The Ten Commandments of Coaching

I get accused of making pronouncements a lot, but I’m okay with that, because the accusation is so often followed by a plaintive sigh, quickly followed by ‘if I had only done what you said…’ Then I get told a sad, and thoroughly unnecessary, tale of miscommunication, misdirection, and just plain misery. That’s the frustrating part, because I really don’t like seeing people feel bad, especially when there was a clear way to prevent it. So, at the risk of getting a lot more accusations (with or without the sigh and sad part) here are some pronouncements for Coaches. Feel free to apply them to any other thing you do, like being a friend, spouse, parent, consultant, etc.

  1. Thou art NOT the Mighty and Omniscient Coach. Thou art as ignorant and unknowing as a rock.
  2. The burden of the coaching process is on thy client. They own the problem, not thee, and it is their decision to deploy thy suggestions or not.
  3. Thou shalt not even TRY to solve the problem the client thinks they have.
  4. Thou shalt accept everything thy client tells you as Absolute Truth.
  5. Thou shalt ask only that the things the client says be thoroughly explained, clearly enough for thy poor, tiny, inadequate mind to understand.
  6. Thou shalt not argue with thy client for they must be Right. Ask only to be humbly shown the truth of thy client’s wisdom by asking the Four Simple Questions. These are, in no particular order: “What does it mean?” “How do you know?” “So what?” “Why?”
  7. Thou shalt dispute, not argue. This is essential for thy health and survival.
  8. Thou shalt deal with what is right in front of thee whenever possible, for there is a reason thy client has placed it there.
  9. Thou shalt alwaysaccept a client’s bargain, excuse, defense, or other response, at least until thou hast figured out how to run with it.
  10. Whenever thine own vast wisdom shall fail thee and thou hast no idea what to do, go back to the basics: reread Commandment 1.

And remember, you will fail in many different ways. Hopefully, only once each way.

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