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
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
4.1 PROBLEM SOLVING
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:
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.
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
IDEAL METHODE OF PROBLEM SOLVING
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
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
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
deciding between the possible options for what
action to take
deciding on further information to be gathered before
deciding on resources (time, funding, staff etc) to be
allocated to this problem
4) Resolving the problem
Providing information to other stakeholders;
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:
problem solving problem solving
What is the
question do you
the results you get
between the results
want your analysis
and the results you
you get and what
Where does the
State the traditional
problem lie? How
assumptions of the
can be picture the
of the present
theory that give
rise to the
Why does the
problem exist? How element whether it
can we isolate the
is the cause.
What can we do
about it? What
that will exclude
options do we
What should we do
Create a new
about it? What
theory on the basis
of the experimental
can we give?
Questions and observerations for Problem Solving and
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
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
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
1. What changes should be made to avoid this type of problem in
the future? Consider changes to policies and procedures,
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
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
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
“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
Definition, terminology, and patterns
by Hidetoshi Shibata Copy rights © H. Shibata all reserved,
Problem Solving Terminology
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
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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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
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
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
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.
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
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
Source: Hidetoshi Shibata Copy rights © H. Shibata all reserved,
1997, 1998 - http://www.mediafrontier.com/Article/PS/PS.htm
4.2 DEALING WITH OBSTACLES AND
4.2.1 HOW TO REMOVE OBSTACLES TO PERSONAL GROWTH
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.