Dr. Nathaniel Branden

On Leadership Coaching: We Must Become What We Intend to Teach

Nathaniel Branden was a hero of mine when I was younger and he was working alongside Ayn Rand in the “Objectivist” movement. She used him as her ideal for the famous character John Galt in her novel Atlas Shrugged.

Later, after his split with Rand, he became a well-known psychotherapist in California and a best-selling author of powerful books about self-esteem, all of which I read many times.

This was in the era before there was coaching as we know it today. But I knew I needed help, so I went to L.A. to receive sessions in his home office. The sessions were life-changing for me, and we followed up with a year of counseling by phone.

It was many years later before I began to teach seminars in leadership, and his words always rang true in the back roads of my mind: “We must become what we wish to teach.”

Fortunately, by then, I’d been working with my own coach, Steve Hardison, who helped me to transform at the level of being instead of surfing the shallows of thinking and doing.

I realized that I was an expert in only one thing… my own experience of life. And therefore I should teach only that. Instead of theories and concepts that made me sound smart but never connected with anyone.

Dr. Branden had taught me early on, that, “Either you will make your life work, or your life will not work.”

Will Keiper and I as business consultants and coaches get contacted by a lot of people whose lives are not working. Their businesses are not working. They want coaching.

They want their lives and businesses to work again. But they don’t see the problem.

When we ask them to describe what they think is wrong all we hear about is other people. Other people disappoint them. Or scare them. Then we hear about circumstances. The competition. The economy. Their location.

We know right away why their life is not working. A life of expectation is a life of disappointment. (Try replacing a life of expectations with one of agreements.) A life of trying to win the approval of others (pleasing) is a life of fear. (Try replacing a life of pleasing with one of serving.)

Our job as coaches is to restore the creative life. Because a creative life is a life of action and huge energy for achieving large and small goals; it’s a life of happy flow. It’s never your life that’s not working. It’s always just you. But that’s the best news there could ever be.

A coach’s job is to get the client to see that, and act on it. ~Steve Chandler co-author (with Will Keiper) of The Leader and The Coach–The Art of Humanity in Leadership now available for pre-order on Amazon.

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The Leader & The Coach by Steve Chandler & Will Keiper
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