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101 Incredible Coaching Questions

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Questions

Every new coach wants to know…what are THE coaching questions??

So here they are: Powerful Questions, Open-ended Questions, Curious Questions, Clarifying Questions, Possibility Questions, Golden Questions. Do you know the difference? When and how could you use them?

Truth is, there are at least 100,000 great coaching questions and it won’t be long before there are millions. Coaching questions are kind of like iPhone Apps; a few years ago they didn’t exist. Now everybody’s creating them!

Here’s the real secret: it’s how you set up your coaching questions and then how you follow up that creates much of the magic in coaching. These questions in the hands of a novice may not have the same punch as they do when used by a master coach.

But you can get incredible mileage from these awesome coaching questions, right out of the box...

Print out this post and keep it with you when you coach. Notice what happens when you ask these powerful questions. If you don’t get fantastic results, work on your delivery. Here are the questions...

 

Thinking about becoming a coach? Get the FREE Become a Coach eBook here.

 

  1. I’m curious; may I ask you a few questions?
  2. What’s great about your life this week?
  3. How have you grown this week?
  4. What did you accomplish this week?
  5. Who did you serve?
  6. What did you learn?
  7. Who else will benefit?
  8. What are you grateful for?
  9. Who’s grateful for you?
  10. Is this what you want to be coached on or are you just sharing?
  11. What could you be happy about if you chose to be?
  12. Are you using this to grow or are you beating yourself up?
  13. Does this story empower you or disempower you?
  14. How can you turn this around and have better results next time?
  15. On a scale of 1 – 10 how honest have you been about this, with others?
  16. Do you mind if I offer an observation?
  17. Is this the problem or the solution?
  18. How would you like it to be?
  19. What’s in the way?
  20. What’s stopping you?
  21. What does this mean to you?
  22. Are you focused on what’s wrong or what’s right?
  23. Is that a story or the truth?
  24. How can you find out?
  25. Do you want this for its own sake or are you trying to avoid something else?
  26. Is this giving you energy or draining your energy?
  27. What will really make the biggest difference here?
  28. Is this a limitation or is it a strength?
  29. What’s the benefit of this problem?
  30. Who else is this hurting?
  31. What does your intuition tell you about this?
  32. Do you have a gut feeling about this?
  33. Have you solved problems like this before?
  34. What rules do you have that are getting in the way?
  35. How long have you been thinking about this?
  36. Have you ever experienced something like this before?
  37. If you changed your belief about this, what would be possible?
  38. Is this a decision or a pipe dream?
  39. Which of your core values does this goal express?
  40. Is this goal pulling you forward or are you struggling to reach it?
  41. Will this choice move you forward or keep you stuck?
  42. What’s the first step you need to take to reach your goal?
  43. What’s the worst that can happen, and can you handle that?
  44. What’s the downside of your dream?
  45. What’s stopping you from taking action?
  46. Who wouldn’t like it if you succeeded?
  47. What will you have to give up in order to make room for your goals?
  48. How would your life be transformed if you changed this right now?
  49. If you don’t change this, what will it cost you in the long run?
  50. What’s the most resourceful choice here?
  51. How can you improve this, so it adds value forever?
  52. How can you solve this problem so it never comes back?
  53. Are you acting on faith or fear?
  54. If you weren’t scared, what would you do?
  55. Are you standing in your power or pleasing someone else?
  56. What are you pretending not to know?
  57. How could you have this conversation so it empowers everyone concerned?
  58. What might make the difference that could change everything?
  59. If you approached this with courage, how could your life change?
  60. Are you procrastinating or is there a reason to delay?
  61. What’s the emotional cost vs. the financial cost?
  62. Which step could you take that would make the biggest difference, right now?
  63. How can you get your needs fully met?
  64. If your life were exclusively oriented around your values, what would that be like?
  65. How would you describe the difference between a need and a value?
  66. If you achieve this goal, will it bring lasting fulfillment or temporary pleasure?
  67. Have you thought about the impact you’ll have by creating this?
  68. How can you learn from this problem so it never happens again?
  69. How can you create more value with less effort?
  70. What are you willing to do to improve this situation?
  71. What are you willing to stop doing to improve this situation?
  72. How can you enjoy the process of solving this problem?
  73. Do you mind if I ask a very personal question?
  74. What are you willing to commit to here?
  75. Do you need to work harder or delegate this?
  76. If this weakness were also a strength, what would that be?
  77. How can you use this so it becomes a benefit?
  78. Have you decided to take action or are you just hoping you will?
  79. Are you angry or are you hurt?
  80. Who can help you with this?
  81. Does your current habitat fully support who you’re becoming?
  82. What do you need in order to succeed here?
  83. What plan do you need in order to achieve your new goals?
  84. Are your personal standards high enough to reach your goals?
  85. What will your impact be 100 years from now?
  86. Who do you need to become in order to succeed here?
  87. What are you responsible for here?
  88. Instead of either/or, how could you use both?
  89. Are you approaching this from your head or from your heart?
  90. Is this an assumption or have you checked to be sure?
  91. How can you learn what you need to know about this?
  92. Is this the best outcome you can imagine or is there something greater?
  93. Do you have a detailed strategy to get there?
  94. How will you transform your life with this new knowledge?
  95. What does this accomplishment mean to you?
  96. Why does it matter?
  97. Who did you have to become to achieve it?
  98. What did you learn in the process?
  99. Who else will benefit?
  100. What’s next for you?
  101. How have you changed the world for generations to come?

 

Love positive psychology? Get the FREE Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook.

 

Print out this list of questions and post them next to your coaching desk. With practice, incredible coaching questions will occur to you spontaneously, your clients will have amazing insights, and you will easily earn the big bucks that life, business, and executive coaches charge.

Got some great coaching questions of your own? Please share them below in the comments section.

Want to know how to ask incredible coaching questions? Check out this free infographic.

 

Want to be a certified coach in just 8 weeks? Join the Certified Competent Coach course.

 

 

Topics: business coach, life coach, Coaching, coaching school, Business Coaches, coaching questions, master coach, goals, Life Coaching, life coach training

Life Coaching and Post-Healing Society

Posted by Julia Stewart

earth_nasa.jpg 

There is a broad assumption in our society that many, if not most people need to heal, as in restore health or be made whole. And while healing is a phenomenal process that can restore life to millions of people, and for which I am most grateful, I believe we are increasingly moving into a "post-healing society" and I'm not alone.

Post-healing is itself an extraordinary milestone in human evolution, which deserves to be talked about and clarified, so we all know when we are experiencing it and so we can have more of it.

I'm sometimes surprised by people who are unaware of even the possibility of a post-healing society.

So what am I talking about when I say, "post-healing society?" I'm calling it "post-healing", because at the start of something that is this complex and revolutionary, it's helpful to make a distinction between newly emerging conditions and that which went before, gave rise to the new, and is now distinct from it. Over time, I believe a different name will emerge that describes more fully what "post-healing" really is, but for now, let's look at how it is different from healing society.

Post-healing society and healing society currently overlap and will do so for the foreseeable future.

I'm talking largely about psychological healing here, but body, mind, heart, and spirit are so entwined that that distinction may not be altogether important. In fact, appreciating the inherent wholeness and interconnectedness of body, mind, heart, and spirit is a feature of post-healing.

From a psychological perspective, healing society arose and reached its zenith in the second half of the 20th Century when defining mental illnesses, cataloging their symptoms, and finding effective treatments for them became the primary focus of the fields of psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry. As treatments became more effective, the impact on society was seismic. People started to understand their own differences and difficulties, as well as those of others, learned to ask for what they needed, began to experience wellness, spoke up for their rights to be treated equally and with respect, and for many, to a large degree, suffering was diminished.

When there is less suffering, new possibilities emerge.

But by the end of the 20th Century, many professionals seemed to believe there was something psychologically wrong with us all. I heard one psychologist say that everyone had something, either a neurosis, personality disorder, or psychosis; or else they had addictions, brain damage, or other neurological disorders. Another told me that in therapy, neurotic is what you want to be, because everything else is worse.

So what is healthy if everyone is ill, including apparently (since everyone has something), the therapists, themselves?

I wasn't the only one wondering about this, because positive psychology officially emerged in the 1990's as a sub-specialty of psychological research. Positive psychology is specifically concerned with studying people who are doing well, who enjoy well-being and are flourishing, so that others can learn from them and enjoy greater well-being, also.

The pioneers of positive psychology, notably Martin Seligman, went so far as to declare that the goal of positive psychology was to render itself obsolete. In other words, that the larger field of psychology would return to its original intent and cover the entire range of human behavior, rather than just focusing on what was wrong.

Here's a real-world example of post-healing. Seligman was asked by the United States Armed Services to help returning servicemen and women who have developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a debilitating illness that is particularly difficult to heal. After surveying a large number of soldiers, Seligman's team found that a small percentage, who had been exposed to many of the same horrors of war as those who developed PTSD, actually seemed to grow through the experience.

The key to growth rather than illness? It was the story they told themselves about it, in other words, the meaning they attached to the event. If a soldier told him or herself that they were at fault for the deaths of their buddies, or that they should have been able to save a friend, they were more likely to develop PTSD. If on the other hand, they told themselves that they must have been spared for a reason and that now they had an important purpose to serve with their lives, they were more likely to experience what Seligman calls, Post Traumatic Growth.

Now there is training for soldiers that can help them grow through trauma, instead of being damaged by it.

We could call this pre-healing, since it precedes the need for healing. I call it a post-healing intervention, because it comes from a mindset that sees the limitations of healing and, instead of allowing a problem to continue and then waiting to heal people from it, it has found a solution that eliminates the need for healing (An even more advanced post-healing society would eliminate the need for war.)

As an aside, I want to mention that 20th Century psychology has focused, from a scientific and medical standpoint, on many of the same issues that were once thought to belong to the realm of spirit, spirituality, and religion. Afterall, its name is derived from the Greek, "psykhe", meaning soul, spirit, or mind.

Today's "spiritual-but-not-religious" movement focuses on healing almost as much as the psychological field.

But modern spirituality also focuses on the transcendent, trans-personal, upon enlightenment, and other lofty states. Like the field of psychology that is envisioned by Seligman, spirituality focuses on the full range of human behaviors and experiences.

An example of post-healing spirituality is Zen Master, Genpo Roshi's, brilliant integration of voice dialogue therapy with modern Zen, called Big Mind. The goal of Big Mind isn't healing, but Buddhist enlightenment. It begins with the assumption that the student is already whole, complete, and perfect; including the parts s/he would like to eliminate!

An example is what Roshi calls a "disowned voice", a part of us that we judge negatively and may want to eliminate and that can become a problematic shadow. One such voice is what he calls, "The Damage". Most of us who seek out healing would love to eliminate what we consider damaged in ourselves. Some of us go from therapist to therapist, spiritual healer to spiritual healer, for years hoping to finally be healed.

Don't go to Roshi for healing, though. Instead, he completely reframes the role of The Damage. He will tell you that you are already whole, complete, and perfect, including The Damage, which is perfectly damaged. It's perfect, because it has accepted all the slings and arrows of your life, so the rest of you can remain undamaged. No more, no less.

What would you call someone who took a bullet for you? Your hero?

The Damage is a hero who accepts all the damage we would otherwise endure, allowing the rest of our selves to remain whole, complete, and perfect. It deserves to be honored and embraced. Instead, we cause suffering for ourselves by framing it as imperfect, not good enough, broken, or sick. When we go through life believing we need to heal, we sometimes keep old wounds open, we feel less than, we sometimes give away our power to healers, or we may use our condition to be less than fully responsible for ourselves.

Once you embrace that you're whole, complete, and perfect, there are no more excuses.

I'm not suggesting that these two examples of what I call, post-healing, are what everyone needs. Remember, both the healing society and post-healing society will exist side-by-side for quite a while, if not forever. I am suggesting that healing has opened the door to post-healing.

I'll use myself as another example. As someone who grew up in the proverbial dysfunctional family, I worked with a number of therapists over the years, believing there was something wrong with me. They made a big difference. But one of the most dramatic shifts that I made with any therapist was with the last, who at one point said, "Read my lips, you're healthy." Accepting that there was nothing seriously wrong with me was like waking from a dream. Suddenly, so much more was possible. I felt confident and believed in myself.

Of course, I wouldn't have gotten there without the help of some wonderful healers. And that's my point. Therapy got me ready for post-healing. And it got me ready for coaching, too.

Life coaching is, as far as I know, the first and perhaps only profession that is completely post-healing.

Life coaching and its siblings, including business coaching, executive coaching, and more, don't focus on healing clients, but rather assist clients to shift into more resourceful, and some would say, transformative mind-states that help them see solutions to problems and pathways to goals, while inspiring them to take action and create the outcomes that are best for themselves and others.

We see our clients as whole, complete, and perfect. We believe in them from the very start. We help them reframe limiting beliefs, integrate disowned voices, and experience their interconnectedness with others. As a result, they become more confident, believe in themselves, evolve into who they want to be, and create valuable changes for themselves and others. It's both an honor and an interdevelopmental experience to work with people who are discovering their true selves for the very first time.

They step into their greatness and go on to change the world for the better.

Imagine a world where all people not only heal, but reach their full potential and are inspired to transform the world. It's not a dream. Because of the good work done by healers, clients are becoming ready for post-healing and coaches go on to make transformative possibilities real everyday.

Would you like to join the post-healing society?

Find a coach here. Or become a coach. Your first step toward professional coaching would be to explore the following course for new life, business, and executive coaches:

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Topics: Genpo Roshi, Big Mind Big Heart, Life Coaching, Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, post-healing

Life Coaching vs. Psychotherapy: What's the Real Difference?

Posted by Julia Stewart

therapy-cartoon

What’s the difference between life coaching and psychotherapy? This is a common question from new coaching students. And that’s a good thing; it suggests they really care about providing an ethically and legally sound service.

And if you’re thinking about hiring a life coach or therapist, you certainly want to know the difference. I hope this article is helpful to both coaches and clients and maybe even to therapists.

Fifteen to twenty years ago, when coaching was still new, life coaches were sometimes accused of “practicing therapy without a license”. But today coaching is well established as a separate, if confusingly similar, profession.

And it’s no surprise people confuse psychotherapy with coaching. Both professional services involve personal development and are usually delivered in one-to-one or small-group conversations. But beyond that, they’re practiced in a huge variety of ways and there is quite a bit of overlap. It’s worth noting also that definitions of therapy and coaching vary somewhat around the world.

It sometimes seems nobody agrees on the real distinctions between life coaching and psychotherapy.

For instance, last Friday I read a blog post that defines positive therapy, a type of psychotherapy that that uses positive psychology interventions, this way: “It’s about shifting from today’s accepted standard of ‘doing OK’ into the fullness of our human potential and flourishing.” That’s an excellent definition of coaching.

Which reminds me of something fellow coach, Barbra Sundquist, once said (paraphrased): The problem isn’t that coaches are doing therapy; the problem is that therapists are doing coaching!

So okay, enough with the problem. Let’s get to some answers.

Rather than just present my own opinions, I did a little research (Full disclosure: I will never-the-less present my opinions further down).

One of the best-known articles on coaching vs therapy is in Choice, a popular coaching magazine, written by Patrick Williams, who specializes in teaching coaching skills to therapists. This seems like a good place to start.

Williams’ distinctions between life coaching and therapy are very similar to what I was taught in coaching school fifteen years ago and I mostly agree.

To paraphrase Williams, therapy deals with dysfunction and trauma. A therapist diagnoses the problem and uses their expertise to promote healing. Emotions are seen as symptoms. Progress involves exploring the past and may be slow and painful. Meanwhile, coaching clients tend to be healthy and are a looking to upgrade good to great. Coaches don’t diagnose illnesses and healing is not the objective. Emotions are normal. The coach is an equal partner with the client; focus is on the present and future; and progress tends to be quick and enjoyable.

Pretty straight forward, huh? Only, increasingly, I’ve noticed therapists challenging these distinctions rather vociferously. Some say therapy clients can be healthy to begin with, that focus doesn’t have to be on the past and progress can be quick and even enjoyable. So are they doing therapy or coaching?

Some say it doesn’t matter.

There’s an amusing article on this topic in Psychology Today by Michael Bader. I say, “amusing”, because I enjoy folks who have the audacity to challenge the status quo. Bader’s subtitle is, “Coaches and therapists make too big a deal about their differences”.

I agree. Up to a point.

Bader says he chooses his tools according to what individual clients need. If they need to delve into the past, he goes there; if they’re ready to move ahead quickly, he assists. That to me sounds like someone who’s mastered his craft and can easily improvise, as needed. Whether you work with a therapist or a coach, choose a master, if you can.

Bader goes on to say the only true difference between therapists and coaches is that therapists understand why coaching works, but coaches don’t understand why therapy works. I’d challenge that. Well-trained coaches understand very well why either works.

Here’s my opinion on the real difference between life coaching and psychotherapy: it all boils down to responsibility. And that matters. A lot.

In nearly every country on the planet, governments hold psychotherapists responsible by requiring them to meet educational and licensing standards. This is appropriate, because people who seek therapy often are significantly distressed and may be somewhat impaired in their judgment. They seek the expertise of therapists to help “fix” whatever they perceive is wrong.

On the other hand, in virtually every country on the planet, governments do not require specific educational and licensing standards for coaches. This too is appropriate because coaches don’t fix anyone. We specifically work with clients who are healthy enough to take full responsibility for their lives and simply want a partner who, for a limited time, will assist them to make big changes. Coaches may be experts in transformation, but their clients are experts on their own lives. Putting clients in the driver’s seat is, itself, transformative.

A good therapist is an expert who plays his cards well. A good coach may also be an expert, but he lays all his cards on the table and invites the client to choose which ones to play.

This doesn’t mean coaches aren’t responsible for anything. Chiefly they are responsible inviting their clients to be great. They also have a responsibility to distinguish themselves from therapists, because they aren’t legally sanctioned to practice therapy. This is more challenging as therapists move closer to coaching.

And it’s not surprising that more therapists are taking a coach approach to therapy, because coaching has been tremendously successful.

But for the record, regardless how therapists define themselves, coaching does NOT focus on dysfunction, diagnosis, symptoms or the past. It’s about healthy people being their very best. Being responsible is way easier when you're at your best.

That said, an ethical coach will observe when a client needs therapy instead of, or in addition to, coaching and will recommend accordingly. In my opinion, a good therapist will observe when a client is ready to take greater responsibility for their own life and will recommend coaching, if that’s what’s best.

So if you’re thinking of working with a life coach or a psychotherapist, ask yourself how distressed you are currently and whether you want someone else to take responsibility for helping you progress, or do you want to be responsible for your own life and want a partner who facilitates your greatness.

If you’re thinking about becoming a life coach or psychotherapist, ask yourself: Do you want to be an expert who is responsible for your clients, or do you want to support clients who are responsible for themselves?

So what say you? Am I full of hogwash or do you agree that responsibility is the key difference between life coaching and psychotherapy? I’d especially like to hear from therapists and counselors who are studying at School of Coaching Mastery.

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Topics: coach training, become a coach, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Life Coaching, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, life coaching vs. psychotherapy

Life Coaching: The Path to Clarity

Posted by Jerry Logan

The_winding_path_by_tinyfroglet_flickr_commonsHave you ever participated in a game or exercise where a group of people get to view a picture for several minutes, then write down everything they recall? Sometimes the responses vary so much they may be quite a topic of conversation. They can, however, give some insights into the interests and perspectives the participants have. While they all witness the very same image, what they see may likely have many interpretations.

In any situation, person, place, or thing we encounter, there is always the potential for the experience to be understood as positive, negative, or neutral. What makes the difference in the interpretation, of course, is our perception of what occurred. Our culture, history, heritage, values, relationships, and work ethics may affect what we see, and what is truly present when we take another look. In a group setting, this can merely entertain, or it may be a window into our insights on one side, or biases on the other. In a one-­on-­one encounter, this can lead to strong opinions and a heated debate, if neither party is willing to concede that the perceptions may be so disparate.

How well does our “interpretation” match what seemingly truly happened? What is the possibility of altering it, if necessary, especially after some focused dialogue? When we are willing to accept that there are other ways to see, we gain awareness and understanding of the other person's world view. Is that not at the heart of any relationship, and, for our purposes, at the core of coaching? I believe we are called to gain insight into the client's interpretations, so that we may know what questions to ask to invite the person to get to a refined concept, deeper level, a better view, a greater awareness.

In the aging process, vision usually changes for the worse. In the coaching experience, my goal is for Jerry_Logan_Life_Coach“vision” to change for the better. I truly want the client to succeed, to be able to live a more peaceful life. By actively listening, gently probing, refining, and asking more, I invite the client to “change the lens” for sharper viewing, whether it is by internal means, or by making better use of the available resources in people, or by using any tools that may achieve the goal. Sometimes, it is only a matter of fine tuning, while others need extended time to make the connections. No matter how long it takes, the overall desired result is the client's contentment, and the ability to take another step on the journey. In this, I recall the words I use also for myself: “New vision is the path to clarity.”

 

Jerry Logan is a Life Coach located in Jacksonville, Florida, and is also a member of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach ProgramGo here to find out more about Jerry.

 

Learn more about the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program here:

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®

Image by tinyfroglet

 

 

Topics: life coach, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Life Coaching, Values

What is Life Coaching?

Posted by Julia Stewart

what is coaching?

 

Definition of Coaching:

School of Coaching Mastery (SCM) definition of coaching: Coaching is a customized conversation that empowers the client to get what s/he wants by thinking and acting more resourcefully.

International Coach Federation (ICF) definition of coaching: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential

Whether you call it life coaching, executive coaching, or business coaching, the profession of coaching is the byproduct of a new paradigm in human development. Scientists, philosophers and regular people are asking questions about life, such as, “How can people reach their full potential and enjoy greater happiness and success?”


As a result, new possibilities are opening up for many of us. In a very real sense, new questions create new realities and new realities lead to new opportunities for our happiness, success and fulfillment. Coaching is all about asking those new questions.


This new approach is empowering, but because it is new, people often have trouble understanding what it means. For this reason, sometimes it’s helpful to explore what coaching is not.


Coaching is not the same as counseling or psychotherapy, professions which evolved out of the disease model of traditional psychology. Clients generally seek out therapy or counseling when they are distressed by a problem and may need to heal.


Clients seek coaches when their lives are already okay, but they want to be even better. Coaching assumes clients are already “whole, complete and perfect” and are capable of making empowering choices. Having a skilled coach who believes in them, can help clients grow, act resourcefully, reach their goals and discover their greatness. Healing from a disease or problem is never the central focus of coaching.


One way to think of the distinction between psychotherapy and coaching is their relationship to health. Therapy takes a client from an unhealthy or negative state ( - ) and brings them up to a healthy or neutral state ( 0 ). While coaching begins at that neutral state and moves the client toward their full potential or positive state ( + ).

 

Therapy vs Coaching formula

Coaching is also not consulting. A consultant is an expert in a particular field who assesses a client’s situation in relation to that field and makes recommendations on what to do to improve the situation.

A coach generally assists clients to assess their own situations and think - and act - more resourcefully about how to improve them. In other words, a coach helps the client to grow so they can reach their own goals independently, now and in the future, rather than become dependent upon an expert for help. Most consultants also do some coaching and most coaches also do a small amount of advising, so these professions are often confused, but generally, coaches help their clients be their best, while consultants advise clients on what to do.


Because coaching is popular and not regulated, people who are not coaches sometimes call themselves coaches. The following services are not coaching: consulting, training, seminar leading, counseling, therapy, internet marketing, selling, bill collecting; or offering advice on financial or legal matters, health issues, or religious teachings. Be suspicious of anyone who calls himself a coach, but who offers services in any of the foregoing areas.

Sometimes people who are unqualified to be licensed in a regulated profession will call themselves coaches to get around legal requirements. This is not only unethical, it is a red flag that the person is unqualified in that area.

 

Become a qualified coach and get certified:

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Topics: business coach, Coaching, professional coaching, executive coaching, become a coach, get certified, what is coaching, what is a life coach, Life Coaching

2014 Executive Coaching Survey: Neuroscience Soars

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching with Neuroscience

Interest in neuroscience as a part of business, executive, and life coaching is soaring. Sherpa Coaching just released the results of their 2014 annual executive coaching survey, and noticing a trend toward neuroscience in coaching, they for the first time, asked questions about neuroscience and coaching in their survey:

  • Should neuroscience have a role in coaching? 

  • How much should executive coaches know about neuroscience? 

  • How much should clients know about neuroscience?

  • Does a working knowledge of neuroscience alter coaches' credibility?

Sherpa defines neuroscience as "a combination of medicine, applied science and research that explains human behavior and the way it changes."

I'd define it differently: Neuroscience studies what goes on in the brain during thoughts, behaviors and emotions, often using technology, such as EEGs, PET scans, or fMRIs. It discovers the physical correlates that underly human psychology. 

In any case, here are some of the survey responses from coaches on the topic of neuroscience and coaching, beginning with a quote from one respondent:

"Justin Kennedy, professor of neuroscience at South Africa‟s University of Pretoria, says: 'With the proper knowledge and training, you can use your conscious mind to change your physical brain. Really change it, so the way you think, the way you act, the way you feel can all be made better.' He tells us about neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain‟s ability to change and adapt. 'You really are in control, and you really do have choices. When you think new thoughts, you are actually changing the geography of your brain, changing the electric patterns that create and carry thoughts, changing the chemicals that control moods and energy levels.'

  • 76% of executive coaches say that neuroscience should have a role in executive coaching. 
  • 62% of executive coaches believe they and their peers should have a full understanding or at least a working knowledge of neuroscience. Both internal and external coaches agree. Female coaches support this notion more often than male coaches do, by about a 10% margin. 
  • 34% say their clients should have a full understanding or at least a working knowledge of neuroscience. Internal coaches favor this at a slightly higher rate than external coaches do. 
  • 49% say a background in neuroscience improves a coaches‟ credibility. Less than 10% feel it is a negative.

School of Coaching Mastery recently launched its new Introduction to Coaching with Neuroscience course in response to the rise in coaching with neuroscience. It's part of the new Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program. We explore the thrilling possibilities of coach-assisted neuroplasiticity and the underlying reasons why positive psychology has the power to help people be happier and more successful - often in very surprising ways.

Learn more about coaching with neuroscience and positive psychology:


Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

Topics: business coach, executive coaching, Coach Training Programs, Life Coaching, certified coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, coaching with neuroscience

New Stanford Study Says CEOs Want a Lot More Executive Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Executive Life CoachingEverybody knows that CEOs and Executives are the folks who all have high-priced executive life coaches. But a new study from Stanford University says there's a big gap between the number of executives who want coaching and the number who actually get it.

How many executives want coaching? According to Stanford, virtually 100% want coaching and consulting. How many actually get it? Only 34%. That's a lot of need for executive coaching services that's not being met.

By the way, what's the difference between life coaching and executive coaching? Not much, according to Sherpa. Executive coaches use many of the same communication and awareness-building skills that life coaches use. The difference is largely in who gets coached and how much is charged for it, with executive coaches averaging roughly double what life coaches charge. 

To become an executive coach it's important to have a recognized coach certification. Currently ICF certification is preferred by large organizations. You also need experience, a great track record and training in areas like positive psychology. Understanding corporate politics may matter, but some coaches say it's more advantageous to come from a background that's completely different from that of big business. To understand why, read the four main reasons CEOs and executives want coaching...

Why do 100% of CEOs and Executives want coaching?

  1. They want to learn how to handle conflict better. 
  2. They want to learn to mentor and develop talent.
  3. They need to learn to share leadership and delegate.
  4. They need to improve team building.
These skills are all about cooperation, not the competitive, swim-with-the-sharks approach that the upper echelans of business are known for.

 

What are CEOs and Executives NOT interested in? Motivation, compassion, empathy; these life coaching 'soft' skills aren't sought after by executives, but can be powerful add-ins when combined with the more tangible wants, above. Smart coaches have always marketed and sold what clients want, while adding in important soft skills as their 'secret sauce'.

 

CEOs and executives also want advice, because they make big decisions daily and they know they don't know it all. But there's a big difference between wanting advice and taking the advice given. That's where coaching skills trump consulting. Coaches communicate in ways that make it far more likely that clients will act upon good ideas.

 

For more on why CEOs value executive coaching, watch this Forbes video interview of Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, who says the best advice he ever got was to get a coach.

 

Want to become an executive coach? Get the coach training and certification you need. If you're a high achiever, get your own executive coach, as well.

 

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Topics: executive coach, executive coaching, ICF, life coach salary, Coach Certification, Become a Certified Coach, Life Coaching, Positive Psychology

Life Coach: Why It Doesn't Mean Anything Anymore

Posted by Julia Stewart

Certified Life Coach

It's almost impossible to the miss the story about the two 'life coaches' in Brooklyn who committed suicide this week. That story is everywhere, because it's so ironic. The two actually co-hosted a radio show called, The Pursuit of Happiness!

Apparently, they failed to find it.

This post isn't about them. They clearly were in a lot of pain and their passing is tragic.

This post is rather about the subtext of the media frenzy (okay, it's a small frenzy; let's just call it media attention) surrounding this story.

The subtext asks...

  1. How could these life coaches help anyone find happiness, when they were clearly miserable, themselves?
  2. Were these life coaches hypocrites?
  3. Would you want a life coach who is suicidal?
  4. Aren't there any requirements to calling yourself a life coach?
  5. How can you trust anyone who calls him/herself a life coach, when they might be depressed, mentally ill, suicidal, or who knows what?

In answer to number 4: No. There are no legal requirements to calling yourself a life coach. Yet.

That means my dog could be a life coach. She may be more qualified than some human life coaches.

And I'm not just singling out life coaches. Business coaches, executive coaches, career coaches, health coaches. None of these titles means anything. In today's world, everyone, including bill collectors, can and do call themselves coaches.

The guy selling vitamins at the health-food store is a nutrition coach. The woman who works  at the dress shop is a retail coach. The manager at a telemarketing company is a sales coach.

None of these phrases means anything, because they have come to mean whatever anyone wants.

Right now, there is maximum freedom in the coaching industry, because there are no real legal requirements. That allows massive creativity and growth and that's great for coaches. Although the situation appears to be changing and the suicide story may speed up that change.

The real problem these days is for the consumer who doesn't know whom to trust.

The answer, of course, is credentialing and industry oversight, but a lot of 'coaches' are fighting it.

  • They say it's an evil plot by established coaches to keep out the competition
  • They say a piece of paper won't help them coach any better
  • They say it's an effort to control coaches, or to sell them training and certifications

Really?

That first argument is just paranoid. The second is true. Although, I've seen hundreds of coaches learn to coach much better, while on the way to qualifying for a piece of paper. And the last may, or may not be true, but it's not a good enough reason to not get certified.

Life coaches get certified because they want to be the best they can be. Because they are committed to their profession. Because they feel it is the right thing to do. Because they are proud to be certified. They also get certified to distinguish themselves from the worst of the worst.

Consumers look for assurances that they can trust the life coaches they hire. And they deserve some assurance. That assurance often takes the form of a certification.

I got my first coach certification a decade ago and have qualified for several more, since. I've learned something new with each one. I'm not finished.

Although I believe more in learning than I do in credentials, I've noticed that the goal of credentialing is an effective way to stay focused on learning. It has worked for me and for thousands of other good coaches.

I sell training and certifications to coaches mostly because I want to help good coaches distinquish themselves from ineffective or dishonest coaches. It's an honor to work with people who are committed to being their best. Whether you get certified by my organization or some other, get certified.

Certified Life Coach means something. SCM, IAC or ICF Certified Life Coach really means something.

It's time to stop calling yourself just a life coach.

If you want to explore the path to our entry-level certification, click below:

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Topics: business coach, life coach, executive coaching, ICF, Life Coaches, Become a Certified Coach, life coach certification, certified life coach, sales and marketing coaches, Life Coaching, life coach training, IAC

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.

 

Learn how to coach people on what really matters to them (and get a coaching certificate):

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

The Future of Coaching: 2013 Trends in Business and Life Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

If you think you understand trends in business andfuture of life coaching life coaching, you're probably dead wrong.

Why? Because the future of humanity is about to change at even more breathtaking rates. That means the future of coaching is not what you think. Not even close.

How's that? We're about to reach a technological 'tipping point' across several technologies and this runaway world we live in is about get a million times faster. 

You've heard of Moore's Law? It's the well-established prediction that computing power will double every 18 months, while prices plummit. In other words, exponential growth. Moore's Law has held true for decades. The current result is an iPhone processor that's more powerful than the 1970's Apollo rockets that travelled to the Moon. (which makes Apple's recent map app blunder seem especially silly)

If you were to graph exponential growth, you'd get what's known as a 'hockey stick' curve. At first you get a relatively long period of slow growth, with a slight incline, but at some point the numbers that are doubling become so huge that the curve goes virtually vertical. That's the tipping point or 'escape velocity' that we've just about reached with computing power.

Moore's Law is what futurists call a hard trend. It's a prediction that you can count on. Some futurists say that Moore's Law can be applied to other technologies as well, such as nanotech and artificial intelligence, and that when you combine these technologies, as they are doing at Singularity University, you get even more explosive growth and more escape velocity.

What does all this tech mean to coaches, other than the possibility that someday, Skype will stop bumping us off our free international video calls? Well if you consider Adizes' Change Constant (Change leads to problems, which lead to solutions, which lead to more change, etc.), our potential clients are about to have a lot more problems. They're mostly the kind of problems you want to have, as we say, but they still will feel like big problems to them. And that's when they hire coaches. But wait, before you cheer...

What kinds or problems are caused by explosive growth in the tech fields? Well first there are new jobs created, like IT professionals, website designers and virtual assistants; jobs most people couldn't conceive of 50 years ago. And then there is the elimination of jobs that are replaced by technology, like librarians, sign painters and secretaries. Painful! Except, every time technology replaces some jobs, it creates new ones, such as international tech support, robot repair, and home-based manufacturing. That's a cycle you can count on. New high-paid jobs are always on the horizon, only most people can't even conceive of them, much less get ready. That's scary.

Let's face it, our ancestors evolved back when exponential change equaled the invention of the wheel, the bow and arrow and roasted mastadon instead of raw. Those changes occured at the slow-sloping left side of the hockey stick curve and that's what your nervous system today is wired for, not change at the rate of a new job every year. Jeez.

People are going to need assistance in making constant life-changing transitions, the kinds our grandparents only made once or twice in a lifetime. Maybe we'll need more psychotherapists to talk us down off the ledge, but in this month's Wired magazine, Founding Editor, Kevin Kelly says robots will soon replace therapists. I don't know about that, but he also says nurses, teachers, personal trainers, waiters and surgeons will soon be robotic. The jobs will go to the people who manage the bots.

The best-paying jobs will go to those who can leverage the added value that technology is constantly creating. Beyond that, we can spend our time doing what we want.

So what's the one job Kevin Kelly says robots can't replace? The job of deciding what people really want to do. 

Coaches help people decide what they really want to do.

Coaching is not a tech job, but technology creates the need for coaches. And it's creating more of that need all the time for coaches who are ready.

Can coaches be replaced by artificial intelligence? We're a long way from that, because coaching relies at least as much on 'right brain' intuitive skills, which have been a challenge to the computing field so far, as it does on linear processing skills. But they'll probably crack intuition, eventually.

However, no amount of AI will ever make robots human. You could program 3CPO to say, 'I believe in you', but those words ring hollow unless you hear them from someone whose opinion matters to you.

Coaching will likely be with us for several more decades, or at least until Siri gets programed to ask more than she tells.

What else is about to change? Everything from the demise of our current too-slow, too-expensive, too-ineffective system of higher education (watch this video of new Google University for what might be next); to the rise of the 'bottom billion' as a result of cheap smart phones that now connect impoverished people to unlimited information, to vertical farming that can scale up to feed 10 billion of us. To get a more complete picture, I highly recommend you read Abundance by venture capitalist and X Prize founder Peter Diamandis.

How can you get ready to coach in the coming decades? 

Surprisingly, you don't need to chase every trend. And you don't need to coach huge numbers of people for less. Because the rise of technologies means there is also a trend at the other side of the spectrum. It's the one that leverages Kevin Kelly's 1000 True Fans concept and focuses on hyper-customization and hyper-personalization.

Chris Brogan calls this the 'bespoke business'. This is the type of business most successful coaches have. It includes just a few clients who each pay a hefty fee. It usually also includes some lower-priced options and free content in order to build relationships and true fans. This type of business is on the rise and looks like it's here to stay.

More people will need and want coaching in the coming future. Less expensive goods and services provided by automation will free up money. And with the coming need to prepare for new professions every year, the savvy will use that money to hire tutors, mentors and coaches to help them get where they need to go faster.

What's a good strategy for a coach moving forward into the super-high-tech world of the future? Become the best - perhaps the only - in your specialty. Get just-in-time training, be nimble and ready to pivot when things change dramatically, have your own coach and take super great care of yourself - you'll need it.

And have fun. Technology is designed to free us from drudgery. Coaching is the perfect profession for enjoying that freedom.

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Topics: business coach, Coaching, coach training, iPhone, future of coaching, successful business, Life Coaching, life coach training, Kevin Kelly

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