Coaching Blog

Coaching Tip: Why Your Clients Don't Change and How You Can Help

Posted by Julia Stewart

Stages of Change Image

Last week, I posted an image similar to the one above, with a physician telling a patient to make too many changes in too short a time, on our Facebook Page.

I commented on that post that effective coaches would know why the patient pictured was unlikely to do any of it. A page member asked for details, so here you go.

Virtually everything a coach does during a coaching session is designed to help the client gain awareness and then take action toward a goal the client wants to reach.

Everything. We don't always talk about it that way, but that's what it all boils down to. So if you want to help someone make changes, learn to use the tools below. They are effective in coaching and can be effective in other situations, as well.

A short list of tools coaches use to get clients into action...

  1. Acknowledge where they are, right now. In positive psychology coaching, this falls under the banner of Active and Constructive Responding. This strengthens relationships, reduces resistance, and causes people to feel more receptive to ideas and suggestions.
  2. Raise the positivity level sufficiently. People are more open, creative, and resourceful when there is sufficient, but not excessive, positivity in the conversation. They tend to feel more confident about trying new things and making changes.
  3. Ask instead of tell. Find out more about where the client is, right now, and what they want to change. People are always more likely to act on their ideas than on yours.
  4. Focus on assets. No need to ignore problems; just don't make the problems bigger or more important that the client and their  assets. These include the client's strengths, their support system, having enough time and money, etc.
  5. Let the client lead. This is big. We sometimes think we know what the client needs to change, but that's less helpful than you might imagine. The client is always the expert when it comes to their own life, so let them take the lead.
  6. Create a brand new habitat. The client's old world supports their old way of being. To really change, they need their world to change with them. Create a habitat that evolves them in the direction they want to go.
  7. Don't expect action right away. Sometimes a client isn't even close to being ready. According to James Prochaska, people go through "stages of change" and there are three stages before they even get to action. Those stages include Precontemplation, which is probably where the patient above is, when they haven't even been thinking about changing, or they may feel resistant because somebody is pushing them to change (Their doctor? Spouse? Friends?), or they feel discouraged because they've tried to change and weren't successful. Then there's Contemplation, where they're thinking about changes, maybe even researching them, but aren't ready to act, yet. You may hear a lot of "shoulds" at this stage. Finally there's Preparation, when they're making necessary plans to set themselves up for success, such as changing their schedule, notifying other stake holders of the change, learning new techniques, or gathering equipment. Only after all that is someone able to actively change and, even then, they probably can't change everything at once. Getting a client ready to change is part of coaching them to change.

So jumping in with "good" advice, and expecting that to do the trick, could do more harm than good.

If you're curious about coaching or contemplating becoming one, download the free Become a Coach eBook. If you want to learn more, or are ready to take action, consider joining the Certified Competent Coach Course:

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Topics: become a coach, Coaching Tip, acknowledgment, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, certified competent coach

Coaching Tip: Enlightenment Can Be Bad For You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching TipHow do coaching, personal development and spirituality cause dysfunction?

If you think coaching, personal development programs and spirituality are always good, think again. The tools that coaches use and that personal development gurus and spiritual teachers also may employ are usually great when used in the right situations by people who are ready for them. Try using most of those tools in every situation, though, and you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.

Which tools am I talking about? Well, many. But here are a couple of examples that are closely related to each other:

  • Seeing the perfection in every situation
  • Eliminating the ego 

I've coached a lot of people who were 'highly evolved'. They were very spiritual and always saw the beauty, opportunity, learning, etc. in everything and rarely let their egos get in the way.

Their lives were a mess. And they were tough to coach, because they felt good and they thought they were supposed to think that way. People who feel good aren't motivated to change. People who feel good when their lives are a mess are in some ways a little bit crazy (not a diagnosis, just an observation).

Come to think of it, I passed through this stage years ago when I first started meditating. Suddenly, things that used to bother, hurt, or anger me, didn't anymore. It was very freeing. It felt good. I loved it.

And my life started falling apart. Why? I'd lost my boundaries. I got into dysfunctional relationships, because my former warning system, pain, had shut down. I was very forgiving, had but lost the ability to say, 'Hey, this is not okay with me.' Fortunately, I learned to grow past my 'enlightenment'.

Coaches who have drunk too much of the Coaching Cool-aid, sometimes fall for this. They will quickly reframe every challenge as an opportunity. Or they will coach everybody they meet, as if their own needs never even matter. They lose critical skills when they try to show up 'like a coach' in every situation (and they're less effective as coaches).

Skills like:

  • Discernment
  • Engagement
  • Commitment

Procrastination, complacency, and cluelessness may set in. Because after all, everything's great, right? So there's no need to make changes. People may start to avoid them. Relationships, careers, health, and finances begin to fall apart. But all the while, they feel GOOD, because they're stoned on their own endorphins. And like all opiate addicts, they've lost the ability to notice and respond to their environments. Not pretty.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, says too much positivity gets us in trouble. People tend to do best when they experience positive thoughts and feelings about 75-90% of the time. Anymore than that and they stop  heeding warning signs, miss important details, become over-confident, and lose credibility with others. They may spiral into failure and despair, as a result. That's not what you want for yourself or your clients.

In addition, by choosing in advance to respond to everything in the same way, they are limiting possibilities, rather than expanding them.

Worse yet, they may create shadow behaviors that are acted out out unconsciously. 'No ego' becomes arrogance ('I'm more enlightened than you!'). 'Seeing the perfection' becomes passive aggression (Got a problem? 'Just see the perfection in it, or else you're not 'woke'.)

One of the many things I value about Zen Master Genpo Roshi's teachings is that he takes this problem head on. He calls this level of enlightenment dysfunctional and says a zen  master's job is to push you through this stage as quickly as possible. Because otherwise you can get profoundly stuck. Feeling good all the time is very, very seductive.

Not many teachers even recognize this problem. In fact, some of them are actually stuck here, themselves. Many teach that this stage is desirable. Don't get sucked in by that.

Remember the saying, 'When you're going through Hell, keep going'? Well the great thing about Hell is that it feels so awful you want to keep going.

The awful thing about Enlightenment is that it feels so good, you want to stay there. And as soon as you try to hold on to it , you're not enlightened anymore. Delusion is enlightenment's shadow. Keep going.

When you fully engage with life, experiencing pain, resistance and yes, even your ego, you are fully alive, highly functional and - you're enlightened in a mature way. Then you've got the makings of a great coach. Yes, get your ego out of the way and see the perfection when you're coaching your clients. That's your job and it's a huge value to the people you coach. But when you're not coaching, be fully human.

And keep going.

Fully Alive Personal Development with Positive Psychology is a free extra program that's included with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program. Learn more about it here:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

Topics: Coaching, Barbara L Fredrickson, ENVIRONMENT, Coaching Tip, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Genpo Roshi, personal development, Positive Psychology, spirituality, Fully Alive, positive psychology coach, enlightenment

Coaching Tip: When Validation and Acknowledgment Backfire

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Tip


Subtitle this post, 'Coaches Behaving Badly'!

One of the basic coaching skills, which collectively are called the Coaching Foundations, is Validate Everything. I define validation as any appropriate expression of support, whether positive ('That's great!'), or negative ('That sucks!'). There are lots of ways to validate in coaching and one of the most effective, is acknowledgment.

Except when it's not.

Mattison Grey wrote the book on acknowledgment and defines it as a statement about what someone did, or the results they got, shared with a tone of wonderment. She says acknowledgment works when other forms of validation, such as offering compliments, do not, because often, people feel judged when complimented.

I couldn't agree more and Mattison is awesome at acknowledgment, but I've had yucky experiences with compliments, validations, and even acknowledgments, because sometimes, no matter how skilled people are at delivering them, they muck it up, anyway.

They just can't help it!

Most of my yucky experiences occurred with newish coaches, who most likely were just making mistakes with a new skill set and that's understandable. But sometimes it came from veteran coaches and then it looks like a character issue. As in, poor personal development, or lack of integrity.

Here are a couple of examples:

I used to work for a coach training company that called validation, championing. All the coaches there went about championing each other, because that's what good coaches do, right?

One of my coaching colleagues there used to champion me so lavishly that, one day, I asked her to stop, because I felt increasingly uncomfortable. I really didn't need, nor want to hear, over and over, what a great coach I was, what a fantastic coach trainer, how impressive my success was, nor how amazing was my devotion and commitment to my coaching clients and students. Ugh.

The next day though, she made several remarks that called into question my honesty and integrity regarding the coaching profession. Hmm, really? The same person's saying these things? It communicated to me that although she usually said over-the-top positive things to me, underneath she was judging me negatively on some major stuff.

She later apologized, which is great, but I never felt I could trust her. She had shown that regardless how syrupy her validations were, she was really thinking something else. In fact, to me, she was a suck up. 

She left me feeling uncomfortable, insulted, and annoyed. That's how I still remember her.

You know, the IAC certification scorecard measures, among other things, whether the coach demonstrates consistency (a.k.a. integrity) between words and actions. If you validate, champion, acknowledge, or whatever you call it, and then demonstrate that you don't really believe what you said, you damage trust with the client.

Not validating enough during coaching is a mistake. Validating, but not meaning it, is an even more destructive mistake.

One of the problems with coach training is that sometimes we emphasize the 'how', instead of the 'who'. Thomas Leonard used to tell coaches to champion, because that's just who we are. If you do it for any other reason, you're manipulating. And the person you're manipulating will smell a rat.

I call dishonest validation, schmoozing. That's an Americanism, derived from Yiddish, that means to gossip or chat with someone, in an intimate manner, in order to manipulate, flatter, or impress them.

But you could just as well call it, INvalidation, because that's the effect it has.

Then there was the colleague from the past, who showed up in one of my classes at SCM. I was surprised she signed up, because I knew she had been coaching at least as long as I. The first day of class, she delivered some schmoozy validations of me, as a coach and coach trainer. Then she referenced her own great coaching skill and left a pause. I got the feeling I was supposed to reciprocate by acknowledging her prowess as a coach. Problem was, I had no memory of ever hearing her coach. Well, that was a little awkward!

There were any number of ways I could have navigated that awkward moment, but something blocked me. As my mind searched for any memory I had of her and her coaching, only one memory was vivid: She once called me up, offered me an interesting opportunity to teach coaching in a college, and said lots of nice, schmoozy things about how I was such a great coach and trainer and she knew I was the right person for the job, which basically involved coaching eight hours per day, at a college that was three hours away. The pay? $100 per day!! I don't consider myself to be thin skinned, but yes, I was insulted. It would have been better if she had asked me to volunteer for free.

Not surprisingly, she dropped the SCM course in a huff, before it was over. That's the kind of thing people do when they want you to acknowledge them and you don't do it. She also said some pretty nasty things about me and my training ability in an email.

And then, right on time, I opened an email from a coach I really admire. It began with a quote from Maya Angelou: 

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."

The takeaway? Schmoozers schmooze. They can't be trusted, much less deliver great coaching, because great isn't fake.

Of course, nobody has to be a schmoozer for life. I've caught myself being fake, and try to remember it when schmoozy folks cross my path. Like the time I got an email from a coach I didn't like and forwarded it to a friend with a snarky comment. Then I saw the disliked coach at a coaching function. He offered a hug, so I hugged him. The next day, he emailed me. I'd hit, 'reply' instead of 'forward', so he got the snarky comment, instead of my friend! How fake was that to criticize him in private, then hug him in public? That memory is an embarrassing reminder that I'm still a work in progress, like everybody else. I've used it to upgrade my own behavior.

But once again, Maya Angelou says it best:

“I've learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you're going to validate, acknowledge, or champion, do it because that's who you are and it's what you really believe. Otherwise, you may succeed at making someone feel good at first, but your behavior will give you away, and the contrast will make your judgmental behavior even uglier to the other person. That feels yucky and that's how they'll always remember you.

How do you become someone who champions just because that's who you are, and not because you're manipulative? Like anything else, practice. Get a coach. And work tirelessly on your personal development. Learn to get your ego out of the way and trust the process. 

Otherwise, you may be remembered as a schmoozer.

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Topics: Coaching, Coaching Groundwork, Thomas Leonard, Mattison Grey, Coaching Tip, acknowledgment

Master Coach Tip: Leverage the Audience Effect

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Tip   Audience Effect by Boston Public Library


Would you like to be a better coach, immediately? Then here's a tip on how to make full use of what researchers call, "the audience effect".


One of our main jobs, as coaches, is to help our clients think better and be more resourceful. One of the biggest mistakes we can make, then, is to try to think FOR the client. That is never a coach's job.


When you think for your clients, a.k.a. solve their problems or tell them what to do, you're acting like the star of the show.


You're never the star, your client is. Your job is to be a member of the audience.


Let me explain: most of the time, when a client hires a professional, such as a trial lawyer, or brain surgeon, they want the most brilliant professional they can afford, because the professional provides the outcome. But the purpose of hiring a coach is to BE brilliant, because the client provides the outcome. Big difference.


Here's where the audience effect comes in. Researchers have found that people learn faster when they have to explain to someone else what's going on, or what their thinking, or process, is. This is called, "the audience effect". If you want someone to be more resourceful, give them an audience.


Of course, some audiences are distracting, or worse. And for some coaches, being an audience of one is a lot harder than putting on a show (or sham) for the client.


You've probably heard the saying, "If you want to learn something, teach it." Well, your clients learn faster and, in effect, get smarter, when they have to explain, or even teach you.


In fact, at the Master Certified Coach level, the ICF expects the coach to be open to being taught by the client. Not at the beginner level, but at the master level. 


If you want to be a great coach, you need to get comfortable with being a member of the audience, like that crowd, above. At most, you're the audience member who stands up at the mike and asks a question. The client, or star, is the one who gets to be brilliant. You just listen and occasionally provide the coaching equivalent of applause, a.k.a.validation.


Of course, some coaches combine consulting with coaching and if that's what your client hired you for, then sometimes you share your experience or opinion with them. But be sure you know the difference, because, in the end, leveraging the audience effect will provide greater results for your client. 


And if you have the personal development to get your ego out of the way, this is an effortless (not to mention, masterful) approach to provide amazing outcomes for your coaching clients.



Become a Master Coach Here
Photo: Boston Library

Topics: Become a Master Coach, ICF, Become a Certified Coach, Become a Masterful Coach, master coach, Master Certified Coach, Coaching Tip, Masterful Coaching, Master Coach Training, consulting

Coaching Tip: Is the Truth Really a Question?

Posted by Julia Stewart

As a coach, you probably believe in powerful questions. And as TEDEd speaker, Michael Stevens, demonstrates, powerful questions make all the difference in teaching, too. In fact, questions such as, "How much does a video weigh?" and "What color is a mirror?" have made his Vsauce channel popular with millions. They foster curiosity, because most folks have never considered these quirky questions before.

Is there such a thing as unanswerable questions? Stevens can answer the above questions with science. But coaches are simply looking for clarity, inspiration and action, rather than actual answers. Or are we? 

Sometimes an unanswerable question expands awareness. When tapping into a client's Higher Self, for instance, I'll ask, "What color is it?" and "Where is it located?", questions that don't make logical sense, because the Higher Self isn't a physcial thing. But my clients step into the present moment, along with their intuition, as they attempt to answer my questions and that's the whole point.

My favorite quirky question is "Is the truth really a question?" Coaches intuitively feel the answer is, "Yes." But it can't be, because "Yes." isn't a question. So the logical answer is, "No." But this question invites us to step out of linear logic into a broader, deeper way of thinking.

So then what's the answer? My favorite answer is the coach-y, "What do you think?" Which is all I care about. But the most concise answer is, "Yes?" Which embodies the perfect attitude to bring to a coaching session: open, positive, curious and affirmative.

Watch Michael Stevens for more on quirky questions:


Interested in great coaching questions? Check out the following blog posts:

101 Incredible Coaching Questions

101 Terrific Positive Psychology Coaching Questions

How to Ask Great Coaching Questions Infographic

Topics: Coaching, coach, coaching questions, curiosity, TED, Coaching Tip

Life Coach Advice for Obama Before the Debate

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life coach advice for Obama















by Julia Stewart, MCC

Mr. President, as a life coach, I don't hand out a lot of advice. I have a deep bag of tools I use to help my clients be, do and have what they want and advice is the least of it. But when it's needed, it's needed.

You're an awesome speaker and I was surprised you didn't wipe the floor with your opponent in the last debate. What's up with that?

Judging from his passion, Romney got some terrific coaching before that debate. For the first time in this campaign, he didn't look like his eyes were clueless about what his mouth was saying. Genuine and commanding, he looked like the kind of guy we want for President. (Apparently, he's a closet moderate, after all!) But he still has an uphill climb. Voters may forget flip-flops, but they don't forget insults. Memories of 'Etch-a-Sketch' and '47%' will accompany them into voter booths in November.

You know all that and you also know that you looked like a high school kid who forgot his homework through much of the debate. You didn't make it though Harvard Law, the US Senate and on to the White House, all in lightening speed, by being a guy who shows up anywhere unprepared.

I think something else was going on. Do you mind if I share?

A few years ago, when you were newly elected President Obama, I wrote a post written for life coaches on the importance of keeping up with our clients' rapid growth. It was called, Coach Who They're Becoming, Not Who They've Been and I used you as the example.

But I'm wondering if maybe you got stuck showing up as who you were, instead of who you are, when you went toe to toe with Romney.

You've written about the challenge of showing up as a trustworthy African American when white Americans react to assertive black men as aggressive or even scary. You've brilliantly managed how others perceive you by consistently showing up confident, at ease, polite, but never aggressive.

Well, it's four years later and Americans no longer see you primarily as a black man running for President. We see you first and foremost as The President: The most powerful man on earth, the leader of the free world, our Commander and Chief.

We need you to be more commanding.

This is a defining moment for both you and the country. Yes you can speak as Commander and Chief to a distinguished white man on television and we will cheer you on. Own it.

Normally, if you were my client, I'd ask you what it means to you to be President and why it matters. I suspect you've already reviewed that along with your talking points.

In your rare and marvelous case, you can own what it means to be the first African American President who can publicly stand in his power in a situation that nobody could even imagine a few years ago.

Go for it.

Topics: life coach, Life Coaches, Coaching Tip, Barack Obama

Coaching Tip: Your Brain is Like an iPhone

Posted by Julia Stewart


Great Self Coaching

If the brain is like an iPhone, how can coaching help?

Imagine you are a smart phone with 10,000 brilliant apps, but you don’t know how to use them or even what each one is for.

Instead, you try to make the weather app do the job of the GPS app and then blame it for not telling you where you are. Or maybe you use a shopping app to help you lose weight, but instead you just spend money...

Sound familiar? Some of us have frustrating relationships with our phones!

Yet virtually ALL of us have frustrating relationships with OURSELVES. Why? We don’t understand all of our brilliant apps! We don’t appreciate them because we don’t know what they are or how to use them. And when we use them without awareness, we get poor results...

Worse, we blame ourselves and others and even sabotage the very things we value.

How does this happen? Research tells us our brains are made up of hundreds of discrete modules, comprised of billions of cells, making trillions of connections and... 95% of it is UNconscious!

Think about that: you’re unaware of 95% of YOU.

Psychologists go so far as to say we each have multiple personalities, not pathologically, but adaptively. We tend to be different in different situations, but usually we are unconscious that we have even changed. Others can see us and our blunders, but we are blind to ourselves.

How can you grow if you’re blind to yourself?

Fortunately, there is a way to become aware of your many personalities, modules and...apps. Coaching gives you a crystal-clear mirror in the form of a coach who absolutely believes in you. And that’s where Great Self Coaching comes in...

Imagine being in a safe space where you can explore unconscious aspects of yourself that you’ve never experienced before. This is deep work, but surprisingly unscary. It's also fun - and enlightening - what you’ll discover is ALL good news!

Imagine that you not only learn from yourself, and from me, but also from the other members of this very safe group. This amazing experience connects you to your best self and helps you master ALL your gifts for the very first time.

Actually, you probably can’t imagine this, but you can experience it first hand...

Right now, I’m offering Great Self Group Coaching by phone in a fabulous new format that is incredibly effective. But you can try it out for free, by signing up for one of three Great Self Group Coaching Sessions coming up in the next few weeks.

As with all of my free programs, there are no strings attached, just lots of value (although I love it when you share with them your friends). You WILL however get an opportunity to join an extremely low-priced (a few dollars per session) pilot group to continue this amazing process, if you want to.

But first find out if Great Self Coaching is right for you by taking one or more of the following free 75-minute sessions. They're filling up fast, so take action now.


Free Great Self Coaching Coaching Group 1: The ControllerGreat Self Coaching Quart
Wednesday, July 20th, 4 - 5:15 PM Eastern/NY Time

Free Great Self Coaching Coaching Group 2: The Protector
Thursday, July 28th, 11AM - 12:15 PM EDT

Free Great Self Coaching Coaching Group 3: The Analyzer
Tuesday, August 9th, 2 - 3:15 PM EDT

[UPDATE 7-14-11: These sessions are filling so fast that we've added a 4th:

Free Great Self Coaching Coaching Group 4: Fear
Thursday, August 4th, 8 - 9:15 PM EDT]


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Topics: Coaching, group coaching, Coaching Tip, Great Self Coaching, Life Coaching

Coaching and Emotion: The Godfather Syndrome

Posted by Coach Training

Coach David PapiniGuest post by David Papini.

There is a famous scene in the first movie of The Godfather trilogy, when the four Corleone brothers meet right after their father has been shot and is struggling between life and death in a hospital. The topic they discuss is if and how they have to retaliate against Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo who ordered the shooting. At a certain point in the discussion, Michael Corleone/Al Pacino, the youngest brother, the only brother not involved in his family mafia business, proposes himself as the avenger in a plan where he manages to shoot Sollozzo. The elder brothers explain to him that the issue at stake, retaliation, “it’s not personal, it’s just business”, meaning that it has nothing to do with emotion, family values, the need of justice, the father-son relationship: it’s only a tool to protect the business and send a message to the “business community”.

What struck me (apart the fact I am Italian and I know that business better than the Godfather’s screenwriters ;-), is that for these guys family is not affect, emotion, relationship; it’s “just business”: this is why Michael’s brothers do not consider appropriate (and even harmful) the intention of avenging his father following an emotional reaction (while of course the killing itself can be an appropriate tool, but without emotional involvement).

Last week a client, struggling with her career, was talking about having a “professional demeanor”. To her, this was synonymous with “professional mask”, as opposite to “personal authenticity”, which she was patently not allowed to show at her workplace. Further inquiry led us to discover that for personal authenticity she intended “expressing emotions”, that is, the mask was intended to hide her emotions from her colleagues, because expression of emotions in general was not very welcome at her workplace. Basically, she and her firm were adopting a variant of the Godfather philosophy: it’s business, no emotion or affect needed per-se.

The step from “not expressing emotion” to “believe that you can stop/ignore feeling emotion” seemed closely related for her, while I had in mind what Antonio Damasio (Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, 2010) says: “The expression of emotions can doubtless be modulated voluntarily. But the degree of modulatory control of the emotions evidently cannot go beyond the external manifestations. Given that emotions include many other responses, several of which are internal and invisible to the naked eyes of others, the bulk of the emotional program is still executed, no matter how much willpower we apply to inhibit it. Most important, feelings of emotion, which result from the perception of the concert of emotional changes, still take place even when external emotional expressions are partially inhibited.”

That led me to think of how many times I challenged these limiting beliefs about emotions, all variants of the Godfather syndrome: when it comes to emotions and business, clients often found or put themselves in a mafia business, implicitly negating reality, unavoidability and the value of emotional states. Over time I collected a list of common misconception of emotions in the workplace (and, more in general, in organizations) that I call “storytelling about emotions”. Here is it, with the “false” part in bold:

  1. You are/I am too emotional (I credit this one to Jim and Michele McCarthy, in their book, Software for your Head)
  2. It’s wrong to feel like this
  3. There is no reason I/you feel like that
  4. You make me feel …
  5. Expressing emotion can be disturbing
  6. One must be rational
  7. One cannot think and feel at the same time
  8. Emotions are dangerous
  9. Emotions are not thoughts
  10. Emotions cannot be changed
  11. Emotions can be masked

Every belief in the list favors detaching between parts of the self in a person, which in turn prevents development, change for the best, growth and happiness. This is why I consider part of my job as a coach to help clients with mafia-like emotional approaches to explore how the world can be outside the Godfather mindset.

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

David is a member of SCM's Certified Coach Training Program.

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Topics: Coaching, coaching clients, Certified Coach Training, coaching vs. therapy, Coaching Tip

How to Coach Someone Who Is Thinking Like a Failure

Posted by Julia Stewart

How to Coach In sports, it's called thinking like a winner vs. thinking like a loser.

In Law of Attraction terms, it's thinking that attracts what you want vs. thinking that repels what you want. I call it success thinking vs. failure thinking. Regardless, these thoughts are powerful and they can hijack your client's plans no matter how well you coach them.

Most, if not all, failure thinking comes from the Voice of the Victim, in Big Mind terms. We all have it to some degree. Ironically, the victim can jump out just when your client is about to succeed! Genpo Roshi, who pioneered the Big Mind process, says that the victim story is a cover up for disowning the voice of 'seeking power'. Read on and you'll see why.

What does failure thinking sound like? Helpless. Focused on obstacles more than goals. The client has placed power outside of him/herself and put it in their circumstances. Think: whining.

A few strategies for coaching your client to success:

1. Most of the time, your client's inner victim just needs to be heard. Usually we try to shut down our victim thoughts, but if we never voice them, they may block us from doing what we really want. Procrastination and self-sabotage are examples. Encourage your client to voice their complaints - up to a point. Five minutes of 'BMW Time' (bitch, moan & whine) at the start of the coaching session can work wonders.

Example: I had a client who hired me to help her work on her personal development just before her husband left her for another woman. She was seeing a therapist, but her husband's cruel antics threatened to dominate our coaching sessions until we established BMW Time at the start of each session and devoted the rest to her personal growth.

2.Validate how your client feels - again up to a point. Most clients just need to know that they're okay, even though they're scared. Definitely support them in that, but take care not to get caught up in the client's story. Validate the client, not their belief that they are going to fail.

3. Sometimes the client needs to upgrade his/her community. If you're client is surrounded by failure thinking, it may feel normal to them. Limiting time with the Negative Nancies and expanding time spent with folks who think positively can work wonders. Help your client develop awareness around this, so they can make empowering choices.

4. If failure thinking persists, you may have to bring out the sledgehammer.  Sometimes your client just needs you to call them on their crap. Remember, it's your job to tell the truth, but if you sense your client it too fragile to hear it, you may need to skip straight to #5. 

Example: When I was working on my MFA in Dance, I was fortunate enough to study choreography with Phyllis Lamhut, a dance legend who I consider my 1st coach. Working with Phyllis isn't for the faint hearted, but she is brilliant and she tells the unvarnished truth, which is what high achievers really want. One weekend after I performed less than my best in a concert, Phyllis shared the unvarnished truth with me in front of my entire class. Although I was sick and had several other excuses, Phyllis knew I was letting myself down. She told me I was throwing away my career, if I let all  of that get in the way. Was I crushed? Slightly. Did I get the message? You bet. Ultimately, there are no excuses; you either do what you really want or you don't.

5. If all of the above doesn't move your client out of failure thinking, they may need therapy more than coaching. If the victim has grown this powerful, you're likely hearing the voice of depression or worse. In this case, the victim has taken over; it's not just seeking power, it has enslaved it. Coaches aren't qualified to diagnose mental illness, but we are qualified to notice when our tools aren't adequate for our client's situation.

What's the difference between knowing our limits and thinking like a failure? The outcome. Failure thinking leads to failure. Recognizing limits leads to growth and new possibilities. Learn the difference and help your clients succeed.

Topics: Coaching, coaching clients, coach, How to, Law of Attraction, Coaching Tip, goals, Genpo Roshi, Big Mind Big Heart

Coaching Tip: Lessons Learned From Google Buzz

Posted by Julia Stewart

Google Buzz If you're active on social media, then you can't have missed the hoopla over Google Buzz, Google's foray into social networking.

Google gets it right so much of the time, that most of us were surprised when they messed up with Buzz. First off, after testing Buzz internally, Google made some assumptions about how customers would interact with Buzz. Those assumptions led them to integrate Buzz automatically with every Gmail account, instantly giving millions of Gmail users Buzz followers gleaned from their Gmail address books and linking private emails and chats with public social conversations. Whoa Nelly!! That's a major invasion of privacy!

In addition, Buzz links up blogs and social networking profiles, which is kind of a nice touch, but suddenly, millions of people realized that Google knows more about us than we thought and it apparently can't be trusted to use keep all that info private (see above). This prompted Karen Rubin of Hubspot, to comment that Google knows enough about her to build an exact clone. Eew.

Result? A lot of negative buzz on Buzz. And a mild sense of paranoia about what Google was really up to. Google has enjoyed a fantastic reputation for years and the Buzz snafu will hardly bring them down, but even big companies can spoil their success with too many missteps. (Re: Microsoft, AOL)

So what are the take-aways for coaches?

  1. All the data in the world doesn't mean you really know what your clients want. Nothing's better than asking and listening, no matter how smart and informed you are or how good you are at what you do.
  2. Just because your customers already love what you do, doesn't mean they'll love everything you do. You can build an awesome empire with one fantastic offering (like Google Search).
  3. Guard your contacts' identity info even more than you guard your own. People hate having their data spilled out where they don't want it and as a business owner, you are liable if someone's identity is stolen, because of your mistakes.
  4. Do Google potential clients and even connect with their social profiles. That's normal and expected these days, but don't collect so much info about them that you creep them out. Stalking is still extremely unattractive.

Bottom line? Be a coach in everything you do. Make it all about others and be sure to ask and listen. That's the foundation of great coaching and great coach marketing. It's why coaching is such a successful business (and why even Google's CEO says everyone needs a coach)

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Topics: become a coach, Coaches, coach, Coaching Tip, Google, coach marketing

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