with itself not just love and care but it is also prone to confusion between parent’s needs and child’s needs.  This kind of confusion has an evolutionary advantage, because maximizes the chances that a parent will take care of her children as if they were herself, but it is not that useful when your goal is to foster someone else’s freedom of choice.


In terms of technique, Keating here uses more the tools of a tutor or mentor. All the relationship is with Keating ‘up’ and Neil ‘down’. No doubt, Keating cares about Neil’s greatness, but he fails in checking and validating if the change that he is pushing Neil through is ecological for all Neil’s parts. Working with all the parts (for example with NLP) and allowing all of them to show what their good intention was and to foster dialogue among them, could have been useful to Neil.

Read on to see why a coach’s assumptions and agenda can cause a client his very life... 

John Keating Coaching Neil Perry:

Coaching Conversation

Analysis

Neil Perry: I just talked to my father. He's making me quit the play at Henley Hall. Acting's everything to me. I- But he doesn't know! He- I can see his point; we're not a rich family, like Charlie's. We- But he's planning the rest of my life for me, and I- He's never asked me what I want!

David: Here Neil shows he is aware of what is really important to him and also he is capable of understanding his father’s reasons and he is also aware that his father is not recognizing him as a person capable of choice

Julia: Neil’s dilemma is fairly typical of a coaching client’s presenting problem, even though his is the perspective of a minor. His story is highly emotional and full of assumptions. He’s genuinely stuck. 

John Keating: Have you ever told your father what you just told me? About your passion for acting? You ever showed him that?

David: Keating clarifies, acknowledge Neil’s passion and invite the possibility for Neil to share more with his father

Julia: Great coaching question from Keating. It not only elicits important information, but points to a possibly more resourceful response to Neil’s problem. 

Neil Perry: I can't.

David: Neil is facing a block.

Julia: This is a typical response from someone who is stuck. There is no physical reason that he can’t talk to his father, but he believes he can’t.

John Keating: Why not?

David: Keating poses an ineffective question. He could have asked about Neil feelings (how does it feel that you cannot share with your father) or add resources (what would you need to be able to tell him). The “why” question here seems to hide Keating’s agenda or a tutorial question (I know you can and I want you realize that). Keating here is acting like a parent, a tutor, a mentor or a friend more than a coach.

Julia: I agree with David. Questions that begin with ‘why’ tend to invite rationalization from the client, which just deepens the story and the client’s sense of having no options.

To open Neil’s mind to more options and resourceful thinking, Keating could try the following questions:

‘What would it be like if you could talk about this with your father?’

‘What would you tell him, if you could?’

‘Would you like to be able to talk with him about what’s really important to you?’

Neil Perry: I can't talk to him this way.

David: Neil is still blocked but adds “this way”.

Julia: Neil doesn't have the words to articulate what's holding him back, he just knows he's stuck.

John Keating: Then you're acting for him, too. You're playing the part of the dutiful son. Now, I know this sounds impossible, but you have to talk to him. You have to show him who you are, what your heart is!

David: Coach here had the opportunity to clarify (for example asking “what way”?). Keating choses to challenge and show Neil his intuition (“You’re acting for him, too”), without asking for permission to share. Then uses all of his influence to push Neil toward the behavior he considers appropriate (he asks Neil to do something that seems impossible to Neil and possible to the idea that Keating has of Neil’s strength and of Neil’s relationship system). Keating shows love for Neil but it’s not a loving coach act, again, it’s more a mentor’s or a tutor’s action, who sees the reality of his pupil’s behavior

Julia: Agreed. Although Keating's aware of Neil's assumption, he's not aware of his own. He's pushing Neil toward the outcome that Keating believes in. Neil needs to decide what’s best for himself. Even though Keating is a mentor/instructor to this young man, he’s over-stepping his professional boundaries. This would be considered unethical in coaching. The fact that Neil later commits suicide is strong evidence that this conversation didn’t serve him. 

Neil Perry: I know what he'll say! He'll tell me that acting's a whim and I should forget it. They're counting on me; he'll just tell me to put it out of my mind for my own good.

David: Neil is still blocked. His options are not increased, he is still trapped in a scene he already knows.

Julia: Neil is quite naturally resisting the push that Keating gives him. Most coaching clients will push back in similar ways when pressured by their coaches. 

John Keating: You are not an indentured servant! It's not a whim for you, you prove it to him by your conviction and your passion! You show that to him, and if he still doesn't believe you - well, by then, you'll be out of school and can do anything you want.

David: Keating acknowledge the genuineness and the importance of Neil ‘s passion, but again offer to him solutions that do not come from Neil himself and assumes that proving the passion to the father will be useful for Neil (implicitly reinforcing the idea that the father has to decide). Also the second option (you can do what you what when you leave school) is completely part of Keating mindset. Here Keating is consulting (giving advices) and/or leading (ordering). The coaching part could have been the first one, if the sentence finished with “it’s not a whim for you”. On another  layer of thought here there could be also that Keating is fighting with Neil’s father (what Neil’s father represents to Keating), by using Neil as means. Keating here is acting like Neil’s father, forgetting that Neil already have one that tells him what to do. The fact that the real father is not capable of loving Neil enough, does not authorize Keating to use a father role as a way to take care of Neil’s needs, especially without acknowledging the conflict that will rise in Neil’s emotions.

Julia: Keating is pushing his own Values System on Neil, something that he did throughout the film, with mixed results for the boys. He awakened something inspiring in them, but assumed parents and teachers would value it. They didn’t, which created conflict for all the boys.

By the way, Keating’s Value System is Green, or post-modern, in integral terms. The school and parents were mostly operating at the Blue/Orange, or traditional-modern level, which does not understand Green. Post-moderns typically make this mistake, that everyone will see the wisdom of their view, if just given the chance. They won’t.

Again, this is unethical in coaching. Don’t make this mistake for your own clients.

Neil Perry: No. What about the play? The show's tomorrow night!

David: Neil assumes for a moment the second Keating’s suggestion and confronts it with the practical short term consequences, and has a doubt.

Julia: More resistance in response to being inappropriately pushed.

John Keating: Then you have to talk to him before tomorrow night.

David: Keating provides the answer, completely in the frame of his agenda (Neil must talk with his father)

Julia: If Keating were a good coach, someone who cares more for others than for his own agenda, he would have elicited options from Neil and respected them. Or at the very least, offered multiple options, rather than telling Neil what to do. 

Neil Perry: Isn't there an easier way?

David: Neil asks for a way to avoid something he fears.

Julia: Keating would do well to respect the wisdom behind Neil’s reluctance.

John Keating: No.

David: Keating acknowledges the fear (by non-verbal cues, need to see the scene ;-) but keeps Neil on the decision (which is not Neil’s decision). If Neil’s fear had arrived after a personal insight or search path, this could be an appropriate way to keep the client on track, but given the previous choices made by Keating in the conversation, it’s just another way to push Neil to realize Keating’s agenda (which of course Keating considers an agenda for the good as Neil’s father does with his one, and this is often the tragedy…)

Julia: Rather than eliciting greatness from Neil and helping him expand his possibilities, Keating’s ‘coaching’ arrives at one very narrow and unproductive option.

Neil Perry: [laughs] I'm trapped!

David: Neil is emotionally trapped (and desperate)

Julia: Neil is between a rock and a hard place, with his father’s values on one side and Keating’s on the other. As a teenager, he hasn’t yet developed the  strength to think for himself and has allowed Keating to back him into a corner. Some adult coaching clients are also this easy to influence. Coaches need to be extremely careful not to make decisions for our clients. We never have all the information. We’re only there to help the client think better and to inspire their personal greatness.

John Keating: No you're not.

David: Keating does not acknowledge the emotions in Neil, and underlines that Neil is free.

Julia: Yes, in Keating’s mind, Neil is free, but only IF Neil does what Keating tells him. This is an obvious contradiction, common to post-modern thinking. It’s all about a specifically defined form of liberation that is ultimately repressive: ‘You’re free if you do what I tell you to do.’

Post-modern thinking is common among coaches, but often results in narrow thinking. My personal bias is that post-modern thinking has limited value in coaching.

 

Topics: Coaching, Coaches, coaching clients, coach, How to, clients, Spiral Dynamics, coaching call, David Papini

Coaching Tip: Discovering My “Why” at 19,341 Feet

Posted by Evelyn Kalinosky

Coaching TipGuest post by Evelyn Kalinowsky, 1st Place Winner of Best Coaching Blogs 2011.

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer. Labor Day – dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Four months left to make that impact I’ve been cultivating in my coaching business since January 1st and leave my mark on the year known as 2011.


When I think about particular take-aways from the past eight months, one of the most striking is the number of business colleagues who worked with me to grow my business, even as they worked to build their own.


I feel all lovey and squishy inside knowing they were the ones who’ve helped me to fold in all the different experiential metaphors that are my life into marketing language that my “just right” people can understand. They helped me create the WELCOME sign and the road map so my peeps can find me.


And don’t get me started on how they managed to get me to embrace my adventurous soul in a way that’s enabled me to draw this exquisite, yet craggy picture (maybe it’s more of a topographical map) of how someone like me can grow my coaching business, one step at a time.


Just like climbing. Breathe. Step. Rest. Hydrate. Breathe. Step. Rest. Hydrate. The mountaineering/business-or-bust mantra.


The journey of building my business reminds me of the time I signed up for a mountaineering trip that challenged many of the assumptions I held about myself: can’t do anything for myself, am too afraid to push physical limits, haven’t got the expertise or chops for this kind of gig, am incapable physically, incapable of being liked, etc.


Am I losing you with the mountaineering metaphor? Too masculine? I hope not, because sometimes we women are hesitant to embrace our “masculine” energy, but it’s that raw, powerful, surefooted-in-the-midst-of-scrambling-up-the-scree stepping that serves us so well if we let it.


I don’t see it as masculine or feminine, but more like yin and yang – the balance of opposites – and knowing when to use which type of energy is a vital tool to carry in our back pocket or handbag (or backpack, if you prefer) when you’re building a business.


I signed up for a 2 week expedition to Tanzania, Africa when I turned 40, and spent a week climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro – all 19,341 feet of it.


To say that I was a neophyte at climbing is an understatement of mega proportions, but I was compelled to go for all of the reasons I mentioned earlier (and more), and at the end of that glorious, awe-inspiring, ass-kicking experience I had transformed.


Literally.
             Physically.
                             Emotionally.
                                                Spiritually.
                                                                 Energetically.


You name it, I transformed it (or it transformed me is more accurate).


That’s the year “Evelyn” was born, and I rather like the delusional notion that I’m only 12 now instead of really 52, and despite the fact that I would NEVER want to negate the birth of each of my children (or grandchildren) by that statement, in the truly esoteric realm of “being born,” that was my raw, naked, heart-pumping delivery into the world.


I’ve been growing the real me ever since.


In addition to the obvious similarities between climbing a mountain and building a coaching business, there is my big “Why” – the reason I’m doing this work in the first place.


To bottom line it: oh, how over-the-moon I would have been to have had someone like me be my she-Sherpa guide on my journey! FYI - That’s not a vain attempt to pat myself on the back and glow giddy over my wonderfulness.


My “Why” is about helping other midlife career women traverse the mountains, the hills, and even the easy-does-it open fields that make up their complicated, multi-faceted lives in concert with someone who’s been there.


It’s about them not having to navigate alone the unknown terrain when they’re tired, vulnerable and drifting without a map. Because of course they can do it, these mighty warrior women, but the point is why do it alone when there is so much more to gain from working with someone who gets it?


There’s something to be said for the buddy system – whether it’s a guide who leads you up the mountain, or a coach who mentors you in a one-on-one program, or other business women who form a safety net around you as you build a business.
And I need quite a net, since the goals I’ve set for my itty bitty biz are pretty damn high! And when I reach that metaphorical 19,341 business summit I don’t expect to be alone. I’m expecting to see a few of my biz colleagues of the soul planting their flags right alongside me.


Oh yeah, baby!! It’s going to be awesome!


Evelyn Kalinosky is Founder & CEO of Inner Affluence. She works with midlife career women who want to increase their sacred capital. Email her at evelyn [@] evelynkalinosky [.] com or visit her website to learn more.


[UPDATE: Visit Evelyn's entry in Best Coaching Blogs 2012]

Best Coaching Blogs
 
 
Visit Best Coaching Blogs 2011 Here.

Topics: business coach, coaching business, Best Coaching Blogs, coaching blogs, coach, Coaching Tip, clients

Play to Win the Best Coaching Films Contest

Posted by Julia Stewart

Best Coaching Films

Yesterday, SCM student and coach, David Papini, published a wonderful article in this blog on How to Coach a Viking, in which he analyzes a one-minute coaching session from the children's cartoon, How to Train Your Dragon.

The ensuing conversation in the comments section of that post sparked a long-held fantasy of mine, to put together a list of favorite coaching movies. Lists like that are more fun to put together when people collaborate on them, so I'm inviting you to collaborate. Best (and fastest) nominations will win prizes. Read on...

Best Coaching Films Contest

Here's how to play:

  1. Nominate your favorite coaching film in the comments section of this blog post.
  2. What makes a 'coaching film'? In most cases, there will be at least one pivotal conversation in the film that inspires someone to take transformative action. The conversation between Astrid and Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon is a great example.
  3. Tell us why you think your nomination is a great coaching film. For example, I think Glinda the Good Witch (above), in the Wizard of Oz, is a wonderful example of a coach. She believes in Dorothy, enjoys her completely, gives her tasks that help her grow and informs her of strengths she didn't even know she had. Without Glinda, Dorothy's story would have ended in Munchkin Land.
  4. To be eligible, you must be the first person to nominate your favorite coaching film and you must nominate it in the comments section of this blog post, no later than this Friday, September 2nd. (The Wizard of Oz and How to Train Your Dragon are already taken.)
  5. The Top Ten nominators will each receive a $100 discount on any live coaching course that is currently on our Fall schedule.
  6. The Winner will get one coaching course from us, FREE. Must be a live course that is currently scheduled. No exceptions.

Subscribers to this blog will receive this contest announcement first. Other members of our mailing lists will get the announcement a bit later. This is a not-too-subtle reminder to subscribe to the Coaching Blog in the upper right corner of this page. We try to reward our readers with opportunities like this, as a way of thanking them for their loyalty.

Nominate your favorite coaching film in the comments section, below.

Topics: business coach, Coaching, blog, coaching blog, contest, coach, coaching classes, Life Coaching

How to Coach a Viking

Posted by Coach Training

How to Coach a Viking

Guest post by David Papini.

As most parents are, I am exposed to a lot of cartoon movies (most of them full of cleverly engineered cross-generational stimuli and layers) and also repeatedly to the same one, with a frequency inversely proportional to the child age.

When an adult starts watching the same cartoon for the nth time, he or she can react in two ways: blankly staring at the video letting his or her mind wander in a more interesting place or trying to consciously watch the movie paying attention to details escaped to the first nth minus 1 session.


Or it can be that the reactions mix, and that’s what happened to me watching a dialog between two young Vikings, Astrid and Hiccup, in the movie How to Train your Dragon. The dialog is 1 minute 5 seconds long and yesterday evening I suddenly realized that I was watching a masterful and efficient coaching session. Astrid is the coach and Hiccup the client. The relationship between the two is already well established, but it is the first time in the movie that Astrid purposefully tries to help Hiccup.

Here is the dialog with my comments:

 

To me, from now on, coaching like a Viking, is going to have the meaning of: make a shift happen in 1’5” or less, and Astrid is on my top ten list of masterful coaches.

David was born in Florence in 1966 just a few months before the deluge, and that's a kind of destiny. As an executive is in charge for general management in a IT Firm, as a certified NLP counselor helps clients to explore their life experience, as a Coach helps clients getting what they really want, as a conflict mediator witnesses how tough and creative a relationship can be, as a trainer helps trainees in stretching their brain, growing and learning, as a public speaker enjoys co-creating experience on the fly, as a dad loves his two children. As a man he is grateful and worried that he’s got this wonderful life. And he’s fond of categorizing his professional roles :-). More about him at http://papini.typepad.com/lifehike/

Coach David Papini

 

Visit David's Coach 100 Page Here.

Topics: Coaching, coach, How to, master coach, masterful coaches, how to become a coach, David Papini

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