- Unlived Lives
- To interrupt or not to interrupt
- Tales from the Coaching Room
- Who’s really profiting from coaching?
- The attention span pandemic
- What I’m listening to
- New Content
- Catch me live
What a turbulent start into the new this has been. Lots of endings, lots of new beginnings.
Death seemed to keep knocking on my door rather too frequently these past 6 weeks. Somewhat fortunately, this touched me mainly through my work with clients, supervisees and students, but it was quite noticable, and it really upped the level of gratitude I’m experiencing when I wake up in the morning.
It’s easy sometimes to get lost in your own world when things get incredibly busy. Working long hours, navigating a major launch (and it kinda really has to work so that all the investment pays off – yikes!), having moved into the country of complex bureaucracy which is bloody doing my head in (who would have thought that non-business, non-EU clients apparantly are just the worst from an accounting perspective?!), lots of hidden costs of moving, my tallest cactus didn’t survive the move, I haven’t had a chance to explore Berlin nearly as much as I had been looking forward to…
It feels like the full-on-ness of life has reached a peak (one of many, I know, I know), but…
In the face of ill health and death, I find myself very consciously “lamenting at a high level” (“klagen auf hohem Niveau”, as my family often levels).
Yes, life is a pretty stressful right now, but we’re okay, Leah’s happy, we’re healthy, the business will be fine!
Gratitude by comparison – it does work!
Life is full on at the moment. Yes, I’m feeling it.
But one moment of reflection, and I couldn’t be happier.
I’ve got got all it takes to deal with life. So there you go, bring it!
I wanted to experience the whole spectrum of what life has to offer. And this is (part of) it!
Some amazing news, as I mentioned last week, is that the Coaching Lab has a home now and we’re finally ready to scale. if you haven’t checked it out, have a look at www.GoCoachingLab.com
Sadly though Martin decided to leave the operation as we kept locking horns on how to do things, to a point where it just wasn’t productive anymore. At this point I want to express my thanks, as I’ve learned a lot from him and from our passionate debates. Those of you who’ve been following these Nuggets for some time will have noticed that my writing has really benefitted from working a dedicated editor. And without him we mostly likely would not have a dedicated website for the Lab at this point. If you wanted to stay in touch with Martin, I really think his Sales Flow Coach App is excellent, and he writes daily email about ethical sales that are worth checking out.
And that’s all the time I’ve got to update you I’m afraid. Daddy duties 🙂
Please enjoy this buffet of Nuggets. And as always, if any of it resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you.
What makes your heart break?
Martin asked me this question last month, when we sat down in Granada for a weekend to connect, and to talk strategy for 2023.
It was a surprisingly difficult question to engage with for me. For once, I’ve always despised the I-have-a-solution-for-your-pain approach to marketing, and this felt like it was going in that direction. And then I’ve always been driven by what excitesme and what I’m passionate about, not what causes me pain.
But I was up for an experiment, and I trust Martin enough to take a leap sometimes and follow into uncharted territory, and what I found was….
The sorrow of the unlived life.
The regret that many coaching clients have expressed to me, about not having had the courage way back when, to make this or that decision, which would have altered their life and likely avoided the situation they now find themselves stuck in, or suffering from.
I thought about a scene in the TV show The Crown, where Queen Elisabeth II, with what felt like a heavy heart and melancholic undertone, talks about her passion for horses and how she would have loved to have worked with them if she hadn’t been thrown into her leadership position.
I thought back to reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and how it took 6 coincidences for the protagonist’s life to be unimaginably altered.
It struck me that the difference between these three examples is about having an awareness of finding oneself at a branch point, where a choice presents itself for us to alter our life. We can’t know for sure where it’s going, but what coaching offers – and existential coaching in particular – is to create more of this kind of awareness, combined with an encouragement to dig a little deeper and to actively and courageously choose – to take the wheel and alter our lives.
And yes, it does pain me to hear stories of coaches who give up on being coaches and practising coaching because they couldn’t make it work.
It pains me to listen to the regrets of not having taken a chance, back when the opportunity arose, whether that’s out of a lack of awareness, lack of courage, or otherwise. I do very much feel the sorrow of the unlived life.
And while, yes, there are indeed infinite unlived lives, and only one that is lived, for each of us…
What I want for people is to choose with awareness, to own their choices, and to be able to bear the inevitable not-knowing of how all of these other lives might have turned out.
So in this spirit I invite you to have a think about the opportunities that this year, this month, this day offer. What life-altering choices are on the cards for you? What might you, in 20 years, regret not-doing this year?
To interrupt or not to interrupt
“The promise that changes everything”.
That’s how legendary coach Nancy Kline framed her commitment not to interrupt her clients. Holding space for people’s thinking to take place without anyone interfering, sits at the heart of her Time To Think approach, and has revolutionised many a coach’s practice and results.
In a recent episode of Animas’s Coaching Uncaged podcast I had a chance to talk to Linda Aspey, one of Nancy’s Global Faculty members, about why it is so important not to interrupt, and I got to challenge her on why I think there are times when interrupting might actually be a crucial part of the process.
I loved what Linda responded, though some doubts kept niggling.
And so it was refreshing to hear a different perspective, during my episode with Master Mentor-Coach Clare Norman, who distinguished between “live and dead silences”.
Because yes, when you speak during a silence (which most would assume is fair game to speak and not considered to be interrupting someone) that can also be very disruptive, because it interrupts someone’s thinking(assuming that they are indeed still thinking productively, which they aren’t during a dead silence, so it’s okay, important even, to say or offer something).
Clare also encourages coaches to interrupt their clients when they say something along the lines of “let me give you some context” – usually in an effort to help the coach understand something that the client/thinking partner already has clear in their mind. Given that coaching, according to Clare, aims to help clients create new thinking, this is not time-well-spent. The same applies for everything that a client shares that doesn’t seem to be advancing their thinking. In such a case it might be important to interrupt, so that the conversation can be as useful as possible for the client, instead of helping the coach to understand something that the client already knows.
Consider questions such as: “Is this a good use of our time?”, or “This sounds like something you already know, is it?”, or perhaps “Before you share this with me, I’d like to just briefly remind you that what’s most important here is that you understand the context, and if it’s clear to you then you really don’t need to fill me in. What might be a better use of our time instead?”
What do you think? Should we make a promise never to interrupt in order to create an effective thinking environment… or is it important we disrupt our clients’ ways at least every now and then, so as to help them accelerate their progress and break out of old patterns?
There’s something riveting about being a fly on the wall in a room where big things are happening.
It’s enticing to be able to witness two people having a life-changing conversation, without the responsibility of having any skin in the game
I believe this is why gossip magazines are so popular, and Prince Harry’s book sells so well.
It’s also why I created the Coaching Lab.
And the reason I like Irvin Yalom’s books so much.
It’s why I started collating coaching demos on YouTube in our Facebook group.
And it’s also why I like the new Lessons From Clients blog so much, which one of my supervisees, Coaching Psychologist Matti Groot, recently started.
It features engaging – and beautifully written – storytelling from a highly experienced, and quite existentially-minded coach & therapist, as he’s working with his clients, and reflecting on his work. It’s well worth checking out!
At the end of the year, every year so far, I spent all the money that I had earned through coaching.
My clients, however, often reap the benefits for years, decades even, the rest of their life perhaps.
The value that a powerful coaching relationship offers is enormous. And when I think about what we’re asking in exchange, it often stands no comparison, almost regardless of how high the fee is, or how high it feels at the time of pitching it.
I’ve carried this insight with me for some time. And it really helped me to move beyond charging relatively low fees by the hour. But last week, sharing these insights with a coach in Rocket Supervision had a huge impact, so I decided to share them with you here.
As I’m adding the new content below, I’m also reminded of an episode of Talking about Coaching in which we asked the question: Is any coach worth $5000 per session? (also, goddamn do we look much younger pre-pandemic!)
Anyway, not sure who needed to hear this right now, but I concluded that our clients always draw the longer end of the stick, even if we were to put our prices up considerably.
With a strong value of fairness instilled in me by my mother, it pains me to see coaches struggle with charging a fair rate for the often immense value they add to their clients’ lives and careers.
So if you’re a coach and you’re concerned about being perceived as expensive, my invitation to you is:
Give this Nugget a moment of reflection, maybe do the maths on how much you’ve invested in becoming a coach so far, give some deep thought to the kind of value that your clients walk away with after a successful coaching relationship, and perhaps have a look at this blog post I wrote ages ago.
I know that critically reflecting on these considerations has helped a lot of coaches own the value they so clearly provide, and I hope it can help you, or perhaps a colleague of yours, too.
The attention span pandemic
I’ve been thinking about how to start this Nugget. What might I say, that would capture your attention enough to read the next sentence?
It didn’t used to be like that. I used to just write, and then publish what I’ve written. Get some thoughts out there, and see what happens. Until Martin really urged me to put more line breaks (like, a LOT more line breaks) and to really make every sentence count.
At first I fought hard against accepting that this is true. Surely readers would give you a bit of slack to build up an argument. Surely they’d stay with you for a paragraph that’s more than 5 lines long. Surely you wouldn’t simply disappear to chase the next shiny thing if one of these sentences isn’t doing it for you…
Well, while this may be true for you, it sure doesn’t seem to be for a fast-growing number of people.
A client of mine is currently figuring out how TikTok works because his band blew up on there, and they can no longer ignore it. And it’s clear to me that this platform isn’t just built for people with short attention spans: TikTok intentionally makes it worse. It’s like a slot machine, feeding you 60-second content, and if what you see isn’t capturing you after a few seconds, you’re out! NEXT!!
I’m not immune to this. The YouTube Shorts concept is the same and keeps me hooked in more often than I feel comfortable to admit.
It opened up a question for me:
I can’t quite decide whether I’m feeding into a concerning trend, or whether I’m doing people a favour by writing these Nuggets in a much more bite-sized style (pun intended, and yes, ironic, I know!).
I really like long-form content. I do! Many of my podcasts are over 2 hours long. But for 2023 I’m working to draw out all those 1-minute content Nuggets, and drip feed them into YouTube Shorts. Does that make me part of the problem? Or is this a smart thing to engage people these days, in an effort to help them be better coaches, better people, and better leaders? Maybe even encourage them to sit down and be part of a “proper conversation”, mindfully…
Similarly, my consultations are up to 2 hours long and I block 2 hours for most sessions. Might much shorter sessions serve the next generation more? Who offers 15min coaching calls?
Curious what you think about this…
John Coltrane – Blue Train
Secret Santa got me this record for Christmas, and Leah’s been intruiged by Jazz, so it’s extra joyous to rediscover this album.
Loads of new content again since I sent out my last Nuggets.
Unlearning The Habits that Prevent a Coaching Mindset – A Conversations with MCC Clare Norman
Another episode of Animas’s Coaching Uncaged podcast gave me the opportunity to talk to Master Coach and Mentor Clare Norman, who’s been observing more recorded coaching hours than most coaches have hours. Based on Clare’s book “Simplifying Coaching”,we go through a whole list of bad habits that Clare’s been noticing, including their very interesting origins. Worth listening to for new and experienced coaches alike! You can watch the episode on Youtube or listen to it here.
Jenny is lovely! And she’s an artist at heart. Her book “The Art of Coaching” is full of illustrations and metaphors. She’s also a highly successful coach and supervisor, and I loved this conversation. As we drew parallels between art and coaching, I was reminded about an earlier Nugget that had me musing on the idea of literally “framing our clients”.
Talking about Coaching
We’ve got a dedicated mailing list for this podcast if you’d like stay up to date as new episodes are being released.
Episode 55 – Does niching kill diversity in my client base?
Episode 55 of Talking about Coaching was a pretty thought-provoking discussion, which followed from an earlier Coaching Uncaged episode with the director of the Coaching Diversity Institute, Dr Towanna Burrous. Apologies for the occasional connection issues, but we felt it was more important to get this out there than to have a clean recording, so we decided to publish anyway. So bear with us as the beginning is a little bumpy. Find the episode on YouTube and all major podcasting platforms.
Episode 56 – I’m feeling a bit ill. Do I cancel or push through?
Most coaches commit to showing up for their clients. Some do so much so that they’re coaching clients even when they’re really quite ill or would much rather hide under a blanket for one reason or another. What’s your threshold for cancelling a coaching session? How ill do you need to get to say “I can’t make it today”. What might the fallout be? And how might we make those decisions? Due to present circumstances, this and more is what our resident coaches Nicki, Siawash and Yannick discuss in today’s episode.
- 7th March: Coaching Lab #36 – High Performance Business Coaching with co-host of the Talking about Coaching podcast Siawash Zahmat. Come grab a ticket or sign up as a member.
- 20th-22nd September: IPPA World Congress of Positive Psychology – My abstract got accepted and I’ll be talking about Coaching & Psychedelics at this exciting conference in Vancouver this summer. – https://www.ippaworldcongress.org/
- Feb – April: AC Live 6-Session Coaching Lab – I’m coaching someone for 6 sessions and you can be a fly on the wall for these sessions. We’re 1 session in, but the recordings are being made available so I reckon you could still join us.
- Talking about Coaching live: We’re still broadcasting our podcast recording sessions live on Facebook.
And that’s it. If you’re reading this, I appreciate that you’re still with me and I hope you enjoyed these Nuggets. If you can’t get enough, I sporadically upload past editions to my website’s blog and you can sign up to get weekly Nuggets here!. And again, if any of it resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂