The secret keys in coaching

I have coached several hundred people in all walks of life. From executives of international companies and housewives to artists, top athletes and business people of widely different trades.

I have used many different tools and methods to help others. And the coaching has almost uniformly resulted in great success. But it is only recently that I managed to distill the reasons for success into two simple keys:

  1. Remain mentally fully present and uncover what the person really needs and wants. Find the goal of the coaching from the person, and not from your own assumptions or preconceived ideas.
  2. Help the person to not give a fuck.

That’s it.

Sure, there are perhaps many different aspects of life the person needs to tackle. But from my experience, a person’s inability to handle a situation is always linked to the person’s own tension, stress or drama. He simply cannot let go of being uptight about the problem. The problem is never that serious, and the less serious the person thinks the problem is, the better equipped he is in handling it. Usually, the person knows how to handle the situation, he only needs to let go of the up-tightness, simmer down and do what he knows is right. Sometimes the person needs some new knowledge – then I help him get that. But as long as the person remains uptight and serious, he won’t be of much use to himself.

And the best way to help the person not give a fuck is to get him to start doing something about the problem he is facing. Not to indulge in mental exercises, visualizings, meditations or other indirect attempts. A gradual tackling of the actual situation will help him see that the mountain is not unsurmountable. Get him to clean out the garage, talk to his wife, quit the job he hates, whatever. Tackle the main problem, not anything else. No beating around the bush. This will ease the tension. And he will relax. Finally, he will be on top of the situation, any situation. Be there for him. All the way.

Try it.

Update: Anette pointed me in the direction of this great article on this subject.

31 thoughts on “The secret keys in coaching

  1. Fully agree. Word by word. The whole post. When I was in scio, it happened on some occassions that the person I guided into the mission wanted to buy a book or do a certain course but was stopped (based on the test) and offered something else – they bought that and did what was offered and then left. No matter that I saw it also right what the person asked for in the first place. I communicated about this situation but nothing changed. So after a while I stopped taking people there while I was there. In my job(s) I use your two points. I find them the very base of any “coaching”. Fully present with him/her, gradual/continuous uncovering and action(s). Funny things also happened to
    me quite a few times e.g. the person was studying with me English and at a point the main “problem” popped up – wanted a friend, a baby, handle a situation in business etc. and off they went into action. Could write a story-book about it. Yes, with care and attention people can handle their own “problems”. Thanks Isene for this post! Would be happy to read more about your “professional” side too!

  2. I really agree with this OP. An example of it happened to me not long ago with one of my nieces. She had just broken up with her boyfriend and even though she was sure it was the right thing to do, she was experiencing painful depression at times. One night she phoned me, very down, and said “Auntie, I don’t know what to do – I keep feeling so depressed.” I instinctively said to her something like, “Well, I suppose for a while it’s to be expected that depression will hit you at times, and you could just sort of say to it, ‘Oh, there you are again'”. And that seemed to click for her! I could even feel her relief through the phone. After that, she was basically fine – simply because she wasn’t any longer taking it so serious and thus keeping it “alive”.

    Also, there was something in the old Scn Volunteer Minister’s handbook, which I read way back, that struck me. It gave an example of someone helping a housewife and mother who was disorganized and overwhelmed. The suggestion she was given was just to start by keeping the ashtrays empty.

        1. Chronologically, Marildi’s example started when her niece broked up with her boyfriend. Or at least this is what I’ve understood…

          1. dragos 72
            From Geir’s Amazing person: YOU
            “One of my sons came to me the other day and told me that another boy had hurt his feelings at school. I asked him who held the key to his emotions. He looked at me and said “I do.” I replied “But this time
            you gave it away to that other kid.” “Yeah.” I asked “Should you take it back?” He nodded and smiled. Back to his usual self.”
            Might it have been Geir’s logic? Geir? Was it?

            1. Marianne, Geir’s example is definitory for children education in Norway. I was amazed to see how children are encouraged to relay on their own capacity of action, reaction, analysis and most of all, control of their emotions. And I think this is for the benefit of children.

            2. dragos72
              Thanks! I see it deeper now! In case of full responsibility there is no
              need for control, especially emotions. There are only natural actions.
              Emotions can also arise but then they naturally fit the situation too.
              Thanks, Dragos! Your comment arrived in the best possible
              moment as I am confronting now something which I haven’t been able to confront fully as it is…but it is on the way! Funny life that is, again!

      1. Dragos: “And all of this just because of a boyfriend…”

        That’s right, Dragos. And even the beleaguered housewife story no doubt started with a boyfriend. 😉

        Back when I first read about that housewife example in the Minister’s Handbook, the simple advice of telling her to start by keeping the ashtrays emptied wasn’t as real to me then as it is now. But I did get the point of how simple it can be – and needs to be – to help someone.

      1. Thanks! You know how it is, Marianne – the “auditor” has as big a win as the “pc”. I used to say that you only need to look at the auditor’s face after session to know how well it went. Same for word clearers. 🙂

  3. My favorite: “not give a fuck is to get him to start doing something about the problem he is facing”.
    That’s how I try to be when confronted with a job or problem. See it as a challenge and just get to it and do too completion. But then again, I’m not perfect and do procrastinate on the small stuff, and of course it’s all small stuff, hee, hee.
    Your article gave me some needed advice pertaining to my new part-time job and to help my boss.

      1. Please do it. It is a part of you many people (including me) have no idea about it. I’m sure that will arise a lot of opinions and posts after.

  4. Dear Geir.

    Thanks for this new post I had appreciate much.

    Could you indicate me where and/or how I can make a donation to you to put my ethics and exchange “in” while I have a financial Affluence that I could partly relate to the reading yesterday of your post?


    1. I don’t need any monetary donations. What could use is an old HP calculator (from the 70’s or the 80’s) or a book that you think I should read – I like books on philosophy (free will), particle physics, mathematics, business, etc… but any book will do if you recommend it).

      Any such can be sent to:

      Geir Isene
      Dr. Holms Vei 7C
      N-0787 OSLO

      1. I don’t know for old HP calculators and my books are mainly in french, even if looks to me we share many centres of interest, but what about this: ? I’m sure you know much about this but has brought me something positive to me, I wish sincerely it could bring you something good too, Dear Geir.
        Otherwise, I know some materials on web I should be able to address you in maths and physics mainly, like “exotic” wait to see the “laws” of the physical universe but with enough rigour be remain interesting.
        Do you want I post the web-addresses here or you prefer I send it you by mail? in case you would be interested .
        PS: which one is your first name, please: “Isene” or “Geir”?
        PPS: my m a i l : m a h a l k o d i d i e r a t y a h o o . f r

      2. Just realized that I have the ACCs in english. I didn’t have read them yet, but if you what I send them one by one to borrow you them, I could see how to make it, Dear Geir. ML

  5. Ok, I see, thanks! Great co-operation. John Lennon comes to mind, Yoko Ono
    helped her from the “background”. Maybe in the future you can indicate her share, just a little, if you like. But ask her, me as a woman prefers staying in the
    background, so I can understand that if she feels like that too.

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