Becoming Your Own Coach

It wasn’t the smartest words I’d ever uttered.

Nor the wisest, best timed or most succinct.

But it produced the most profound shift I’ve ever witnessed.

As a consequence the client (now a dear friend) no longer needed my counsel.

She was a bright, vivacious mother of two flat out holding down the multitude of roles life offers. Mother, wife, business woman, friend, daughter etc

When my calendar showed a session with her coming up a smile would creep across my face because she expected plenty but was always prepared to go at it openly and energetically.

She wanted value for her time and money spent with me but knew she’d get it by expecting a personal breakthrough every time we met.
(Yep – No pressure…)

She had no room in her life for blame, excuses or “life got in the way”, so any assignments I gave her were tackled with a sense of determination to learn or “get” what was on offer.

Our discussions were lively and challenging – something that makes my work turn into play.

One day after I had complimented her on how fast she was learning, growing, developing – she asked how much longer I thought she would be in need of coaching.

I pointed out that the best of the best (Federer, etc) kept a coach on their team as long as they were looking at being their best.

Then the she quietly but firmly insisted that I teach her my coaching secrets.

She pointed out that part of my job description was to make myself redundant and that she needed to become her own coach.

I reluctantly agreed.

Then she upped the ante by letting me know that self coaching would be a worthy and admirable goal but that she wanted to be a super coach.

She didn’t want to become a coach like me – she wanted the super coach skills to use on herself and her family.

So I used a simple illustration.

I asked her what she thought her biggest issue was.

It wasn’t too long before she identified that it was her, “riding the roller coaster” that bothered her the most.

ME: “Tell me more…” (that’s a secret line)

CLIENT: “I soar like an eagle when I have things happening how I want them.
Victories are really sweet and my confidence soars – I’m capable, confident and courageous.”

ME: “Hmmmm”(another secret line)

CLIENT: “Then I crash when I hit obstacles or distractions.
I just can’t see my way forward and I get negative.
The capability turns to self doubt, confidence evaporates courage vanishes and I have trouble making the simplest decisions.”


ME: “Hmmmm”(running the risk of using up all my secrets)

ME: “OK. The thing to understand is that you can’t get off that rollercoaster while you are you.
Battling with it means that it wins because you are trying to smooth it out.
You want more wins, less fails and a smoother ride – but to get that you have to stay on the roller coaster.”

CLIENT: “Huh?”

ME: “You can’t get a quantum leap if you continue to sit in a rollercoaster car trying to make it not a rollercoaster car.”

CLIENT: “Ah, O… K…? So – what do I do?”

ME: “You are either the participant or the observer.
That’s the coach’s secret weapon – they are not on the roller coaster.
Their thoughts, feelings and observations are from outside of it.”

CLIENT: “How do I get ‘outside’ my own bloody life?!
Seriously Paul, sometimes you shit me to tears.”

ME: “You use the oldest trick in the book.
Which, BTW, is the oldest, because it’s worked for the longest.”

CLIENT: “And that trick is…?”

ME: “I want you to imagine your son or daughter coming to you for advice.”

CLIENT: “Advice about…?”

ME: “Oh, I dunno – how about she comes to you and says that she’s OK when things are going great but looses confidence and gets down on herself when she blows something?
Whatcha gunna say to her?”

CLIENT: “I hate you.”

ME: “You’d say that to your daughter?!!!”

CLIENT: “You! I hate you – you smart arse!”

ME: “Yep – I’m more arse than smart – but Whatcha gunna say to her?”

CLIENT: “I’d tell her that she isn’t her results.
She should pay no attention to failure because we don’t love her less.
Maybe we love her more because we saw the effort she made.”

ME: “And…?” (another secret line)

CLIENT: “I’d ask her what she learned by having a go and failing.
I’d talk to her about maybe being enhanced by the failure and that she shouldn’t pay any attention to how she feels right now – that the feeling is temporary.”

ME: “And what would you tell her about succeeding – about reaching her goals?”

CLIENT: “I’d tell her that she isn’t her successes either.
They are great but what did she learn?
How is she a better person?
I’d help her celebrate but remind her that I don’t love her more because she had a win because I cant love her anymore than I already do.”

ME: “So that chat with her… Would you be prepared to follow that advice yourself?”

CLIENT: “I guess I’m going to have to or I’d be a hypocrite.”

ME: “Sweet – congratulations – you’ve graduated.”

And that, my dear friends, is super coaching in a nutshell.

Coaches have an unbelievable advantage.

They are not you.

That means they can see it like it is instead of how you feel like it is.

They advise on actions that are in your best interests – based on what you need being more important than what you want.

Could you do that for yourself?

If you want to hear it from an old campaigner who thinks he’s seen everything…

Of course you bloody could.

In case you missed it, let me lay it out in steps.

  1. Describe a personal unresolved issue.
  2. Imagine your own child asking for advice on how to handle this issue because it’s shown up in their life.
(Yes!!! – if you don’t nail it – they will inherit it)
  3. What would you advise them?
  4. Will you follow that advice?

There you go – BIG secret revealed.

But it raises another issue…

Coaching itself has been around since Noah was a boy playing with boats.
(We have always gravitated to the wiser, parental figure who has earned our respect for their efforts, their success, their willingness to help)

Coaches are now HUGE business worldwide because corporations have leaned themselves down.
Because they no longer offer in-house mentoring, the vast majority of us are in desperate need of help when it comes to working our way up to the next level – whatever that may be.

You will have seen the proliferation of “life coaches” claiming that they can plug the gap.
(Mostly – they do.)

Despite the $98 Billion spent last year on coaches and on-line courses, the next big move will be Self-Coaching.

In a world where change is accelerating at break neck speed, where our next job will be in an industry that hasn’t been invented yet…

It’s pretty much the ultimate skill.

In today’s world, how to become who you need to be (because your kids are sick or because you got promoted) is pretty much all that matters now.

You won’t get your next job because you know what to do.

You’ll get it because you have demonstrated the ability to learn what you need to learn – to become who you need to become – under your own instruction.

In other words, because you’ve learned how to be your own best super coach.