Provision #469: Moment by Moment

Laser Provision

So many moments, so little time! For the past twelve weeks, my colleagues and I at LifeTrek Coaching International have been writing about the kinds of moments that coaches look for, pray for, hope for, and work for as we engage with clients. We could probably keep going with even more moments, but it’s time to bring this series to a close. Want to read a quick summary of the twelve powerful moments we identified? This Provision will give you what you want, and a little bit more. Enjoy!

LifeTrek Provision

What’s the big deal about moments? Everything. Moments, those special times when we look at the ordinary and see the extraordinary, are what make life worth living. Sometimes they happen spontaneously, without any forethought, planning, or effort. Other times we work hard to make them happen. We open ourselves to the possibility and set the conditions for greatness.

That is a good description of why people come to coaching. They want someone to evoke greatness in their life and work. Coaches are greatness gardeners. The way we listen, ask questions, and offer reflections enables greatness to germinate, grow, and blossom. When those moments arrive, we make sure clients are ready for the harvest. Greatness is not an end in itself; it is to be savored and shared with the world.

One of the basic frameworks of coaching is that everyone can see and share greatness. Greatness is not the purview of a privileged few. It is not the stuff of celebrities, notables, and dignitaries. It is an equal opportunity employer. Anyone and everyone can transform ordinary moments into extraordinary ones, as long as we have the eyes to see and ears to hear what’s going on beneath the surface. Coaches enable clients to do that.

That truth was brought home to me this past week when a former client, who I had not heard from in quite some time, sent me an update with a brilliant, smiling picture of her holding up a trophy at the conclusion of a half marathon in which she won her age group. This was a client who, when we first started talking, had a hard time running a mile! In addition to the great running moment, she also reported that she had just completed her best year ever as a high school teacher and that one of her students had ended up testing in the top 20 in the nation in AP Chemistry. Talk about extraordinary moments! This was everything we had set out to work on together and even more.

Such are the moments of greatness that coaches live and die for with our clients. How do they happen? By stringing together a series of extraordinary moments, some positive and some not so positive, into a courageous, creative, and committed tapestry of self expression in service to the world. In case you missed our descriptions of what those moments look and feel like, I summarize them here by way of conclusion. As with all Provisions, they are also archived on our Website Clickto serve as a ready resource for inspiration and information on the trek of life.

1. Celebration Moments. It’s easy to celebrate when you have a trophy in your hand, enjoy the work you do, and see the fruit of your labors. But if we put off celebrating until everything comes together, we may never celebrate at all. That’s because celebration is not only how we feel when we arrive at our destination, it’s also fuel for the journey of getting to our destination. Long faces do not make for greatness. Coaches work with clients to celebrate what’s right with life, from week to week and month to month, regardless of what’s going on. And there’s always something to celebrate. We sometimes have to turn over a few rocks in the stream, but celebration moments are always there to find. Coaches build on the energy, joy, and possibility of those moments to build great things out of our clients’ inherent aspirations in life and work.

2. Mucked Up Moments. In contrast to my client’s trophy, my last attempt at an ultramarathon was a disaster. Talk about a mucked up moment! I spent hours in the rain and mud before being kicked off the course, for going too slow, at mile 28. That experience taught me a lot, about what I can and can’t control, for example, that I will use to my benefit in future attempts to conquer the 50-mile distance. It also taught me a lot about how to work with clients who are stuck in their own version of the muck. Watch your balance, find your rhythm, conserve your energy, seek comfort, express gratitude, hold conversation, and • as one reader pointed out later • pray! Such moments are a part of life, so get over the idea that life is somehow unfair when mucked up moments happen to you. Celebrate any way.

3. Laughter Moments. Laughter is in short supply in our world today, and yet it is an essential part of life and work. Those who do not laugh do not live. Understanding the integral nature of laughter, coaches laugh regularly with our clients during coaching sessions and assist our clients to laugh more on their own. The work we do may be very serious, both as to its importance and as to its intensity, but that does not mean we have to take ourselves seriously. By laughing at ourselves and the funny things we do, the load becomes lighter, the challenge becomes brighter, and our sense of community becomes tighter. Sometimes, in coaching, we encourage clients to laugh for no reason at all. Just do it and things will start looking up.

4. Breakthrough Moments. Whether you get there through laughter, hard work, or both, breakthroughs are especially satisfying. Having a breakthrough is, in fact, what brings many people to coaching. They have been struggling with some challenge or opportunity for months, or even years, without much progress or success. They want a breakthrough and they hope a coach will make that happen. Often we do. Through breakdowns and breakups we stay with clients until they break out of old patterns and break into new ones. Eventually, when breakthroughs come, clients mount greater summits than they had once thought possible. By setting aside the expectations of others and expressing the expectations of self, they open themselves to extraordinary possibility, fulfillment, and love.

5. Tear Jerk Moments. There’s no end to the reasons people cry. Celebrations, muck, laughter, and breakthroughs can, each in their own way, turn on the fountain. When coaching gets close to the bone, tears are sure to follow. Tears of despair, anger, love, hope, identification, joy, emptiness, fear, grief, loss, and pain are the stuff of life. We feel them in our bodies, our whole bodies, not just in our minds. Whether or not you cry easily and often, tears serve the purpose of getting our attention and cleansing the soul. They represent openings to the great unknown. They lead us forward with new terms and conditions for life. They make possible the transformational leap of going from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

6. Blink Moments. One reason that some people struggle to make progress toward their desired outcomes is that they overanalyze things from a primarily rational framework. “The facts, ma’am, just the facts,” may sound good on television, but it poorly serves both detectives and coaches. Until we learn to trust our gut sense of things, there may be no progress at all. Understanding this dynamic, coaches work with clients to think outside the box, to use their peripheral vision, and to ponder what their heart is telling them, sometimes in the blink of an eye. Such snap decisions may seem rash, but they often hold the key to success. They stem from and generate the “Aha!” of connecting the dots and seeing things as if for the first time. When we are open to new information, patterns, and process, we discover the courage, creativity, and commitment to make life whole.

7. Remember When Moments. Another way to think about the information used by coaches to move clients forward is in terms of story. Stories contain not only facts but feelings and fantasies about the past, present, and future. They represent the rich soil out of which greatness grows. That’s why coaches spend so much time looking for great stories. They may include elements of tragedy, but even tragic tales contain elements of triumph. When clients remember those stories, or those aspects of their stories, the knowledge of self and the motivation for change grow exponentially. By remembering when things were going great, or going better, or going at all, clients find themselves empowered to get going again, with new verve and often with dynamic new direction.

8. Spring Cleaning Moments. We received a lot of feedback on this Provision, because it talked about a common plague of the modern era: clutter. Assisting clients to clean out their clutter is a huge part of coaching, even when the clutter has nothing to do with closets. In the Provision we talked about six kinds of clutter: cluttered minds (too many thoughts), cluttered hearts (too many attachments), cluttered bodies (too many toxins), cluttered ground rules (too many norms), cluttered environments (too much stuff), and cluttered relationships (too much drama). Judging from the feedback, many people have trouble with more than one or even all six types of clutter at once. That’s because clutter is like a magnet: clutter attracts clutter until chaos reigns. But entropy is not the only force in the universe. There is also the human will to set things straight and clean things out. When that happens, the energy and exhilaration for life are both palpable and unstoppable.

9. Flow Moments. Cleaning things up is not enough to get in the zone of optimum performance. That takes a little more tweaking and a little more coaching. Here’s the formula: Optimum Performance takes minimizing Interference and maximizing Resources. Interference can come from many sources, both internal and external. We can take on a bigger challenge than our skills are ready for. We can be distracted by non-critical variables. We can suffer from low self-confidence and self-efficacy. We can try to control outcomes rather than the processes, mechanics, and conversations involved with getting to outcomes. The more the interference, the louder the noise, the more we shortchange our ability to succeed. Resources work the same way, only the other way around. The more the resources, the smaller the ego, the more we enhance our ability to succeed. When that happens, when Interference bottoms out while Resources top off, people experience moments of flow that become the stuff of legend, wonder, and joy.

10. Gold Medal Moments. There are times when we win the jackpot and strike it big with an unexpected windfall. As any gambler knows, however, those times are far and few between. Most often, gold medal moments follow upon the heals of small, carefully planned, incremental steps. That’s what enabled my former client to get that trophy at the finish line. It was one step, one mile, one hardship, and one day at a time. So what keeps people going along the way? It helps to have an inspiring vision, a strategic plan, and a confident spirit. Those are things we coaches work on with our clients. It’s not a secret formula, and it can certainly be done without assistance from a coach, but it helps to have a sounding board, a thinking partner, a champion, and a strategist in our corner. It also helps to have someone hold us accountable to the process of planning itself. Otherwise, the obvious may never get done and the gold medal may never be won.

11. Fan Club Moments. Coaches are not the only ones in clients’ corners. In fact, the job of a great coach is to assist clients to develop natural relationship networks within which they can be successful just by showing up and being themselves. Can you imagine the freedom that brings? So often, we live and work in relationship networks that ignore, criticize, or otherwise seek to conform and constrain our contribution. No wonder it’s hard for people to live into greatness! Instead of being surrounded by fans, we find ourselves surrounded by strangers, disinterested acquaintances, or outright doubters. Coaches work with clients to change that dynamic. We play the “fan club game,” as we make over clients to attract and organize the collaboration and support networks that will assist them to shine and to serve at their very best.

12. Destiny Moments. These moments take a leap of faith. Fulfilling one’s destiny starts with believing that one has a destiny: a specific, unique, and important purpose in the world. Too many people go through life with no sense of destiny. They get up in the morning, go through the motions, and fall asleep only to do it all over again tomorrow. It’s the same old, same old, while the world collapses under the weight of its own machinations and contrivances. I, for one, do not believe that for an instant and do not find that to be a good way to live. I believe that we each have special, important contributions to make and that our future, as well as the future of planet earth, are better off when we make them. So we spend a lot of time, as coaches, working with our clients on destiny discernment. As part of the process, we experiment with different possibilities and bolster our client’s courage to be not only great in the world but to be great for the world as well.

Taken together, those twelve moments are the stuff of coaching as well as the stuff of well-lived lives. I encourage you to be on the lookout for them in your own life and to surround yourself with people who can assist you to nurture them into the fullness of being.

Coaching Inquiries: How often do you experience coaching moments in your life? Would you like more of them? Who could assist you to bring them into being? How could you make it so? What’s happening in the present moment that you celebrate and build into greatness?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


As much as I appreciate your using Star Wars as a metaphor for your Provision on destiny moments Click, (Yeah, it’s true, I’m a Jedi fan) being a ‘rational’ person I have issues with the whole “higher power” and “creator” idea. What would “coaching” have to offer someone who does not harbor the delusion of spirituality? (Ed. Note: we would work with your sense of the universe in order to maximize your contribution. When that happens, everything else will follow.)


I was away when you mentioned the health problems of your son. I want you to know that we are indeed praying for his speedy recovery. I continue to enjoy your Provisions.


I have really appreciated reading about and learning how LifeTrek Coaching focuses on clients’ values and weaves them into your coaching work. I also have a really strong bias toward listening, so I appreciate that you give clients the space to talk and go at their own pace. Thanks!


Thanks for your mention of the Fan Club game Click. I hope you don’t mind if I refer to your Provision in my friend’s customer newsletter. (Ed. Note: We don’t mind at all, just be sure to include information on the source and how to reach us.) 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #468: Destiny Moments

Laser Provision

At its deepest and most profound level, coaching assists people to realize their destiny. It’s not just about solving obvious problems or changing bad habits. Coaching is about finding and aligning life with your higher purpose. We assume, on good authority, that our clients are alive and that they have a contribution to make to the healing of the planet. The challenge is to get into the flow of such life-affirming ways. If the daily grind has your destiny hidden from view, then read on. The spirit of this Provision may breathe life into your spirit.

LifeTrek Provision


Bob: Destiny is a powerful word. It is far more powerful than duty (what we have to do), suitability (what we like to do), responsibility (what we are able to do), or creativity (what we might do). Destiny implies doing what we are meant to do. At the deepest level, it connects with why we are here, alive, on this planet, at this time.

The question of destiny weaves its way through the Star Wars movies. You may remember these pieces of dialogue:

Yoda: A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the Dark Side. Anger, fear, aggression; the Dark Side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice!
Luke: Vader. … Is the Dark Side stronger?
Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
Yoda: You will know … when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

The Emperor: Come, boy, see for yourself. From here, you will witness the final destruction of the Alliance and the end of your insignificant rebellion.
[Luke’s eyes go to his lightsaber] 
The Emperor: You want this, don’t you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.
Luke: No.
The Emperor: It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now mine.

Luke: Your thoughts betray you, Father. I feel the good in you, the conflict.
Darth Vader: There is no conflict.
Luke: You couldn’t bring yourself to kill me before and I don’t believe you’ll destroy me now.
Darth Vader: You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.

That’s the stuff of destiny. It’s a matter of life and death, of fulfilling our purpose in the world. Yet that purpose is not always clear and it is certainly not predetermined. Neither Yoda nor The Emperor nor Darth Vader nor even Luke himself knew exactly how things would turn out. The Emperor thought he knew • “It is unavoidable.” • as did Darth Vader • “There is no conflict.” But they were wrong. In the end, Luke chose the path of redemptive suffering. He offered his life instead of taking Vader’s life, and that made all the difference.

Destiny is about making such huge, life-changing choices. Such defining moments don’t present themselves every day, but when they do the decisions we make impact not only our life but the lives of those we love and, on some level, of all the world. Destiny is that significant.

Lance Secretan, in his book Inspire!: What Great Leaders Do, writes often and eloquently about the power of destiny. “We must feel inspired before we can inspire. This singular inspiration comes from a clear knowing about our Destiny, the reason for being on this planet, the way we are connected on our journey with one another and the universe. Few of us know the reason we have been put on this planet • our Destiny • the uniqueness within us that calls to be lived. We cannot be great, nor will we earn the right to lead, until we understand our Destiny, our higher purpose.” That is the first step from which everything else follows.

“If we have no idea of what we are supposed to be doing while we are on this planet, we cannot know the practical purpose and sacred intent of our lives. Therefore, whatever form of relationship we have with others will have no spiritual brilliance to advance or justify it. Without a sense of connection to a divine purpose or higher power, we tend to slip into autopilot, practicing a way of motivating and relating with others that we may have learned by reading biographies or by watching movies and TV heroes. We need a deeper sense of who we are, to be fully present as conscious beings, before we can presume to inspire other beings.”

So how do we discover our destiny? Secretan writes that “letting go of our constant need for approval • projecting onto others what we feel they would like us to be • is a powerful beginning on this path, because with this new freedom, we can see with new eyes, and we can make choices that come from our hearts. Caroline Myss has written, ‘When you do not seek or need external approval, you are at your most powerful. Nobody can disempower you emotionally or psychologically…. You cannot live for prolonged periods of time within the polarity of being true to yourself and needing the approval of others.'”

Coaches often assist clients to achieve such freedom. But freedom alone does not lead to destiny. Coaches also assist clients to connect their freedom to the needs of the planet and the future of humanity. In his book, Secretan suggests a variety of visionary, imaginative, and meditative techniques to bring the needs of the planet and our relationship to those needs into focus. He aims to empower and encourage people to formulate a brief, present-tense statement of their reason for being. Examples include:

  • To create a more sustainable and loving planet.
  • To illuminate the sacredness in every soul.
  • To help those whose voices are not heard.
  • To make the world simpler.
  • To eliminate poverty housing.
  • To save the world’s children from ignorance and despair.
  • To build a spiritual, just, and inclusive community.
  • To inspire sacred passion.

It may not have been stated in so few words, but it was a destiny statement like that which enabled Luke Skywalker, the hero of the Star Wars movies, to lay down his weapon and to say, in effect, “The violence stops here.” It was redemptive then and it is redemptive now, whenever people come to and live out a positive sense of higher purpose.

That’s apparently what lies behind Bill Gates’ recently announced decision to step down from day-to-day work at Microsoft, effective July 2008, in order to focus his energy full time on the $29 billion dollar foundation that he started with his wife 12 years ago. In what may make him one of the most important philanthropists in U.S. history, Gates will pour himself into a variety of causes including improving global health and education • two issues that he identifies as being “at the crux of global needs.”

“With the success of Microsoft,” Gates told reporters at the company’s headquarters, “I have also been given the gift of great wealth. And with the gift of great wealth, comes great responsibility. A responsibility to give back to society, to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those in need. This is not a retirement, but a reordering of my priorities. Obviously, this decision was a hard one for me to make. I’m very lucky to have two passions.”

That’s what destiny moments will do to a person: they send us off in new directions with new style, priorities, and passion. They often stand a crossroads where a choice has to be made. They close some doors even as they open others. And, if the choice is well made, they contribute to both our happiness and the happiness of the world. They are healing things, these destiny moments, and we do well to seize them when we can. One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, poses the question this way in her 1990 poem, The Summer Day:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean —
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

That is the question we assist our clients to answer at LifeTrek Coaching International. Whether or not, as with Bill Gates, the answer leads to a career change, destiny moments always provoke a sea change of aspirations, relationships, habits, patterns, priorities, and passions. By paying attention, we too will know what to do with our “one wild and precious life.”

Erika: I like to invite the concept of destiny early into coaching conversations. I have always been moved by Marianne Williams’ quote which speaks to the importance of living our lives fully:

“You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. You were born to manifest the glory of God that is within you. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

We are all capable of incredible greatness and it is an amazing honor to be a part of someone else’s journey toward their greater purpose. And, it is too often true that we don’t believe in our own beauty and potential enough to claim it.

One path to discovering one’s destiny is a wonderful guided meditation called “Meeting Your Future Self.” During this experience, client’s imagine themselves on a journey in which they are meeting themselves, their “Future Self,” 20 years into the future. Here they have the opportunity to imagine freely about what the future might look like for them. And, more specifically, they are enabled to dream of what they want for themselves.

For Dan, this experience was unexpectedly powerful and life-changing. Dan came to coaching with the goal of being more productive, looking for ways set bigger goals for the workplace. But, when imagining his future self, Dan heard a clear message about a deeper desire to be more present and attentive to his family. The Future Self was able to express a need that Dan had been unable to say. The meditation was a moving experience which reshaped how he wanted to proceeded with vision and goal setting, and ultimately, how he lived his life for the next many years.

Focus on my own destiny has many times been sharpened when recalling Dawna Markova’s poem, written on the night of her father’s death:

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Like Williamson, Markova speaks to the impact we can each have in the lives of others by embracing our gifts and honoring our potential.

Christina: I’m often reminded during my work with clients of how important it is to check in with myself on my own personal vision. To pause long enough to take a good look at where I am and what I’m moving toward. To carefully consider who I am and who it is I want to be. I need this, like everyone else, because seeing our vision, claiming our destiny, or discovering our purpose can so easily be missed as we move through the motions of our busy lives.

My work with Gil, a Vice President of Sales, provides a wealth of insight into what happens when for the first time clients truly see their destiny. Gil described the suffering he felt from his high-end lifestyle. He was known well in his community and well respected by many. But he did not like how people knew him for his money and success. He stated that even the people closest to him, his wife, best friend, and adult children, really didn’t know much about who he really was or what he really wanted out of life. They knew he was successful at his profession and had a lot of materialistically expensive possessions, but those things were not making Gil happy with his lifestyle or career.

Early in our work together I remember asking Gil to imagine that it is his 80th birthday and that he’s grown to be a very wise man who’s lived an amazingly fulfilled life. “Close your eyes,” I suggested, “and imagine that you have lived a life so internally rich, that you wake up each day with overwhelming excitement about your career and the life you’ve lived.” After a period of silence, I asked him to describe the career and life that complete that picture.

Gil shared with me, for the first time, that he felt as if he knew exactly what he was put on this earth to do and that it was to coach a young boy’s baseball’s team. His vision was so compelling that he immediately started to craft a plan to downsize his lifestyle. His plan included ways in which he would invite the people who loved him most to get to know him and this intimate dream of his. He knew his entire life would change as he moved toward his vision including possibly the people in his life, but the connection he had with his life purpose was powerful enough to carry him through the changes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my work with Gil because he shifted to knowing that it does not matter what kind of car we drive or what materialistic possessions we keep. All that matters in this one go around called life is that our heart is fulfilled, that we’re with people we love, that we do things we love, and that we spend as much time as possible filling the world with love.

Coaching Inquiries: What is your purpose in life? Does it contribute to the healing of the world? Does it make your heart sing? Are there things that you need to set down or to pick up in order to create a new destiny? Who can you talk with about these deep and profound things? How can you move forward in love?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I have been reading your essays on the various styles of listening Click, and I just wanted you to know that they have been very important to me. I must admit, “I am changed.” I think we can go through a day and may not really listen to what anyone is saying not even listening to the voices in our heads or our gut. We live in a very self-centered world today. If we all aspire to be better listeners today…that could possibly change the world. No, it would change the world as is. I am simply expressing appreciation for your material. Thanks.


Thank you so much for turning me on to the “beta” version of Google Click • I LOVE IT!


I just wanted you to know that you and your son are in my prayers. I expect that he has improved much over the weekend. (Ed. Note: Indeed, he has! He is on the mend. Thanks for your concern.)



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #467: Fan Club Moments

Laser Provision

The old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts,” speaks to the importance of relationships. They can make or break us in life and work. Unfortunately, that adage makes relationships sound manipulative and political. Authentic relationships are anything but. True fans stand behind us with energy, creativity, resources, and support. They enable us to come into our own and fulfill our destiny. Do you have fans like that? If not, you won’t want to miss this Provision. It describes a process for making your fan club grow.

LifeTrek Provision


Bob: Coaches play with many variables in order to assist our clients to be more successful and fulfilled in life and work. In consultation with our clients, we manipulate the challenges they accept, the skills they master, the awareness they hold, the fun they have, the environments they construct, and the relationships they build. Although each variable plays an important role, relationships may be the most important of all. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, no one is ever a self-made man or woman.

I like the way Jay Perry, a Master Certified Coach, talks about and works with the power of relationships in his book, The Fan Club Game. He identifies six categories of relationships, ranging from strangers to fans. Here is the way he describes each category:

1. Strangers are people who don’t know me or anything about me as an individual. Most of the people in the world are strangers to each other. That’s what happens when the universe is approaching seven billion people. We may know these people exist (e.g. I know there are movie stars in Hollywood and starving children in Africa), but I don’t know any of them personally and they don’t know me.

2. Aware are people who may know me or may know things about me, but they see no connection between their interests and who I am or what I do. There are lots of people like this, including the many people with whom I associate on a casual basis.

3. Interested are people who have grown curious about who I am and what I do. They see a possible connection with their interests and want to know more. They may reach out to get know me better or to take advantage of what I have to offer.

4. Tasters are people who sample what I have to offer. They taste a little in order to see if they want more. They may read something I write, talk with me about coaching, attend a workshop, go for a run, or otherwise connect their interests with my interests. They are dabbling in the realm of possibility.

5. Experienced are people who know me well. They have spent months or even years in my company, as a client, a colleague, a running buddy, a friend, or a family member. They sampled and stayed to savor what I have to offer.

6. Fans are people who have become thrilled about who I am and what I have to offer. In a word, they love me. To quote Jay Perry, they are “divinely inspired to be enthusiastic and devoted to my cause. They want to know what I am up to, want to participate in things with me, and are delighted to help me in any way they can. They want to see me be successful and share in that accomplishment because they feel connected to me; they are stakeholders in my success.”

Doesn’t that sound delightful? Who doesn’t want to have such relationships in their lives! We all do better when we have people who love us, cheer us on, support us, and otherwise share in our success. Which is, of course, the point of the Fan Club Game. The idea is to move people along from strangers to aware to interested to tasters to experienced to fans. The paparazzi notwithstanding, one can never have too many fans.

Many people come to coaching with only a few fans, or even no fans. They are bankrupt of fans and their lives demonstrate the results: they are lonely, weak, detached, disengaged, bored, apathetic, worried, anxious, or otherwise afflicted with sub-optimal conditions. They need more people on their team.

When that happens, it’s time to play The Fan Club Game. Jay suggests the creation of a physical game board with sticky notes containing the names of 20, 25, or 30 people. Each note is put on the board in its appropriate category (strangers, aware, interested, tasters, experienced, or fans) and then observations are made as to what the configuration means and how it can be shifted to increase the number of fans.

The rest of Jay’s book identifies and explores ten strategies for making fans. He starts with game-ability, the inner readiness and capacity to play the game at all. Until we open ourselves to the possibility of having fans, and until we intentionally decide to make fans, we will not have them and we will not do so. Jay’s other strategies involve authenticity, generosity, communication, creativity, consistent actions, concretizing, curiosity, challenge, and love. These are not just strategies but ways of being in the world. The more we adopt and practice them as our standard mode of operation, the more fans we will have and the better life will be.

I saw this with my son’s hospitalization for a collapsed lung. On the very night when some of his fans left town, to move to Chicago, he was admitted to the hospital with only his wife in town to support him. When she left to get some rest, he was alone in the company of awares and interested. But that was not enough. Even though they were aware of him and interested in his condition, they could not ameliorate his sadness and pain. By the next day, however, fans started arriving: first his mother and I, then his sister. As the fans showed up, his countenance lifted. Life was getting better all the time.

That’s what fans will do for us: they make life better. They motivate and call out the best in us. They even speed our healing when times are tough. The best challenges, skills, awareness, fun, and environments in the world are not enough to make up for a shortage of fans.

I saw this in a client who wanted to increase her sales as a real estate agent. She had gone to all the trainings and was doing all the right things: hosting open houses, handling floor duty, contacting For Sale By Owners, attending meetings, leafleting neighborhoods, calling prospects, serving customers, and joining professional associations. Still, things were not working as she would hope. Others were top performers while she was languishing with steady but modest revenues from month to month.

“What do you do for fun?” I asked her. “I have no time for fun,” she responded. “There’s a lot of financial pressure and a lot of work to do. I can’t afford the time.” We had that conversation on more than one occasion. Gradually, my client saw how there might be a connection between having fun and having a fan club. “Perhaps, it’s because I don’t have fun anymore,” she observed on one occasion, “that I’m not attractive as a real estate agent. Maybe people don’t want to be around someone who has no joy. Maybe, if I was feeling more alive, the business would take care of itself.”

So that’s what she did. Against her better judgment, at least at first, she set aside time for dancing and volunteering • two of her loves. It was a leap of faith to take that time, but soon she was enjoying herself so much that she started adding to rather than subtracting from the time spent dancing and volunteering. And guess what happened? Instead of taking away from her productivity, her newfound interests led to a fan club that helped her win the top producer award for her agency.

That’s what fans will do for us: they make life richer. They surround and connect us with the best life has to offer. They make us more successful than we could ever be on our own.

I also saw this in a client who wanted to move up the ladder at work. He had had a variety of positions without much success. As people got to know him, they turned off rather than on to what he had to offer. Instead of becoming fans, they became disbelievers in his abilities, values, and intentions. Turning this around required my client to develop a new focus. Instead of pushing to accomplish his goals, he started to pay more attention to the goals of others.

This shift produced dramatic results. Once he started to relate to others as a servant, rather than as a superior, the flow of the game, as well as his career, started moving in the right direction. His fan club was working for him, instead of against him, to get that promotion.

Relationships are the key to making life successful, fulfilling, and enjoyable. Once you become aware of this dynamic, and once you set your mind to the task, it is often easy to build your fan club into a robust network of challenge, support, creativity, and joy. 

Kate: Relationship building is one of my great interests in life, and so this topic brings lots of good energy to me. I think it begins with a true curiosity about the other person, their stories, their values, their goals, and their thoughts and feelings. When we bring this kind of curiosity and caring to our interactions with them, we cannot help but build groundwork for understanding and a quality of wholeness to the relationship.

It is then that wholeness and depth of interaction which provide inroads to the well-being and soul of that person. Our sincere approach to learning about someone can build a bond that leads to trust and satisfaction in the relationship. It is also in our asking questions that others can learn further about themselves.

I have always found great power and wisdom in the phrase, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” When we approach others in this way, we open doors and pathways of communication. We also send the signal that we are not about pushing our agenda or out to impress, but that we are interested in something deeper with greater engagement.

In coaching, the coach cannot be fully effective when acting as the “expert” because in fact we are not. The client is the expert unto themselves, and we simply ask questions and facilitate the awareness. We then create the fan club moments not so much by spewing great wisdom and suggesting what the client might do to be successful, but rather by building safe and supportive relationships where learning and growing can unfold. We are then modeling the art of creating bonds of understanding and mutual interest. It is in these moments when people come on board to the relationship, the message, and the possibilities which flow from this engagement.

I have seen many clients find great success in creating strong bonds and relationships by letting go of an “agenda” in their approach to others. When they substituted a curiosity for the potential of the relationship and the possibilities of that engagement, it led to more satisfying results. If we help others to feel heard and show true interest in their happiness and success, they want to help us find those qualities in life, too. 

One client built relationships with potential customers and promoters by offering free cruises on his boat for an afternoon to discuss and learn about particular business topics. These experiences provided informal get-togethers, where people could relax and enjoy each other and the experience, as well as to get to know each other and share some ideas. He also founded a local professional organization to provide an avenue for networking and education. In these efforts, he let go of a hard-sell approach and lesser forms of networking in order to create greater value for those with whom he wanted to build relationship. It is a great example of giving his time and talent without making requirements of others, and creating some mutually satisfying moments to promote relationship.

Coaching Inquiries: Who is in your fan club? Is it large enough to sustain and support you in reaching your goals? How could you expand that network out of the people you currently know? Who could you bring into the network who you do not know?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


My comment last week about Weight Watchers’ scientists may have been a paraphrase. Weight Watchers never use the term “diet”. Weight Watchers is not meant to be a diet, but a life long way of eating that is healthy, with many focuses other than just food, including “Tools for Success”, group support, and promotion of activity that is adaptable to anyone’s present level of fitness. My Weight Watcher leader is a great coach and shares many of the same great skills with the LifeTrek team.


I always love your Wellness Pathways and was particularly interested in “Get Your Rest” but, when I scroll down to read I notice the title is “Stick with the Program.” I’m wondering if you meant to include a different wellness pathway. (Ed. Note: I just forgot to change the title! Here are the links to “Get Your Rest” as well as to four other Wellness Pathways on sleep and rest. Enjoy! #296: Get Your Rest<title=”http: www.lifetrekcoaching.com=”” wellness=”” ht050320.htm”=””>#259: The Work-Rest Balance#208: Take Regular Breaks#144: Sleep Seven Hours, and #116: Get To Sleep Early



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #466: Gold Medal Moments

Laser Provision

Gold medal moments are exhilarating moments of great triumph and drama. But they often come on the heels of persistent effort across small, incremental steps. To hang in there through the days of chipping away at our dream, we need both conviction in our ability to make it happen and joy in the process of getting to where we want to go. That’s as true in organizations as in our personal lives. By staying positive, we’ll find the conviction and joy we need to mount the pyramid of success. Read on to find out how.

LifeTrek Provision


Bob: Some of you may remember that my wife, Megan, and I recently visited friends on the south island of New Zealand. It was our first visit to this delightful country, during which time we enjoyed learning about and observing its unique flora and fauna. Who would have thought, for example, that there were no mammals in all of New Zealand until human beings arrived about a thousand years ago. Imagine that!

Because of such isolation, the other animals of New Zealand evolved in unique ways. With no mammals as predators, other animals and even plants could express themselves differently than anywhere else on the planet. And express themselves they did.

In the past 1,000 years, however, mammals have slowly caused the extinction of one species after another. During the 19th century, for example, there were only four official sightings of one such species, a large, beautiful, flightless bird with bright blue and green feathers and a bold red beak called the takahe. By 1930, with no sightings in the 20th century, the takahe was presumed extinct. And it might have turned out that way, were it not for one man who believed they still existed somewhere.

Dr. Geoffrey Orbell spent his weekends and holidays tramping through the valleys of the Murchison Mountains, looking for the takahe. It took years, but on November 20, 1948, Dr. Orbell found a colony of 250 takahe hidden in a remote area, safe from hunters. But they were not safe from the encroaching mammals such as stoats and deer, which ate the takahe’s favorite tussock grasses. So Dr. Orbell worked with others to establish takahe reserves, which now include four small, predator-free islands. There, the takahe are flourishing in the lowlands where they used to live. That’s a gold medal moment.

None of this might have happened if Dr. Orbell had not believed in the possibility of their existence, and if he had not made the effort to search for them. He had to stubbornly persist in both his belief and his efforts, but eventually his persistence paid off. Eventually he found the treasure of the takahe. Once found, he was able to protect this precious and endangered species so it wouldn’t be lost. He worked with others to create environments where they now thrive.

This story is a metaphor for many gold medal moments. Such moments often take the conviction and persistence of people who believe in their ability to make the impossible, possible. They hang in there, doing incredible things, against all odds, until dreams come true.

We saw that this past week in Fostoria, Ohio, where three of us from LifeTrek Coaching just conducted an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Summit with the school district and its surrounding community. More than 50 people gathered for three days to tackle the seemingly impossible task of making schools both fun and productive in an age of increasing standards and diminishing resources. Like Dr. Orbell, the people of Fostoria went on a treasure hunt to find, protect, and cultivate something precious. Much to everyone’s delight, it worked.

What helped was using the 5-D cycle of Appreciative Inquiry. First, we defined what we wanted to learn. We clarified the focus. Then we discovered examples of where this focus was already in evidence. We went looking for the takahe, appreciating the best of what the Fostoria schools have to offer. Finding the treasure led to many dreams for the future. We imagined the possibilities, brainstorming a variety of bold, provocative propositions as to what the school district would look like were the treasure to be properly cared for and protected.

But we didn’t stop there. A dream without designs is like a plane without wings: it can never get off the ground. So we began to design strategies for making the dreams come true. We determined the direction of future actions, aligning both key stakeholders and organizational elements with the dreams. The more specific we got, the more clear it became that we were designing a new destiny for the school system. These were not incremental reforms, but transformational creations upon which to build one gold medal moment after another.

That, in the end, is the aim of every coaching relationship: we seek to assist our clients to perform to the best of their ability. That performance may not be the best in the world, but it can be a gold medal moment if it expresses their full potential.

In his book The Inner Game of Work, Tim Gallwey explores the formula for peak performance. Performance, he write, equals potential minus interference. I have modified that formula to suggest that performance equals potential minus interference plus resources. Appreciative Inquiry works on both fronts: it decreases interference at the same time as it increases resources. As a result, AI can assist organizations and individuals to outdo themselves in life and work.

AI decreases interference by avoiding the trap of root cause problem analysis. As tempting and as instinctive as it is to notice, analyze, and solve problems, the process of problem solving takes a toll on the human spirit. The more aware we become of our problems, the more we study their causes, effects, and magnitude, the more we can feel overwhelmed, distressed, and responsible for not doing things right. We end up getting in our own way, by focusing on our shortcomings and second guessing our abilities. That is not the way to peak performance.

AI turns down the volume of such negative voices, both internal and external, by getting people to focus on the positive and most interesting things about their experience. Can you imagine how Dr. Orbell felt on November 20, 1948, when he finally saw the takahe after so many years of searching? He was at once exhilarated over the find and passionate over the charge to protect them. His dream turned into a destiny with great rewards, that lives on today in the Department of Conservation.

That’s how we felt in Fostoria, as people found example after example of greatness in their schools. That got them instantly engaged in the process of protecting those examples and making them more the rule than the exception. Instead of obsessing about their problems and what they could not do, they got excited about their possibilities and what they could do. They got jazzed and specific about the possibilities for performing at the top of their game.

What a transformation this represented from day one. The energy at the beginning of the Summit was one of exhaustion and exasperation. The school year had just ended, and everyone was tired. On top of everything else that was going on, including graduation, who needed another meeting, let alone a three-day meeting! You could feel the angst over if, whether, and how to participate.

But then the stories began, the wishes came out, and the music started to play. “We are family!” rocked energy into people with the message that fun is good. From there it was a short leap to start planning a different destiny. For three days, people laughed and worked hard over the prospect of creating schools and communities that learn. Many specific ideas and strategies surfaced that had not, heretofore, been on the table. Assignments were made and people walked away with a clear sense of forward momentum. It was a gold medal moment to be sure, with as much promise to thrive as the takahe of New Zealand.

There’s nothing quite like making a plan and working a plan to give one the thrill of success. Sometimes, success sneaks up on us as a serendipitous surprise. We hardly see it coming before we win the big one, like a windfall profit. But that is the exception rather than the rule. Most of the time, gold medal moments require us to find, protect, and nurture the best of what is. They require us to do the work of persistently believing in and practicing the art of possibility.

This happens in individual coaching as well as in large group Summits. By surveying the landscape for strengths we reduce the interference and increase the resources in order to mount the pyramid of success.

Kate: There is something about those moments when we really embrace doing things differently. It takes that discernment to help us see that our past behavior and thinking patterns will only get us to where we were before, and that a shift brings the possibility of new results. As I got up an hour earlier than normal today, I couldn’t help but wonder if one of those shifts was afloat.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of hard work and discipline to adopt a new practice or take a new action. If it feels like a drudge to get going in a particular direction, it may be the wrong direction, or at least the wrong action for you at this point. If you tap into where your energy is, there lies the key to what may be a much easier and rewarding shift.

A number of organizations are talking about the “deep dive” methodology, for looking at positive organization and process change, in order to realize greater efficiency, better products and services, as well as greater client satisfaction. I was at an executive leadership council meeting recently, where this method was being discussed. I remember one administrator talking about the deep dive as it relates to the “low hanging fruit.” Often the two work hand in hand

Perhaps that is good to remember that for our individual work as well. Many times it is easier and less stressful to approach change and improvement one small step at a time, rather than upsetting the whole apple cart in one sweeping move. Start with the “low hanging fruit,” and the “deep dive” will follow.

I have seen a client begin a meditation practice only to realize incredible ease and results. He loved it, and I was amazed about the speed in which he picked up the new practice and the enjoyment he immediately realized from it. It was the right time and right tool for him, and little struggle was involved. Mostly he just needed to remind himself to do it, and he jumped right in. In a very short time, he found that he missed it and was less effective on the days when he hadn’t practiced it.

Another client had become very skilled at thinking negative things about herself, her situation, and her future possibilities. We worked on two new practices • stopping the old thinking patterns and building positive and productive new ones. The old patterns were stubborn and prevalent, but she was determined and willing to keep with it. Over time she was able to easily catch herself being negative, and to replace the thinking with hope and her vision for something better.

We do deserve a gold medal when we embrace new practices, whether mental or physical. It is sometimes much easier to stay embedded in our old ways, even if they are not working well. I encourage you to take a look at where you desire change, and to tap into your energy and intuition to get some clues as to where greater satisfaction may lie for you. Remember, it really doesn’t have to take gargantuan effort to reach a better place.

Erika: While some coaching conversations lead to spectacular, transformative shifts, not all do • at least not immediately. There is equal value in the small, slow, and steady ways that change is made.

In working with clients, my focus is to partner with them in learning, or re-learning, the practice of pacing. Just as a Pacer in a marathon has the goal of setting a speed and energy for the runners in her group, so does a coach. Coaches help us in our own life journey by encouraging us not to move at speeds below our potential nor beyond our capabilities.

Learning to pace our lives is about making room for and appreciating small successes, no matter how seemingly trivial. For example, Jeff learned to celebrate each positive interaction with his spouse on the way to his bigger vision for repairing a broken relationship. Jen acknowledged her success at sending out resumes and networking as part of her path to a new career. And Mary celebrated each pound lost while she worked toward a new level of physical well-being.

Big wins are simply a series of small achievements. So, when we•ve introduced something new into our lives, whether it be a skill, action, or habit, it’s important to celebrate these progressions which as much joy and pride as we would in meeting the end goal.

Coaching Inquiries: What did your last gold medal moment look like? Who was involved? What contributed to your success? How did it make you feel? Are you ready for another such moment? How can you position yourself to take full advantage of every opportunity? What treasure is waiting for you to find?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I had just finished reading Finding Flow last week. I thought that the research about the housekeeping task was very interesting. Our garage had not been cleaned since winter; leaves and sand, things just put anywhere until later when it was warm enough to decide what to do with them. Well, I went to Watchers Watchers, to the gym, breakfast, and then I began the amazing challenge of creating an environment that would allow us to keep the garage door up long enough that the neighbors could see inside of it without being completely embarrassed. It was a flow experience, when I finished the garage, I washed the patio furniture, and got to visit with a neighbor walking by. It was a great “flow”. I hope I have another one before its time to clean the garage again. It was fun, then, to read this week’s Provision. Click Thanks!


I like the term flow.


Hope you’re doing ok • sounds like you’ve been dealing with a lot. (Ed. Note: It’s been a busy time, but all is well. Thanks for your concern!)



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #465: Flow Moments

Laser Provision

Contrary to popular impressions, flow is not going with the path of least resistance. Flow is being totally engaged with an activity that challenges us to use every ounce of our creativity, skill, and awareness. It neither provokes anxiety (too much challenge, too little skill) nor boredom (too little challenge, too much skill). It rather calls out the best we have to offer in life and work. If you would like to have more flow moments, then read on. This Provision can assist you to make it so.

LifeTrek Provision


Bob: Flow is a defining image when it comes to coaching in general and LifeTrek Coaching in particular. Our job, as coaches, is to assist people to get into flow as often as possible. There’s no way to stay there continuously, but it is possible to increase both the frequency and duration of flow moments in life and work. That’s our commitment and calling as coaches.

The subject of flow is near and dear to my heart. I have spent a lot of time in the past year researching and writing about the dynamics of flow as they relate to the principles and practices of coaching. Last November I presented a paper on relational flow, together with four other authors, at the International Coach Federation’s Coaching Research Symposium in San Jose, California. Since that time I have participated in teleclasses as well as an entire conference on flow in Orlando, Florida. You can view this material and listen to the teleclasses by going towww.LifeTrekCoaching.com/flow.

In this Provision, my LifeTrek Coaching colleagues have beautifully captured some of the nuances and dimensions of flow. If you haven’t been in the flow zone for a while, then these stories will guide and inspire you to get there. If extra attention is called for, we encourage you to contact us for coaching Click.

Mike: Last week we considered how clearing clutter and designing environments can set us up to be energized and ready to move forward. But what if there is still a little doubt, or a little something that’s missing? I have found that getting into the zone might be finding that little something.

For me, being out of the zone is feeling doubt and anxiety that weigh me down on the task at hand. I lose my sense of fun, humour, and possibility; sometimes I even lose my sense of reality.

A friend of mine was feeling this way during a golf tournament. It was a stormy and extremely wet morning. By the third hole we were all soaked to the skin. It was an individual event, so we were all competing on our own. As my friend teed off, his new driver slipped out of his wet hands and flew 30 yards toward the lake in front. We lost sight of it, and after the shock passed he cursed the conditions and said among other colourful things, “How are we expected to compete in torrential rain?”

Listening to him, I realised that he seriously doubted he would hit any good shots, let alone be competitive. His doubt was high and his sense of fun was very low. I said to him, “The interesting thing about today is that the whole field of golfers must play under the same conditions. It’s a level playing field if we treat it as such.” My observation wasn’t rocket science but it did produce a shift in him. His sense of reality changed and he shifted into the zone.

The ultimate example of someone who does this is Tiger Woods. The statistics show that Tiger almost always recovers from a bad shot with an amazing one. Why? Because he gets himself into the zone. His doubt is low and his hope is high. He believes in the possibility before him. But then, he has always had a great coach along the way whether it was his father or golf coach!

Coaches work with people to uncover possibility. We sometimes ask our clients, “Why not?” when their logic seems self-limiting. This creates a bridge-like belief in the possibility becoming a reality. This is the X-Factor that enhances our physical and mental capabilities. Tiger has it. Sure he is physically skilled and mentally tough, but he also has the X-Factor that has and will separate him from the rest of the field. 

So what happened to my friend? Well, he didn’t win but he did go on to play the best game of golf he had played that year. And back in the warm, dry clubhouse, he laughed about almost drowning his driver in the lake, and he relished some of the amazing shots he played that day. The zone is a fun place to be. Helping clients get there is just as fun.

Christina: Think back to a time in your life when you thought to yourself or even said out loud, “I’m in the groove,” or “I’m going with the flow,” or “I’m in the zone!” It is during these times that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, positive psychologist and well-known author on the concept of “flow,” says people are happiest because they are in a state of full engagement with the activity they are currently embracing. Being in a state of flow requires the involvement of our complete being, as if we are in an orchestra with every note falling gracefully and inevitably into place. 

Csikszentmihalyi, pronounced “chicks-sent-me-high-ee,” writes in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, that “when you experience flow, you’re at an optimal state of intrinsic motivation and totally engrossed in what you’re doing.” I describe the feeling of flow as the Mt. Everest of harmonic fulfillment, allowing total freedom. During flow our worries and fears are set aside because the troubled mind is taking a nap. Flow happens when we achieve the perfect marriage between the challenge of a task and the strength or skill to meet that challenge. Then we enjoy rising to our full potential.

One of my coaching clients, Brandon, reports experiencing flow 3-5 times each week during the warm months, as he cycles through the breathtaking, winding countryside of the North Eastern United States. As flow begins, Brandon’s focused attention shifts away from pushing down and pulling up on the pedals of his cycle to becoming one with his cycle, the road beneath him, and the awe-inspiring environment around him. He describes the focused attention he exerts during his flow cycling experiences as freeing, motivational, harmonic and yoga-like. For Brandon, flow creates a surge of energy and endorphins that enable him to strike the perfect balance between the task of hill climbing and the capacities of his body.

Alice Domar, author of Self-Nurture, writes about how we can bring flow into our lives by practicing forms of relaxation. It is important to note that the forms of relaxation should reduce our anxiety, allow us to observe rather than be victimized by negative thoughts, and help us to connect with our unconscious impulses.

So how do we get ourselves into flow? Csikszentmihalyi and Domar suggest practicing yoga and meditation, where we set aside the troubled mind and sit quietly enjoying the stillness. Then we can pick up the challenges and develop the skills that will bring us ever more fully into flow.

Erika: In my work with clients, I’ve seen flow expressed in various ways.

When we uncover a passion or talent, the state of flow can be identified through feelings of exhilaration and joy. When Aaron came to coaching, he was looking to identify methods for increasing business and productivity. Even after several coaching conversations, his business output clearly reflected that he was out of the “groove” and lacking inspiration. But, when our conversations turned away from business and toward his love for the arts, the lights came on. We had tapped into a source of joy. As his goals became more and more focused on the arts, his output reflected the emotional shift. Tasks were taken on with joyous energy and, consequently, success came with greater ease.

When we are energized by learning a new skill, flow can be experienced as challenging and intense. Some clients, like Jane, are predisposed to get “in the flow” just at the prospect of learning a new skill or increasing the level of challenge.

Jane sought coaching because she was feeling bored and flat-lined. She had mastered her job, hit a plateau with her physical well-being, and was generally gliding through life with the same routine, day after day. Through conversation, she got in touch with her intrinsic desire to step out of her comfort zone. Jane began to relentlessly seek out new opportunities to experiment with new behaviors, to learn, and even to fail. Soon, she was reignited and felt back “in the game. ” 

Unfortunately, the state of flow can be elusive when we have lost appreciation for ourselves. When we talk down to ourselves, apologize for who we are, and stop recognizing the value of our skills we can become disjointed. As a result, we may shy away from challenge and become apathetic.

This was the mode in which Beth was operating when we began our coaching relationship. She granted herself no credit for successes and lived from a self-limiting perspective. For Beth, getting back into flow required the slow and gentle process of shining a light on the negative self-talk, uncovering its deceptions, and replacing the messages with new truths about herself. In this case, we learned that flow can also be experienced quietly and reflectively. 

Kate: When I think about people being in the “zone,” I picture people releasing their bonds and levitating above ground • sort of raising themselves out of their norms, their usual thoughts and practices, and operating at a “higher” level. In my mind, this is a liberating and exciting place to be, with nothing to hold you back and everything to support your enthusiasm and direction.

Being in the zone has to do with truly going for the gusto and having great faith that we are capable of our dreams and ambition. Many times we find the zone when we are engaged in using our strongest gifts, and when we follow where our energy leads us. It is more of an intuitive path than a logical one. In fact, it works best to follow the flow of the moment.

I have noticed and felt one of my own zone experiences when playing drums in my high school’s marching band, feeling the crisp autumn air, the exhilaration from performing to the crowd, and the beating drumsticks pounding out the cadence as we marched onto the field. I have noticed and felt it when volleying a tennis ball back and forth, not for the competition of the point, but to enjoy the motion, power, and speed. I have also noticed being in the zone when talking to people about their career direction, and looking for ways to make it come alive for them, exploring, processing, dreaming. It is truly a great place to be, and when it happens, things just seem to come together. There is no planning or thinking, just flow.

Look to your passions to find your flow. If the action is fun, then the energy of the moment builds naturally. That is why it is so effective for clients to start with their passions and desires when looking to expand their satisfaction, livelihood, relationships, and overall well-being.

I have had a client build her future by walking away from a corporate career to embrace the hum of a motorcycle retail shop. She was in flow when talking bikes and planning road trips. Another client found flow by leaving his consulting work to act in a senior position within his desired industry, coaching hotel managers and building a strong and capable team. A third client created a nurturing environment for flow by feeding his marriage, keeping fit and socially engaged with regular trips to the gym, mellowing out with his cats, and beginning a dedicated meditation practice. 

Flow comes in many wonderful ways, and we are each capable of finding it in the various areas of our lives. Look to your passion, and let your intuition take over. It’s a wonderful ride.

Coaching Inquiries: When was the last time that you experienced a flow moment? What were the conditions that allowed you to experience flow? Who was involved? How could you experience flow more often in life and work?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I really loved your last Provision on getting uncluttered Click. It got me inspired.


Almost by accident, I printed out your last Provision and had the opportunity to read it carefully after the rest of the family had gone to bed. What an inspiration! Thanks for the encouragement to find such uncluttered space and time!


Excellent.


Your Provisions are a real blessing to me. One recent one in particular gave me a new lease on life. It was the one where you talked about Running Your Own Race Click. Being overweight and 67 years old, there are things you have to deal with. The idea that I am not competing with anyone really spoke to me. I’ve read that Provision through several times and keep coming back to it. It has helped me a lot.


Since you used to be a pastor, perhaps you can answer a question for me. I am a Christian, and deal with stress/life through bible study and prayer. However, I’m feeling conflicted with the meditation thing. My coaching buddies rely heavily on yoga and mediation. I understand mediation focuses on self. Should I educate myself in this area because it is a popular modality, or stay clear? I would appreciate any resource or comment you can offer. (Ed. Note: Not all meditation is self-focused; in fact, there are strong Christian traditions of meditation and body work. I would encourage you to see how these traditions could be part of your Christian journey.)  



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #464: Spring Cleaning Moments

Laser Provision

Can you identify with how good it feels to clean up a mess that has been hanging around for far too long? Boundless energy and creativity often result. Unfortunately, messes have a way of coming back. That’s why coaches work with clients to develop systems for success. We want people to get cleaned up and to stay cleaned up. Working with the environment is one way to do that. But cleaning up clutter on all levels, both internal and external, must be attended to if we hope to optimize performance and reach our potential. If you have problems with clutter, read on. This Provision may make you smile.

LifeTrek Provision


Bob: People come to coaching for many reasons. Some people, mistakenly, confuse coaching with therapy. They want their coach to unravel, untangle, and undo many years of self-destructive and/or other-destructive behavior. Most coaches are neither trained for nor interested in handling such requests. We therefore refer such requests to competent analysts, therapists, and counselors.

Coaching works best when a talented and capable person has a vision of who they are and where they want to go. To use sports as an analogy: athletes who are talented and capable retain coaches in order to perform at the top of their game. They want to reach their full potential and they work with coaches who can assist them to do that. It is all about performance, which includes mastering both the inner game (mind, heart, body) and the outer game (rules, environment, relationships).

So, too, when it comes to business and life coaching. People retain coaches in order to perform better in their various fields of interest. Those fields may be absolutely anything: from sales to leadership, from the operating room to the board room, from wellness to parenting, from new business ventures to existing career development. If people have an ambition, they can benefit greatly from working with a coach.

A common thread through all types of coaching is getting organized for success. When someone wants to run their first marathon or their best marathon ever, we develop a training schedule and then a strategy for staying devoted to that schedule. To borrow a phrase, we “make a plan and work the plan.” So too with coaching in any area of interest.

The creation of a schedule or plan that is tailor made for your ambition and personal style will minimize distractions and keep you moving forward. It eliminates clutter from both the inner and outer game boards in order to help people stay motivated, focused, and receptive to feedback. By making and working a plan, it’s as though we engage in spring cleaning with our clients in order to get them up and going at their very best.

The elimination of clutter, whether it’s called that or not, is actually a huge piece of what we do as coaches. If you have problems with clutter, then retaining a coach might be a good investment. With a coach, it’s more likely that you will be able to clean the decks and to express the fresh exhilaration that comes from having a clear line of sight, whether it’s to your desk or to your destination. Consider the good it would do you to eliminate six kinds of clutter:

1) Cluttered Minds. For most people, action is preceded by thought. We think about a course of action before proceeding. That works great if we have the time and ability to focus our thoughts. Often, however, our attention-deficit lifestyles keep us from thinking deeply or clearly. Our minds end up cluttered with indecision, conflicting information, and distracting thoughts. As a result, we either fail to take action or we compromise the effectiveness of our actions.

Masterful coaches are great thinking partners, who assist people to sort out their thoughts, to measure their value, and to move forward. The coaching conversation is, itself, a form of thinking out loud. It interrupts our busy-busy schedules with the chance to step back and to ponder our course of action in the presence of a wise, caring, and capable listener. No wonder so many people choose to work with coaches as a matter of course. They make life more interesting and productive.

For clients who are rationally oriented, a decisional balance sheet of pros and cons can be quite helpful in sorting out their thoughts. Many people come to coaching with a balance sheet already constructed. In the absence of a second opinion, however, they may still be stymied as to their best course of action. Coaches ask questions and reflect back what we hear in ways that assist clients to get over the hump. Our questions and reflections may, of course, create consternation before they generate clarity; but in the end, clear thinking is what we seek because clear thinking generates results.

The opposite of clear thinking is what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind.” It is as though we go from tree to tree, like a monkey, tasting a piece of fruit from each before dropping it and moving on to the next tree. We are constantly distracted, unable to focus or to follow through on things from start to finish. Instead of being in the present moment, we are always in the next moment of whatever happens to get our attention. Clear thinking keeps us centered on the here and now.

2) Cluttered Hearts. Without going into the biomechanics of feeling, creativity, energy, and purpose (e.g., left-brain and right-brain theory), I prefer to think of these things as coming from the heart. Thought clarification is the province of the mind; the work of the heart, however, determines the import of thoughts. Whereas the mind is responsible for the what, the heart is responsible for the so what. It is with the heart that we clarify the significance of our thoughts.

Masterful coaches play with heart energy all the time. We not only want our clients to think clearly; we want them to by empowered by their thoughts. That is why we so often go beyond the decisional balance sheet to notice the tone, pace, gaps, and energy of our clients. We listen not only for what is being is said, but also for what is not being said, what wants to be said, and what is being said differently. These are the subtleties that constitute listening with the heart.

I remember one client who could not decide between two courses of action. There were good arguments on both sides, and she had been ambivalent for many weeks. “You don’t sound as excited by the second option as you do by the first,” I told her, reflecting back the energy of her thoughts. “I don’t?” she asked with surprise. “No, when you talk about the second option, your energy is definitely more flat and disconnected.” That affective reflection was all she needed to hear. By our next coaching session, her heart was no longer cluttered with “what if” consternation. She was ready to go.

3) Cluttered Bodies. We clutter our bodies with all sorts of things that make effective action difficult. Excess weight, inactivity, and stress are not just bad for our health, they also impact our judgment of what is possible. I was not a runner for the first 43 years of my life; after I became a runner, everything changed. What used to appear far away, now appears close. As I write this, my father is in town and awaiting surgery in our local hospital to remove gall stones. This morning I ran over to the hospital, which is less than five miles from our house. There was only one problem: five miles was just too close. So I took a circuitous route in order to run the miles I wanted for the day.

That would never have happened when my body was cluttered with excess weight, inactivity, and stress. I would have been hard pressed to imagine riding my bike to the hospital, let alone getting there on foot. Now, everything looks different. By clearing my body of clutter, horizons and opportunities have been expanded. Understanding this dynamic, coaches work with almost every client, in one way or another, to optimize their health and wellness. That’s also why I write a Wellness Pathway almost every week Click. There’s just no way to be great in life and work with a cluttered body.

4) Cluttered Ground Rules. Have you ever tried to play a game without knowing all the rules? Even worse, have you ever tried to play a game without agreement on the rules? Chaos, arguments, and premature discontinuation result. It’s just not fun to play games when there is confusion or conflict about the rules.

Unfortunately, that describes many situations in life and work. Office politics and family dynamics are what they are because people have different assumptions and understandings about procedures and norms. If you and I think we can handle our affairs or treat each other according to different standards, then sooner or later that difference will cause problems.

Coaches often work with people to recognize these differences and to take action to resolve them. It can be daunting to clean up cluttered ground rules, but it is absolutely essential. Bill worked in an office where the CEO talked the talk but failed to walk the walk. He disavowed micromanagement, for example, but he was one of the worst offenders. He would totally screw up the work plans of individuals and teams by coming over and asking a rank and file worker to look into this or that, causing a cascade of commotion and concern.

As a Vice-President, Bill saw this behavior and felt responsible for confronting the CEO as to his behavior. But how could he do that without losing his job? The concept of cleaning up cluttered ground rules offered an avenue for productive conversation. Standard operating procedures were identified, agreed to, and promulgated in such a way that the team was better able to hold everyone, including the CEO, accountable.

5) Cluttered Environments. This is the area you probably thought of first when it comes to clutter. Cluttered offices, kitchens, bedrooms, cars, and email inboxes rank at the top of the list when it comes to performance inhibitors. The problem is so widespread and intolerable that many coaches specialize in assisting people to eliminate clutter and get organized. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find things when you need them; nothing is more discouraging than walking into a mess everywhere you look and every time you turn a corner.

The problem is exacerbated by a consumer society in the information age. We acquire things more rapidly than any previous generation. They come at us from every direction, whether we ask for them or not. Free samples, catalogues, magazines, and spam solicitations, by both surface mail and email, can overwhelm even the best of filters and systems. It’s hard to get away from environmental clutter.

I remember a client, George, who was a sales professional in the insurance industry. George inherited a large list of customers and prospects from a retiring agent, but it was up to him to work the list. He had to call them in order to establish a relationship and get the business. Day after day and week after week, however, the calls were not being made even though a large sales bonus was on the line.

At one point during a coaching conversation, I asked George to describe for me what his desk looked like. “What do you see?” I asked. “I see piles of paper everywhere, stacks of file folders, a coffee mug, and a bunch of post-it notes. It’s a mess,” he admitted.

“Is there anywhere in the building where you could find an empty box?” I asked. “Well, I guess there’d be one in the copy room.” “Then put down the phone and go get the box. I want you to box up everything on your desk except your list of names, a pad of paper, your computer, and your telephone.” “I can’t do that!” he protested. “Everyone will think I’m getting fired.” We laughed together before he set to work on this seemingly crazy experiment. 

A week later, when we got back together for our next coaching call, George excitedly shared the progress he’d made. “Guess what?” he began proudly, “I made more than a 100 calls this week which have generated enough new business to make my bonus! It’s incredible! Everyone wants to know what happened to me, and I blamed you. ‘My coach told me to do it,’ I said.” 

That’s what happens when our environments get cleaned up. It fills us with energy and excitement to meet the day. Several years ago I had my own experience of this, thanks to my sister-in-law, Maura. For years I had filed my bills, invoices, and check stubs by vendor name. With that system, whenever a new vendor or customer would appear I had to create a new file. Since I wouldn’t always do that right away, the piles grew.

When Maura shared her system with me, the light bulb went off immediately. “I file everything by month,” she said. “At the start of every year, I make 12 new folders, and that’s all I need. I keep them for a couple years, just in case, and then throw them away.” That’s what I’ve been doing ever since. 12 folders for LifeTrek and 12 folders for my personal finances handle just about everything I want to file, leaving little room for piles to grow.

What could be simpler than that! It contains the two marks of a great system: it enabled me to get caught up and then it enabled me to stay caught up. Most spring cleaning fails on the second count. We may get caught for a time, but then we quickly fall behind again because we have not instituted any different systems. Masterful coaching enables clients to figure out both dimensions. We not only clean up the messes, we devise strategies that keep them from coming back.

6) Cluttered Relationships. Just as we can muck up our performance with physical toxins such as obesity, inactivity, and stress, we can have similar negative impacts with relational toxins. Piles of paper are not the only things that clutter up the environment; people can also get in the way of our success.

One clue as to whether or not we are in a cluttered relationship is to look at the level of trust and respect. When those are high, the relationship is clean. When those are low, the relationship is often time consuming and destructive.

Coaches work with clients to sort out and to strategize how to proceed in these situations. There are only two ways to clean up the relationship: either trust and respect have to be restored, or the relationship has to be ended. To restore trust and respect, people need to work directly and honestly with each other in order to admit their  mistakes, to apologize, and to make agreements for avoiding such confusion in the future. That is not easy, but it is possible, especially with the help of a trained facilitator or mediator.

Leaving a cluttered relationship can be just as difficult and scary, especially if you depend upon that relationship for your income. But most people who make the break eventually come to see the value of moving on, a value they may have first glimpsed through a conversation with their coach.

These six kinds of clutter • cluttered minds, hearts, bodies, rules, environments, and relationships • need to be cleaned up if we hope to optimize our performance and reach our potential. Whether we do it on our own, with everyday friends, or with a professional coach, there is no way to ignore clutter and to be the best we can possibly be.

Erika: I often work with clients to clean up clutter through designing new environments. One way to do that is to change our perspective regarding what “is.” Although Ron had a life-long dream to travel the country in a Recreational Vehicle, he struggled with the societal expectations to live a “normal” life. To him, a life of transience meant being disconnected and unsettled. Through conversation, Ron changed perspectives about living the “gypsy life.” It became clear that traveling across the country and visiting family would connect them to each other in ways that would not be possible otherwise. He would become the heart of the family, without a permanent address.

Designing a new environment can also require setting up systems of reward and recognition. Lisa bought a charm bracelet at the beginning of a life-changing journey. With each milestone, she rewarded herself with a new, symbolic charm. The bracelet became a reminder, an incentive, and a reward.

Lastly, designing a new environment can be about setting up structures to ensure success. Elie wanted to feel comfortable and to express confidence during a conference call. So, together, we identified both material objects and thoughts that would remind her of her strength during the call. She connected with a favorite pair of pants, a radiant color, and a positive affirmation. These markers supported her success with the call.

Coaching Inquiries: What things do you need to clean up in order to be successful? Have you cleaned them up in the past only to have the clutter creep back into your life and work? What systems could assist you to stay on top of the messes? Who could assist you to develop those systems and to make them work with effortless regularity?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I continue to enjoy your weekly Provisions on coaching moments. They really speak to me, especially to my situation at work. Thanks.



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #463: Remember When Moments

Laser Provision

As coaches, we love to connect people with stories of power and grace. We do that through the questions we ask and the spaces we create. Too often those stories are buried under the rubble of discouragement, busyness, and hurt. But in the presence of one who believes in their existence, we can dig them out and use them as a foundation for future success. Remembering when we were at our best enables us to be our best, and that can make all the difference in the world.

LifeTrek Provision


Bob: I have been writing Provisions, more or less every week, since January of 1999 (shortly after the founding of LifeTrek Coaching International). In all that time, if there is any pattern to our reader replies it has to do with the telling of stories. When I tell a story, in detail, including the lead up, the experience, and the resolution, we receive far more reader replies than when I wax eloquent about some marvelous strategy for personal or organizational development. In short, bullet points fail to inspire.

Stories are different, however. Whether it’s a long, serial story (think “Lord of the Rings” or “Harry Potter”), a work of fiction or non-fiction (think “The Da Vinci Code” or “Marley & Me”), or a collection of short stories (think “The Tipping Point” or “Freakonomics”), great stories consistently rank at the top of the bestseller lists. They draw us in and call us out. We see ourselves reflected and find ourselves empowered in their images, conundrums, and possibilities.

Judging from the feedback, that’s what the readers of LifeTrek Provisions have experienced whenever a great story has been told. Whether it’s yet another running exploit or a significant moment from the distant or recent past, great stories have become part of our collective consciousness. Because of their positive frame, even in the face of adversity, they are part of what inspires people to greatness.

This is the truth that underlies both Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and personal coaching. You may remember my AI Provision titled, “Discover Great Stories” Click. I wrote about the power of stories to not only increase motivation but to also design actions. This works in both negative and positive directions. Downhearted stories of failure depress motivation and suppress action; uplifting stories of success elevate motivation and encourage action. Positive stories are the stuff of both organizational and personal greatness.

That’s why both AI and personal coaching go out of their way to discover great stories. When times are tough, there is nothing more empowering than a great story, especially if that story comes from your own life experience or from the life experience of those with whom you identify. In self-efficacy theory, they call those direct mastery experiences and vicarious mastery experiences. The more we know about how to get things done, the more confident we become in our ability to do just that.

Much of my coaching is driven by the search for great stories. The questions that I ask and the time that I take to listen to the answers are due to my understanding that people respond better to their own wisdom than to the wisdom of others. Advice giving has its place, but it’s better when asked for and then only after enough great stories have been discovered.

I find that the protocol for an appreciative interview, utilized by AI practitioners in their work with organizations, is equally effective in working with individuals. When individuals are looking for a way out of the wilderness, I know of no better way to pick up the scent of the trail than to ask about the best experience they have ever had with the challenge they are currently facing, the values they were living out of at the time, the core dynamics that made the experience possible, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future.

Talk about inspiring and empowering! By the time we get through exploring these dimensions, most clients find themselves ready, willing, and able to act. They shift from the negative frame of what one client calls “stinking thinking,” to the positive frame of delightful destiny. They end up pulling closer, in other words, to their desired future state.

Health and wellness coaching frequently makes use of this approach. Clients come to us with challenges over which they feel a low-degree of self-efficacy. They may have tried to lose weight, get in shape, or manage their stress for years, without any real, sustained success. “I just can’t seem to…” is the common refrain. “I just can’t seem to lose weight and keep it off.” “I just can’t seem to find the time to exercise.” “I just can’t seem to avoid going over to the computer in the evening and losing sleep.”

Sound familiar? You can probably finish the sentence for yourself with your own stinking thinking. “I just can’t seem to avoid bumping my head,” is one negative frame that I’m pondering right now after a series of jolting encounters in the attic. When it comes to construction work, throwing myself into projects with reckless abandon • a quality that serves me well in many other contexts • can lead to injury and mistakes. But I am hard pressed to “measure twice and cut once” when I am in a hurry to get things done. Unfortunately, this is one area where a low-degree of self-efficacy is often measured in terms of scratches, bumps, and bruises.

To untie these Gordian knots we have to move away from the “I just can’t seem to…” place and move toward the “I remember when…” place. “I remember when I lost 65 pounds and managed to keep it off for years. I remember the energy and pride that provoked.” “I remember when I would pack my workout clothes for a trip before I would pack any other outfits. Then, I would actually use them along the way.” “I remember when I would shut down my computer before dinner and do other things in the evening. What a refreshing way to end the day.” “I remember when I worked alongside professional craftsman. There was no rush to get things done, and no injuries along the way.”

These are the “remember when moments” that can move us forward in dynamic, new directions. They are reality checks against low self-efficacy. We all have these moments, whether we remember them or not. This is one of the fundamental assumptions in both Appreciative Inquiry and personal coaching. In every situation and in every life story, something is always working. It may be hidden by a tarnish of discouragement and despair. But it is there, waiting for the right cleaner and a little elbow grease to make things look like new.

In the case of coaching, the right cleaner is the right question and the elbow grease is the effort to draw out the answer. It’s tempting to dig into the problem, with a root cause analysis, in order to come up with solutions. But this approach can make matters worse just as easily as it can make matters better. Problems are like weeds. The more we dig into them the more we discover about the length and depth of their roots. Talk about intimidating! Some weeds keep coming back no matter what you seem to do. They shoot up again in due time, often in new places and with more vigor than before.

The right question is not, therefore, “What’s getting in the way of your success?” We can play with that question ad nauseam, driving ourselves crazy in the process. The right question is, “What enables you to be your own, best self? To feel fully and confidently alive? To express yourself in the world with a satisfied mind?” No one ever gets tired of playing with those questions. They are the stuff of life itself. And they often generate both surprising answers and surprising results.

I remember my client Mark, who was passed over for a promotion at work and was thinking about quitting his long-tenured and lucrative position. I was brought in by the company to help him sort out his feelings as well as his options. Quitting, with a severance package, was a very real option. And this is where we might have ended up if we had spent our time trying to figure out why they had passed him up for that promotion and why they were treating him so poorly.

Instead, we took an appreciative approach to what was working well both in the office and in his life as a whole. This approach led Mark to identify generosity and creativity as two of his signature strengths. He donates large amounts of time and money to his church, as well as to other worthy causes, plus he plays in two bands. Telling me story after story, week after week, of his involvement with these pursuits revealed the importance of generosity and creativity to his sense of identity and purpose in the world.

Affirming this, we began to unravel how he could get more involved with his generous and creative interests. “One thing that would help,” Mark told me during a coaching conversation, “would be to work only four days a week. That would give me a lot more time and freedom to pursue my other interests.” “Would that make you feel better about being passed over for the promotion?” I asked. “Absolutely,” he responded, “in fact, I would probably feel happy about being passed over since I would not have as much responsibility and I would have more time to do the things I truly love.”

The light bulb had gone off in his head. Even though the company had no policy or previous experience with flex-time or part-time directors, this man had nothing to lose. If he was ready to quit anyway, and take a severance package, why not put his first choice on the table in order to see whether he could make lemonade out of lemons. “But I can’t do it now,” Mark told me, “there’s too much going on. I have to wait six months before I can make my request.” We talked through the details and worked through the strategy before ending our coaching relationship.

Later, when the time came, Mark reported back to me that he was given what he wanted. He took a 20% reduction in pay, in exchange for working 80% of the time, with no loss of benefits, title, or positional authority. The slight that he felt in being passed over for a promotion was more than eclipsed by the joy that he now feels in being given three-day weekends. That’s a lot of time, about two extra months per year, to devote to generosity and creativity. He feels blessed by the way things have worked out.

That’s what happens when clients connect with their own best experiences, core values, and core dynamics. They remember when they could, or when others could, and that leads them to believe they can.

Christina: The art of story telling is a vehicle that helps us deepen our learning about ourselves and forward our action toward our goals. Story telling opens our eyes, allowing us to not only see things more clearly, but also to see patterns, relationships, and themes among ourselves, other people in our lives, situations, our thoughts, feelings, and so on. Telling a story is also a way to verbally reflect upon an incident that impacted our life. Many “remember when” moments in coaching start out with the coach asking, “Tell me about a time when•”, but sometimes clients show up with a story they want to share about a high or low moment in their life.

One of my clients finds much fulfillment in sharing her stories. Telling her story each week is like a personal release for her, full of nuggets for her to crack open and learn from. I can count on her to share a story about an event or situation that impacted her in an interesting way during each of our sessions. The challenge of coaching is to not get wrapped up in or blinded by our client’s stories. Our focus before, during, and after the story is on how our client can learn from the story as well as on how the story is either enabling or interrupting our client’s intentions.

This past week, a client told me about how she’d responded to a promotion into management that she was offered at work, many years ago. I learned of the intricate details of her conversation with her superior including how she felt at the time of the offer. This promotion would only slightly change her job responsibilities, but with it she’d begin to manage a team of investment counselors.

She remembered being frightened by the thought of moving into management and being in the spot light at times. She also recalled her deep-rooted enthusiasm over the opportunity. As she told me the story, I could hear the excitement in her voice that called her to take that promotion. We used the key learnings from this experience to determine her next step with a job offer she was anticipating in the coming weeks. We used her “remember when” moment to explore what might get in the way with this expected job offer and how her natural reactions would support her to make a smooth and fulfilling transition.

Erika: Today, television tells most of the stories that we collectively know. We gather around co-worker’s desks to discuss what happened last evening, in someone else’s fictional life, before we consider divulging the stories of our own lives.

Sam Keen, who was an editor of Psychology Today, describes today’s culture as “a people written on from the outside.” No longer sharing stories as a sacred tradition, we have become “like blank slates waiting to be scribbled on by whoever or whatever chanced along.” 

From a similar perspective, author Julia Cameron believes that “until we do the work of excavating, claiming, and owning our own life stories, we run the very real risk of seeing ourselves, describing ourselves and proscribing ourselves as others see fit.” In other words, until we know our story, we can not know ourselves at all. 

The etymological root of the word “story” is “to know.” And, stories are an excellent way to know oneself through the discernment of values. Pay attention to the stories that you, and your family, share repeatedly; woven throughout them are the clues to what is most important to you. 

One of my favorite ways to use, and to honor, stories is to ask clients to share their peak experiences, mountaintop moments, and times when life was at its best. Within each story is a buried treasure of what is most dear and precious. For example, each of Jim’s stories included an element of honor and integrity while Donna’s stories were connected by playfulness and joy.

We can choose to tell our stories in many other ways. My family, for example, recently celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday and told her story not only through the sharing of oral history, but by singing her songs, and preparing her favorite recipes. Deb tells her stories through photograph. Theo tells his stories through music. 

Whatever the vehicle, stories tie us together, while giving us the confidence to expand and explore beyond ourselves.

Kate: When I think of client “stories” I think of the texture they bring to our relationship. One cannot coach fully without seeing and feeling the client’s wholeness. And it takes their stories of who they are, to what they•re relating, and how they are feeling to appreciate that wholeness. 

I am particularly touched by the stories that give me context beyond the coaching issue. I want to know how their significant relationships influence their career situation. I want to know how their beliefs and values influence their relationships and direction. And I want to know how they came to those beliefs and if they are being served by them.

A very poignant moment was shared in one coaching relationship, where my client was adjusting from the death of her beloved partner. I could not have served her fully in our discussion without the beautiful story she told of that love, his death, and her existence thereafter. Besides creating a much stronger bond between us, my fuller understanding of her experience and emotion allowed me to work with her in a much deeper way.

I love hearing and telling stories. They add a richness to conversation and relationship that is otherwise hard to come by. We can learn so much from each other, if we take the time share and listen.

Coaching Inquiries: Can you remember when you had a great experience that enabled your signature strengths to shine? Who was involved? What was the occasion? How did it make you feel? What shifts did it provoke? Are your signature strengths still shining brightly? If not, how could you buff them up? Who could assist you in the process?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I have to tell you I loved the Provision that you, Erika, and Kate did on Breakthrough MomentsClick. They were beautifully captured. Thanks!


I forward your Provisions to my sister who says, as I do, “Gosh, this guy is good!” She also says, “I wish I could meet him. He sounds like he is onto something!” She’s a pretty smart gal. Maybe she will get to Williamsburg and visit someday.


I trust this question can be filed under the heading, “No question is a dumb question.” 🙂 But when you instructed your client to write an affirmation with both hands Click, did you mean to actually hold onto the pen with both hands, or to write it one time left-handed, then the next time right-handed? (Ed. Note: I meant the latter. But not alternating, line by line. I instructed my client to write most of the affirmations with his dominant hand, and then to write the affirmation five times with the other hand. Not a dumb question at all!) 


I love your poems Click. Thanks. 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #462: Blink Moments

Laser Provision

There’s much to be said for figuring things out the hard way. It can certainly generate a great sense of satisfaction. But there are times when we see everything clearly, in an instant, based upon our feelings, patterns, hunches, habits, impulses, and environments. Do we trust and even cultivate those times of rapid cognition? We do if we have worked with a masterful coach for any period of time. If you’re looking for the light bulb to go off, then perhaps you’re working too hard. Perhaps, after reading this Provision, you’ll be ready to blink.

LifeTrek Provision


Bob: The word “blink” came to our attention as a form of intelligence in 2005 thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s book by the same name. After his enormously successful 2000 book, The Tipping Point, which focused on how little things can make a big difference (remember Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”), Gladwell wroteBlink to explore what he calls, “thinking without thinking,” “instinctive intelligence,” or “rapid cognition.”

What is rapid cognition? It is a judgment made in the blink of an eye. We’ve all been there. We see someone or something and, in less than two seconds, we draw conclusions as to his, her, or its nature, quality, authenticity, and competence. Sometimes our snap judgments are right; other times they are wrong. Gladwell wrote his book to explore and understand these dynamics more fully, hoping that people could better learn to use this form of often unconscious wisdom.

Although it would be impossible to fully summarize Gladwell’s book in this Provision, here are six salient points for our work as coaches:

1) Instinctive intelligence happens in the whole body. It is not just a mind trip. Our sweat glands, for example, reveal stress and anxiety long before our mind becomes aware of the feeling. Logical reasoning requires a lot of data and time; instinctive intelligence can size up situations in an instant. In many respects, mindfulness is nothing more than becoming aware of the intelligence of the body. What the body knows, the mind can learn as long as we are paying attention. Sometimes, an aching back is more than just an aching back. It is a message worth decoding.

2) Instinctive intelligence relies on the unconscious recognition of patterns. We may see something for only two seconds, but its connection with patterns leads immediately to conclusions. That’s why it so often works; that’s also why it sometimes fails. If we connect a thin slice of experience with the wrong pattern we may reach the wrong conclusion. This can happen for many reasons, especially becoming emotionally invested in a particular outcome. When we want things to work out a particular way, our internal computer can be thrown off. “Love is blind” and the dynamics of prejudice are cases in point.

3) Instinctive intelligence can predict the future. That, too, relates to patterns. If we correctly connect the dots, then we have a sense of not only what is going on but also of what is about to happen. We call that having a hunch, and it can happen in relation to both good and bad fortune. We know when things are going to work out, and we also know when something terrible is going to happen. Hunches can be private or shared experiences. Sometimes we have better hunches for others than we have for ourselves, because we can be more open to a wide variety of inputs.

4) Instinctive intelligence can impact performance. We may not even realize it at the time. When college students were asked to identify their race on a pretest questionnaire, the results on a standardized test were 50% lower for some racial groups than when they were not asked to identify their race. Similar dynamics were played out when students were first asked to identify their gender. So, too, when it comes to negative words. Our often unconscious associations with stereotypes and negative energy can upset even the most confident of equilibriums.

5) Instinctive intelligence can be easily overridden. We can, and often do, talk ourselves out of decisions made on the basis of gut feelings or reactions. In our culture, data reign supreme. We want analysis and proof; the more scientific the better. When data and instinct come into conflict, instinctive intelligence typically loses. Introspection works against instinctive intelligence. The more we think about things, the more we come up with reasons to not trust our gut. It’s a counter-cultural act to trust our intuition.

6) Instinctive intelligence is environmentally conditioned. Our assumptions determine if and what we notice, but the environment can be manipulated to challenge our assumptions. When musicians sit behind a screen for musical auditions, more women and minorities are selected to play top positions than when the judges can see the performers with their eyes. The screen levels the playing field by eliminating extraneous material and focusing the attention where it belongs: how well is the music played? Such environmental manipulation makes instinctive intelligence more reliable.

Coaches understand the dynamics of blink and use them in multiple ways to assist our clients. Sometimes, it is the coach who gets a gut feeling as to what needs to happen. Other times, it is the client who gets the feeling. Either way, the feelings become part of the coaching conversation in service of the client’s goals.

Anyone who thinks that coaching is a totally rational process misses the mark entirely. We don’t meet with our clients just to analyze their situation and plan their course of action. We also meet with our clients to hear their stories and to glimpse their potential. Sometimes, just listening to the story is enough to surface those gut feelings and to get things moving in new directions. No advice is needed; we just pull on the thread of experience until the client connects the dots with a sudden knowing of what must be done.

“Aha!” is the way that sudden knowing often manifests itself. Just two weeks ago I was talking with a client in Vietnam about a new business venture. Although I have never been to Vietnam and could not, myself, head up this business venture, I can serve as a foil for instinctive intelligence. In talking about where to locate a potential new facility, I asked whether it could be built as the first module of a larger campus. “Aha!” was the client’s reaction. “That’s an excellent idea. I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of that.”

There was instant recognition of the idea’s merit. The light bulb went off and it was all we could do to keep talking to the end of our appointed time. “As soon as we get done,” he said with excitement in his voice, “I’m calling my business partners to run this by them. If it makes as much sense to them as it does to me, we’ll know where to look and what to do.” That was a blink moment. An idea surfaced in the course of the conversation and it changed everything. It changed the energy between us. Suddenly, we were leaning into the conversation, on the edges of our chairs, with newfound interest and curiosity. It also changed our thinking. The dots were connected and we moved in new directions.

New ideas can often emerge from the clients themselves, through the process of inquiry and permission giving. As coaches who understand blink, we ask different questions and encourage different answers. It’s that difference which can lead to client breakthroughs.

1) How do you feel that in your body? That’s a favorite coaching move: to get clients more connected with and trustful of what their bodies are telling them. Remember, instinctive intelligence expresses itself in the body long before the mind is aware of what’s going on. “Where do you feel that?” and “What does that feeling tell you?” are two great coaching questions.

I remember one client who, in the face of a business challenge, felt the restlessness in her legs. “What does that feeling tell you?” I asked. “That I need to start dancing again!” came her immediate reply. Now that was not exactly what I expected. But within a week she was both dancing again and handling the business challenge more successfully. She may well have come to that on her own; but it happened more quickly through our mindful exploration of what was happening now. She blinked, and knew what she had to do.

2) Have you ever seen that before? That another favorite coaching move: to get clients more connected with and trustful of what their own experience is telling them. Too often, clients fail to recognize the patterns just because they are not paying attention to their own history. That’s especially true when it comes to their own positive past. People are more likely to remember their traumas than their triumphs.

I remember one client who had gained and lost weight many times in her life. Her goal was to stop yo-yoing, but all she could remember were the many times that she had blown her diet. “Have you ever maintained a healthy weight at any point in your life?” I asked. “I did for about five years in the 1980s,” was her immediate reply, “but that was so long ago.” By getting her to tell the story of those five years, in detail, she reconnected with the positive energy, the motivation, and the strategies that had once worked for her and that could work for her again. As soon as she told the story, she knew what she had to do.

3) What do you think will happen? I have always enjoyed the adage, “If we don’t change direction, we’re going to end up where we’re headed.” Too often, clients fail to pay attention to the trajectory of their own lives. They do not connect the dots between what is going on now and where that will take them. But deep down they know the truth. Creative visualizations can bring that truth to the surface in powerful and moving ways.

I remember one client who wanted to do a better job at managing his money. “What do you think will happen if things continue the way they are?” I asked. “I don’t know,” came the immediate reply. “I have no idea where I stand or how things are going.” That truth came home in a big way when his credit card charge for coaching was declined for payment. The scales fell from his eyes and he quickly developed new systems and procedures, including an automatic savings plan with clear targets for the future.

4) How do you start your day? Coaches understand the importance of priming the pump. Just as negative associations can negatively impact performance, so too can positive associations work their magic in positive ways. Years ago I went to a workshop on handwriting analysis. The presenter suggested that handwriting not only reveals much about our personality, it also influences our personality. Writing affirmations in the morning can start the day on a positive note, not only because of the content of the affirmation but also because of how they are written.

I remember one client who lacked the confidence to start a new relationship. “How do you start your day?” I asked. “I just get up and get going,” came the immediate reply. “Would you be willing to write out an affirmation, in cursive, on a blank page, with an uphill slant, multiple times until you fill the page, using both hands, before you do anything else?” There was dead silence on the other end of the phone. Finally, the silence was broken. “What kind of affirmation? And could I just type it up on the computer, once I get to work?”

Through conversation, we developed a single sentence of my client’s desired future state, written in the present tense as though it were already true. “I express love fully and completely.” We also decided to try my curious instructions for two weeks: “in cursive, on a blank page, with an uphill slant, multiple times, filling the page, using both hands, before doing anything else. And don’t forget to cross your t’s high on the crossbar.” “That was weird,” was all he had to say after the first week. But after two weeks the exercise was having its intended effect. The pump was primed for love.

5) Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Too often, clients talk themselves out of their own best ideas. They get dismissed for a variety of “good reasons.” Too expensive! Too impractical! Too selfish! Too provocative! Too off beat! Too impossible! The litany of reasons and excuses goes on and on. Sometimes these cautions are worth heeding. But many times they need to be set aside if we hope to reach our full potential. That’s a big role for coaches. We encourage our clients to explore their wild and crazy ideas.

I remember one client who wanted to leave her day job in order to start her own company. It was crazy. She had kids to support. She had never run a business before. She had no infrastructure. So she set that dream aside. But it kept bothering her. The sense that she should be doing something different would not go away. “Maybe it’s not either / or,” I suggested, “maybe it’s both / and. Maybe you could keep your day job and start your own company at the same time.” That possibility was both remarkably liberating and incredibly successful. Six months after starting her company she was ready to leave the security of her day job and make her business a full-time pursuit. It was an idea whose time had come.

6) What could assist you to be your very best? That may seem like an obvious question, but it all too often goes unasked and unanswered. In the spirit of the “self-made man” or “self-made woman” who pulls himself or herself up by the bootstraps, clients all too often think that if they are not getting where they want to go then the problem must be inside them. But more often than not, the problem has to do with the environment. Something is getting in the way of their true greatness. Something is taking them off course. Something is distracting them from their own wisdom and intelligence.

I remember one client who wanted to start his days with a bike ride. Week after week, we would make plans and set goals during our coaching session. Week after week, those plans and goals would go unmet. After about a month of that, I asked my client to go over to the bike. “Right now?” he asked. “Right now,” I said. “Take the phone with you, go over to your bike, and tell me what you see.” He went downstairs to where he kept his bike. “Where is it?” “Well, I can’t actually see it,” he said. “I store it in the corner, behind some boxes.” “Is that the best place for your bike if you want to ride it every day?” “No,” he said, “I guess not. For the next week, I’m just going to leave it in the front hall.”

Now that’s an idea I would never have come up with on my own. But it worked. The next week, he had ridden his bicycle each and every day, all because he would see the bike in the front hall and blink. In an instant, he was connected with his ambition. His excuses fell away as, without even thinking about it, he went out the door to ride. The environmental modification worked so well that he mounted a bike hanger on the wall and made the front hall a permanent resting place for his bike. It’s a good thing my client followed his intuition for life.

Those are the blink moments that we coaches yearn to share with our clients. By paying attention to feelings, patterns, hunches, habits, impulses, and environments, we can make better use of our built-in instinctive intelligence. Everyone has this ability; it is not the purview of the intuitive few. But we do have to open ourselves to its expression and guidance in life.

Christina: A coach’s work with a client can be similar to the work of an artist who creates “connect the dots” activities. We work to create situations where our clients can explore and begin to see more clearly the patterns and relationships among things present in their lives. Coaches trained in adult learning theory use a similar concept called discovery learning in their work with clients. Discovery learning is defined as creating a situation where individuals are free to explore and the ends of learning are not predetermined, according to Seels and Glasgow, authors of Exercises in Instructional Design.

Practicing the art of discovery learning with my clients is sometimes one of the most difficult parts of my work as a coach. For clients to connect the dots themselves sometimes requires that I hold back from sharing the patterns and relationships that I might see. By allowing my client the space to discover key learnings on his/her own, I often learn that they may see things quite differently than I do. Sharing what I see during a coaching conversation at the wrong moment can taint the picture and/or lessen the impact of the learning for my client.

Given all that goes into creating this enriching environment of discovery, I’ve gained a great appreciation for those times when my clients have blink moments, connecting the dots easily and effortlessly on their own.

One client I remember in particular is a recently divorced stay-at-home mom. Her intention was to identify a full-time job outside of the home so she could begin to earn an income, even though she most wanted to continue to primarily focus on raising her children. After several sessions where our work focused on painting pictures of her career options that aligned with her strengths and desires, we began once again to discuss what was really in her heart. The thought of not being the one to put her children on the bus in the morning and picking them at dinner time from the childcare center each day, terrified her. She looked at the career options she’d articulated that sat in front of her and at that moment, she said, “None of this is what I really want. What am I doing?”

Relieved and excited to see her connect the dots, we immediately begin to brainstorm options for how she could have first and foremost what she really wanted, to be with her children, and then secondly, an income to support them. My client found a creative way to reduce her lifestyle related expenses and organize her investments so that she could simply live off of the interest. This creative approach allowed her to continue to stay at home with her children and earn the income she needed to support them. And it would never have happened if she had not blinked in the face of what seemed so obviously necessary at the time.

Kate: I had to blink myself, when I ran into a past coaching client this week. We were catching up with each other, when she suggested I use the same process I had taught her, in order to solve a career issue that is currently challenging me. Wow. I think she got it! Her advice was exactly what I needed to do. She was right on, and the teacher-student roles were reversed.

I loved that moment. Not only had she applied the lesson in her own life to find her ideal mate, but she was open and astute about applying it in other areas of life, and to sharing the process with others.

To connect the dots, we need to be open to new information, patterns, and process. You can’t get to “blink” without opening yourself to new learning and practice. This client did exactly that, and her progress was both swift and satisfying.

Coaching Inquiries: Are there things that you are failing to look at? Are you talking yourself out of what your gut knows to be true? How could your feelings, patterns, hunches, habits, impulses, and environments better assist you to be your very best? Who could you talk with about these things? What do you need to discover and design for life?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


Your Provision on Tear Jerk Moments Click was quite touching. You made yourself vulnerable in ways that helped me to understand myself better and to move me forward. Thanks for sharing this.


I have been subscribing to Provisions for just over a month. I really enjoy your writing. But, wow, what a lot of work! (Ed. Note: It’s more habit than work. After 20 years of writing and delivering a sermon every week, this is easy! 🙂 Thanks for the affirmation.)


The Provision on Tear Jerk Moments was great. Write a book. Seriously. 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #461: Tear Jerk Moments

Laser Provision

Coaching is not all sweetness and light. We are not just nice people to talk with. We are also powerful people who hold open a space in which you can be real with yourself, your values, your relationships, and your dreams. When that happens, it’s not uncommon for tears to flow. When we get beyond SMART goals and strategic plans, we often discover the truth about ourselves in moving and emotional ways. Such encounters are neither to be avoided nor taken lightly. They are the stuff that coaches work with to motivate and move clients forward in life.

LifeTrek Provision


Bob: Ok, men, this Provision is for you. Question: How often do you cry? If you are anything like me, the answer is, “Not often.” My wife, on the other hand, can cry over 30-second sound bites. When the hurt or injustice is particularly evident, she really does feel the pain. I, on the other hand, take note with a measure of emotional distance. Even so, and perhaps especially so, I can distinctly remember some of the moments that I have cried big-time tears:

— As a child, I can remember crying myself to sleep at night when I disobeyed or disappointed my mother and she reprimanded me severely. Those tears, often accompanied by the heartfelt thought that I would be better off dead, were tears of despair and anger. I wanted my mother’s approval and love; the threat of her love being withdrawn was too much to bear.

— As a young man, I can remember crying in the car after parting from my fianc•e at the airport. We had just decided to get married and now we were separating to attend different universities that were 900 miles apart. My heart was broken at the thought of living apart, let alone at the uncertainty of what the coming year would bring into our lives. Those were tears of love.

— It’s hard to say how many times I have cried when George Bailey, in the 1946 movie It’s A Wonderful Life, cries out on the bridge while contemplating suicide, “I want to live. I want to live. I want to live.” That movie gets me almost every time. So does Mr. Holland’s Opus, when Mr. Holland walks into the school auditorium and hundreds of present and former students unexpectedly greet him with a standing ovation to express their appreciation for his impact on their lives. Those are tears of hope and identification, since I too want to live and make a positive difference in the world.

— I cried when my first child was born, although my tears were muted by the effort of my wife’s delivery (almost two hours of pushing!) and the arrival of seven medical interns to the delivery room just as my daughter was being born. The light was streaming in through the windows near the ceiling, and there was a tremendous sense of gift to the occasion. Those were tears of joy. In an instant, the gift of life was mine to touch and to hold.

— I cried eight years ago, when I lost my last job as a pastor. I had poured my heart and soul into that position. It was more than a job; it was a calling. To discover that my efforts led even my friends to recommend a change was an ego wound and a shock to my system. Two months later, with tears in my eyes, I had to pull over to the side of the road with chest pains, shortness of breath, and numbness in my right arm. Those were tears of emptiness and fear. They eventually led to the founding of LifeTrek and the life of my dreams, but at the time they hurt deeply.

— I cried seven years ago when my elderly aunt died and I had the privilege of officiating at her funeral. Those tears were tears of loss. At the cemetery I walked with my children over to the gravestone of my grandparents. They had both died some 30 years earlier, when I was a boy, and neither of my children had the chance to meet or know them. As I began to tell my children that this was were my grandparents were buried, I found myself unable to talk. The grief and tears welled up and left me speechless.

— I cried last year, about a week after I had minor, outpatient surgery. Some of the sutures gave way (at midnight, naturally) causing intense pain and, as the pain continued, a wave of fear and anxiety. The doctor on call suggested that this was normal and that the pain would pass. He was right. But for three hours, it was all I could do to endure the pain. Sometimes, there was nothing to do but cry.

Tears of despair, anger, love, hope, identification, joy, emptiness, fear, grief, loss, and pain are the stuff that remind us we are alive. We feel them in our bodies, our whole bodies, not just in our minds. If we ever have any doubt whether or not we are having a physical experience from the cradle to the grave, tears are a great way to be reminded. They may not happen easily or often in my life, but when they happen they serve the purpose of getting my attention and changing my life. They represent openings to the great unknown. They may set me back but they also lead me forward with new terms and conditions for life.

Understanding this represents a form of emotional intelligence that I use in my coaching work with clients. Because of the transformational power of tears, I aim to listen more to my client’s stories than to talk about the principles of successful and fulfilled living. People seldom cry over bullet points. But the more their stories come out, the more likely they are to connect with the emotion and, in turn, the wisdom of their own experience. Once this happens, the process of moving forward often takes off by leaps and bounds.

I remember one client who, like me, had been let go from a highly prized position. She contracted for coaching in order to map out a career transition and development plan. She was quite interested in taking our Career Planning Insights assessment, based upon the DISC behavioral style analysis. Armed with new insight into her personal characteristics, strengths, basic needs, behavioral styles, present wants, and ideal environments, the instrument presented her with scores of possible career trajectories to consider. She went through the list, marking the ones that were the most intriguing and / or exciting.

As time went on, we narrowed down the list and started to map out her new career path. Her goals were clear and her commitments were specific as to the challenges, skills, and people she would like to work with. As someone who liked to make lists of everything, and to write in her journal every morning, she was incredibly organized and careful in her follow through. There was only one problem: it wasn’t working. From week to week to week, no job opportunities were coming her way.

“Tell me about your last job,” I asked her more than once. “What did you love about it? What values were you able to express? What made you successful? What led to your being let go?” She would usually answer those questions with short, packaged replies. I had the impression they were well rehearsed. But as the weeks turned into months, with no job offers, her replies turned into longer, heartfelt stories. And that made all the difference.

One day she changed the story of what led to her being let go. Instead of blaming the person who had fired her, she took responsibility for some of the ways in which she had been less than supportive, less than a team player, less than honest, and even, at times, insubordinate. It was the first time she had been that real with her self, and she began to cry. The more she told the story, the more she cried. And I did not rush in to wipe away those tears. I let her, and me, feel them fully until she was spent.

From that point on, everything was different. Her quest for a new position was less desperate and more authentic. She didn’t do anything different in terms of her search, but suddenly people started responding to her differently. As a result, in less than six weeks from when those tears flowed, she had interviews and a job offer that she is still with today, many years later. That’s what tears will do for you when it comes to coaching and life. By connecting us with who we are, they empower us to be who we want to be.

Kate: I have always found a “good cry” to be cathartic. So, I experience tears as a very natural part of the coaching process, while old skins are shed, and new ones grown. Letting our emotions flow is a very healthy release, and may be a signal of something occurring deep in our psyche.

Many times the tears are part of a grief process, as was the case with a particular client of mine. Sue was coming to grips with needs not being met in her professional and personal lives. She was feeling awash in unsupportive relationships and feeling lost in terms of her future direction, with little hope. As she named her desires and let herself begin to believe that they were possible, it meant releasing old bonds and facing the dissatisfaction that had become a burdensome weight.

Through her willingness to expand her vision of what was possible, she began to let go of the weight and to free herself of the pain. Of course, this process does not occur without an emotional release. It is part and parcel of making a clean break, in order to engage in a new reality. It takes some bravery to square off with the reality and the emotion. Yet those who open themselves to it are much more likely to make the tough changes and to fully process the accompanying loss.

Christina: Tear jerk moments occur at the drop of a touching story or even a commercial set to tender music, if you’re like me. But for others it may take a real tragedy to bring out a single tear. Celebration moments, tragic moments, stuck moments, moments of change, all sorts of moments can move us to tears.

My client had completed nearly two decades of service to students as a teacher, had been named Teacher of Year three years in a row, and was recognized as an experienced mentor throughout her school district. But the zeal and love she had for teaching had faded away almost as if it had been drained from her being. The pool of passion she’d tapped as a teacher had run dry and she was in a state of sadness as well as panic. Because of her well decorated tenure as a teacher, there were high expectations of her continuing to offer herself not only as a teacher to her students, but also as a teacher to all of those who sought her out wanting to learn how to be like her as a teacher. Close to retirement, she felt trapped, exhausted, and a tremendous amount of pressure.

Sharing a love for teaching with my client, emotion struck me in the form of a tear jerk moment and it became very difficult for me to speak as I listened to her story through her words of tears that day. During that coaching session, I cried with my client and she knew it. Embarrassed initially, I tried to quickly move away from the emotion, but then something stopped me from pressuring myself to do so and we both acknowledged the presence of the tears. I don’t remember our exact words, but it was something like: “Wow, between the two of us, we could easily go through a box of tissue right now.” My client graciously responded at the end of the call that even though she didn’t know it when we started her session, being able to genuinely express her pain in a safe space was what she needed in that moment.

There wasn’t a lot of doing that came from that particular coaching session. It was not the right time for us to have a conversation about what she was “going to do” about this. This was a session of moving through the process by exploring all that the emotion had to offer. Like this session, robust coaching sessions don’t always result in a lot of “doing” for clients. This coaching was simply about being with my client and her emotion. It was only later that we came back to learn from the experience of it.

Erika: Until I began my coaching career, I underestimated the value of crying. I’ve certainly always been “a crier.” I well-up when I’m angry, when I’m sad, when I’m happy, and when I’m tired. Though my tear ducts are well in-tune with my emotions, I dismissed crying, especially in moments of sadness and anger, as unproductive and weak. It has been a wonderful discovery, taught to me through raw and intimate moments with clients, that Tear Jerk Moments can be strengthening and revealing. 

First, there is power in feeling the freedom to express one’s deepness, through tears, that is precious and rare in our all-too-busy and superficial world. Katherine and I experienced tears as a common part of our conversations. Struggling with physical pain and the frustrations associated with it, Katherine often expressed herself through tears. For her, the benefit of the crying was in the ability to release and move forward. Instead of allowing the anger to contribute to the pain, literally, she chose to release it from her body. Crying enabled her to fully embrace, not battle with, her negative emotions. This allowed her to be at choice with how she was going to feel that day, rather than a victim. Katherine was made stronger through her tears.

Tear Jerk Moments have also contributed to the discovery of unnoticed dreams. Tom, for example, came to coaching with a clear plan of action. Dedicated to his work, he wanted to improve productivity and make an outstanding impression with his customers. To get a clearer picture of what that looked like for Tom, we began our relationship with a guided meditation in which Tom was to visualize himself, twenty years from that moment, and engage in a conversation with his “future self.”

The imagined conversation with his self of the future, or his psyche, evoked a meaningful revelation. He was surprised to find that the subconscious-Tom wasn’t interested in “moving ahead” at all. Instead, the message Tom received was to slow down, to enjoy the present, and to place his focus on life outside of the workplace. As a person who couldn’t remember crying in his adulthood, Tom found himself moved to tears during the meditation. Though he was unprepared for the images and messages of the experience, his tears were joy filled. It was as if, for the first time in his life, he had heard his own voice and connected to his truest desires. Tom was revealed through his tears.

Coaching Inquiries: When was the last time that you had a good cry? When was the last time that you had a good cry with someone else present? How have those tears assisted you to know yourself and to move forward? How can tears become a more precious and valuable part of your experience? Who can coach you into a new relationship with yourself and your future? 

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


Your Provision on breakthroughs, breakdowns, and breakups Click was at once profound and troubling. I hope I don’t have to have the latter in order to get the former! Thanks for the food for though.


I need a breakthrough and a transformation desperately as I feel I am stuck in a wrong relationship at a wrong place. It is downright suffocating having to endure this for the last 15 years. I think I need a coaching to this effect. Please inform me about the same. Thanks! (Ed. Note: We’ve been in touch.)  



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #460: Breakthrough Moments

Laser Provision

When was the last time that you had a breakthrough? If it’s been a while, perhaps it’s time to find and work with coach. Coaches are especially helpful when it comes to transformational change because breakthroughs are so highly charged. They often involve giving things up and taking things on that are very different than where and who we are today. Changing your position and identity in life is not easy; coaches can give you the courage and the perspective to do it right. Sometimes, they are the key to whether or not you do it at all.

LifeTrek Provision

Bob: It is fascinating that breakthroughs carry such positive connotations while so many other breaks carry such negative ones. Consider the following definitions:

  • Breakthrough: “a major achievement or success that permits further progress; a productive insight; an important discovery; overcoming or penetrating an obstacle or restriction.”
  • Breakdown: “failing to function or continue; a sudden collapse in physical or mental health; disintegration or decomposition into parts or elements; a cessation of normal operation.”
  • Breakup: “a division, dispersal, or disintegration; the discontinuance of a once important relationship; a disruption; a loss of control or composure.”
  • Break-in: “trespassing and illegal entrance into premises with criminal intent, especially theft; an initial period of employment for training and evaluation.”
  • Breakout: “a sudden manifestation or increase, as of a disease; an outbreak; an escape from jail.”
  • Breakage: “loss or damage as a result of breaking; a quantity broken; goods damaged while in transit or in use.”
  • Breakneck: “dangerously fast: a breakneck pace; likely to cause an accident: a breakneck curve.”

These apparently unrelated terms may in fact give us some guidance as to how breakthroughs actually happen. Most clients come to coaching wanting to experience a breakthrough of one sort or another. Whether it’s an obstacle they want to overcome or a passion they want to pursue, most clients expect coaching to generate those productive insights and important discoveries that will enable them to get where they want to go.

But how does that actually happen? I submit that breakthroughs are often preceded and accompanied by breakdowns, breakups, break-ins, breakouts, breakage, and breakneck speed. By paying attention to and sometimes even creating the negative breaks, coaches can assist clients to generate the positive breakthroughs they desire. Here are some examples of how the connection works.

Breakdowns. Many clients come to coaching during or after they experience a breakdown in their normal functioning. When the breakdown is severe, generating clinical depression or other mental health issues, coaches know to pass those clients on to therapists in their referral networks. Most of the time, however, breakdowns are within the pale of ordinary experience. What seemed like a great idea three years ago, no longer seems like such a great idea today. As a result, the motivation for change grows in both urgency and importance.

I remember one client who had left her job and started a new business about three years before contacting us for coaching. She had the dream of being a fashion designer, with her own label, and she figured that twelve months of financial reserves would be enough to get her through to profitably. Three years later, with her reserves spent and her business going nowhere, she retained LifeTrek Coaching to assist her to develop a new strategy and a new vision for her life and work.

When she came to us, she was desperate. As her credit card debt rose, things really began to break down. She doubted her ability not only to make her business work but to chart any successful and fulfilling course of action in the future. Our role was to stay with her in the breakdown until she could experience the breakthrough. We were not her business advisor as much as we were her champion with the confidence that she was not bereft of abilities, opportunities, and hope. Our not being overwhelmed by her overwhelm enabled her to develop and implement a breakthrough strategy and plan. She ended up leaving her business behind, as a choice freely made rather than as a victim of circumstance.

Breakups. Breakups are an even more universal prelude and accompaniment to breakthroughs than breakdowns. That’s because breakthroughs, by definition, require change both on the inside and on the outside. There is an inevitable letting go of the old • a losing of one’s life • in order to begin taking up the new • a finding of one’s life.

I remember one client who had to breakup his relationship with toxic foods in order to lose weight. He and I talked a lot about the distinction between “stomach hunger” and “heart hunger.” At the outset of our conversations, he was not sure that he had ever felt “stomach hunger.” He was so quick to put toxic but comforting foods into his mouth in response to “heart hunger,” in order to meet his emotional needs, that he had never really known what it was like to eat in response to his physical needs.

The first step in his breakup with toxic foods was to throw away all the junk food and unhealthy comfort food in his house. Once that was done, he began to establish new eating patterns both at home and away from home. He would drive different routes in order to not pass his favorite haunts. He swore off fast-food restaurants altogether. He even had designated fast days in order to get in touch with “stomach hunger” and his physical relationship to food. In the end, the process enabled to him to have a major breakthrough, losing almost half his body weight. And it all began with a breakup.

Other clients have to breakup their relationship with toxic people. This is a delicate matter that is ripe for misinterpretation. Are the identified toxic people the cause or the effect of our problems? It’s helpful to have a coach who you can talk this through with, especially when those people are close family and friends. One client was sure that his wife was the cause of all his problems and that he needed to breakup with her in order to have a breakthrough. Upon further review, however, he decided to breakup with two other friends who were sabotaging his relationship with his wife. Once that happened, the couple experienced a real breakthrough in their relationship.

Break-Ins: Without recommending illegal activities, it is nevertheless true that clients sometimes have to break in to forbidden territory before they can experience a breakthrough. In fact, trying out bold and venturesome activities, as an experiment and without firm commitment, is at the heart of the coaching process. Sometimes, all it takes is for the coach to extend permission.

We have many clients who are themselves coaches, looking to develop both coaching mastery and successful coaching practices. One client came to us after getting the requisite training and working for more than a year on the vision and business plan. Everything was set for breakthrough performance. Over several months, however, she failed to thrive. Promises were made and not fully kept. Actions were taken without positive affect. Something wasn’t working.

“Did you ever think that coaching may not be your destiny? What’s wrong with your life right now? Perhaps, if you were to set the dream of coaching aside for just one month, you would experience a breakthrough.” Those questions and that conversation proved to be huge. The thought of not going into coaching was definitely forbidden territory, but she could allow herself to conduct a one-month experiment.

By breaking in to the idea through that experiment, she eventually experienced the breakthrough she had been looking for. Freed from a sense of obligation to pursue a vision that had once inspired her, and on which she had invested a significant amount of money, she was able to let go of the coach track in order to move in new and productive directions.

Breakouts, Breakage, and Breakneck Speed: These three are related to each other. They reflect the elevated pace of change that takes place as people anticipate and experience breakthroughs. It’s hard to not break things and breakout when traveling at breakneck speed. As the vision for change becomes more real and concrete, more palpable and immediate, people want to get going and get going fast. Once again, that’s when it becomes helpful to have a coach along for the ride.

Sometimes, it’s the coach’s job to slow things down. It’s easy to develop tunnel vision when the target looms large. One client was ready to quit his job as soon as the vision became plain. I asked him to hold that thought for a month, as we searched together for the best things about his current job and the best things he could imagine for his new job. That month-long delay, that chance to step back and think, proved to be invaluable. He realized that he had a major investment in one project and that seeing the project through to completion would bring him great satisfaction. For the next six months, he was able to enjoy the best of his current situation at the same time as he conducted a methodical and eventually successful job search.

On other occasions, it’s the coach’s job to hang on for the ride. When the pace of change get ratcheted up to warp speed, clients can get cold feet and change their mind even when they are on the verge of a breakthrough. I will never forget the client who hesitated to take a major promotion, that she had worked hard to get and that she was more than capable of handling, because she was afraid that she didn’t deserve the breakthrough salary. Fortunately, we had a coaching session before she had to make her decision and she went on to a successful career in business.

Breakthroughs are what people hope for out of coaching. But they come with a cost. That cost is sometimes measured in terms of breakdowns, breakups, break-ins, breakouts, breakage, and breakneck speed. Handled right, such costs become an investment that pays big dividends in life and work.

Erika: Some of the most powerful breakthrough moments occur when we discover that we aren’t making progress toward goals because the goals weren’t genuinely attractive and compelling to us. When the goals are not our goals, when they are things we believe we should be working toward, we end up “shoulding all over ourselves.”

Trying to live into the things we should do, have to do, or need to do does not provide enough energy to create transformational change in our lives. It’s the same as making decisions based on guilt or fear, instead of desire and hope.

Tom, for example, began his coaching expressing the desire to improve productivity at work, building his book of business, and selling more. When there was a lack of progress and energy toward that goal, we explored what was happening. The discovery was that the goal was the desire of his wife and his boss, not his own. In fact, his desire was much different • it was to express himself creatively and not to be a part of the corporate world at all. In the end, he discovered a compelling goal and, with it, looked forward to taking action.

Other clients find that they are living into the expectations of their parents. Even into mid-life, long after they have established a life of “their own,” it is the voice of their father or mother at the wheel. Breakthroughs occur when we are able to distinguish those voices from our own, and then be at choice with whether or not to listen.

This often shows up around the issue of career planning, when we find ourselves making career decisions based on what our parents might think, or how our parents lived out their own careers, rather than what is right for us in the circumstances and desires of the present.

As an example, Lisa wrestled with whether or not to A) continue living with the security of full-time, long-term tenure with an employer (parents’ expectation) or B) to fulfill her own desire for the nomadic, adventurous, life of a consultant.

Beautifully, the most surprising breakthrough for her was not in choosing “B,” but in discovering a new alternative altogether! Choice “C,” was to live with the security of full-time, long-term tenure with an employer while shifting to the mindset of a consultant. She embraced new beliefs about the freedoms she could give himself, and the boundaries she could set in this situation. This was neither her parents idea, or her original idea, but an idea born out the ability to break through preconceptions and the expectations of others.

Kate: My experience of “breakthroughs” with clients and on a personal basis are not so much marked by a “moment” but by opening oneself for a change in belief or thinking pattern, and then processing and applying that new thinking through the intervening days, weeks, or months. The moment of revelation is marked by the opening of new thought, which then allows for the shift.

I have seen the most shifting in those situations where the client was willing and interested in more effectively engaging the power of the mind. This is where I have witnessed my own breakthroughs, as well.

A good deal of my coaching work has been in the areas of career transition and of attracting one’s ideal mate. People who are seeking one of these two things tend to get a lot of advice on these processes, both by those they know and by books and articles written on the subjects. What is missing from much of this information is the need to align personal beliefs and energy.

I have witnessed a client allow herself to see new possibilities in both her marriage and her professional future, only after concentrating on letting go of restrictive beliefs. I celebrated with a client who made a job and geographic transition look easy, once he began using meditation and the law of attraction to focus on what he really wanted. I was also tickled when another client proved to himself that he could land a job in his preferred industry, and at a higher level, than he had experienced before.

Anyone can experience a breakthrough if he or she is willing to explore new ways, beliefs, and practices. If we are open and focused, the information will find us. We need only pay attention to where our energy is leading us, our intuition, and to the possibilities they present.

Coaching Inquiries: Are you experiencing breakdowns, breakups, break-ins, breakouts, breakage, or life going by at breakneck speed? Are these negative trends perhaps the harbingers of positive breakthroughs? What do you desire more than anything else? How can you make it so? What do you need to let go of? Who can assist you to make it so? How could this year be your year for transformational change?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


Thanks for taking the time to record your Provisions. It’s nice to have both options for getting the information. I have put them on my MP3 player in order to listen to them when I have the time.


I saw your page on eating organic and I see that your address is in Williamsburg. I am going to be moving to Williamsburg in the near future and I was wondering if you could recommend a place in Williamsburg to buy organic meats? I know that this isn’t the sort of service that you typically provide • but I am having trouble finding any information about organic meats and produce. (Ed. Note: The farmer’s market, in Williamsburg and elsewhere, is a great place to start. That’s where we met a local, organic buffalo rancher. Many stores are also beginning to carry these products.)  



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services