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Coaching Critiques:
Listening in on Real-World Coaching  












View this issue online at

Monday January 27, 2003

Dear Today's Coach Reader,

Want to hear real-world coaching?  What about real-world mentor coaching? Now you can!

This issue of Today's Coach showcases the Coaching Critiques project from CoachVille, where senior coaches critique real-world coaching segments.  Regardless of where you're a new or advanced coach, these critiques are potent stuff...count on having multiple light bulbs go off as you dig in.

For example, in Coaching Critique #17 below, "Stepping Over Nothing," the Coach and client have worked together for 3 years.  Listen in as the coach catches almost everything that needs to be addressed. He does a brilliant job of not stepping over anything.  Learn as well the value of silence and disconnecting from the need to add value by attempting to convince or more the client forward too quickly.  (To start listening now, click here.)

Both RealAudio and MP3 recordings are below, along with a full transcript (it's lengthy, but worth it. You'll see.)  This is the first time this type of critique/audio format has been offered in the coach training industry.  And...

Including Critique #17, we've just released 8 New Coaching Critiques...there are now a total of 24 individual critiques available, free, in the membership at CoachVille (Not yet a CoachVille member?  Listen to a sample critique below, and see what you're missing!  Then join CoachVille now by visiting  It is a free, life time membership.)

Also in today's issue is information about a new live training: the Small Business Coaching Intensive.  A two day event in March in San Diego, this training promises to put your coaching proficiencies to work by opening the door to this vibrant - and largely untapped! - market.  Tuition is $149 until February 15, 2003.  More details here.  We hope to see you there!

All my best,

Andrea Lee
GM, CoachVille/SOC


Coaching Critique #017 - Stepping Over Nothing

Critiquer: Thomas Leonard

Critiqued version in real audio | mp3
Original coaching session (without critique) real audio | mp3

You'll need a copy of RealPlayer from OR MP3 Software to listen.

CoachVille member?
Use  your CV password at this link  and access all 24 Critiques (8 brand new links as of Jan 26, 2003.)

Transcript of Critique Call

Thomas:   I want to welcome you; good morning, Frank, and welcome to coaching critiques!

Frank:      Good morning, Thomas.

Thomas:   You have a great voice; this is Thomas Leonard, and if you’d give us a thumbnail about the work you’re doing with this client and the nature of the client, we’ll get right into the critiquing part.

Frank:      This is a lady I’ve been coaching with for about 3 ½ years and she has an unusual profession – she is a horse whisperer, so she does a lot of horse gentling and horse massage, but she’s also somewhat of an entrepreneur because she does some marketing for related products retail in support of her practice.  She also had a very unusual circumstance happen to her just after we started coaching, and she fell off a horse.  She had several broken ribs and was out of work for about a year, so I had to coach her through that whole period of recovery and re-establishing her practice.  At this point, she’s still trying to rebuild the horse gentling practice and she’s been supplementing that with other kinds of activity to keep the money coming in, so that’s where we’re at.

Thomas:   All right.  What are you going to be doing in this - ?

Frank:      Well, we’re going to pick up on what’s going on with her; she’ll tell us what it is . I just coach her through whatever issues she brings up.  I think the first thing she brings up is that she wants to give up the retailing of the massage oils and stuff because it hasn’t been has profitable as she’d hoped.

Thomas:   And you’ve worked with her for a year from what I’m hearing?

Frank:      Oh no, around 3 ½ years we’ve been working together, but there was about a year where she was unable to practice her profession, so that was a very difficult time.  She’s still time to roll that practice back up to where she’s working at it full time and it can support her.

Thomas:   So you’re going to be working in a response mode?

Frank:      Yeah, more just responding to how she’s feeling and what she feels is important to be dealing with at the moment.

Thomas:   Okay, great.  Here we go.

Frank:      How are you doing?  Good morning!

Client:      Good morning; how are you?

Frank:         What’s new with you this week?

Client:      You know, something that’s new, I just talked a girl this morning, Shannon, who I’m going to transfer Equinox to because I’m – I guess, I’m going to narrow my focus.

Frank:      Oh, so you found someone to take over the business, right?

Client:      Yeah, and I doubt she does anything with the rest of it, probably only the essential oils . I hope she’ll be successful working it.

Frank:      When you say you want to narrow your focus, can you clarify what that means?

Client:      Well, I really want….

Thomas:   I’m going to stop there for a second.  Did she say – I think she must’ve because you pointed to it, but I didn’t hear it, that the client wants to narrow her focus or did you know that outside this particular recording?

Frank:      No, well I know it outside the recording, but she mentioned it earlier in the conversation.

Thomas:   I’m glad you caught it because when somebody says ‘narrow their focus’ it could mean about a million different things, right?  They toss it out as if we know what they’re talking about and you asked a good question.  It’s perfectly fine – for the new coaches that are hearing this – to interrupt and make sure this gets addressed so as you move forward through the rest of the call, you know where she’s coming from.  The client assumes that we know, but we don’t know yet, and that’s not good enough for high-end coaching.   Good job.  Here we go.

Client:      … and right now, I’m doing the cake shop 1 or 2 days a week, and that feels like a distraction to me.  Then, I have the company and it’s not that I’m spending much time with it, it’s more just knowing that I’m not doing anything with it.

Frank:      so it’s just a distraction or drain or emotional - ?

Client:      Yeah. Well, it’s….

Thomas:   That was great, frank, because she used that word ‘distraction’ and that’s a word that can mean so many things. it’s ambiguous, and you gave her a couple of options.  That’s one of my particular preferences, too, like, ‘when you say that’s a distraction, is that like a diversion or it’s expensive or it’s toxic? You’re giving her some ideas and laying out some dots so she can connect the dots or point out the one that fits for her, or it may be none of them.  Then, she can say, ‘oh no, it’s this instead.’  Often, the client doesn’t have the words at the tip of their tongue that accurately express what they’re wanting to say and so by prompting – some clients like it and some clients find it terribly annoying.

Frank:      Right, and one thing that I probably should’ve included in my description is that she’s in the process of trying to write her 2nd book and she’s saying that this time she’s spending at the cake shop is a distraction for her energy towards her writing.

Thomas:         Writing takes RAM and freedom to have the room to do that.  With working at the cake shop, it’s difficult.

Frank:         Exactly.

Thomas:   Here we go.

Client:      Just a sense of – I feel like it’s a waste just sitting there, with no one working the product.  I just felt an obligation to find someone to pretty much give it to rather than letting it go to waste.

Frank:      Okay, is that an issue for you at this point, then?

Thomas:   And what’s behind that?

Frank:      Well, I’m trying to find out if she’s just trying to bring me up to speed as background or if she’s trying to let me know if this is something she wants to discuss during the call.

Thomas:   Very good, because you know the 8th proficiency is hones in on what is important, and this is your way of finding out whether it’s actually an issue to discuss or just a check-in.  We just don’t know without asking.

Frank:      Right.

Thomas:   Well done.  Here we go.

Client:      Giving the company away, I feel really good about that, I feel really happy about how that’s going.  It’s more about how that’s been affecting me in my head and the whole sharing my time…

Frank:      Okay; do you want to say some more about that, then?

Thomas:   One second.  She seemed to be doing okay, but then you wanted to prompt her to think faster?  Why did you interject that part?

Frank:      Well mainly because I had a sense that she was kind of dragging and staying on the one point without really getting into it.  She thought I knew what she meant, but I didn’t.

Thomas:   Okay; very good.  Here we go.

Client:      Well like I said, the company was not that much time, so I know the distraction that I’m feeling for the company is more based in the other thing.  I think that’s mostly the cake shop, but then sometimes I’m distracted, and I can’t write when I have the time.  I’m just not focused.

Frank:      Well, you have spread yourself pretty thin over the last year or two.

Client:      Yeah.

Frank:         Between the horse work, right, and all the things you do with your horse clients, and then trying to operate the retail oils and the marketing, working in the cake shop, and trying to write – which I know you finished the one book but you’ve been working on the 2nd book now for how long?  Off and on….

Client:      Oh, my gosh…

Frank:      A year?

Client:      Yeah, over a year.

Frank:      And then you had the relationship in there that took up a lot of time, too, that’s in the rear-view mirror at this point, right?

Client:      Yes.

Frank:         Definitely?

Client:      Yeah, definitely.

Frank:      All right.

Thomas:         (laugh) that was great.  What you did, the technique was well done was that you tracked with her very well. in other words, frank, you have an ear that you’re going to verify and validate everything along the way.  It’s a very – it’s a good, tightly managed skill. 

Frank:      Thank you.

Thomas:         Towards the end, she said ‘yes’, and you said ‘definitely?’ and she said, ‘yes, definitely.’  You’re both saying the same thing, and often, the coach wants something more for the client or assumes something is completely resolved, when actually it may not be, and we’re not going to know that unless you really make sure that her tone of voice and her slant on that word is going to be the level that yours is so there’s not leading going on.  A lot of coaches just lead their clients, and the clients wanting to get along with the coach in the process, but you’re making sure that you and she are in sync during the entire process.   Here we go.

Frank:      So, it’s certainly understandable that you’ve gotten yourself spread out in so many different directions that you’re feeling – what? – neglectful about your priorities.

Client:         Exactly, exactly.

Thomas:   And you know that?  You’ve been working with her for 3 ½ years?

Frank:      Yeah, 3 ½ years since we’ve started… 

Thomas:   And she’s been working on a number of things in the past year, and I couldn’t tell whether you were going with the approach of trying to make her feel better about being overwhelmed and not focused, or just trying to help her understand the dynamic of that it would be natural for someone to feel overwhelmed with the quantity of things she’s got – what was your approach?

Frank:      It was more of the latter, Thomas; I was trying to make sure that she knew that I understand how she felt, but also that how she was feeling was entirely understandable given what she had taken on.  And, that what she was wanting to do now was try and get back on a steady path to get focused on this writing, and I would support her in doing that.

Thomas:   And it’s going to require some significant change for her to get back in this mode, right?

Frank:      Right, and that’s where I think we’re going to pursue next.

Thomas:   Okay, good.  And just for a different kind of a client, for example, an entrepreneur who may do more than all of us combined because they’re so busy and active and creative and take risks and have multiple projects, some of them would use what you just did as a way to hide behind rather than be challenged to do more.  Don’t take it badly, but for some clients, it’s important for them to know that you understand the depths of the situation; other clients want that and want to be challenged to get something done, versus hide behind that.

Frank:      Right.

Thomas:   By matching that particular technique with the client, to make sure that you work with a different kind of a client that wants to be challenged, rather than just supported, it’s almost the opposite version of that.  That’s why we stress so much at CoachVille and the School of Coaching that you want to adapt your style and your skills and proficiencies to really fit well with the styles and the personalities and the stages of development that your client is in to really fit for them so they’re driving the tone and customizing the skills you’re using rather than just using the same for all clients.  So, here we go; I’m going to backtrack a little bit.

Frank:         …directions that you’re feeling – what? – neglectful about your priorities.

Client:         Exactly, exactly.

Thomas:   I’m going to stop there again; you used a very strong word – you said ‘neglectful’.  Where did that come from?

Frank:      Well, that was just the sound I was hearing from her; she felt like she wasn’t spending enough time doing things that were important to her.  like, I know she’s want to get more work done on this book and she feels like she’s dedicated to it, but doesn’t have the energy to give to it, and she’s expressed to me that this is a priority for her, but when she was describing that she’s not doing anything on it, I was getting that she was feeling like she was neglectful in that priority.

Thomas:   Good; you know that proficiency #2 is reveals the client to themselves, and part of that is how to describe how they’re handling something; that was a very strong word, but it was so cleanly used here, I wasn’t judgmental, it was just descriptive, and I think that’s a great example of clean communication.  We’re going to backtrack here again.

Frank:      So it’s simply understandable that you’ve gotten yourself spread out in so many directions that you’re feeling – what? – neglectful about your priorities.

Client:         Exactly, exactly. 

Thomas:   And the fact that the client said, ‘exactly’ whatever word you used was truly the word that described what she had been doing.  When you have the courage or the access to the language that fits to the situation, the client is so grateful to the coach because they understand, because he or she nailed it.  Clients get so much space in the coaching process, and when you’re able to have your comfort level, Frank, of sharing the word that comes up, even if it might sound to someone else like harsh, it’s so cleanly delivered that it’s a charge neutral.  Well done.  Let’s see where we go from here.

Frank:         …support the idea that you want to re-focus, and I fully endorse that what you want to focus on is the writing and the horse care because those really are you true passions.

Client:      Yeah, they are, they are.

Thomas:   We’ll stop again; how do you know those are her true passions?  From working with her?

Frank:      From the 3 ½ years I’ve been working with her, yes.

Thomas:   And it’s a value add to remind the client about their passions from time to time, because passions often get forgotten or diverted or they get confused or excited about something and they can go off into tangents, and they’re only human.  It’s important for the coach to share their opinions and also to remind the client when it seems like what they’re doing has gotten away form what the client most seems to resonate with.  We cannot assume that our clients are in touch with truly what is most passionate for them at all times; we get distracted and it’s a value add that you pointed it out.

Frank:      I applaud that you’ve been so successful because about 2 weeks ago, you were hoping you could find somebody that you could turn over the oils and stuff to, so I’m really glad you were able to do that so quickly.

Client:      Yeah, it did work out really well, and I’m really happy about it – still, it seems like I’m looking at it from only the negative side, not from the positive side about how good it’s going to be without it, you know? 

Frank:      Okay, what about that is negative?

Thomas:   Hold on one second here.  One thing, when a client is discovering something or pointing out something that’s opposite of what you said – you’re talking about great news, congratulations, you found somebody to buy the business, and anyone who’s an entrepreneur and involved with multiple projects is naturally going to feel a sense of loss, even if it’s good news long term when they turn over something they’ve worked on to somebody else...

Frank:         Certainly.

Thomas:   And how would you have phrased that for her to know that you know…?

Frank:      That the loss was there?

Thomas:   Yes.

Frank:      Well, what I was doing by asking her how that was negative, I was hoping to try to have her voice what it was she was sensing. If it was a sense of loss, it would’ve been definitely to support that feeling as valid, but if she was also thinking about it in terms of declining income or that the other person wasn’t going to do it quite as well – I just wanted to hear her voice what the negativity was that she was experiencing.

Thomas:   One thing; you’ve been in a reaction mode, like that’s a bad thing – you jumped in right away to re-direct the conversation to the fact that she had some negative stuff going on about it.  Take a breath or two and just listen to her talk it out versus trying to correct her so fast.

Frank:      Okay; that’s a good point.  Thank you.

Thomas:         Second thing is whenever a client does something like sell a business or make a change, even if it’s incredibly cool thing for them, I always say, ‘oh my gosh, that’s so great’, but you could tell from the beginning of the call that she has some misgivings about that particular event, so I don’t do the positive Pamela, I say, ‘Wow, so how are you feeling about that?’ or ‘Wow, that’s a big change!’  I don’t put my stamp of positivity on it.  You also heard regret in her voice, too; I want to communicate more of that so they can let it go.  Until they can do that, it’s hard to feel released and free then to go on with the rest of the coaching call.  I believe before you have someone make a change or as you have someone start something new to their lives, I make sure they let go of something.  Sharing an open-ended comment like, ‘Wow, that’s a big change…’

Frank:      And how are you feeling about it?

Thomas:         Exactly; that lets them put the spin on it versus having to make it better than perhaps it is.  You can tell she hasn’t yet gotten to the other side, and this is perhaps an extraordinary event….

Frank:      Oh yeah, this is a business she created from nothing and gave birth to it, so it’s like losing a child.

Thomas:   Let’s go back to the tape.

Client:      … well, I’m happy about it, still it seems like I’m looking at that only on the negative side ,not the positive, about how it will be for Shannon and…

Frank:      Okay, so what about that is negative?

Client:      I think it’s just that I can’t get off of the probably the emotional or business side of not working for it.  I’m seeing it as a didn’t work, instead of a positive thing about focusing.

Frank:      Okay, so what would be a way you could re-frame that?

Thomas:   One thing I would do, Frank, is that you can hear in her voice that she’s actually creating on the spot.  I’m going to replay it so everyone can hear it, and when someone’s creating on the spot like that, what I use is silence as my number 1 strategy.  I want her to keep teasing it out, rather than me prod her to clarify.

Frank:      Okay.

Thomas:   More of a quietness, if you will, and let her bring the value forward, rather then you trying to add value to the question.

Client:      …not working for it.  I’m seeing it as a didn’t-work, instead of a positive thing about focusing.

Thomas:   Then, so what I would do is say, ‘Wow, I think I know what you mean’ – silence.  And then believe me, the client’s going to keep talking . Have them know that you heard them; identify with those feelings whatever they are….

Frank:      And then give them space to continue?

Thomas:   Yes, and they will almost always continue.  They may talk for a minute or 2, and that’s always valuable time spent in a coaching relationship; then casually say, ‘how are you holding it now?’  in the last minute or 2 of conversation as she goes through this and describes or relates to you, she’ll have worked through it and released a lot of it ,and that’ll give you a clue about where to go next with it, assuming that looking at it is the next step.  We don’t know; you do, but I don’t know enough yet to see if she worked through this.

Frank:      Right, and given my history of working with her, she’s able to turn negative stuff into positives fairly quickly.

Thomas:         Perfect!   Here we go.

Frank:      Okay, so what would be a way you could re-frame that?

Client:      Well, that’s the question, huh?

Frank:      You know I was going to ask you the question, didn’t you? (laugh)

Thomas:   Three and ½ years with a client, you get to know them pretty well, don’t you?  Here we go.

Client:      Ah, well, it’s – the answer is in my head, but the application of it is getting lost.

Frank:      All right, we can work with that.  What’s the answer in your head?

Thomas:   So, did you cut her off?

Frank:      Yeah, I think I did.

Thomas:   I just wanted the listeners to know. Let’s go again.

Client:      The answer in my head is almost the way I said it just now – that it’s a really positive thing that this is going to be giving someone an opportunity, and that makes me very happy, and I’ll have a more mental focus on my writing, which is suffering now.

Frank:      Is there going to be any depreciation to your income production at this point because you’re turning it over?

Client:      Not so appreciable a different; it could be on the upside actually, and that’s a good point. 

Frank:      Well, it could be that turning this over is a sacrifice of income, but if it’s not, then it sounds to me like it’s all upside.

Client:      Yeah, it is…

Thomas:   That was very good sharing of opinions; you said, ‘it seems to me’ and she said that’s a good point.  You know, people that are letting go of something, they’re often focused on the loss of it, rather than the benefit, and this is your way of pulling her back up from the bottom of the cycle…

Frank:      Right.

Thomas:   We’ll continue.

Client:      She’s going to work it and I’m going to hang on to some of the income.

Frank:      Well, great!  What about the income you’re getting form the cake shop because you said you wanted to eliminate that as another time drain – is that going to be a problem for you, cutting that income?

Thomas:   That’s extremely well done; first of all, you said, ‘I heard you say…’ which is important to have the person know you heard them – as we mentioned earlier in the call -  and then you said, ‘Is that going to be a problem for you?’  The fact that someone may be giving up 1 or 2 days a week at the cake shop might be a problem for me if it were my primary source of income, but you’re having them say that it’s a problem or not a problem.  That’s a very good use of the technique, #8, which is hones in… I think it’s not going to work with every client in every situation, but it’s appropriate for this call.

Client:      Well, if I want to stay at my current financial position, no; there are going to be a few weeks here and there where the horses are between seasons, like this time of year, where it’s good to have that job, but I know that I can go back – I can always work between horse seasons, but it’s just that I’m finding a difficult balance between wanting to take care of some debt and obligating myself to the cake shop and it taking away form my writing.

Frank:      All right; so are you saying you’re already designed a plan of how you’re going to balance those things?

Thomas:   That was a jump! (laugh)

Frank:      Well, I heard her talking about needing to balance it, and I wasn’t sure whether I she’s already arrived at a way of doing that, or wondering if she’s searching for one.

Thomas:   I love that; it’s almost like a presumptive close – is that a plan or a - ? (laugh)

Frank:         Would you like that in blue? (laugh)

Thomas:   Yeah, we have medium blue or medium blue!  Again, you know your client really well; it’s great that rather than being mired into the problem, it’s the burden of the challenge for the client.

Frank:      Right.

Client:      It’s a plan in my head.

Frank:      All right, but it isn’t on paper yet.

Client:      Right; I’m not committing to it fully.

Frank:      All right, that’s probably something we ought to talk about.

Thomas:         Perfect, perfect!  She’s stuck on it, obviously; it’s in her head, she’s not committed to it, and it’s something that’s holding her back, and you’re using that as an immediate coaching opportunity and that’s again, honing in on what’ most important, and then using #14, designing an environment because you’re going to be the environment that’s supporting her in real time.  Sometimes, coaches would give an assignment to the client to go off and work on that later on, whether other coaches work on it together, and with 2 heads working on it at the same time, the client’s going to come to it a lot faster.

Frank:         Exactly.

Thomas:   This can and should get done during the coaching session; other coaches swear by having homework, and it’s just a matter of personal preference for the coach.

Frank:      The hesitancy in making the commitment – what would that be about?

Thomas:         Again, great question!  So, you keep directing her; she says, ‘I’m not sure’ and you say, ‘the hesitancy, what’s that about?’  you’re doing a great job with provocative conversations; you’re keeping this provocative for her and keeping her engaged because with a coach that’s not as experienced as you are, this thing could’ve drifted…. 6 weeks.

Frank:      Oh yes. She would’ve wandered all over the place.

Thomas:   Yes, and you know your client well.  You’re showing some great leadership on the call.

Frank:      Thank you.

Client:      Well, there are debts that I could be paying off that I should be paying off and the book is future income, and I just start feeling guilty about my future income, not current income.  I can pay my bills without the cake shop, like I said, most times of the year…

Frank:      Umm-hmm.  Okay, can I just give you momentary feedback on what I just heard?

Client:      Yeah.

Frank:      What I just heard is that the bill paying, which is causing you some guilt, is something you feel like you should be doing as opposed to what you are doing.

Client:      Yeah, that’s definitely it, and I heard myself say that in my head, and then where I go with that in my head is, ‘Well, yeah, but what I want to do is going to provide some income in the future…’  Just not now.

Frank:      So, which is more important to you – addressing the should or addressing the want?

Client:      Hmm.

Thomas:   Let me give our listeners another option at this point.  You’re going with should or want – the challenge of should or want is that when integrity is involved, it’s a different game than should or want and people have different levels of need or a degree of integrity.  For example, some people get physically sick if they have debt.  Other folks, they’re actually fairly comfortable with having credit card debt or being late on payments – it sounds like she’s fairly comfortable with paying slow sometimes in between seasons of her horse work.  I always ask them, ‘how uncomfortable does it make you to a point of pain or shame or frustration if you are able to pay the debt off?’ I want to hear, almost the comfort level they have with that level of financial stress.  You know, if you talk to a financial planner and they have a dozen different points of view, but I want to hear what’s going to work for them because they’re going to be driving this.  I would go there with it; I wouldn’t go with should or want.  For a coach, I would first go with the level or comfort or the level of need or integrity and then go there.

Frank:      All right.

Client:      I don’t know.  ‘Should‘ is pretty heavy, and I’m worried that I’m saying this about the book being future income, and it not being that I’m not making money, it’s just that it’s not coming in now.  I just want to make sure that I’m not justifying doing the writing because I want to be doing the writing.

Frank:      Well, that’s an important distinction to make, of course.  And yet, as an author who’s already completed one book, in order to do the work, you have to devote time to it and you have to be able to do that on a regular basis, not just an intermittent basis.

Client:      Yeah.

Frank:      And yet right now your schedule is so full that there’s no time to do that; it’s not just a matter of wanting to, it’s a matter of needing to in order to achieve the goal you set for yourself of completing the next book.

Client:      I have no time dedicated to writing.  Writing is what I do when I have the energy, when everything else is done.

Frank:      When everything else is done.

Thomas:   Just some background for our listeners – has she made money with the first one?

Frank:      No, an agent has it now; it’s just at the publishing stage.

Thomas:   Okay, so there’s no guarantee the 2nd one is going to make some money, either?

Frank:      No, although all the indications are that the books are going to do really great once they hit the stands.

Thomas:         Because they’re about this particular topic?

Frank:      Well, one of them is an historical novel based on her grandparents’ life.

Thomas:   Okay; so the trick is should she be investing her time right now in something that has potential, but may not have – immediate value, and number 2, you’re looking at a really long-term, particularly for a writer… I think I read a quote somewhere that said, ‘write only what you can’t not write.’   In other words, if you’re compelled to be a writer, then write; if you’re not, then don’t be one.  So, for some clients, she may need to write a couple of books to get access to that muscle of being able to write and being inspired by it.  She gave us all a hint a couple of minutes ago – she said she didn’t know whether she wanted to write just because she wanted to write it; that was a question she was asking herself.  For someone who’s new at the writing business, that may be something they have to go through and not be productive their first 5 years of writing.   A lot of people complicate their lives because they’re actually afraid to write.  They could and they know that, but they’re afraid.   That’s why proficiency #14 comes it, to help her get over the hump of that process.   Again, I also try to screen or protect the client from the wishful-thinking writers of the world, the ones that really can’t not write; they just have to write?  Do you know which one she is?

Frank:      I think she’s more the latter.

Thomas:   She just has to connect, but something’s blocking her?

Frank:      She’s afraid that spending the time doing that is denying her debtors.

Thomas:   Yes, and that’s where the integrity comes in; sometimes integrity comes ahead of creativity for some people.  In other cases, creativity comes ahead, and it’s important to know the location of those 2 in her world.  Often, people can’t write or be creative if they have a high need for integrity because they feel so bad, that shame or embarrassment or guilt consumes their entire RAM…

Frank:         Exactly.   She already said that she was trying to find a balance where she was comfortable doing both.

Thomas:   It may not be possible.

Frank:      Okay.

Thomas:   For the people who need balance – it’s almost like when you try to juggle, you can’t.  so often balance is a by-product – it’s generally a by-product of being centered.  If you could find what would have her feel centered about herself, then balance would generally be a by-product from that.

Frank:      Okay, good.

Thomas:   Here we go.

Frank:      Instead, wouldn’t that be more true to yourself if you would make that a top priority or at least one of the top priorities and at least relegate the concern over having your accumulated debt be something that’s a little less pressing?  You already know that you have it under control most of the time anyway, right?

Client:      Yeah.

Frank:      Another question that comes to mind is that….

Thomas:   Just one correction; she said ‘yes’ but she didn’t mean it.  I’ll play it again.  She might have meant it, but her tone of voice…

Frank:      …accumulated debt be something that’s a little less pressing?  You already know that you have it under control most of the time anyway, right?

Client:      Yeah.

Frank:      Another question that comes ….

Thomas:  You’re moving forward, but actually you’re not getting agreement on that.  You may know better than I do, but for our listeners, usually when you hear a ‘yeah’ or ‘uh-huh’ they’re not agreeing; it means they’re being nice or they’re trying to get it.  I wouldn’t move forward until that’s been clarified.

Frank:      I understand what you’re saying in this instance it sounds to me like I didn’t confirm that what she said was what she was really believing.

Thomas:   Yeah. It also – again, when you work with a client for a long time, you build up the relationship where you can be fairly direct, but you seem to have an opinion – there’s an undercurrent about this.  What’s your basic bottom line about her and her debt situation?

Frank:      Well, merely that’s she comfortable with allowing it to be there and nibbling away at it in monthly increments, rather than trying to chunk it out and be done with it.

Thomas:   And that’s the guess you’re making, or she’s said that?

Frank:      It’s an underlying presumption, but it’s based on prior conversations with her.

Thomas:   Okay, good; you’ve had more conversations with her, more knowledge about this than we do.  What I find myself coming at it in the way that you are – it’s almost like a flavor of convincing, and what I’ve stopped doing with my clients is any hint of convincing.   I used to think that, you know, that I was encouraging.  I just realized it and stopped about 5 years ago, that I would do all the things I could do, but not have any hint of trying to convince them.   Again, it may be because how you and she work together, but I wanted to let the coaches hearing this know that it’s possible not to have that flavor or tone in one’s voice and actually have it be free of anything you want for that client and still have it be a higher place.  Do you have any comments on that?

Frank:      Only that I understand and agree with what you’re saying.  It does have a tinge of I have an agenda for her and I’m trying to persuade her to adopt it, which fundamentally I know is not true, but it’s based on that I want what’s best for her.

Thomas:   Yes, and often we’re hired by our clients to accelerate them toward that place, and we use cattle prods, sometimes we use encouragement or a possibility to have them get with it.  The trick is to always be in touch with how much of you is in that and not misdirect it.

               With that, we’re going to end at this point. Anything you learned, Frank, from our discussion of the points around your call?

Frank:      Well yeah, a couple of things I would like to highlight that I got out of this conversation.  First, there are a lot of different ways I could’ve gone with this client or any of my clients; there are always options I can choose from and sometimes my instincts are really strong and I go with them, and sometimes I find myself muddling along and trying to find what’s the best thing to do here.  I find that in those cases, that’s when I start stumbling the most.

Thomas:   To underscore that, one of the – for everyone hearing this – as you get more confident as a coach and more experienced as a coach, there is a period of time that it takes, if you will, when we have to process over 100 clients that we really do know more than the client knows about themselves in certain areas.  I know for myself that came out as, not as impatience, but almost arrogance.   It was like I could look through the next 2 or 3 pages of their business or their life and I could almost predict how that was going to work out.  Then I began being really good at that, but I realized a couple of years ago that I could just play ignorant and not figure out what was going on and still enjoy my clients.  That was a shocker.

Frank:      It is.

Thomas:   And again, it’s #4, enjoys the client immensely – and it’s about just enjoying the client and having the wisdom just pop up as the client wants it, versus me thinking that I have to make sure that they move in the direction faster.  I’m like you, I have opinions and I share them, but I cut out that other piece.  As you’ve been coaching for a couple of years, it may be time to pull back from all that you know and be a child-like listener rather than the highly intelligent coach.

Frank:      Yes, the other thing I wanted to highlight was a reminder that it’s often highly informative to just use silence.

Thomas:   Yes.

Frank:      And the beauty of silence – it allows the client the space to find their own answer or take the next step without having to be pushed or prodded to go there.

Thomas:   And it takes a little bit of confidence to feel comfortable giving them that room.  I wanted to make sure that I gave my clients value so they wouldn’t fire me! (laugh)

Frank:      Right.

Thomas:   I’m not saying that to you, but there is some fear that generates that discomfort, if you will.

Frank:      And this example was a good one for me, knowing that we have a 30-minute timeframe to conduct this call and I want to make sure she gets full value for my time, and if I’m sitting there quiet, it feels like I’m wasting her money.

Thomas:   And that’s the panic and that’s the fear that you have, and that’s where checking in with the client at the beginning of the call to say, ‘what should I be doing over the next 30 minutes to make sure you’re satisfied?’  It may be different every call, but that way it gives the client a chance to direct you in the way they want you to be with them, the focus you’re going to be taking, the approach you’re going to be taking, because they’re going to use you and often, performance anxiety goes away.  Thank you for being on the call today.

Frank:      Well thank you so much, too, Thomas.  I really appreciate your insights as well as your endorsements. 

Thomas:   Well, you did a terrific job; thanks, Frank!   Bye now! 

Intrigued by this Coaching Critique?  Join CoachVille and access 23 more critiques now.


copyright 2003 by  all rights reserved.


New live training March 7/8, 2003 -- first time offered! 

Small Business Coaching Intensive

Save $100 if you register by February 15, 2003.  And read about the amazing guarantee below...

Getting tired of having clients who come and go?  Are you looking for clients who last a lifetime?

Then consider working with the small business owner or entrepreneur (1 - 200 employees).  They are loyal, your coaching is put to immediate use, and the positive impact on their bottom line is measurable.

According to the SBA (Small Business Administration) there are 22 million small businesses in the United States, 9 million of which are women-owned.

This is a vibrant market that has barely been tapped into by coaches.

Intriguing, yes?  Richard Reardon and Thomas Leonard can show you how to both attract -- and to do extraordinary work -- with this type of client, even if you have not yet been working in a business setting.

We'll show you the 15 'entry points' that help you get in the door with a small business client.

And, once inside, you can use the strategies, models and solutions that we teach you at this 2-day intensive to serve the small business client -- which tend to work with their coaches over a much longer term and at higher fees than with personal coaching.  Yet, of course, your coaching with them is also personal.  It's the perfect type of client to expand your abilities as a coach.

The cost of this highly-specialized training is easily paid for by as little as a single hour a coaching with a business client. 
And we'll go even further with a extraordinary guarantee -- if you don't earn back the $149 registration fee within the next 6 months, just email and ask for your $149 back!  We know that this business coach training is effective and we stand behind our work.  (As far as we know, no other school offers this type of guarantee.)

Open to expanding your skill set and service offerings?  Then please make plans to join Richard Reardon (dean of the school of Small Business Coaching) and Thomas Leonard in San Diego on Friday/Saturday, March 7 and 8, 2003, at the San Diego Handlery Hotel & Resort.

Tuition is only $149 for the 2-day training if you register by February 15, 2003; $249 thereafter, $299 at the door.

Click here to register.
Link not working with your browser? Go here: 

Can't make those dates?  No problem -- Richard (singly) will be conducting this training again in San Francisco as a pre-workshop for the Future of Coaching Conference.   But if you want to learn from both Richard and Thomas in a dedicated setting, please join us in San Diego on March 7 and 8, 2003.

Here's the agenda for the 2 very full days:

Coaching Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs


Coffee, Tea and Networking With Trainers Richard Reardon and Thomas Leonard
Friday Morning

Identify the
15 Entry Points To Coaching a Small Business Successfully
We believe that it is fair to say that virtually every entrepreneur and small business can benefit from coaching, but the challenge is to position yourself and your services to that the small business owner comes to believe that you can help them -- exactly where they are.  The big mistake that most coaches make is that they try to sell coaching instead of first determining the entry points where the client already has the door open and is just waiting for you to walk through it.  

During the morning session, you will learn the 15 entry points -- meaning the wants and needs the typical small business owner has and the ones that they are willing to pay for coaching services around -- and how to package yourself and your coaching to fit in those doors.  These entry points are not mysterious -- once you learn them.

If you are totally new to working with business owners, consider this a terrific overview as to what you can provide them. And if you are already experienced working with small businesses you'll find the language and the tools you'll need to get the attention of this type of client (often the biggest challenge).

Specifically, this morning, you will...
o Learn the 15 Entry Points to that you are offering exactly what the client is open to buying
o Learn the 5 types of entrepreneurs and how to adapt your approach to meet their very different styles
Learn the 15 Small Business Proficiencies -- these are what it takes for a business owner to be successful long-term. (Take a sneak preview of the 15 Small Business Proficiencies at

Friday Afternoon

Position Your Coaching to Impact the Operating Dynamics of Small Business

When you walk into a small business or begin working with an entrepreneur, you are entering an already-established system of how  things get done in that company -- the culture, attitudes, procedures, expectations, relationships, politics, operating systems, success formulas, and the like.  The challenge for the coach is to quickly come to understand the operating dynamics of this business so that you can make the most of the culture while at the same time being the effective catalyst for upgrading how the company operates.  If you are insensitive to what you're walking into, your coaching won't hit the mark -- and your best work will not get done.

Specifically, this afternoon, you will...
o Learn how to use personal assessments as a way to learn more about the players and how the company operates
o Learn the basic models of how small businesses tend to work (share these with a client and they'll be impressed that you know them so well!)
o Learn how to use an organizational assessment (scorecarding)  in order to give the owner a bird's eye view of where his or her company is really at.
o Learn the 3 most common sources of problems for any small business -- come to understand these three and you'll have a solution to virtually every other problem the company is having.
o Learn how to use visual displays (called infoshapes) as a way to both educate your clients on what's going on, and how to improve that.


Coffee, Tea and Networking With Trainers Richard Reardon and Thomas Leonard
Saturday Morning

Package yourself and your services for a 5-20 year relationship with your clients

The biggest problem in coaching today is the churn factor -- clients come in for 3, 6 or 12 months and then they move on -- necessitating an always-on marketing effort for the coach.  But when you coach small business clients -- and have a complete menu of services for them -- you should expect to work with these clients for years, if not decades.  Now, that's coaching -- a long-term personal and professional relationship that continues to add value to all parties.

Specifically, this morning, you will...
o Learn how to design your role -- collaborator, consultant, coach, coach to the company vs the owner, catalyst, accountability holder.
o Designing a short and long-term coaching plan (scope, order and magnitude) that includes the metrics that matter to the client:  functional, personal, emotional, financial
o Developing a communication style that commands attention yet doesn't turn off the client; edgy is good, if not essential.
o Staying ahead of the game:  Advanced business concepts and emerging business models to keep your client ahead of the competition, and give you a lifetime of work with your business clients.

Saturday Afternoon

Using Marketing Strategies and Systems to Ramp Up Your Small Business Practice

Now that you know the breadth of services you can provide to this marketplace, the next step is to make sure that small businesses and entrepreneurs can find out about you and your work -- which is the focus for Saturday afternoon.  There are two basic strategies that you'll be learning:
1. Short-term/immediate strategies to add several new clients in the coming weeks.
2. Long-term/permanent strategies (called marketing systems) to keep your practice full. 

Specifically, this afternoon, you will...
o Learn how to use giveaways as a way to build an e-mailing list and give business owners an experience of your work.
o Learn how to properly work a room at the Chamber of Commerce or other function.
o Build a website that is situation-specific vs general services-oriented.
o Developing marketing systems around each of the 15 Entry Points that you learned at the beginning of this training.
o Learn how to share success stories (before and after) as a way to convey the power of the coaching process

Save $100 if you register by February 15, 2003. Tuition is $149 for the 2-day training if you register by February 15, 2003; $249 thereafter, $299 at the door.
Click here for more information, and to register.
Link not working with your browser? Go here: 

Benefits of Attending the Business Coaching Intensive
o Learn how to break into the small business owner and entrepreneur marketplace.
o Come to understand what drives a small business and the entry/level points where coaching can make all the difference.
o Get inside the head of the business owner to understand his or her sources of motivation and inspiration.
o Learn how to use diagnostic tools including assessments, checklists and scorecards.
o Meet and network with other small business/entrepreneur coaches.
o Discover how to virtually eliminate your client turnover problem by offering long-term coaching plans for your small business clients..
o Leave with several years' worth of ideas, opportunities, programs and knowledge to accelerate your success as a small business coach.
o Learn how to apply what you learn at this conference to your own coaching practice so that you are a model of what you're helping your clients to achieve.

Friday, Saturday
March 7, 8, 2003
Handlery Hotel & Resort
950 Hotel Circle North
San Diego, California, 92108 
Maximum capacity:  100
Conference fee:  $149 until 2/15/03, then $249.  $299 at the door.
Click here to register.
Link not working with your browser? Go here: 

Planning on staying at the event hotel? (Handlery Hotel & Resort)

If so, just call 1-800-676-6567 or direct to in house reservations 619-298-0511 to reserve your room.  Special room pricing is $110.00 for single/double occupancy if you mention CoachVille when you call for a reservation.  (Or feel free to get a better deal if you can!)

If you are flying in to San Diego, it's easy to catch a cab from the San Diego Airport to the Hotel.  More info about the Handlery is at



We offer 100% refund of your payment/tuition if you withdraw at least 30 days prior to the event. If you have to cancel within 30 days of the start of the event, you will be given full credit to attend any future CoachVille Small Business Coaching Intensive, of which there are several scheduled. (Detailed locations and dates to be announced by March 2003.)