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Coaching the underperforming, very
bright client








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January 2
, 2002                                                

Dear Readers:

A very special issue today containing a lesson from the How to Coach Anyone eCourse on the topic of Coaching underperformers.

This is just one of fifty lessons in a very strong eCourse available exclusively to CoachVille members, free.  As part of our continuing effort to improve the quality of coaching worldwide, we are quite proud of this course. Have a look and see if you agree.  I welcome your feedback.  

Also in this issue is info about the next available dates for a variety of TeleClasses and Licensee opportunities.  Several of these classes are already booking into February.  Click to view more

My best to you,

Andrea Lee
GM, CoachVille

Feature Article

Lesson #13
How do you coach someone
who is very bright, but seriously under performing?

by Thomas J. Leonard


"Potential" is potentially frustrating to all concerned.

You probably know the type of client I am referring to...
...They are bright but not using their gifts.  They are in motion but not always performing.  They either suffer under the pressure to perform or they end up being critical of others because they haven't found a way to deliver on their own promise.  They may be quite frustrated in their job because their boss "doesn't get it."  They might even be missing social skills and grace, thus further off-putting others.  Or, they live in a twilight world of going through the motions of mere mortals in their job or life, when they feel that they could/should do something far more interesting... All in all, this is quite a problem.  And lots of bright people get stuck here, with nowhere to go.  They may be intelligent but they can't see their way out of the rut they are in.

There are a couple of things I want you to know about bright people...
Note:  These are not universally true, but a couple of these are bound to fit the typical bright person.
Bright people aren't always comfortable being so bright.  Being bright is sometimes felt as being odd.
In some cultures (many, actually) bright people play dumb in order not to lose friendships and love of family.  (Individuality/specialness is seen as a threat to the tribe.)
Bright people can live as if things are true because they are true in the person's mind.  Example:  The bright entrepreneur sees revenue stream from a product idea way before the product has been perfected and delivery systems established. They are 'ahead' of reality.  Can be quite a problem.
Bright people can dismiss less bright people until the bright person expands their heart/soul in order to be as big as their intelligence.  Until then, others are alienated.  
Bright people can think that the historical way of defining intelligence (IQ) is the most important measure.  As we are learning, there are other modes of intelligence (sports, emotional, creative, intuitive, etc.).
Bright people can find it difficult to find common ground with others.  (My great aunt Vange died at 30 of a broken heart because she could not find a way to relate to others because of her high IQ).
Bright people tend to have a significant segment of their self esteem that depends on them doing something with their intelligence.
Bright people can (incorrectly) feel dumb or they can take on an arrogant (I'm right, you're not) approach to living and spend years proving they are bright.  Meanwhile, they haven't learned much about life or themselves; just information.

What bright clients tend to respond well to with/from their coach...
Bright people NEED to hang around other bright people in order for their brightness to be validated and expanded.  Encourage your bright clients to spend more time with people who they feel are bright, even if for no other reason than to be in those environments.
Bright clients NEED you to challenge them to be brighter.  They don't necessarily need you to challenge them to product/perform, but they do need their intelligence stretched/challenged. For example, ask them to solve a problem themselves that they are bringing to you.  Ask them to 'prove/use' their intelligence in this way.
Bright clients NEED encouragement.  Just because they are bright doesn't mean that that intelligence meets their personal needs.  Bright people often have more doubts about themselves than others do.  Encouragement is really, really important.
Bright people NEED you to listen to them.  A lot.  Why?  Because bright people often use the coaching relationship as a way to test out new ideas or tease out creative solutions to challenging problems.
Bright people NEED encouragement to do things their way instead of a traditional. True, there is some risk with this but the risk of not doing so is usually greater.
Bright people NEED outlets to express their intelligence.  Which is why they so often are entrepreneurs or writers or inventors.  If there isn't a way to express that intelligence in an expanding way, that intelligence expresses itself internally with arrogance, or even mischief/personal sabotage. 
Bright people can benefit greatly from the collaboration that comes from having a personal R&D Team.  They need like minded people. An R&D Team provides that.
Bright people may need to completely redesign their lives in order to fully express (and even to get to know) the gifts they have been given. Quite often, the bright person knows they are bright but hasn't yet discovered the underlying gift/talent/ability that makes them so.  
Bright people are often steered or pulled into traditional career roles that really aren't the best expression of their intelligence or creativity. For many, they will need to invent their own career/self employment in order to feel fulfilled. (Quick example:  In college, I was premed because I figured being a doc was a high use of my talents.  At least until I got a whiff of formaldehyde in the bio lab.  Bye bye MD, hello CPA.  Thank God for the opportunity to be a coach.  And, fortunately, coaches are now available to help a person make these types of structural changes.
Sometimes, bright people need a kick in the butt from their coach to "go out and do something great with their intelligence."  Other times, bright people need the coach to help them reduce the stress they are experiencing from the performance anxiety thing, given a lot of bright people have been pressured to excel as children and this causes significant stress later on in life.  (My mother "went" (aka was probably pressured) to go to summer school every year of her life. Sure, she skipped a number of grades and graduated from college years earlier than one normally does.  And, she died at age 50 of anorexia.  A tragic loss, and one of many.)  

Remember, bright people can be under a lot of pressure to 'prove themselves.' Be sensitive to that. Don't assume it's all that easy to be

And, we're all bright in our own way.  The trick is to finding that brightness that is uniquely ours.  And orienting our lives around it.

I hope that this was helpful...


copyright 2001 by  written by thomas j. leonard.  all rights reserved. 
coachville member use only. no distribution.

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