Essential Knowledge for Personal Coaches by Dean Amory - HTML preview

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This is the third part in a series of three books about

Personal coaching.

Part 1, “Personal Coaching” is about what Personal Coaching

is and offers a surview of the most popular models for

Personal Coaching (or “Life Coaching”) and Self Coaching.

Part 2, “Techniques for Personal Coaching and Self

Coaching” introduces you to the most powerful coaching

techniques in use and describes the most successful

questions and strategies for coaching.

Part 3, “Essential Knowledge for Personal Coaches”, is a

practical standard reference work highlighting the

knowledge and skills that are indispensable for anybody

who is considering life coaching as a career or as a serious

self coaching process,

Dean Amory's Complete Life Coaching and Personal

Coaching Course is your best guide for coaching your

coachees and yourself towards maximizing your life

potential and achieving a happier and more fulfilled life.

Personal Coaching is an invaluable training manual for

anybody who takes life coaching seriously.


4/ Useful Skills


The ability to respond effectively to problems is associated with

improved treatment outcome.

Supporting development of problem solving skills can be

clinically useful and is best achieved through:

- a combination of verbal and written information

- demonstration (when possible)

- learning through practice and feedback

Developing problem solving skills can consist of identifying

occasions when the coachee has solved other problems and

noting the steps they took.

Effective problem solving can be learned.

It consists of five steps:

1. Orientation

Stand back from the problem; view it as a challenge, not a

catastrophe. How might someone else solve this?

2. Define the problem

it is important to be specific

Coachee: ‘My wife and I do not get on’

Clinician: ‘Give me an example of what you mean’

Coachee: ‘She doesn’t like me being out on Friday nights’

3. Brainstorm solutions

At this stage, anything goes. Identify as many solutions as

possible — discourage evaluation and a search for quality.



4. Decision making

The coachee (with your help, but not direction) reviews the

positives and negatives of each of the options, and their ability to

implement them, and makes an informed choice of the best

option(s) to embrace.

5. Implementation

A plan of action is developed and the option is implemented.

Sometimes it is useful to rehearse the option (where possible) to

test out the viability of the strategy and to increase self-efficacy


It is not the coach’s responsibility to solve the coachee’s

problems, but to teach a skill that he or she can use in a variety of



Whatever issue you are faced with, some steps are fundamental:

Identify the problem

Define the problem

Examine the options

Act on a plan

Look at the consequences



There are several stages to solving a problem:

1) Evaluating the problem

Clarifying the nature of a problem

Formulating questions

Gathering information systematically

Collating and organising data

Condensing and summarising information

Defining the desired objective


2) Managing the problem

Using the information gathered effectively

Breaking down a problem into smaller, more

manageable, parts

Using techniques such as brainstorming and lateral

thinking to consider options

Analysing these options in greater depth

Identifying steps that can be taken to achieve the


3) Decision-making

deciding between the possible options for what

action to take

deciding on further information to be gathered before

taking action

deciding on resources (time, funding, staff etc) to be

allocated to this problem

4) Resolving the problem

Implementing action

Providing information to other stakeholders;

delegating tasks

Reviewing progress

5) Examining the results

Monitoring the outcome of the action taken

Reviewing the problem and problem-solving

process to avoid similar situations in future

At any stage of this process, it may be necessary to return to

an earlier stage – for example, if further problems arise or if a

solution does not appear to be working as desired.



Source: university of Kent


B. Robert Holland set out a typical problem solving process in his

manual “Sequential analysis” with the following steps:

Step 1



problem solving problem solving

What is the

Visualise the

Define the

problem? What

difference between


question do you

the results you get

between the results

want your analysis

and the results you

you get and what

to answer?


you expect.

Where does the

Visualise the

State the traditional

problem lie? How

structure elements

assumptions of the

can be picture the

of the present

theory that give

current situation?

situation causing

rise to the

the result.


Why does the

Analyse each

Create hypothesis

problem exist? How element whether it

that give

can we isolate the

is the cause.



structures to

eliminate the


What can we do

Formulate the

Devise experiments

about it? What

logical alternative

that will exclude

options do we


false hypothesis.


What should we do

Create a new

Reformulate the

about it? What


theory on the basis


incorporating the

of the experimental

can we give?




Questions and observerations for Problem Solving and

Decision Making

1. Definition of the problem

1. What can you see that causes you to think there's a problem?

2. Where is it happening?

3. How is it happening?

4. When is it happening?

5. With whom is it happening? (HINT: Don't jump to "Who is

causing the problem?" When we're stressed, blaming is often

one of our first reactions. To be an effective manager, you

need to address issues more than people.)

6. Why is it happening?

7. Write down a five-sentence description of the problem in

terms of "The following should be happening, but isn't ..." or

"The following is happening and should be: ..." As much as

possible, be specific in your description, including what is

happening, where, how, with whom and why. (It may be

helpful at this point to use a variety of research methods.

Defining complex problems:

If the problem still seems overwhelming, break it down by

repeating steps 1-7 until you have descriptions of several related


Verifying your understanding of the problems:

It helps a great deal to verify your problem analysis for

conferring with a peer or someone else.

Prioritize the problems:

If you discover that you are looking at several related problems,

then prioritize which ones you should address first.


Note the difference between "important" and "urgent" problems.

Often, what we consider to be important problems to consider

are really just urgent problems. Important problems deserve

more attention. For example, if you're continually answering

"urgent" phone calls, then you've probably got a more

"important" problem and that's to design a system that screens

and prioritizes your phone calls.

Understand your role in the problem:

Your role in the problem can greatly influence how you perceive

the role of others. For example, if you're very stressed out, it'll

probably look like others are, too, or, you may resort too quickly

to blaming and reprimanding others. Or, you are feel very guilty

about your role in the problem, you may ignore the

accountabilities of others.

2. Look at potential causes for the problem

 It's amazing how much you don't know about what you don't

know. Therefore, in this phase, it's critical to get input from

other people who notice the problem and who are effected by


 It's often useful to collect input from other individuals one at a

time (at least at first). Otherwise, people tend to be inhibited

about offering their impressions of the real causes of


 Write down what your opinions and what you've heard from


 Regarding what you think might be performance problems

associated with an employee, it's often useful to seek advice

from a peer or your supervisor in order to verify your

impression of the problem.

 Write down a description of the cause of the problem and in

terms of what is happening, where, when, how, with whom

and why.


3. Identify alternatives for approaches to resolve the


At this point, it's useful to keep others involved (unless you're

facing a personal and/or employee performance problem).

Brainstorm for solutions to the problem. Very simply put,

brainstorming is collecting as many ideas as possible, then

screening them to find the best idea. It's critical when collecting

the ideas to not pass any judgment on the ideas -- just write them

down as you hear them. (A wonderful set of skills used to

identify the underlying cause of issues is Systems Thinking.)

4. Select an approach to resolve the problem

 When selecting the best approach, consider:

 Which approach is the most likely to solve the problem for the

long term?

 Which approach is the most realistic to accomplish for now?

Do you have the resources? Are they affordable? Do you have

enough time to implement the approach?

 What is the extent of risk associated with each alternative?

(The nature of this step, in particular, in the problem solving

process is why problem solving and decision making are highly


5. Plan the implementation of the best alternative (this is

your action plan)

1. Carefully consider "What will the situation look like when the

problem is solved?"

2. What steps should be taken to implement the best alternative

to solving the problem? What systems or processes should be

changed in your organization, for example, a new policy or

procedure? Don't resort to solutions where someone is "just

going to try harder".


3. How will you know if the steps are being followed or not?

(these are your indicators of the success of your plan)

4. What resources will you need in terms of people, money and


5. How much time will you need to implement the solution?

Write a schedule that includes the start and stop times, and

when you expect to see certain indicators of success.

6. Who will primarily be responsible for ensuring

implementation of the plan?

7. Write down the answers to the above questions and consider

this as your action plan.

8. Communicate the plan to those who will involved in

implementing it and, at least, to your immediate supervisor.

(An important aspect of this step in the problem-solving process

is continually observation and feedback.)

6. Monitor implementation of the plan

Monitor the indicators of success:

1. Are you seeing what you would expect from the indicators?

2. Will the plan be done according to schedule?

3. If the plan is not being followed as expected, then consider:

Was the plan realistic? Are there sufficient resources to

accomplish the plan on schedule? Should more priority be

placed on various aspects of the plan? Should the plan be


7. Verify if the problem has been resolved or not

One of the best ways to verify if a problem has been solved or not

is to resume normal operations in the organization. Still, you

should consider:


1. What changes should be made to avoid this type of problem in

the future? Consider changes to policies and procedures,

training, etc.

2. Lastly, consider "What did you learn from this problem

solving?" Consider new knowledge, understanding and/or


3. Consider writing a brief memo that highlights the success of

the problem solving effort, and what you learned as a result.

Share it with your supervisor, peers and subordinates.

Rational Versus Organic Approach to Problem Solving


A person with this preference often prefers using a

comprehensive and logical approach similar to the guidelines in

the above section. For example, the rational approach, described

below, is often used when addressing large, complex matters in

strategic planning.

1. Define the problem.

2. Examine all potential causes for the problem.

3. Identify all alternatives to resolve the problem.

4. Carefully select an alternative.

5. Develop an orderly implementation plan to implement that

best alternative.

6. Carefully monitor implementation of the plan.

7. Verify if the problem has been resolved or not.

A major advantage of this approach is that it gives a strong sense

of order in an otherwise chaotic situation and provides a

common frame of reference from which people can communicate

in the situation. A major disadvantage of this approach is that it

can take a long time to finish. Some people might argue, too, that

the world is much too chaotic for the rational approach to be




Some people assert that the dynamics of organizations and

people are not nearly so mechanistic as to be improved by

solving one problem after another. Often, the quality of an

organization or life comes from how one handles being “on the

road” itself, rather than the “arriving at the destination.” The

quality comes from the ongoing process of trying, rather than

from having fixed a lot of problems. For many people it is an

approach to organizational consulting. The following quote is

often used when explaining the organic (or holistic) approach to

problem solving.

“All the greatest and most important problems in life are

fundamentally insoluble … They can never be solved, but only

outgrown. This “outgrowing” proves on further investigation

to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider

interest appeared on the horizon and through this

broadening of outlook, the insoluble lost its urgency. It was

not solved logically in its own terms, but faded when

confronted with a new and stronger life urge.”

From Jung, Carl, Psychological Types (Pantheon Books, 1923)

A major advantage of the organic approach is that it is highly

adaptable to understanding the chaotic changes that occur in

projects and everyday life. It also suits the nature of people who

shun linear and mechanistic approaches to projects. The major

disadvantage is that the approach often provides no clear frame

of reference around which people can communicate, feel

comfortable and measure progress toward solutions to







Problem Solving:

Definition, terminology, and patterns

by Hidetoshi Shibata Copy rights © H. Shibata all reserved,

1997, 1998

Problem Solving Terminology

Systems Thinking


Problem Solving is very important but problem solvers often

misunderstand it. This report proposes the definition of

problems, terminology for Problem Solving and useful Problem

Solving patterns.

We should define what is the problem as the first step of

Problem Solving. Yet problem solvers often forget this first


Further, we should recognize common terminology such as

Purpose, Situation, Problem, Cause, Solvable Cause, Issue, and

Solution. Even Consultants, who should be professional

problem solvers, are often confused with the terminology of

Problem Solving. For example, some consultants may think of

issues as problems, or some of them think of problems as

causes. But issues must be the proposal to solve problems and

problems should be negative expressions while issues should

be a positive expression. Some consultants do not mind this

type of minute terminology, but clear terminology is helpful to

increase the efficiency of Problem Solving. Third, there are

several useful thinking patterns such as strategic thinking,

emotional thinking, realistic thinking, empirical thinking and so

on. The thinking pattern means how we think. So far, I

recognized fourteen thinking patterns. If we choose an

appropriate pattern at each step in Problem Solving, we can

improve the efficiency of Problem Solving.

This report will explain the above three points such as the

definition of problems, the terminology of Problem Solving, and

useful thinking patterns.

Definition of problem

A problem is decided by purposes. If someone wants money

and when he or she has little money, he or she has a problem.

But if someone does not want money, little money is not a



For example, manufacturing managers are usually evaluated

with line-operation rate, which is shown as a percentage of

operated hours to potential total operation hours. Therefore

manufacturing managers sometimes operate lines without

orders from their sales division. This operation may produce

more than demand and make excessive inventories. The

excessive inventories may be a problem for general managers.

But for the manufacturing managers, the excessive inventories

may not be a problem.

If a purpose is different between managers, they see the

identical situation in different ways. One may see a problem but

the others may not see the problem. Therefore, in order to

identify a problem, problem solvers such as consultants must

clarify the differences of purposes. But oftentimes, problem

solvers frequently forget to clarify the differences of purposes

and incur confusion among their problem solving projects.

Therefore problem solvers should start their problem solving

projects from the definition of purposes and problems

Terminology of Problem Solving

We should know the basic terminology for Problem Solving.

This report proposes seven terms such as Purpose, Situation,

Problem, Cause, Solvable Cause, Issue, and Solution.


Purpose is what we want to do or what we want to be. Purpose

is an easy term to understand. But problem solvers frequently

forget to confirm Purpose, at the first step of Problem Solving.

Without clear purposes, we can not think about problems.


Situation is just what a circumstance is. Situation is neither


good nor bad. We should recognize situations objectively as

much as we can. Usually almost all situations are not problems.

But some problem solvers think of all situations as problems.

Before we recognize a problem, we should capture situations

clearly without recognizing them as problems or non-problems.

Without recognizing situations objectively, Problem Solving is

likely to be narrow sighted, because problem solvers recognize

problems with their prejudice.


Problem is some portions of a situation, which cannot realize

purposes. Since problem solvers often neglect the differences of

purposes, they cannot capture the true problems. If the purpose

is different, the identical situation may be a problem or may not

be a problem.


Cause is what brings about a problem. Some problem solvers

do not distinguish causes from problems. But since problems

are some portions of a situation, problems are more general

than causes are. In other words causes are more specific facts,

which bring about problems. Without distinguishing causes

from problems, Problem Solving can not be specific. Finding

specific facts which causes problems is the essential step in

Problem Solving.

Solvable Cause

Solvable cause is some portions of causes. When we solve a

problem, we should focus on solvable causes. Finding solvable

causes is another essential step in Problem Solving. But

problem solvers frequently do not extract solvable causes

among causes. If we try to solve unsolvable causes, we waste

time. Extracting solvable causes is a useful step to make


Problem Solving efficient.


Issue is the opposite expression of a problem. If a problem is

that we do not have money, the issue is that we get money.

Some problem splvers do not know what Issue is. They may

think of "we do not have money" as an issue. At the worst case,

they may mix the problems, which should be negative

expressions, and the issues, which should be positive



Solution is a specific action to solve a problem, which is equal to

a specific action to realize an issue. Some problem solvers do

not break down issues into more specific actions. Issues are not

solutions. Problem solvers must break down issues into specific


Thinking patterns

This report lists fourteen thinking patters. Problem solvers

should choose appropriate patterns, responding to situations.

This report categorized these fourteen patterns into three more

general groups such as thinking patterns for judgements,

thinking patterns for thinking processes and thinking patterns

for efficient thinking. The following is the outlines of those

thinking patterns.

Thinking patterns for judgements

In order to create a value through thinking we need to judge

whether what we think is right or wrong. This report lists four

judging patterns such as strategic thinking, emotional thinking,

realistic thinking, and empirical thinking.


Strategic thinking

Focus, or bias, is the criterion for strategic thinking. If you judge

whether a situation is right or wrong based on whether the

situation is focused or not, your judgement is strategic. A

strategy is not necessarily strategic. Historically, many

strategists such as Sonfucis in ancient China, Naplon, M. Porter

proposed strategic thinking when they develop strategies.

Emotional thinking

In organizations, an emotional aspect is essential. Tactical

leaders judge whether a situation is right or wrong based on

the participantsf emotional commitment. They think that if

participants can be positive to a situation, the situation is right.

Realistic thinking

Start from what we can do

Fix the essential problem first

These two criteria are very useful. "Starting" is very important,

even if we do very little. We do not have to start from the

essential part. Even if we start from an easier part, starting is a

better judgement than a judgement of not-starting in terms of

the first part of realistic thinking. Further, after we start, we

should search key factors to make the Problem Solving more

efficient. Usually, 80 % of the problems are caused by only 20

% of the causes. If we can find the essential 20 % of the causes,

we can fix 80 % of problems very efficiently. Then if we try to

find the essential problem, what we are doing is right in terms

of the second part of realistic thinking.

Empirical thinking

When we use empirical thinking, we judge whether the

situation is right or wrong based on our past experiences.

Sometimes, this thinking pattern persists on the past criteria


too much, even if a situation has changed. But when it comes to

our daily lives, situations do not change frequently. Further, if

we have the experience of the identical situation before, we can

utilize the experience as a reliable knowledge data base.

Thinking patterns for thinking processes

If we can think systematically, we do not have to be frustrated

when we think. In contrast, if we have no systematic method,

Problem Solving frustrate us. This reports lists five systematic

thinking processes such as rational thinking, systems thinking,

cause & effect thinking, contingent thinking, and the Toyotafs

five times WHYs method .

Rational thinking

Rational thinking is one of the most common Problem Solving

methods. This report will briefly show this Problem Solving



Set the ideal situation


Identify a current situation


Compare the ideal situation and the current situation, and

identify the problem situation


Break down the problem to its causes


Conceive the solution alternatives to the causes


Evaluate and choose the reasonable solution alternatives


Implement the solutions

We can use rational thinking as a Problem Solving method for

almost all problems.

Systems thinking

Systems thinking is a more scientific Problem Solving approach

than the rational thinking approach. We set the system, which

causes problems and analyze them based on systemsf


functions. The following arre the system and how the system







Inside cause (Solvable cause)

Outside cause (Unsolvable cause)


In order to realize Purpose, we prepare Input and through

Function we can get Output. But Output does not necessarily

realize Purpose. Result of the Function may be different from

Purpose. This difference is created by Outside Cause and Inside

Cause. We can not solve Outside Cause but we can solve Inside

Cause. For example, when we want to play golf, Purpose is to

play golf. If we can not play golf, this situation is Output. If we

can not play golf because of a bad weather, the bad weather is

Outside Cause, because we can not change the weather. In

contrast, if we cannot play golf because we left golf bags in our

home, this cause is solvable. Then, that we left bags in our home

is an Inside Cause.

Systems thinking is a very clear and useful method to solve


Cause & effect thinking

Traditionally, we like to clarify cause and effect relations. We

usually think of finding causes as solving problems. Finding a

cause and effect relation is a conventional basic Problem

Solving method.


Contingent thinking

Game Theory is a typical contingent thinking method. If we

think about as many situations as possible, which may happen,

and prepare solutions for each situation, this process is a

contingent thinking approach.

Toyota fs five times WHYs

At Toyota, employees are taught to think WHY consecutively

five times. This is an adaptation of cause and effect thinking. If

employees think WHY and find a cause, they try to ask

themselves WHY again. They continue five times. Through

these five WHYS, they can break down causes into a very

specific level. This five times WHYs approach is very useful to

solve problems.

Thinking patterns for efficient thinking

In order to think efficiently, there are several useful thinking

patterns. This report lists five patterns for efficient thinking

such as hypothesis thinking, conception thinking, structure

thinking, convergence & divergence thinking, and time order


Hypothesis thinking

If we can collect all information quickly and easily, you can

solve problems very efficiently. But actually, we can not collect

every information. If we try to collect all information, we need

so long time. Hypothesis thinking does not require collecting all

information. We develop a hypothesis based on available

information. After we developed a hypothesis, we collect

minimum information to prove the hypothesis. If the first

hypothesis is right, you do not have to collect any more

information. If the first hypothesis is wrong, we will develop


the next hypothesis based on available information. Hypothesis

thinking is a very efficient problem-solving method, because we

do not have to waste time to collect unnecessary information.

Conception thinking

Problem Solving is not necessarily logical or rational. Creativity

and flexibility are other important aspects for Problem Solving.

We can not recognize these aspects clearly. This report shows

only what kinds of tips are useful for creative and flexible

conception. Following are portions of tips.

 To be visual.

 To write down what we think.

 Use cards to draw, write and arrange ideas in many ways.

 Change positions, forms, and viewpoints, physically and


We can imagine without words and logic, but in order to

communicate to others, we must explain by words and logic.

Therefore after we create ideas, we must explain them literally.

Creative conception must be translated into reasonable

explanations. Without explanations, conception does not make


Structure thinking

If we make a structure like a tree to grasp a complex situation,

we can understand very clearly.

Upper level should be more abstract and lower level should be

more concrete. Dividing abstract situations from concrete

situations is helpful to clarify the complex situations. Very

frequently, problem solvers cannot arrange a situation clearly.

A clear recognition of a complex situation increases efficiency



of Problem Solving.

Convergence & divergence thinking

When we should be creative we do not have to consider

convergence of ideas. In contrast, when we should summarize

ideas we must focus on convergence. If we do convergence and

divergence simultaneously, Problem Solving becomes


Time order thinking

Thinking based on a time order is very convenient, when we

are confused with Problem Solving. We can think based on a

time order from the past to the future and make a complex

situation clear.

Source: Hidetoshi Shibata Copy rights © H. Shibata all reserved,

1997, 1998 -





Do you know how to calculate the amount of fear holding you

back in life? Take a pen and a piece of paper. On top of the page,

write down your current age, for instance "34 years old." At the

bottom, indicate how old you intend to grow before you die.

"Death at 80" is a reasonable target.

Now comes the mathematical part of the exercise. Draw a

straight line connecting your current age with your death. That

line represents the number of days that you have left on earth. In

our example, the difference between 80 and 34 leaves you with

46 years, that is, almost 17.000 days. The last part of the game

consists of deciding how you are going to use those 17.000 days.

Now, draw a vertical line on your page, which divides your

future in two areas. On the left side of the line, you can write

down safe and commonplace goals. On the right side, difficult

and disruptive ambitions. The rules of the exercise allow you to

list as many activities as you wish, provided that you don't run

out of time to live.

Boring projects are easy to name and quantify. They include,

amongst others, looking for better jobs, cleaning the house and

going on holidays. Don’t forget mundane tasks such as working

five days a week, watching television, walking the dog, washing

your car once per month and shopping for new clothes. When

your remaining term of 46 years is up, you are dead.


You only need to worry about the opposite side of the line if you

have unused time, which is unlikely. The truth is that most

people will allocate their complete lifespan to left-side tasks.

What about the right side of the line? Does anyone actually write

down adventurous, risky goals? Are there people foolish enough

to risk total failure in order to pursue their dreams? Is it not

better to stick to attainable objectives? This is the type of

activities that usually come up under the label "difficult and


1. Live in Paris for a year (500 days, including preparation and


2. Start up and grow a global business (3000 days)

3. Write twenty great books (3000 days)

4. Save and invest until you are able to live from dividends (6000


5. Learn to cook according to good nutrition principles (300


6. Lose weight and acquire habits that allow you to stay in good

shape (500 days)

One could argue that this game is useless, since it has no winner

and no loser. Since the same individual appears on both sides of

the line, what is the point? What is the purpose of the exercise?

The answer is that, paradoxically, the subjects on each side of the

line are different persons.