Round Black Analog Table Alarm Clock

Two Client Wake-Up Calls for Coaches

It has become clear to me in coaching people (including myself) that there are two fundamental principles a client must learn, practice and embrace before they can be happy and at peace on the inside, and fulfilled, engaged and flourishing on the outside.

The first is “I’m upset because…” when that thought is followed by anything external… another person, event or circumstance. It shows the coach that the client has a mistaken belief about where their feelings are actually coming from. In scientific exploration terms, they are mistaking correlation for causation.

This mistaken belief, shared initially by almost all our clients, cannot help but create a life of fear, anxiety and a subtle sense of ongoing misery. It’s the mind-brain equivalent of trying to drive a car when you believe the brake pedal is how you accelerate, and the accelerator is how you brake. A child suddenly runs in front of your car, and….you see the problem.

Exposing this belief for what it is, is a massively big deal. When it comes up and we coaches skip over it, we severely limit how much our clients can grow when working with us. And it’s not an easy thing to coach. I’ve had clients who took two years with me to finally see it, embrace it, practice remembering it, and finally live it. When my client is “triggered by…” anything other than “how I label this” or “the thoughts I believe about this” or “the story I make up about this” or “the meaning I give this” they are living in a subtle state of confusion that cannot and will not ever end.

How big a deal is it?

The University of Santa Monica’s Ron and Mary Hulnick wrote, in Loyalty to Your Soul, The Heart of Spiritual Psychology, “Events don’t have to automatically make me feel a certain way. Ram Dass’s teacher was right! Things I didn’t like had no real power to make me experience negative feelings. And, if that was so, things I did like held no real power to make me feel happy. The assumption that our feelings are because of something happening outside us is inaccurate and illusory for both happy and unhappy emotions.”

They went on to say, “The only reason psychology focuses on negative feelings is because people don’t sign up for therapy when they’re so happy they can’t stand it. This revelation flies in the face of popular belief. For example, suppose someone is involved in a less-than-satisfying relationship. In an ego-based sense of personal wisdom, that person might say, ‘I don’t want to be in this relationship. It’s not working for me. And the only chance of it working better is if my partner changes.’ If you find yourself reaching this kind of conclusion in response to many of your life’s challenges, rest assured that you’re not alone. In fact, you’ve expressed the single most prevalent myth rampant in our culture today: Everything in my life would be fine if only just a few things were happening differently. It’s those things happening the way they are that makes me feel upset.”

A reframing solution is summed up by one of my favorite teachers, Peter Brown. He says, “You can deconstruct problematic reactions just by entertaining the notion, ‘I am reacting to a fantasy.'” An alarm should be going off!

The second principle I find too fundamental to ignore is the myth of the ego. It says we are stuck with who we are. Our personalities are permanent and the changes we can make are limited to whether this personality is willing to do things a little differently at least for the duration of the coaching agreement. This quote is at the heart of it. “Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself—and there isn’t one.” ~ Wei Wu Wei

The Leader & The Coach by Steve Chandler & Will Keiper
Share This
Scroll to Top