Commitment level – what it takes to succeed with coaching!

Commitment level – what it takes to succeed with coaching!


This is #4 of the Top Ten things I learned by giving 100 Free Coaching sessions:

When challenging myself to meet and serve 100 people I became acutely aware of how the vast majority of us live in the world of “fix me”. Or, in other words, solution-based thinking. We’ve given up and have handed over our issues to be solved with someone giving us a label, a pill, or other techniques to raise the claim that it’s something outside ourselves. The thing is: you will never experience change through others or anything else if you are unwilling to look at the problem yourself and make a commitment to change it.

Recently I had an exchange with a reader asking specifically how, as a coach, I would assess a situation and “help” a client with a specific diagnosis. I wrote back a few questions and gave a brief summary of what and how coaching works. This is exactly what I do at the start of any session with a client. I usually kick off the meeting by asking, “Do you know anything about coaching? Or have you ever received any coaching?” It’s crucial to know what your client knows. Sometimes they were coached by a consultant. And sometimes, they are just well read. Either way, I know where to start after the answer comes. Most times in my 100 journey I heard, ” No, this is my first time.” I always tell the person about the method I use, Co-Active coaching and how it works inside our session.Top Ten-100 free sessions #4

When the session gets rolling there comes a point where I would sometimes hear, “Well is that what you think I should do?” “How do you think I should proceed?”. If I answer those questions I’ve taken off my coach hat and put on an advisor’s hat or became a friend. It doesn’t always come across in a form of a question. Sometimes you can see that the person thinks YOU are the expert and YOU should have the answer. Again, this is not Co-Active coaching. I said this to a friend the other day, “It is not results-based coaching.” Her face changed color. I could see that this tipped her world upside down. To say that to her, in this blog and any prospective clients you might think is a hazard to my profession. But, far from it. Sure, there will be results. But that is gauged by the client. Sure, we make a plan, but that can change throughout the process. The part that is most crucial and where all the attention is focused is on this question; what is the client’s commitment?

It all boils down to what a client wants in their life and how committed they are towards that change, goal, or dream. I can give forms, exercises, recommend books, administer personality tests, sit with them week after week and listen. But none of it will matter if they aren’t prepared to do the work.

This can feel dangerous in the coaching world because it’s up to them and not me. I can’t give a precise outcome because I’m not in the business of numbers or graphs (or other easily measurable things). I’m in the business of changing people’s lives. The other day after a session with a client she stopped me and said, “I’m changing so much. Sometimes I think why couldn’t I do this for myself but I know I wouldn’t have been able to because I wouldn’t have made the time for it on my own. It’s really an amazing thing what is happening. I would have never guessed it had I not seen it for myself.” Ah yes! This is what it is, an experience of transforming. You can’t describe it. It must be felt.

During my 100 sessions, I could always tell who would work towards change and who wanted me to fix them. I gave a 7-day test that each person could accept, reject or ask for a different offer. Most people accepted as it usually was a soft challenge. I didn’t ask them to run for president or something outrageous. It would instantly show where their level of commitment was. If they followed through then I would hear the excitement in their voices or read it in their emails. If they didn’t, I would hear from them usually before the 7-day test was over with a note “too busy” or “not interested in coaching at this time”. Notice all outside factors keeping them in their current state. I don’t take offense. It’s not personal.  It really is just not their time. It’s good to know what to expect. Coaching simply will not work for a client who is not committed. There will always be an excuse and blame involved if the commitment is not there.

[inlinetweet prefix=”null” tweeter=”null” suffix=”null”]Commitment is just another way of saying, taking responsibility for your life.[/inlinetweet@GreatLoveExpat]

I always say to every client, “It’s like training for a 5k. I’ll lace up with you. Run right alongside you. Pump you up with “you can do it”. But in the end YOU are going to run the race and finish it.”


Co-Active Coaching

Co-Active Coaching

Top Ten-100 free sessions#3Number 3 from my “Top Ten things I learned while giving 100 FREE sessions!” series.

Co-Active coaching is the method I use when I work with a client.  Co-active is better defined from the founders of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), Henry Kimsey-House and Karen Kimsey-House.  “The term Co-Active refers to the fundamental nature of a coaching relationship in which the coach and coachee (client) are active collaborators.  In Co-Active coaching, this is a relationship – in fact an alliance- between two equals for the purpose of meeting the coachee’s needs.”*

Some people might call this co-creating. It’s not quite the whole picture.  Co-Active is two parts:  Being and Action.  The coach supports you in what you create but really, isn’t a part of what you create.  This is why co-create doesn’t work as a definition.  We are a team of a different sort. We can see this dynamic in movies.  Think Yoda to Luke Skywalker.  Yoda didn’t do anything for Luke but support him in finding his own way and helping him unlock his gift of using the Force. One is working and the other is guiding.

As a guide, the coach stands back while asking powerful questions to help the client find their OWN way. It’s tricky.  Here’s why.  While a conversation is unfolding, a listener (in any normal circumstance not necessarily the coach dynamic), jumps to conclusions or assumptions.  For instance,

Sally:  “I had a really rough night last night.”

Barb:   “Did your little one keep you up all night?”

Sally:  “No.” She looks annoyed. “The faucet was dripping all night.  I got out of bed to fix it but nothing worked.  My husband is on a business trip or normally he would have done it.  I got very little sleep because I never got it fixed.”

Barb: “When does your husband get back?  Maybe you can call a plumber today?”

Sally:  “He comes home today. I’ve already called the plumber.”

This is a pretty normal conversation.  There isn’t anything really “wrong” per se.  But Barb, didn’t really listen to Sally.  Rather she offered advice that Sally already knows.  We live in a world that solving problems means helping.  Telling instead of listening.  It’s as if we can’t be engaged in any other way unless we tell each other how to live.  Sally has the answers of what to do within her.  She knows to call the plumber.   What could have gone been better in this situation?  Ask questions from a place of curiosity to start.

Sally: “I had a really rough night last night.”

Barb:  “Oh, what happened?”

Sally:  “It started with Johnny not eating his dinner.  Then we struggled through the bath time.  Finally I got him to bed.  I got some house work done that was left from earlier in the day.  When all was finally done and cleaned I got to bed by midnight. My husband isn’t at home because he’s off on a business trip so I have a hard time getting to sleep when he is away.  I read for an hour and then just as I started to drift off to sleep I heard the faucet drip.  That incessant noise: drip, drip, drip.  I got out of bed to fix it but I couldn’t find the tools.  After an hour search, I found where they were and struggled to get the pipe tighten. I tried for a while but then gave up so I could try to get some sleep.  This morning I put in a call to the plumber.”

Already Sally is more open to telling her story here.  Of course, this is a fictional example.  Sally is a bit more open when telling this story then maybe other people.  Also the topic is pretty harmless.  But when you make assumptions about what is happening in someone’s life you are saying a lot without knowing it.  You are forcing yourself into their story instead of observing them.  When you ask a question out of curiosity it’s a neutral place.  It doesn’t come out of your experience and what you have done.  Let’s use a real life example.

While at an event a few weeks ago I had this conversation.

Me: “My daughter has recently been using the toilet and is now wearing underwear.  We are thrilled!  The one thing that is still an issue is that she still needs a diaper to poop.  We are letting this go for now.”

Mother: “Oh no! You should let her poop in her pants and she will never do it again.  Trust me it worked with my child.”

Can you see where this went all wrong?  She heard a problem and wanted to fix it.  Negating the fact that I’m pretty familiar with my child AND, more importantly, like Barb did in the first scenario, I didn’t ask for her advice on the subject.  In fact, I said, “We are letting it go for now.”  There are good reasons for this of course.  But she wasn’t listening to me, she was just fixing me. And with that comes a lot of implications.  This can make for an unpleasant playground for first time Moms.  No two Moms are alike just as no two kids are.  We do our best and that is all we can do.  It would have been better had the conversation gone this way.

Me: “My daughter has recently been using the toilet and is now wearing underwear.  We are thrilled!  The one thing that is still an issue is that she still needs a diaper to poop.  We are letting this go for now.”

Mother: “What things have you tried to help her with this?”

Me: “We’ve talked to her about using the toilet.  And immediately she just throws a fit.  We think something happened when she first started trying.  We can’t be sure since she won’t tell us.”

Mother: “It sounds like something a friend I know went through.  Could I offer a suggestion or refer you to a book I read that helped me?”

She has already shown that she is listening to my specific problem.  It’s amazing what a question coming from a place of curiosity will do for another person.  They feel heard.  This is a form of caring.  You, the questioner, are interested in their life.  It opens a door to trust, creating a space of safety and that allows the person to see new possibilities.

This is just the tip of the iceberg on Co-Active Coaching.  There is so much more.  But in my 100 free session journey, I discovered how just simply listening to someone’s problem, created so much for the person in front of me.  It was interesting at times because some clients wanted me to give them the answers, or some structure, or a “plan” but they can already do that for themselves.   I’m a place to check in with, a person to collaborate with you.  Someone to inspect the problem with you and confirm your solutions on it. And definitely, someone to celebrate with you!  YOU DID IT! WAY TO GO!! (my favorite part).


*Excerpt from Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business Transforming lives” by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl and Laura Whitworth.



International Family Fair!

International Family Fair!

Digiflyer_IFF15Raising children in a foreign country is not easy, especially if the language is unfamiliar. Finding confidence, building a support network and feeling comfortable in family lives abroad are top priorities for international families. The International Family Fair is here to help internationals navigate the Dutch parenting waters!

This fun and informative event on November 8th promises to be a great day for the whole family. Parents can roam the information market with 45+ exhibitors showcasing their services for the family or join one of the workshops on parenting, raising international children or understanding the Netherlands. At the same time, children can enjoy a fun kids’ program with workshops and ongoing activities. For the youngest children, free professional daycare services are available.

I will have a booth at this fair!  Come meet me, have a mini-session, and see what I can offer.  I hope to see you there.

Date: Sunday, November 8th
Location: Het Koorenhuis (Prinsegracht 27, The Hague)
Info & pre-registration:

Congratulations! You almost lost.

Congratulations! You almost lost.

youalmostlostThis summer we went to the US for a visit with my family.  My sister and father created and implemented a Euchre tournament of epic proportions!  I realized that my audience may not know what the heck Euchre is so I’m linking the word for the definition.  In simple terms, it’s a card game that if played well can be very cut-throat (bringing out the competitive beast!). ha!

Putting this card game into a format of a tournament is especially thrilling!  On Father’s day, we assembled, full family and extended ones too, and played an afternoon away.  The smack talk was HIGH and the competition, fierce.  I was actually nervous in round one as my elders who taught me this beloved game were at my table. I didn’t want to disappoint them nor my partner.  I found my stride after a few games.  “Going alone” became my tribal yell.  It also taught me that the more I did “go it alone” the closer I came to winning the whole sha-bang.  The tournament was devised in such a way to encourage you to play solo.  Other wise folk caught on to this strategy, as well.  In the end, as evidenced by the card pictured above, I almost lost. It’s just a game.  But hey, I came in fourth place with a nice cash reward.  But I almost lost.  So what would have happened if I did risk it more?  I might have won.

The beauty in this simple phrase is profound.  Take a look at it.

Congratulations! You almost lost.  

Well, most of that is positive.  I was closer to winning than most.  But in the top 4 I was at the bottom.  At any rate, I’m being congratulated for doing my best.  I think we should have more messages like this one.  It’s kinda funny but also encouraging.  It spoke to me enough to save the card.  I hope you see something in it too.

Where have you “almost lost” recently?

The IMPACT of Coaching

The IMPACT of Coaching

This is #2 on the Top Ten things I learned by giving 100 free sessions.

photo credit:

I discovered that this can also be a topic that is held solely by the client’s perception.  While that is true, there are all kinds of impacts that maybe can’t always be measured but definitely can be seen. I saw when someone went from “gloom and doom” talking to “HIGH-energy -yeah! I’m excited about this” talking.  That energy lifts the client UP and sometimes out of their chair.  I love being a part of this kind of immediate impact.  It’s the place where magic can happen and possibility is available.  If we are talking about problems, well, we will only find problems.  But once you have a conversation with a smile or energy shift that is when things can move forward.

In a session, I look for these opportunities to show the client the difference and how this is readily available to them.  Once in the possibility mindset, we as a team can brainstorm new ideas and find a way to work towards their goal/dream.  The impact can be magnifying in one session, but a whole six months can be life altering.  Especially if you have a goal of leaving your current job to find the work of your dreams.  As did one client of mine have.  I’m happy to say that is the life she is living, doing what she loves.  Other clients in my journey of 100 found excitement by building new things, rearranging and cleaning out an office space, some rid themselves of toxic relationships and got really clear what was important to them by living by their values.  Most of these all happened in one single session.

How does this happen?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  In coaching, we open the doors to people’s dreams.  We actually have conversations about those dreams.  Let’s face it most people don’t get to talk about their dreams on a day-to-day basis.  When there is someone so focused on YOU and your dreams, listening to what you believe and value, there is something that happens that brings about change and makes an impact for life.  If we all paid attention to each other this way, well, I’d be out of a job, but the world would change.

When we were children we talked this way:

“What do you wanna be when you grow up?” says one child to the other.

The other answers, “I want to be a firewoman with a tutu on because I think fighting fires should be magical.”  The first child simply nods.  There are no judgments because everything is possible to them.

This is why I set this topic as number two on the top ten.  I experienced it over and over in every session with each and every client.  Some impacts were bigger than others, but there was always the presence of one.  It makes this work so worthwhile and fulfilling.  I get to see how the impact has opened up this person in a way that I know they will never forget.