- What inspired me to practice more – Inside the mind of a true master
- What’s with the obsessive behaviour? Can you be THAT successful and happy?
- What’s “your thing”? Branding… Ouch?
- Quotes I’m pondering
- New Content
- Catch me live in June & July!
We’re back on track!! Yay 🙂
Not without some excellent help though, that is. I gotta say, babies do lead to all sorts of delays. That part of the narrative is certainly spot on!
So first of all, a big THANK YOU to both Martin and Gemma, without whose help you’d not only get these Nuggets in August (earliest), I’d also be considerably more stressed out. Having a team you trust and enjoy working with, where we can play to our strengths, and motivate each other to do our best work, is such a joy!
That said, we do have the occasional argument, of course. Currently, Martin and I are fighting over how many line breaks are too many line breaks, and beyond which point a “conversational writing style” would get you haunted by the ghost of [insert your favourite novelist]. Like, I mean, come on man, what you on about?! It’s pretty fucking engaging now, innit? [Note from Martin: I swear I’ll make Yannick pay a fine for writing sentences like that, one of these days 👿 😄 – ed.]
But anyway, I’m doing really well, thanks! Perhaps better than I’ve ever been. Yes, I sleep less and wake up earlier than I’m accustomed to, but full of gratitude most days. I’m still recovering from the shock of stepping on a scale again the other day, and I’m still figuring out how to build regular exercise into my days, but I feel energised like a Duracell bunny (this one is from the year I was born, believe it or not, but they must have used it for a decade or so, because I swear I remember that particular clip).
In any case: I still work quite long hours, but it’s a conscious choice and I love what I do. It wouldn’t be possible for me otherwise.
Occasionally I do worry about the state of the world, the growing political divide, and Leah’s still-non-existent college fund, but to be honest, I’m doing everything I can and it looks like it’s gonna work out alright for us.
Despite all the actual scarcity in the world, coaching is surrounded by abundance. Pretty much anybody eager to learn, grow, understand or develop in some way, would benefit greatly from working with a coach.
The main challenge is to find the right one. But hey, the way to get there is to have a number of potentially verycool conversations, and most coaches don’t charge for consultations, so…
Another challenge is the willingness to say “No, I don’t think this is a good fit for me right now, but thank you so much for your time”, if it doesn’t feel right or you’re not willing to invest what this coach is asking for.
But now I feel like I’m pitching, and that’s not the point, so let’s move on!
Though I can genuinely say, with conviction: Go give coaching a shot! And this isn’t even about me. I’d be more than happy to recommend someone. In fact I’m struggling to fit in more clients this summer anyway. But I’ve just never been more excited about being a coach than today. And seeing a baby grow and learn is perhaps the best thing that can happen to a coach 🙂
But enough about babies – no Leah-related Nuggets this time, promise. Just a few (chunky) bits and pieces that went through my mind this past month. And as always: if anything resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you!
I’ve been listening to rap music for about 26 years – mainly the more conscious, philosophical and storytelling kind of stuff, as you can imagine. In fact, I like HipHop so much, I wrote my 2nd dissertation on the interplay of wellbeing and HipHop culture (rap, DJing, breakdancing & graffiti).
I also have “appreciation of beauty and excellence” as one of my signature VIA strengths. So when I listen to an MC or rapper who’s mastered the art of wordsmithing, I am just delighted. It makes my heart sing. I often stand in awe.
One of the highest skills to develop within this art form IMHO is freestyle rap – Coming up with lyrics on the spot, completely improvised, and performed to a beat that doesn’t allow much space for contemplation.
Now, every now and then an artist comes along that completely shifts your perception of what’s possible. In the field of freestyle rap, that’s Harry Mack. When someone like that comes along (in any artform, including sports or business), and especially when watching a clip like this or this, or this, I wonder:
How the hell did this person become SO fucking good at this? How do they learn? What was their background? What existing or transferrable skills did they bring into this? How do they practice? What might be the replicable journey that might help others to get to the level they’re at?
And lo and behold, “How the hell does this guy’s mind work?!?” is in fact the most common response from people I’ve showed his videos to.
I believe that we can, with enough time and dedication, learn to reach similar masterful levels (perhaps with a baseline of talent, or foundations laid through experiences in early childhood, genetics, or depending on the sort of environment someone grew up in).
When it comes to freestyle rap, there’s always a thought that perhaps these aren’t freestyles, but previously written lyrics, cleverly disguised as a freestyle to impress the crowd – especially when someone is literally incredibly good. But thanks to YouTube it’s not only clear that Harry Mack IS that good at improvising, in this video (which sparked this whole post) he also gives us a bit of an insight into how he got to this level – through practice!
Musicians are used to practising their skills, and as Harry describes so well in the video, it’s a very different state of mind to a performance.
It then made me think about high performers and about how coaches reach similar levels of mastery.
Back when I designed the ACIC (Accredited Certificate in Integrative Coaching) I tried to break down coaching into its essential elements, and created practice exercises to help people become really good at the individual parts of coaching, before bringing them back together and integrating them into a whole (e.g. a coaching session with a client).
Arguably it’s a lot more complex when we coach than when we create music on our own. Think jamming with a band vs. playing a song at home on your guitar. Coaching involves another person – the client – which means it takes a lot more effort to practice.
Nevertheless, the same principles apply:
Pick an element of coaching (e.g. summarising or paraphrasing), and then sit down for hours and hours and practice just that. Watch a movie, pause after every meaningful chunk of someone talking and then summarise: “What I’m hearing, is…”. The goal is not to read anything into it that isn’t there: simply show them that you’ve really listened to what they were saying.
You could do similar exercises with “parrot-phrasing”, expressing empathy, explaining what coaching is, running a client through your available packages, or explaining your take on confidentiality, and so on.
Of course actual coaching requires a partner, but a lot of these elements of coaching can be practised on your own. So, I wonder:
How do you practice your coaching?
Because, I gotta admit, I don’t really engage in intentional practice of specific skills any longer, when it comes to coaching. I do get a lot of practice from the ‘performance’ (coaching my clients) and from teaching, but I don’t make space for intentional practice anymore. Even though I’ve created a space for exactly this sort of thing: The (breakout element of the) Coaching Lab. Except that’s intended for attendees to practice, not for me.
And so: Harry Mack inspired me, rekindled my motivation, brought back a spark, to intentionally practice my craft.
If you’re a coach, or curious about looking under the hood of what’s going on in a coach’s mind, occasionally we feature a true master of their craft in The Lab and you can ask them how their mind works. Next week, that’s going to be Christian van Nieuwerburgh, whom you might have heard of… Maybe we’ll see you there…?
Do we need to be obsessed in order to be really successful? And by “really successful” I mean top of your industry, the 1% sort of success.
And, if obsession is what it takes to get there, is it possible to be that successful and happy? After all, obsession doesn’t usually come with the most positive of associations.
This is a recurring topic for me actually, since I frequently see posts claiming that in order to be at the top of any game, “You have be obsessed with what you do”. And I’ve got clients asking themselves whether they can even make it, when the competition is willing to survive on just 4 hours of sleep a night, and spend every waking hour thinking about how to master the game.
“How can I have a family and build the next PayPal?” some ask.
I’m pretty sure that Elon, Bill, Jeff and Richard were completely immersed in what they were doing back when they started out, constantly thinking about it, constantly engaged in driving things forward, pushing boundaries, exploring new frontiers, diving deeper…
I’ve even heard people talk about being “positively obsessed”, though that feels like an oxymoron to me. Then again, I do get the sentiment, and I can certainly relate to it: A few years into having picked up DJing, I constantly thought about mixing music and scratching.
It was difficult for me to stay present with a conversation when there was a DJ set of mine playing in the background, because I would constantly analyse the mix and think about what I might do differently next time. My mind was drawn into the mix.
In a way, I was obsessed. And while it served my DJing skills very well indeed, it did have an impact on my relationships.
At the time I was mostly oblivious to it, but looking back I wonder how my life would have been different, if instead of DJing for 4 hours when I had friends over, I would have actually spent some time with them, been more present…
The same goes for entrepreneurs. I see my fair share of clients who are obsessed with building their businesses. And yes, those are the people who are most likely to “succeed”.
But, those are also the people that are most likely to burn out, or to neglect the important people in their lives, or to develop poor mental and physical health, or any of the other of the negative effects of what researchers have termed “obsessive passion”.
So today, I’d like to leave you with a few questions to contemplate:
What is it that you are passionate about?
Do you feel that sometimes, you cross over into obsessive passion, or even obsessive-compulsive behaviours?
And, wherever you fall on that spectrum…
To what degree do these types of behaviour and mindset actually serve you?
What’s “your thing”? Branding… ouch?
I’ve been thinking about branding again lately. Not just because we’re taking concrete steps to scale up the Coaching Lab, and not just because I’ve added the new RocketSupervision video to the website (finally!), but because it comes up in my coaching work a LOT.
So many coaches tell me they don’t want to choose a niche, or create specific branding, because they feel it would stifle them, or create something that’s permanent, or that it would exclude them from working with certain types of clients.
And I get it – I have similar concerns, and I find it challenging to come to terms with things like niching and branding.
But when you’re trying to build a business or a project that you’re really passionate about, and you want it to be a success, and you want to make sure that you’ve got people’s attention, and you’re drawing on some professional help to make that happen…
You inevitably run into some pretty existential (business) questions, like:
Who, actually, am I?
What do I stand for?
What are “my” colours?
What do I have to offer that others would find remarkable (as in worthy of making a remark about)?
Essentially: What characterises me, personally and professionally?
What is it about me, that would have someone choose to work with me, instead of with another coach?
In business-speak, that means we’re talking niching, positioning and branding.
So that’s where I certainly resonate with the challenges that so many coaches tell me about. As someone who deeply values freedom, the idea of boxing myself into some sort of category, or wearing a label, has always made me feel uncomfortable.
And yet, I so get the appeal of being known for something quite specific. How valuable it is to have “a thing”, for your name to pop into people’s minds as soon as someone mentions [X].
So why the discomfort?…
And then it dawned on me last month where the term actually comes from… And, well… yikes!
Branding. Literally. A permanent mark, burnt into the skin, so that everybody can see which cattle is yours.
Definitely not something we want to do to our business, obviously. Certainly not something we’d want to do to ourselves (and in coaching, our business and we ourselves are intimately intertwined).
That said, I now appreciate that there are different ways you can look at branding.
And it doesn’t have to be permanent!
I’m still not entirely at ease with the idea of ‘developing my brand’, but I do recognise that a brand – that what you are known for – is something that changes and evolves over time, and that we can both influence and create it, sometimes it can even be replaced entirely: re-branded, so to speak.
And also: I’ve learned that other people will most likely ‘brand’ you anyway, because people often crave simple truths, and will put you into a category quite quickly.
So the reality is that if you don’t create a brand, others will do it for you, and that gives us a choice: do we want others to choose our brand, or is it gonna be you?
Despite all these insights and learnings over the years, I’m still in two minds:
On the one hand I want to be free, and certainly not restricted to representing only one thing.
On the other hand, most of us have various “brands” hanging in our wardrobes and we “dress for the occasion”, which is usually context-specific. Arguably, while the clothes themselves are branded, we have the freedom to be versatile.
I wonder if something like that can also apply to how we think about our professional brands. Or are we then just watering down the value of a well-thought-out brand? Trying to be too many different things to too many different people can’t be effective… Or can it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
I’d also be really curious as to how you perceive my ‘brand’? What comes to your mind when you hear Yannick?
“Hard work beats talent; if talent doesn’t work hard.”
Someone from my Talking about Coaching group said this in response to the Harry Mack video I wrote about above. I then learned that it’s a quote attributed to Tim Notke, a High School basketball coach.
And it happens a lot. People ‘waste’ their talent all the time (read: choose to do other things instead), and there are a lot of high performers who had to work hard and weren’t particularly gifted when they started out. You may not become the next Elon Musk or beat the guys with talent who also work super hard, but you can get way up there with will-power and commitment.
“If you do only one thing today, be a friend to yourself”
I’m sure some famous person famously said this, but I’ve heard it from a former student of mine – Belinda Batt, life coach for mums and expert on parental guilt and shame. And if you want some practical advice on self-compassion, Kirsten Neff’s work is going to be really helpful, as is loving-kindness meditation.
So: happy digging, give yourself a hug, an encouraging word, and a pat on the back! I believe you’re doing the best you can…
Rocket Supervision explained
This little gem had been in the making for nearly a year. Thanks to Daniel from Vie Design and Myles from SpearTurtle Anmimation for making my vision come alive, as well as Matt Faulkner for the audio mix and mastering.
Check out this 2min video over at RocketSupervision.com
Coaching Uncaged Season 12 Episodes 6-8
Episode 6: Dr Paul Lawrence
Paul is awesome. It’s rare that someone communicates complex concepts so clearly, and his books Coaching Systemically, Leading Change, The Tao of Dialogue, and The Wise Leader, are all testament to this skill. Amongst many other notable milestones, Paul is the Regional Chair for the Association for Coaching (AC) in South-East Asia, Australian Ambassador for the Association of Coaching Supervisors (AoCS) and co-editor in chief for the Philosophy of Coaching: An International Journal.
Episode 7: Julie Starr
Julie is not only an exceptionally successful coach. She also authored one of the most popular foundational coaching books: The Coaching Manual, as well as the Mentoring Manual. In our conversation we explore differences and commonalities between these two approaches to helping people, and we talk about how our ego gets in the way when we work with people.
Episode 8: Dr. Simon Western
Simon is a wonderfully critical thinker. The kind that questions your question, which led to an excellent exploration of what transformation means in this day and age. Simon is the author of Coaching and Mentoring: A Critical Text, and Leadership: A Critical Text, and he’s looking back on an illustrious career from working with the dying to coaching leaders and top executives in many of the world’s leading organisations. In our conversation we explore, amongst many other topics, his love for Lacanian psychoanalysis and why he asks his coaching clients about their “desire”.
Talking about Coaching Episodes 45-47
Episode 45: My client‘s goal is abstract and vague. How can I make it tangible and SMART?
We’ve all been there: our client comes to coaching and present with something super vague, like feeling more fulfilled, calmer, wanting a “better mindset”, or feeling more authentic. How might we work with something like that? Can we make such a goal more SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound)? Is that even desirable, or of service to the client? In this episode our resident coaches Siawash, Nicki and Yannick discuss various ways to work with abstract goals, whether that’s making them more tangible, even measurable, or to explore what this goal is really about and to sit with the uncertainty and learn to trust the coaching process, even if it’s not as clear as we’d like it to be.
Episode 46: Group Coaching: What’s that about?
More and more coaches are interested in working with groups. Some of that is motivated by being able to make coaching more affordable, and hence accessible – perfect for coaches who want to put their fees up, but who are concerned that coaching shouldn’t be exclusive. But working with groups comes with layers of added complexity and it can be quite elusive as to what it is and how it can work. From life-coaching groups to working with leadership teams, it’s a broad range, and today our resident hosts Yannick, Siawash and Nicki will be shining a light on how we might understand group coaching, what group work might look like, some of the benefits and pitfalls, as well as some practical insight into how Siawash and Yannick structure and run their groups.
Episode 47: Where are good places to advertise myself as a coach?
It seems to be the oldest question in the book: “How do I get more coaching clients? I have a valuable service to offer and my clients really benefit, but how do I get my message in front of them?” Those who hate being on social media or going to networks events may be considering paid advertising as a potential route into creating new leads, and so today our resident coaches Nicki, Siawash and Yannick will be talking about where coaches might advertise, what advertising is really about, how it may fit into a wider marketing strategy, and how not to waste 20k on failed campaigns.
Talking about Coaching & Psychedelics Episode 12 – Julia Bamberg
Julia is my new co-host. Having been active behind the scenes for some time, in this episode we put a spotlight on her work coaching and guiding people through psychedelic experiences. Julia is a systemic consultant & therapist and has worked for many years as a Mindful Leadership trainer, coach and consultant in human resource and organizational development. She now lives on Mallorca, works as a Psychedelic Integration Coach and as a guide for various plant medicines.
Talking about Coaching & Psychedelics Episode 13 – Lorna Liana
Lorna is the CEO of the very popular EntheoNation, a media company covering psychedelics, plant spirit shamanism, and visionary culture. She is also the Founder of The Plant Spirit School, which just launched a psychedelic integration coaching certification programme. With over 25+ years of psychedelic exploration and 100s of ceremonies, Lorna is an advocate for the safe, intentional use of entheogens as a tool of self-mastery, as well as the practice of sacred reciprocity. She’s also quite the engaging storyteller, as you will find out in this long-form episode of our coaching & psychedelics podcast.
The Psychedelic Experience Podcast
The wonderfully present Tim Cools interviewed me about the links between existential coaching and psychedelics. We could have talked for hours and I reckon it won’t be our last episode. We explore why the existential approach is so relevant for psychedelic exploration and integration, and we discuss the intersection of coaching and psychedelics in general.
Science Up your wellbeing – Episode 34: Positive Existential Coaching
Adiemus Seah has been drafting an excellent array of guests for his positive psychology themed podcast and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation well beyond our matching colours 🙂
Catch me live
- 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 tickets are already sold out, so don’t wait if you’re keen to see Christian work.
Also, please note that THIS SESSION WON’T BE RECORDED.
https://coachinglab27.eventbrite.co.uk/ – https://www.meetup.com/coachinglab/
- June 21st: The Coaching Cabinet: A FREE peer-support group for coaches during which we (Andrea, Sid and I) facilitate 3 rooms to discuss anything related to the practice of coaching, the business of coaching, and any personal challenges that coaches may be facing. Reserve your slot via MeetUp or Eventbrite
- 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!).
- 2nd July: European Conference on Positive Psychology (ECPP) 2022 – I’ve gathered a who-is-who of positive psychology coaches for a symposium entitled “Towards a Unified Theory of Positive Psychology Coaching” featuring Dr. Suzy Green, Prof. Ilona Boniwell, Prof. Christian van Nieuwerburgh, and Guðrún Snorradóttir.
- 8th July: Noisily Festival – I’ll be opening the Leisure Centre Stage again at this year’s Noisily Festival of Music & Arts. Expect excellent music from 4pm-7pm on the Friday.
- 16th July: Opening Key Note at the Applied Positive Psychology Symposium & Festival. I’m honoured to have been invited to give a talk at this event, which celebrates 10 years of MAPP at Buckinghamshire New University. This will be a 2-day in-person event at the Aylesbury Campus near Oxford. Tickets are more than affordable and if you’re into positive psychology, I highly recommend you get yourself a ticket.
- 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.
Aaaaaaand, that’s it! If you’re reading this, I appreciate you. Thanks for staying with me. And I hope you found some value in these nuggets. Feel free to share a thought…
Oh and also, I haven’t forgotten about the experiment with shorter, more frequent Nuggets. It’s coming, but it just got a little delayed. I’ll use the baby card as an excuse 😉
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