- What I’ve (always) struggled with – Of pruning and hoarding
- What’s really helping me out – Yannick Jacob, Father/Science Detective!
- What a piece of shit taught me about responsibility – Sarte vs. Projectile poo
- What I’ve learned about my mind – Presence, distractions & entering the zone
- Content galore – Three book chapters plus podcasts podcasts podcasts!
- Catch me live!
Before I get going, heads up! This is a long one. In fact we should acknowledge the fact that these Nuggets aren’t really “nuggets” anymore, and haven’t been for a while, so I’m going to run an experiment – but I’ll tell you about that another day.
That said: On with today’s triple burger with extra sauce.
What a trip! Wow…
As you may have noticed I’ve been, what you might call, relatively quiet lately. Well, it’s been the opposite in my life as we’re still overjoyed (and somewhat overworked), that on 22.1.22 at 11:22am our first child Leah was born, missing her due date of 2.2.22 by nearly 2 weeks. Ones and twos. Don’t let me get into it! 😉
So people ask: “How’s fatherhood?” And how the hell do you sum that up in a sentence?!
What I’ve heard myself say more and more is exactly that: it’s a trip! A rollercoaster. A journey.
The kind of journey you’ve been preparing for for some time, but one that you just can’t plan because as much as people are telling you, and as much as you’ve read or think you know, you’ve simply got no idea what’s coming and where you’re going.
It’s Exciting. Scary. Deeply meaningful. It fills you with happiness and grabs you by the balls. It’s exhausting and energising. It breathes new life into you and sucks the life from you. It feels fully alive.
A sense of purpose that’s so undeniably clear. I’ve never felt more focused, and more distracted. It feels like a paradox with all the emotions, all the experiences. Wowser!!!
And as much as it’s all that for me, I gotta say that I didn’t experience the kind of radical shift in mindset that childbirth is often portrayed as. You know: That explosion that changes everything, the “now everything’s different” narrative that seems to surround becoming a parent.
I’m sure it’s what many (most?) parents feel like when their child is born – and I reckon that I might feel differently if Leah had grown inside my body and I had done the physical labour, or feeding her from my breast.
I also reckon it’s different when pregnancy comes as a surprise or if I were not as reflective as I generally am. All I’ve got is my experience and I’ve experienced it more like an evolution, something that made sense, hence less shocking, less radical.
I do admit though, at first I felt almost guilty for not feeling the “appropriate” feelings when I first heard her heartbeat, when I first looked her in the eyes, or when she first smiled. It made me think a lot about narratives, how we’ve been shaped by Hollywood and by other people’s stories (or: by how they choose to remember certain events).
Like, rushing to the hospital as soon as the water breaks? Not a thing! Most likely they’ll send you back home until you’re at least 4cm dilated, which can take hours, even days for some.
So, how will we tell the story? How am I telling the story now? What to share? What not to? What might I tell Leah about the time she was born? What’s the narrative I create, now and in the future?
I find it fascinating how much we’re influenced by other people’s versions of their story, how we even feel differently based on what we think the experience should be like.
Like I said: What a trip.
And here’s a reminder that we’re the ones writing the story – unless we’re not aware that we’re writing it, in which case the story will be written for us.
Take from it what you will, and meanwhile, as always, here are a few nuggets – bits and pieces from my mind over these past few months, and a fuck-tonne of new content too!
What I’ve (always) struggled with – Of pruning and hoarding
I fear for my little succulent garden now that I have a baby. It’s been – and will hopefully continue to be – a rich source for metaphors in my life.
This one speaks to my long-standing tendency of hoarding shit, and trying to grow too many branches to my business.
In part it’s aligned with my character: I like novelty and diversity, I like to keep things fresh, and I don’t like repetition and routine.
But I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that if you’re trying to grow too many arms, your plant will wither, and none of the arms gets enough water to survive.
Or, you end up rotting at the core, as you’re adding too much water to keep things going. When the leaves turn yellow you don’t necessarily know whether they need more or less water, and if you try to put even more in, it may be counterproductive.
So I’m learning how to prune, and I’m discovering that it’s a terrific way to manage the allocation of resources. For that, I thank fatherhood: There simply was no way I could continue creating branches and ‘project-salad’ now that my circumstances have changed and the resource called ‘time’ became so incredibly more valuable.
I’m deeply grateful for working with my new COO & Editor-in-Chief Martin Stellar to help me prune and grow in this turbulent time. If you’ve been to any of the Coaching Labs, chances are you may be hearing from him soon, as we’re trying to figure out what works well and what needs to be done to open this lovely series of events up to a broader audience.
So keep a look out for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org and please wish him luck trying to keep me pruned – he’ll need it! 🙂
Oh and on that note, Martin will be coaching a coach at our next Coaching Lab to help them grow their business and sell more, for which you can be a fly on the wall. A great opportunity to meet Martin in his element.
The value of the scientific mindset when you’re a parent (and generally)
I’m a detective now. I figure out mysteries, with nothing but vague clues to go by. Lots of confounding factors. Seeking the truth. Why are you crying, little one?!?
Never have I been more thankful for my academic training than these days. And yet I often used to question whether I was spending my time well, back when my nose was buried in psychology research papers, instead of being ‘out in the world’, working with people.
But now it’s so clear and tangible: No, just because I took a sip of beer and she stopped crying, that’s not a good enough reason to drink: correlation doesn’t equal causation.
No, just because we gave her grape water and her colic got better, that doesn’t mean that ‘it worked’: We also tried 15 other things to make it better, and there’s no way of telling which one/s were effective – too many confounding factors.
And yes, it’s painful to do research -sometimes, even literally so at times when you’re trying to figure out your baby’s pain. It takes time to find out what works, it can feel wrong to experiment, and often it’s probably better to listen to your intuition.
But our intuition also told us to feed her more when she’s crying ‘like that’, and it turns out that definitely wasn’t it.
And yes, just because “science says” that this or that is good or bad for babies doesn’t necessarily mean that’s true for your baby: she might just be the outlier, the point in the dataset that got eliminated because it’s too different.
This happens all the time, as it’s a valid and commonly used statistical operation in quantitative research. Sometimes it’s because a participant filled in a questionnaire incorrectly, other times it’s because some people are quite different. That’s why we work with a “95% confidence interval” in psychology, which is good enough to call a finding significant (please note: significant – not proof!).
So here I am in the middle of the most important case study of my life, grateful for being able to draw on a long history of researchers working collectively, trying to figure out babies, human development, health and wellbeing, in a methodical way, taking into account (to the best of their human abilities!) common thinking traps, personal biases and statistical errors, to contribute to the universal knowledge pool, and essentially to help me figure things out not all on my own.
Thank you science, for your knowledge and your attitude towards creating knowledge. You’re not perfect, but you are invaluable. I appreciate you <3
At what age do you become responsible? A story about projectile-poo
How is this even possible?!” I thought, as I stepped into our bedroom, and noticed a chunky piece of shit about two (!) full steps away from the changing station, and my wife standing there with a look that said “I narrowly escaped impact”. Incredible to me – not only the quantity but mainly the sheer pressure. A part of me is still in disbelief and half-hopes it’ll happen again soon under my watch, instead of arriving just after the scream-laugh that triggered me rushing into the room.
Later that day that shit was still floating around in my head and I felt rather challenged, existentially, around topics of freedom and responsibility. Sartre tells us that we are “condemned to be free”, that we are responsible for our actions and choices (or lack thereof). I believe strongly in taking responsibility for what is and isn’t going on in our lives (all the while acknowledging “facticity” and that we don’t have any control over most of what’s going on in the world).
What we do have control over is our behaviour, our choices, and we cannot not take responsibility for what we do and don’t do. Yet here I am, and there is just no way that this projectile poo was a choice that I can hold this baby responsible for.
I mean, this baby doesn’t even have control over most of her body and once head-butted me full strength right into my shoulder (with no provocation other than calling her a baby).
So when does it start? When do we become responsible?
Is it when we begin to be conscious of our behaviour and how it affects other people? On our 18th birthday? When the brain has finished developing in our mid to late 20s? Do we need to get educated to a certain level?
When we become enlightened or develop a level of awareness that transcends all attempts to influence our choices by advertising, social media, trauma, peer pressure or bad parenting?
We can’t blame children for what they do (besides: quite often it’s just hilarious and the world is better for it). But if we don’t hold them responsible or teach them about responsibility (taken or given?) we’ll be in deep shit later on when they grow up, and we see that everywhere nowadays.
It seems to me that responsibility needs to be learned (again: I wonder whether we should encourage them to take it, or throw them in the deep end by laying responsibility onto people, by giving it to them?).
I see too many coaching clients who crave freedom but try to avoid responsibility. Some wear responsibility as a badge of honour (good leaders), others try to avoid it like the plague.
Yet freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin and I hope that my daughter will learn this earlier rather than later. When I’ll start having those conversations with her, who knows… Perhaps you can help me out?
What I’ve learned about my mind – dealing with distractions and entering the zone
I was seriously concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do my job anymore, once I have a baby., That is to say: from home, and according to my standards.
mean: Babies are literally designed to take our attention- it’s how they survive. And so we’re hard-wired to respond to a baby’s cry, and to think about them when they’re not in the room. A baby (sometimes suddenly, sometimes gradually) becomes the most important thing in the world and the centre of all focus. Will I be able to be fully present when I coach, teach, supervise?
Well, turns out it’s fine and that I seem to have done quite a bit of work on my mind, and I believe that some of this work was absolutely key to being able to choose where my attention goes. And since I think that the ability to choose where our attention goes is perhaps the most valuable skill we can acquire as human beings, I wanted to share how I made sense of this.
Sometimes I get into a zone (flow state) so that my phone could ring (or a baby could cry) and I simply wouldn’t notice. However, no one can sustain such states continuously and when it comes to working with people, a broader sense of awareness of surroundings is actually part of the zone, so it’s not realistic not to notice things.
What’s important is to learn to acknowledge something that wants to take your attention away, and then quickly and actively choose not to take your focus off whatever it is that you’re paying attention to.
Once mastered, this becomes a split-second action, not noticeable to anyone.
That’s not how it started though: At the beginning of my mindfulness meditation practice, it took ages to even notice when mind had been wondering and taken me on a “train of thought” in Sydney before realising I had been travelling, and only then being able to teleport back to where I wanted to be: present, here, now.
But you can practice, train the muscle. And the more you develop the habit, the shorter the space becomes.
You’ll discover that you don’t have to get to Sydney first, but that you can jump off the train of thought, before it even leaves the station.
And it’s not difficult to train yourself: it just requires that you repeat the same process over and over again: Notice your attention is being called, and choose to re-focus on whatever you’re doing. The more often you do that, the shorter the space becomes.
Of course I’m in a privileged position, in that I find myself in a relationship where I trust my partner 100% and know that if anything were to happen that requires my attention, something that I really shouldn’t ‘let pass’, she’d come and get me. So it’s much easier for me to stay present when Leah tries to call on my attention.
Nonetheless, the choice and commitment is so important: I decided that ‘this’ (be it work, a session, a conversation…) is what I will be present to right now, and unless I get up and leave that space to be present with my daughter, nothing else or nobody else will get the my undivided attention.
There’s literally no point in being concerned with what’s going on in another room or with another person, once I choose to present here, now – unless that other person becomes part of the zone. And in that zone we tend to do our best work. Phew!
WeCoach!: The Complete Handbook of Tools, Techniques, Experiments and Frameworks for Personal and Team Development
I’m proud to present a short piece of writing that I contributed to this truly impressive resource, brought to you by the incredible Jonathan Passmore and his colleagues. During our work to create Jonathan’s module for the ACIC last year, I was chuffed that he invited me to write up a few tools and models that I use in my coaching and I was very honoured to follow this kind invitation and that my summary of Emmy van Deurzen’s 4 Worlds Model made it into the book. This has been out for a little while now but I don’t think I told you yet, so here it goes: https://www.libripublishing.co.uk/Products/ProdID=246
There’s also Volume 1 & Volume 2, which I assume are the same book in two parts.
Existentialism in Pandemic Times: Implications for Psychotherapists, Coaches and Organisations
And one more, fresh in the press and to be published in July 2022, but available for pre-order now, this book includes my chapter titled Existential Resilience and Covid-19, in which I lay out how the pandemic was a boundary situation on a global scale bringing us all face to face with the existential givens, and why some people were more resilient than others, including some implications for coaching. You can pre-order it here or on Amazon.
Psychology Coaching in the Workplace
Also out late last year but not been shared with you yet on here, and perhaps my proudest publication moment since my own book, this is my contribution to an incredible who-is-who behemoth of workplace coaching using positive psychology. For my chapter I managed to partner up with the meaning research legend and all around excellent human being Michael F. Steger from Colorado State University to write about Meaning-centred Coaching in the Workplace. It’s not cheap, but if you’re a coach working in organisations or interested in utilising the power of positive psychology to create positive impact on your leaders, teams, employees or culture, there is no way around this book. Highly recommended and you can order your copy here.
Coaching Uncaged Season 12 episodes 1-5 with your new host: Yours Truly 🙂
In January I started hosting the prestigious Coaching Uncaged podcast for Animas Centre for Coaching, following into the footsteps of the excellent Robert Stephenson (who’s wonderful narrative presence Labsters may remember from Coaching Lab #16). Long story short, I get to talk to some of the most influential names in the industry and I’ve been having a ball! It’s well worth listening to or watching these if you’re passionate about coaching (and even if you aren’t a coach I reckon they’re worth listening to as we discuss transformation, change and how to be with people.
Talking about Coaching & Psychedelics Episodes 6-9!
A good few of the biggest names in the field have kindly agreed to talk to us in recent months and we’ve finally got our shit together over at the Coaching & Psychedelics podcast. Most of this is due to the amazing Marjory McCallum joining our team to add her formidable project management perspective and energy, and so we’ve been on point with publishing what we’ve had sitting on the shelf, and we’ve got plenty of snippets going out too. If you’re curious about how coaching and psychedelics may work together, hop on over to our YouTube channel or check out the audio versions on your favourite podcasting platform or over on Buzzsprout.
Talking about Coaching episodes 34-44!
This month we’re celebrating over 6000 downloads to our podcast and 3400 views on YouYube. A big thank you to my resident hosts Siawash Zahmat and Nicki Drab for continuing to provide so much value during our Facebook live recording sessions, and to Esther for being on the ball to get these scheduled and published. Since our last Nuggets we’ve put a whole lot of episodes out during which we discuss questions we get asked by coaches. Happy digging!
Episode 44 – My client is not getting the results they came for. What do I do?
Most of us have been there: our clients are not hitting their targets, they’re not doing their work, in some way or another they’re not achieving what they came to coaching for. Is this your fault? The client’s? Do any of you need to work harder? How do you address this? In this episode of talking about coaching our residents Yannick, Siawash and Nicki are exploring how we might navigate such situations. We talk about contracting, how to make sure that your client is getting what they want, or perhaps what they need, we talk about what the purpose of coaching is and appreciate the range of coaching approaches, some more and some less fixated, oriented, or focused on results.
Episode 43 – I sign up clients by talking to people. How can I create more conversations?
Steve Chandler and his disciples teach us that coaching clients are created through conversations, and they encourage us to seek as many conversations as we can with the intent to serve whomever we talk to. Now what happens when we run out of people to talk to? Somewhat rephrased for the sake of space in today’s episode’s title, the original question for today is: “I ran out of people to talk to about coaching. How can I create more conversations that may lead to paying clients?”
Siawash starts us off by questioning the intent of the inquiry and along the way we discuss ways in which we might create more conversations, that, indeed, may lead to more paying clients, even though we may need to let go of being too attached to that being the outcome.
Episode 42 – Leading questions – Are they bad?
In this episodes we’re discussing leading questions, and whether they’re really a big no-no, as often taught in coach training programmes, or whether there may be some value in offering direction as a coach, or even to ask questions in a way that makes the client think they’ve come up with the solution themselves, empowering in some way, manipulative if you look at it differently. We discuss the range of leading questions, the ethics of consciously leading your clients, the weight of taking on the responsibility when we choose to lead our clients, and the importance of supervision as to avoid leading in an unconscious way.
Episode 41 – I keep slipping into coaching mode with friends. What do I do?
Most coaches have experienced this: we’re with a friend, they tell us about a problem, dream or challenge they experience, and before we know it we’ve got our coaching hat on and asking questions, feeding back, clarifying, summarising or applying a process to help them figure this out. We likely didn’t ask for permission to coach them. We may be quite different with our coaching hat on and our friend somewhat irritated. Possibly they know us like that because we aren’t ‘doing’ coaching, we ARE coaches. Is it even a problem (as the question implies) or are we being an even better friend? How might this compare to other professions and when might it be appropriate to wear our coaching hat for a moment, perhaps even invite a friend into a formal coaching space? What are the pitfalls when we coach a friend? And how might we contract in such a situation? In this episode our resident coaches Yannick and Nicki talk about this and more, and we give special thanks to Alice for sending in the question!
Episode 40 – My client sees me as the expert. How do I manage the power dynamics?
Some coaches set themselves up as the expert in a certain area or niche. Others work very hard to meet their clients at eye level as to facilitate a process in which they can create their own expertise and take full responsibility for the way forward. And by no means is this a black-and-white issue in coaching. Sometimes the client maneuvers us into a position of expert as to avoid responsibility or simply because expert advice is what they’re after. It can be a complex dynamic to navigate. In this episode of Talking about Coaching our resident coaches Yannick and Nicki discuss the various elements at play in such a situation, the risks and benefits of being (seen as) the expert, and how we might manage such a situation when it presents itself. We also invite coaches to reflect to what extent they contribute to this process and what they can do to prevent it (if, indeed, that’s what they want).
Episode 39 – I have a hangover, do I need to cancel my coaching session?
What started as a joke question after Nicki missed our last recording session became an interesting question about when to cancel a coaching session due to pain, feeling unwell or other distractions that may prevent us from being fully present with our clients. How much can we keep in our metaphorical box? At what point is it no longer appropriate to coach? How might we have that conversation? What’s at stake when we a) cancel or b) go ahead with the session? Do we need to disclose what’s going on for us? In this episode our resident coaches Yannick and Nicki have a much richer conversations than they had anticipated. Shout outs to Siawash who couldn’t make it today (non-hangover related 😉 )
Episode 38 – Do I need to be obsessed or grind long hours to be a successful coach?
We hear this a lot from the coaches who are most visible on social media: In order to be successful you must be obsessed with coaching and/or with building a business. You must do the grind if you want to make it. Those who work the hardest are the most successful. Coaches who are obsessed with helping their clients, with personal development or with a particular style of coaching, those will be successful. It is often implied that those who are not obsessed or work 14 hours/day won’t make it. In this episode of the Talking about Coaching Podcast our resident coaches Siawash and Nicki talk about how we might define success, obsession or grind and offer some context on the discussion. We share some of our personal stories and approaches, challenge some of the success narratives out there and we offer a way to success without detriment to your wellbeing and livelihood.
Episode 37 – What needs to be in my coaching contract?
Good contracting may be one of the most important skills of a successful coach. Most times when a coach feels stuck with a client, doesn’t know how to proceed or encounters a challenging situation, the answers lies in what you’ve agreed with this client. In this episodes of the podcast our resident coaches Yannick and Siawash talk about whether the contract needs to be written or verbal, we propose a range of topics we might want to (should?) include in this conversations (beyond logistics, finances and expectations) and we make offer some general insights into why it is so important to get this part of the relationship right, as well as a number of practical tips and advice on how this can be done.
Episode 36 – How do you start a coaching session?
What’s your process for starting a coaching session? is a question we hear often. “Well, it depends” is often the answer. And that’s also the way this episode starts. Our resident coaches Yannick, Siwash & Nicki are illuminating what these factors are and talk you through how they start coaching sessions. Plus we’re inviting all listeners to share their own processes of how to jump into a coaching session with a client.
Episode 35 – What do I need in my “Coaching Starter Pack”?
We’ve interpreted this question in two ways: 1) What do I need to start practicing as a coach? And 2) When a client signs up for coaching, what might I send them to get going and transition well into the process of coaching? So here we are talking about beginnings and how might get going when starting our coaching business or when starting to work with a new client.
Episode 34 – How can I create a steady stream of clients?
So many coaches dread doing “marketing”, being visible on social media, figuring out advertising, or going to network events, only to create a steady stream of clients for their coaching business. While there is no way around building bridges or creating touch points of some sort between you and prospective clients, there are many ways to do this, and in today’s episode our resident coaches Yannick & Siawash are talking about different pathways towards creating a steady flow of conversations and what you need to convert these into paying clients. In the process we’re reframing the terms “sales” and “marketing” and we’re offering ample advice and valuable ideas for how you can stabilize your income from your coaching work by learning some simple business practices and thinking about which of these might resonate with you.
ReEnchantment with Daniel Lev Shkolnik: How to Actually Apply Existentialism to Your Life
Another one I hadn’t shared with you yet. Daniel has been helping me out in the Coaching Lab recently writing our Lab Reports, but we got to know each other on this podcast which I thoroughly enjoyed. Listen to the episode here.
StreetLevel ReDefined: HipHop, Wellbeing & Existentialism – I’ve had the pleasure to talk to Imola Komuves about music, culture, mental health for creatives, existential philosophy and much more. You can catch our episode here. Also, find a few snippets on her Facebook page.
Catch me live
- April 19th: The Coaching Cabinet – our FREE support group for coaches runs every 3rd Tuesday. We’re on Eventbrite and MeetUp.
- May 3rd: Coaching Lab #26 with Martin Stellar – My COO and Editor-in-Chief will be allowing us to be a fly on the wall for this 45min coaching session helping “nice people sell more”. I can’t wait to be digging into his approach and coaching style.
- May 21st-22nd: An Introduction to Existential Coaching – My weekend training is back after a long hiatus due to, well, “current events” 😉 I’m looking forward to opening the existential doors for a selected group of coaches. Whether you’re just starting out or are already an established coach, this weekend will be ideal to get a sense for what the existential approach has to offer and take your coaching to the next level. It’s always a very inspiring and thought provoking time, so don’t wait to get your ticket or perhaps tell a friend (there’s discounted bring-a-friend tickets too!)
- June 20th-24th: Existential Offerings Mission 1 Re-run – Not technically live, but it’s a fantastic event that I’ve contributed a conversation to and if you catch it live it’s FREE. Here’s the Trailer and tickets! (if you can’t wait or can’t make time, you can buy the All-Access pass to the recordings and watch them anytime you want. You’d also be supporting a wonderful soul dedicated to existential offerings!).
- June 7th: Coaching Lab #27 with [DRUM ROLL] Christian van Nieuwerburgh!!! – This one’s been a long time coming. Positive Psychology Coaching pioneer, serial author, professor for Coaching and Positive Psychology, and former colleague of mine at UEL has finally agreed to join us in the Lab. I can’t wait for this, and Tier 1 and 2 tickets will definitely sell out for this one, so don’t wait too long if you’re keen to see Christian work. THIS SESSION WON’T BE RECORDED. https://coachinglab27.eventbrite.co.uk/ – https://www.meetup.com/coachinglab/
- Talking about Coaching Live Streams – We’ve developed a habit to stream our recording sessions live on Facebook and I’ve really been enjoying the opportunity to interact a bit and comment on people’s curiosities between episodes (usually we record 3 in one go). If this is something you’d like to get a heads up on, do let us know and perhaps we can get that sorted out.
Uiuiui, now that was CHUNKY AF! I got a but carried away after months of not sitting down to do these. As I had already nuggeted at the very top of this email, Martin noted that I can’t really call these Nuggets anymore and I think he’s right on a technical level (though I’m sticking to the brand for now). Part of what we have in mind is to offer actual nuggets again to those who want them: short bits and pieces that can be digested quite quickly (in a minute or so). So I’ll be sending out an invite soon for you to sign up for a new (segment of this) mailing list. If we have enough people interested in hearing from me weekly, but briefly, I’ll create something super short every Friday (while continuing the longer musings every month (or, well, quarter). Thing is that I really started to enjoy writing these and just allowed them to grow with time. And from the open rates it seems that you guys appreciate that, which makes my heart jiggle a little, so thanks for reading this still and sticking through to this point, I really appreciate you and hope you’ve got some interesting thoughts to chew on now.
Like I always say, if anything resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Tweet @Yannick_Jacob (#Nuggets)