Category Archives: Coaches

What Coaches Bring

Invaluable resources that help you get where you want to go

Some of the most important benefits of coaching may be the least quantifiable. Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds, different types of coach training, many motivations for wanting to help others in this way. Some of the gifts coaches bring are more tangible, some less obvious.
We can’t always put our finger on exactly what made a difference. From the clients’ perspective, it’s the outcome that matters, in whatever way the coach helped them get there.

Some of the gifts coaches offer:

Listening. When the coach listens, the client has a witness. While talking about a situation, the client has an opportunity to sort through what is important and what is just a circular story. Through deep listening, the coach provides a safe space for exploration as well as the sense of being understood, which meets a profound need we all have. Goals that are spoken have added clarity and strength.

Discernment. The coach gets to know you and can offer feedback that is finely tuned to where you are. Discernment comes from experience and intuition. When you don’t see how you are contributing to a negative situation, or holding back, or missing an opportunity, the coach’s discernment calls it to your attention.

Expertise. Many coaches offer specific expertise, such as business, finance, speaking, sports performance, wellness, parenting, relationships, etc. At times a coach may give instruction or direct advice, observe you in action and give feedback, or recommend readings or trainings. While coaching is not the same as teaching, an expert coach can greatly accelerate learning.

Devotion. Coaches are devoted to their clients’ success. They help define and hold the space for people to reach beyond their current level of skill, satisfaction, and accomplishment. When the client loses track or begins to flag, the coach is there to remind and redirect. The coach holds the client in positive esteem while mirroring the hopes and dreams that make the journey worthwhile. Coaches are there consistently while the world swirls around.

Creativity. When you run out of options, call on your coach to help break through to a new level of creativity. Whether as a sounding board, brainstorming partner, or cheering section, the coach helps keep creative juices flowing.

Each coach brings unique qualities and techniques to the process. Working with a coach in any field ensures that you have these resources available to you.

(This article originally appeared in the June newsletter of the Silicon Valley Coach Federation).

What I love about Transactional Analysis (TA)

For those who came of age after the 70’s, Transactional Analysis is probably not even on the radar screen. TA, known for the widespread memes of ‘I’m OK – You’re OK,’ ‘Inner Child,’ ‘Life Scripts,’ and ‘Games People Play,’ had a profound impact on personal growth, psychotherapy, and even the EST seminars which have morphed over time into Forum and Landmark. TA is one of the Communication Models I was studying when I gave the name Communication Modeling to the profession of learning how to make work and personal relationships successful.

Just today in a life-coaching session I rediscovered what it is that I love so much about TA.

My client wants to design a life in which she will be happy. We talk about what is going on now in her life, including visits to her family, which provide insight also into her past.

With TA language, and the knowledge about how we develop our individual personalities against a backdrop of family and culture, I could speak directly to and about the Child, and the Parent and Adult, that form a whole grownup personality. The profound realizations, the next steps for my client as the resourceful woman she is, the understanding of how things make sense from a Child point of view, open doors to designing that life that she wants to lead.

The issues that block her are very clear and workable from this perspective. She can own complete responsibility for her actions and what she wants while I can provide new information that she did not receive the first time around.

Her grownup self can take care of her child self in such a way that she keeps the best of her early parenting and adds new aspects that give her consistent internal support.

Rather than getting caught up in the stories about the others in her life and how they are treating her, we can work from the center out. She can see the concentric circles of how she recreates old patterns. And she can learn what to do about it.

TA is known for simple, direct language. But it is not simplistic; it is understandable and recognizable to real human beings. It takes a decent amount of training to be good with TA, as with anything. It aims at high ideals, at healthy development, ok-ok relationships, autonomy and interdependence.

Although TA did not get a lasting foothold in academic psych, it is being taught and learned by people and helping professionals around the world. Perhaps the people who establish standards for counseling and psychotherapy – not to mention life coaching -are missing out on a major stepping stone when they overlook TA.

The USA Transactional Analysis association is launching introductory TA trainings around the country, as well as co-sponsoring a conference on Redecision Therapy and TA in November in New Orleans (go to for more info.).
As a coach, therapist, counselor… or modeler of communication, it’s worth checking out.

Competent Coaches, Diverse Clientele – an evening with NorCal Professional Coaches and Mentors Association (PCMA)

When I was invited to speak at the San Francisco meeting of the PCMA, I didn’t know what to expect. Would these be business or life coaches, backgrounds in business, therapy, training? Are they really practicing their craft or wannabees talking to each other? Would they be open or more competitive? Are they steeped in a particular model and interpreting the world through that lens?

The experience of the evening was a very pleasant and interesting one. The volunteers running the meeting greeted me and helped me get all the equipment situated, making sure I had a place at the dinner table. Lively conversations were going on at every table. Some members were continuing discussions that had begun in pre-meeting interest groups, including a learning lab on neuroscience with friend and colleague Janet Crawford.

A few familiar faces appeared and we renewed our acquaintance. Each person with whom I spoke knew at least several facets of coaching and were eager to share material. Among other topics, we touched on Somatic Coaching, Five Rhythms and Strozzi forms of movement awareness, Spiral Dynamics, differentiated from Five Dynamics, the Kolbe Conative Index, the Enneagram, and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. These people had a broad understanding of the field as well as their specialties.

When we did activities as part of my program, people engaged enthusiastically. They shared ahas and insightful questions. I felt comfortable in the community of peers.

Early in my talk, I asked the group what kinds of clients they were serving. Answers included
-business leaders
-healthcare professionals
-county and local government employees
-federal Health and Human Services employees
-sales professionals
and a few more.

Even in what we are calling a down economy, coaches inside and outside organizations are assisting clients in many fields. This form of learning and development, introduced in many workplaces beginning in the late 90’s, has apparently taken root.

With the overload of information and stimuli, increasing global and technical acceleration, and pressure-filled personal lives, one-on-one coaching appears to be a time-value activity that keeps people afloat. Rather than the remedial solution that used to signal a likely firing, coaching is a perk for the upwardly mobile and the people who are being stretched thin by expanding responsibilities.

It is a healthy sign for our society and organizational cultures if this is so. Many more executives, managers, and HRD departments would do well to take advantage of the available resources.

Vetting a coach is a skill set in itself, and should not be taken lightly. Competence and chemistry are very important. Potential coach clients should use references and their intuition in early conversations to determine whether a coach’s offer is right for them.

With this caveat in mind, I have to say that the roomful of people who attended my talk this week struck me as highly competent, clear on what they could offer, learning from and with each other, and probably a great referral source for people in the SF Bay area ready to check out working with a coach.

I am available to refer prospective clients to coaches based on a personal knowledge of various people’s work. Contact me at and I will be glad to provide names of excellent Bay Area and East Coast coaches.