by by Thomas J. Leonard (hailed as the Father of Coaching)
WHAT A COACH AND CLIENT DO IS TALK AND LISTEN. That much is pretty
obvious. But talk and listen about what, exactly? The purpose of this
article is to provide the client with a list of recommended topics for
discussion during a coaching session.
Most clients eventually get around to all of these topics, but don’t think
you have to share about a subject you are not ready to or not comfortable
discussing. You have the right to set boundaries which let you get the
most from your coaching.
The Win.Wins are the purpose of coaching. When you reach a goal,
accomplish a task, have something great happen to you - share these with
your coach. Your coach wants to know. And sharing these with someone who
can really listen makes the win even more rewarding and sets you up
strongly for the next one.
A Problem. Life does have its share of - yes - we’ll call them problems:
the contract was cancelled, the employee left unexpectedly, you caught the
flu before the big presentation. Hey, talk about these with your coach -
don’t keep them inside. Just by communication with someone who cares takes
away some of the sting. And, once you’ve been heard, the solution (and
there is ALWAYS a solution) can present itself. It is worth sharing even
those events which "really aren’t a problem, but..."
The Upset. Did something happen that really knocked you for a loop? Did
someone treat you poorly? Did you step over something with a colleague?
Did you blow a perfect opportunity (not possible, but you may still be
upset by it, so talk about it!)? Your coach is trained - yes, trained to
listen to your upsets and help you sort out what happened and design a
plan to get through this one and help prevent it from happening again.
An Insight. An insight is like an "a-ha" or a "clunk". Basically, a truth
that you just realised. Insights help you realign with yourself and your
vision. When you have one, share it. Because after the insight, results
follow, especially when you have been able to articulate the "real"
insight with your coach. (Your coach will help you in this process. Often,
there is a series of insights which are linked and the coach helps put
these in perspective.)
The Breakthrough. A breakthrough is a combination of an insight, a wind
and an alignment with truth. After you’ve had a breakthrough, you feel
great: energised, ready for action, relieved and clear. But a breakthrough
without follow through is a temporary high and can be addictive, So, share
the breakthrough, but be ready to validate it with action or an
A Dilemma. "Should I do X or Y?" Your coach can help you make a better
decision. Talk about your options, create a new one and get some
perspective on the whole thing. Maybe doing nothing is the best choice.
The Shift. People grow internally all the time, but periodically they
really feel it. Kind of like an earthquake that is high enough on the
Richter scale. When you’ve had a shift, the world looks different and what
motivated you before is replaced by something better and cleaner. What you
once tolerated, you will no longer. The people you spend time with are
replaced by those who truly inspire you. A shift almost always feels good,
but there can be some fallout, like sadness for letting go, resentment for
the costs you had been incurring prior to the shift, etc. People have
maybe several dozen shifts during a transformed lifetime. They are turning
points worth sharing.
The Complaint. You need to complain? I fully understand. And you have two
minutes, max, to get it off your chest and don’t expect any Coaching about
it until you can articulate it like a request.
The Extra Mile. A little effort is good for you, keeps your body, mind and
soul in shape so you can take advantage of life’s opportunities. When
you’ve kept your word in a challenging situation, stuck with something
when everyone else gave up, honoured your standards when it might have
been easier to lower them, tell your coach. It means you’ve grown and
A Promise. Sometimes it helps to make a promise to your coach. I know I do
to mine, particularly when I need to get something done that I don’t fully
trust myself to do on my own. Just tell your coach exactly what you want
to do and when you promise to do it. Your coach will question you if
he/she can’t "get" (understand) your promise. The coach
wants to fully support promises which express your values or further your
goals, without a significant personal cost attached.
Your Feelings. Yes, your feelings. Having a bad day? A good day? A "Yuk!"
day? Tell yourcoach, tell yourcoach, tell your coach. Don’t try to keep it
a secret (your coach will usually know anyway). Your coach will not try to
talk you out of it, pep you up or stuff like that. Yourcoach will "get it"
and fully understand. And, will coach you on what you want to be coached
Your Fears. Do you ever hesitate? Get scared? Stop part way? Good, you
just passed the humanity test. (Your coach has also passed the test).
A Completion. Bogged down in life? Lacking energy, feeling sleepy? Well,
clean out a filing drawer and see what happens! Whenever you finish a project,
complete a task, catch up on put off promises, make something right, you
open your life to more good stuff. So, get completion on everything and
keep your coach posted on your progress.
A New Idea. Have a germ of an idea? Discovered the cure for cancer?
Figured out how to make money in racing budgies? Ideas like these should be discussed
to break out their - and your - best. So what if the t’s aren’t crossed or the i's dotted
yet , share your thoughts with your coach, who is a safe and nurturing space for even the more delicate and
sensitive ideas. Your coach won’t debate the merits with you; he/she will
listen and have you develop your thoughts to make the most, personally and
financially, of your idea.
The Value Created. From time to time, you will be asked to articulate the
value and benefits you have received working with your coach. Sometimes the
value is there, but it takes a brief conversation to bring it to full
Financial Results. You are writing your coach a cheque each month, so there
should be some financial value created with your coach. It helps both
parties to articulate the immediate and longer-term financial benefits of
your work together.
Contribution Made. Did something your coach said last time (or months ago)
show up as useful? Tell your coach. We’re human too.
Project Progress Report. How is your new business development plan coming?
And your career search? And the book you are writing? Include a brief
status report of your current projects during your coaching call.
Ask for Advice and Feedback. Your coach has experience in life - and with
people. Feel free to get the best of your coach’s thinking, particularly
useful given how well the coach knows your strengths and style.
A Decision Made. If you make a significant decision between sessions,
please keep your coach informed. You’ll be right, regardless.
Thomas J. Leonard. (c) 1994 by Coach University, Inc.
Keep Making it Better!
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