Coaching Session Set Simply

Change Just Ahead

I often get asked about how to run a coaching session.  To my mind this is a loaded question, it has a myriad of different answers because everyone is different.  It is also important to remember as a Coach being flexible is the key. 

Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

I have coached in sports and fitness and in businesses.   I am a facilitator/trainer and have a private coaching business so here, with this experience in tow, I log just some of my notions for running a good coaching session that can transfer across all aspects of coaching.

Set the Expectations

Once agreement has been made for coaching set the expectations.  Whether in sport, business, facilitation or private coaching the expectation of time keeping, non-attendance, prior payment (where appropriate) and other notable expectations are set from the very beginning, often before the person arrives at the session.  As the Coach role model the expectation.  If punctuality is important then ensure you are punctual.  If mobile phones are not accepted be sure that yours is not available to you.  One of the most powerful ways of coaching is to walk the talk and role model.

How do you communicate your expectations?

Have a Plan (of sorts)     

Before I enter a coaching situation, I do have a plan.  In employment I knew the purpose of the session and therefore I had a plan, often with more than one option penciled out.  In sports and fitness my plan was to evaluate and enhance required skills and the level of the recipient, keeping the coaching as simple as possible, and adding practical application and have fun. 

In my private practice my plan is to know what the client is coming to see me about, and some thoughts on how I may help them.  I may make a few notes – not many – or plan a couple of opening questions. 

One thing I have learnt is to keep my plans light and be prepared to discard them at any given moment.  They will not bind me.  Naturally, with experience the plans become lighter and lighter and intuition has become my friend.  I still set a general plan for each session.

Set the Scene

The scene is really set right from the early communications and before the person arrives for coaching.  You have already set the expectations and let the person know what they are to expect from the coaching.

Prior to the person arriving be organised.  The scene is set by what is around you (relevant or irrelevant) and how you are as the Coach.  If it is formal be sure to have the surrounding and your own appearance as formal, if it is informal then likewise set the scene professionally and less formally. 

Let the person know what they will get from the coaching.  Across all coaching, communicate clearly what the focus is of the session and the expected outcome? 

When I am working with a client I always let them know that we are going to have a change of some sort today.  I often set the scene by saying “what are we going to work on that will make a difference for you today.”  By my linguistics I am telling them they will have a change – I am setting the scene. 

What is the scene you want to set for your recipient and how will you set this simply for them?

No Nasty Surprises

I hate nasty surprises (nice ones are always welcome!!!)  There should never be any nasty surprises in any coaching session.  What might be a nasty surprise may vary in general rules though in can include, no last-minute increase in pricing, in employment coaching no changing purpose of meeting or surprise attendees.  In Sports Coaching no sacking from the team in front of others. 

It is all about being respectful, ethical and responsible. 

Rapport, Rapport, Rapport

A lot can be done with good rapport.  It aids the trust levels between coach and recipient, it opens the possibility to better and deeper coaching sessions.  It makes a huge difference to your coaching. Take time to build rapport.

What do you do to create rapport?  How do you notice if you are or are not in rapport?

Listen and Learn – WAIT versus Questions

Listening is an art.  Adhere to the adage “two ears, one mouth – to be used in that ratio.” 

Gathering useful information and not letting the person being coached go on for too long is an art.  Listen to find what you want and interject when the conversation goes into too much detail or loses emphasis. 

Ask questions to gather knowledge.  Let the recipient know you are listening, confirm what you are hearing to them – then listen to the answer. 

Watch the person while you are listening.  People say a lot with their body language and facial expressions.  Learn to observe well.  I have a “watch, learn and evaluate” attitude when coaching.  Notice what most people do not.  Everything tells a story.

Someone on one of the courses gave me this acronym:

WAIT!           Why Am I Talking

It is a good question to hold.

How well do you listen?  Do you interject or finish sentences?  Do you assume to know things?  If so, is that really listening?


Keep it simple.  The hypnotist Mesmer used to do a lot of elaborate hand movements when inducing hypnosis – he was quite the showman.  Humility is a good asset for a Coach.

Keep your sessions simple, keep your techniques even more simple.  Avoid the desire to do too much in one session.  A less is more approach is a good one.  

“Check In” Regularly

I always check in with the recipient during the coaching session and at the end. 

Are they keeping up with what is going on?  Do they understand?  Do they have any questions? 

How do they feel about what has occurred in the session?  What is different for them now after having worked on the challenge? Do they have any questions?

It is useful to let the person it is ok to be a learner, to not know before we explore.  Be a positive coach and acknowledge any big shifts

Set homeplay

In order to enhance the changes made, activities should be set for the recipient to complete in between sessions.  In a Performance Improvement Programme the Coach will set the expectations of what the employee is to do; in sport practice is often set.  In personal or business coaching tasks are assigned to move toward the desired outcome. 

Homeplay keeps the recipient engaged and accountable.  It also can demonstrate the knowing of being supported by the Coach.  It offers opportunity for habits and behaviours to change and for the recipient evidence to know they can change. This step is a key part and all great coaches do this.

Last point on the topic is this

Have fun!  Life is always better for a laugh!

Christine Walter is passionate about coaching!  She is a Master NLP Practitioner and NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and mBit Coach and Trainer.  As well as personal coaching she offers training courses via through her own business Lodestone and contracts to other agencies. She is a Director of Australia and New Zealand Coaching Alliance.

Buddha and the Bandit

Buddha was once threatened by the bandit Angulimal, who said he was going to kill Buddha.

“Then be good enough to grant me one last wish” requested Buddha. “Cut off the branch of that tree!”

One slash of the sharp sword and it was done, the branch was shed from the tree. ‘What now!” demanded Angulimal.

“Put it back again,” said Buddha.

The bandit Angulimal laughed.  “You must be crazy to think that anyone can do that!”

“One the contrary” Buddha replied calmly.  “It is you who is crazy to think you are mighty because you can wound and destroy.  That is the tasks of children.  The true mighty know how to create and to heal.”

Coaching Utilising Values

Where were his values?! I don’t think it was that the person intended to be rude, or annoying, or disruptive.  It was just that that was what was occurring.  When they were being themselves, they were pleasant and then there were those instances when, without seemingly a filter to be found, they would just blurt something ridiculously offensive and we were back at square one. This just couldn’t go on.

Utilising the NLP presupposition “people are not their behaviour” I resolved to find a win/win outcome to what was occurring, and I started with values.  What did I know about the person that I could search for key values and what were my key values?  There was a negotiation point somewhere.

Values are aspects of life that we hold dearly to us, we fight for our highest values.  They are key drivers that activate motivation and action.  They are intangible and yet integral to who we are.  When coaching I am constantly listening for values and exploring to find the highest values possible.  Examples of values are respect, love, communication, justice, self-esteem, safety and sense of belonging.  In coaching, search for the higher values.

Safety is a key value for everyone.  It is important that we feel safe, after all, keeping ourselves alive is the prime directive of our unconscious mind.  When we feel threatened we will take some sort of action to enhance safety.  It is important to me that people feel safe in my sessions, even when I am challenging them.

Businesses also have values.  Some declare their values; others can imply them within their vision and mission statements.  Values can become negotiation points in disagreements and in points of union.  They will make someone stay in a job even though the person is not fully happy, or they can make a person leave despite seemingly holding the perfect job.

So, I went on a values hunt.  I could have just been the dictator and laid down the law (this was an option I was holding in reserve), the more powerful way was to find what was driving the person and appeal to that.

1. As the Coach start from a place where anything is possible. Your energy is important, and you need to set the scene.  I hold two presuppositions to create a convivial attitude toward the other person and a safe space.  They are

  • People are not their behaviour and yet the most important information I have is their behaviour so I calibrate from this.
  • All behavior is context driven.

I want respect from people and therefore it was important that I respected the person in front of me.  I was therefore respectful throughout the conversation.

2. What do you know about the person that can steer you toward talking about their values? Remember people like to talk about themselves.  In my case I knew this person had done some volunteer work, I started there.

3. Find high level values. I always start searching for a values hierarchy by asking “What’s important to you about ….” When that gets answered I ask a question to find a higher one such as “and when that is achieved what is important about that?”  High level values are those that are the main drivers.  For example, someone may want confidence and when we find the higher values, we find the drivers could be a sense of belonging or being able to do something that gives their life a sense of purpose.  These are higher level values.

4. Find values that connect with the ones you are holding. To work with the person being disruptive I found that our need for people to be safe and to be respected was a common value.  Once I found that, we had a point of negotiation.  Using influential language patterns, I was able to point out that the inappropriate interjections were not displaying respect and I pointed out how that was in conflict to the person’s own values.  I also subtly discussed an example or two where the target had displayed their annoyance and, had they watched the impact, in those moments their emotional safety could have been threatened.

5. Negotiate alternative actions/responses for a win/win.  Agree on what is affable to all parties that promotes a change of action and the desired outcome for everyone. If required, stipulate any consequences of a relapse. 

6. Conclude positively.  In the negotiation I had I assured the person that they were important to the group and had a lot to offer.  I also appealed to some of the unresourceful beliefs that they held about themselves and made comments as to why they were not true, providing the evidence that I had noticed.  Throughout the session I found points to reiterate the value of the person and ensure they were integrated into the group.

These are six simple steps I use with clients and with groups. They are also the basis of negotiations I have done in the past with employees in my team.  Change remains the person’s choice and is in their control. Values provide the fuel for our motivational coaching hat and quickly identify for us the drivers of the client.

Everyone has values.  Learn to identify them quickly and easily and utilize them in your coaching sessions.  Be sure to let the client know too that these are their drivers.

This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.

Christine Walter is a Master NLP Practitioner and NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and mBit Coach.  She offers training courses via the NZ School of Life Coaching and through her own business Lodestone. She is also a Director of Australia and New Zealand Coaching Alliance. 

Are you a Coach or an Advisor?

Coach Or Advisor

By Christine Walter

When I first started training Life Coaching a participant told me that he wanted to be a Life Coach so that people would come to him for advice.  So, I asked him “are you a Coach or an Advisor?” and I left him for a couple of days with the question. 

As a Coach, I often get clients asking me “what would you do?” Not living their life, and often not having the same experience, I strongly believe it isn’t my place to say.  Our role as a Coach is to assist the Coachee in finding their own way forward. 

Here is the difference between coaching and advising.

Coaches enable people to find the way, advisors provide the map

When advice is offered it shuts down the other person’s opportunity to explore their own thoughts and ideas.  Depending on how it is offered it can also deliver the implication that the Coachee is not capable of finding a solution for themselves and this can slow down, at worst, prevent the Coachee from making a change.  Remember, some Coachees don’t believe that they can change, or that change is hard.  Advising can support this belief.

Exploration is key.  By enabling the Coachee to explore options and find their own path forward the Coach is not only permitting the Coachee to find a wealth of internal resources which stimulates self-empowerment, they are also teaching the Coachee that they can resolve their own challenges. Therefore, a good Coach can happily put any prearranged plans aside and work from a place of exploration.  They master the art of asking curious questions and offering opportunities to be a “thinking partner” to the Coachee.  “As if” and “what if” frames of curiosity enable the Coachee to adventure through possibilities without having to decide if they can or cannot.  A Coach suspends disbelief and assists in building belief bridges for the Coachee.

Coaches work in partnership with the Coachee

 One of the important aspects of good coaching is to encourage a Coachee led session.  Let the Coachee decide what the focus is for the appointment.  In business, this can be slightly different if the employee has been brought in with an aspect of their role in mind.  Partnership is still the goal and certainly possible.  The Manager/Coach can raise the topic, offer a brief outline and explore with the employee a way forward.  A Manager who thinks of themselves more as a Coach is valuable in any organisation. 

Any actions from the coaching session should be agreed upon by both parties as a way forward.  This is relevant to any form of coaching.

Advising holds the responsibility

When a Coach takes on the role of advisor they take on the responsibility for the problem and when this is done the Coach is setting themselves up for a fall.

Why? Well, people will only change their way of being when they choose to change. No amount of advice can alter that.  For a person to change, a link to their beliefs, values and identity needs to be created.   It is at these levels that true change can occur.  If the Coachee cannot see the connection or the belief, values and identity that has created the behaviour in the first place is more important, change will be more complicated and slower.  It may even be non-existent.  A Coach finds out what is important to the Coachee about change and utilises that information.

Coaching and generative leaning

Part of our challenge as Coaches, which I do not believe advisors can do, is to challenge the Coachee to extend their potential.  One of our great tasks is to extend the Coachee to the edge of their comfort zone – not so much so that they feel panicked. 

When coaching and when facilitating training, my ultimate goal for the Coachee is for them to experience a generative learning. Put simply, generative learning is a learning that changes the way a person is.  That moment where something occurs that means they cannot go back fully to how they were.  It might be an insight, a realisation, a change of belief – it changes how they think, how they conduct themselves – they change.  Not every session can include a generative learning experience, it is the goal.  

When coaching well a Coach is comfortable in being uncomfortable and asking questions to enable a generative learning experience to occur. Beware of believing that a Coach must stick to the plan; Eisenhower’s quote “planning is everything, plans are nothing” is a good underpinning for any coaching session. 

A Coach comprehends that the Coachee is the master of their own destiny

Coaching truly from this aspect enables the Coach to sit with the Coachee from a place of openness, free of judgement and with the focus being totally on the transformation being sought.  If the Coachee expresses an opinion and/or a course of action, the Coach can ask questions and check ecology, understanding that ultimately the Coachee has the right to make the final decision on the course of action.  Our unconscious mind’s prime objective is to keep us alive.  With survival being the ultimate goal a Coachee will always make a decision with the requirement of survival in mind.  As Coaches our task is to assist them to find peace, freedom and their inner wisdom to transform so survival is enjoyable.

Of course, this article is not to discredit advisors.  There are many roles for advisors in life – accountants, lawyers, marketers, nurses and doctors, arborists to name just a few.  I don’t believe Coaches can be included in the list.

The Story of Zodudu

A Polish folklore


There is a village in Poland and the people have beautiful Zodudu (pronounced Shjodudu).  For those that don’t know Zodudu is the beautiful warmth that people have inside.  We all have Zodudu.  It shines warm from the heart outward and is shared with everyone.  The more it is shared the brighter the village and its villagers are, including the visitors to the village that experienced Zodudu as well.

The village in Poland was a beautiful, happy, collaborative village and the villagers were proud of what they had.  They shared their Zodudu as a matter of who they were as people.

As time went by the leaders of the village decided that the Zodudu was being shared too freely, too widely and too often.  They suggested to the villagers that outsiders were taking advantage of Zodudu and hinted that there were perhaps some in the village that were receiving more than they should.  “We should manage this more” the leaders said.  “We should be selective on how we share our Zodudu and who the recipients will be” they said.

At first the people were not sure, sharing their Zodudu was what they did, but the leaders continued their course.  At first only a few people listened, thinking the leaders had a good point, and these people became more limiting in who and when they shared their Zodudu with others.

Some others felt that if one group were not going to share their Zodudu why should they, and certainly why should the first group receive theirs if they were not willing to share.  And so, they became more guarded with their Zodudu.

Others fought against the limiting of Zodudu, sadly their voice became weaker and they grew tired or resisting this move and so eventually, they too limited the sharing of Zodudu.  For some it might have been a conscious thought, for others, the fatigue of being a lone voice might have changed them.  Who knows.

And so, it didn’t take too long before the Zodudu of the village became less and less, people keeping it more for themselves than for the purpose it was intended, to be shared with others.  And the people slowly became less bright, less happy, and less collaborative, and their village became less beautiful and less happy.

One day a traveller came to the village.  He was down on his luck, weary and hungry.  The villagers looked at him suspiciously as they passed him.  They did not know him and their closely guarded Zodudu did not touch him at all – or did it?

A little boy passed the traveller with his mother.  The boy was curious, he had never seen this person before.  His mother, leading the boy by the hand, walked past the traveller and in to a nearby store.

While the boy’s mother was in the store the little boy came outside again and looked at the traveller.  He carefully approached and, because he was so young, he did not know to keep his Zodudu guarded.  He saw the traveller was hungry and offered him the apple in his pocket.  The traveller was grateful and took the apple.  The little boy went to a nearby tap and brought the traveller some water, who again was most grateful.  With the shared smiles and these small acts of kindness the traveller received some Zodudu.  He felt warmer and happier, as did the little boy.  What a curious experience for the little boy.

The mother, realising her child was missing, came out of the store, grabbed the boy by the hand and dragged him away.  She did not see the smile her child and the traveller shared, the smile of embarrassment from the boy and understanding from the traveller, which naturally contained an interaction of Zodudu.

The next day the boy brought a blanket and food for the traveller.  Some of his friends came too.  The  traveller gratefully received the gifts and entertained the children with his stories.  Naturally, within the laughter and stories Zodudu started to shine abundantly.

The laughter gradually brought others, children and adults alike.  Some of the adults walked away again muttering while others stayed, engaged in the marvellous stories of the traveller.

Each day, small gifts of comfort arrived for the traveller, each day he shared his stories.  People looked forward to the daily gathering.  Not only was it an enjoyable time being entertained by this enlightened traveller, they spent more time with their fellow villagers laughing and talking and connecting.  Some would bring harvest for others or look after their children while errands were run.   And somehow, without the villagers realising, their village started to shine again.  Their Zodudu started to shine again.  Everyone quickly felt brighter, happier, warmer; they were working together, supporting each other again – just like the old days.  And the village itself became more beautiful, happier, much more collaborative again – just like the old days.

And the marvellous thing is, not only the people of that village or indeed the people of Poland have Zodudu.  It is freely available to all who have a heart and wish to let it shine.

Job Opportunity


The following Coaching job opportunity has been brought to our attention at Otago University by one of our members.  For more information read the information below or go to the  Otago University Careers website.

Graduate Wellbeing Coach1800852



 Our Service

Student Health provides health care services for students at the University of Otago and is staffed with 52 full and part-time staff who between them undertake over 50,000 medical, nursing and mental health consultations per year.

The Role

The Graduate Wellbeing Coach role is a part of Student Health’s Mental Health & Wellbeing Team. The primary focus of this role is to provide a coaching service to assist postgraduate students to progress their studies and to develop strategies to achieve their academic and personal goals.

In this role, you will work both in conjunction with a multi-disciplinary team of mental health professionals and the wider primary care team at Student Health Services. You will also work closely with the Graduate Research School, particularly in relation to data analysis/improvement.

Your Skills and Experience

• Be suitably qualified within the mental health field with a strong clinical background in assessment, diagnosis, short-term intervention and liaison work.

• A strong interest and experience in helping young adults.

• Able to collect and analyse data to inform development of practice and future service provision.

• A proven ability to function well under pressure of high clinical demand is essential.

• You must have a valid APC and registration with the appropriate body.

• A sound working knowledge of available referral partners and community resources is required.

• An understanding of the particular challenges faced by postgraduate students would be advantageous.

• Experience in Alcohol and Drug and group work would be advantageous.

Ideally, you will be an experienced and autonomous clinician who communicates clearly and works well in various team environments.

Further Details

This is a part-time (30 hours per week) permanent position. For further information, please contact Richard Mooney via the contact details below.

The University is committed to meeting its obligations under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. Candidates who successfully make the final stages of the recruitment process will be required to undergo a safety check.

For further information on the safety check process please visit:

The salary level for this position is to be confirmed by the Job Evaluation Committee. This vacancy will be updated following this.

How to apply

To submit your application please click the apply button below. Applications quoting reference number 1800852 will close on Friday, 4 May 2018.

Additional Information

Note: As a part-time position, the salary range for this role will be the pro-rata equivalent of the annual full-time salary range listed.

Contact: Richard Mooney

Position details: Job Description

Further Information: Department Website

Create an email with a link to this vacancy: Create email

Location: About Dunedin


5 Simple Principles for Quality Communication

Communication is that abstract thing that is all around us; a verb that has been turned into a noun. We communicate through signs, movement, words, emotions – sometimes we communicate well, sometimes not so well.  Even animals communicate.  Here are 5 simple principles that will enhance your communication.

 1.   Understand that everything is communication. In essence you cannot not communicate.  Even if you are in a meeting and say nothing you are still communicating via body language and facial movements. Approximately 55% of our communication is from physiology, body language.  Another 37% is using tonality leaving just 7% for words.

 Like ourselves, our audience is utilising all of their senses to make sense of the outside world and comparing it to information stored within the unconscious mind.  How we dress, stand, move, what we say or don’t say and how we speak, tonality, will all be messaging the recipient.

To communicate with meaning take time to build rapport.  Allow your personal presentation, body language, tonality, any tools you are utilising and your words support the message you are giving.  Plan, prepare and understand that everything throughout the meeting is expressing you.

2.  The meaning of communication is the response it gets. Responsibility of the communication belongs to the person delivering it. It is easy to suggest that the other person doesn’t understand but then we can easily consider what has been lacking in our communication for them to not  By starting with the intention of “what do I want to communicate” and “what does the other person need to know in order to understand what I am saying” we can prepare the way we communicate our message.  As we deliver our message we can build rapport, calibrate the response from the recipient and be flexible in delivery.  The more the deliverer responds and connects with the recipient the more influential the message can be. It is therefore important that we take responsibility for our communication to ensure the response is relevant to the communication.

 3.  There is no failure only feedback. When we take responsibility for the effectiveness of our communication all responses are good feedback.  It allows us, the communicator, to know how well we are communicating, what is being received well and what is not; where our communication has hit the mark and where it has fallen short.  By calibrating our feedback, we are able to focus our attention on where to elaborate, when to move forward, when to check that our audience has full understanding.  We can ask questions to obtain more information so we can provide more meaning to our communication to get the recipient on board.  Feedback is imperative and an essential part of quality communication.

4.   If what you are doing isn’t working, do something different. Well they say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result! By adapting our approach, trying something different and, utilising visual, auditory and where possible kinaesthetic information we are likely to receive different results. 

5.   In any arrangement the person with the most flexibility controls the arrangement. When we are flexible and ready to try different things, we are more likely to convince or prompt others to follow our ideas.

Think of something that is rigid and inflexible – a stick perhaps.  Should we try to mould a stick it is more likely to break because there is no flexibility in a stick.  When we as communicators lack flexibility it can sometimes be difficult to create rapport, to get our message to the recipient for understanding. When we are flexible, approach the matters at hand in a different way there can be more opportunity for conducive, effective communication.

Some people ask “can I do it” when the question should be “HOW can I do it.”

 There is a wonderful story about an interview with Thomas Edison after he created the light bulb.  The younger interviewer apparently said “how does it feel Mr Edison to have failed a thousand times before finally creating the light bulb.”

“Fail!  Fail young man!?  I didn’t fail!  I simply found 999 ways of how the light bulb would NOT work.”

Communication operates best when it is working both ways.  The responsibility sits with the communicator and not the one receiving the communication.  If it isn’t working don’t get frustrated, take a few moments to collect your thoughts and reflect on what you want to communicate and how the other person needs to receive it to understand.  Then, have another go.

By Christine Walter, MNLP, Dip CAH, TMLC, mBIT Coach


After several years of promising myself to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, I am finally doing so.  It has been mentioned several times through a variety of professional development courses I have completed over the years and it suddenly turned up on my coffee table a month ago – my daughter had purchased it.The time seemed right.  This is not a book review; it is notice of something within the book that has caught my attention and my unconscious mind ponders on.

I am not going to go into any great detail either.  I think everyone knows of the Holocaust and the immense suffering of those interned. And even knowing this, some elements of the books still shock me; no – they sadden me.

There are many notable texts within the book that incline me to put the book down and muse.  Frankl was a prisoner in Auschwitz and was moved around other concentration camps; sometimes it was the simple act of changing, or not changing of a camp that enabled his survival.  It was a cruel life where they were treated worse than animals.  Some prisoners appear to have behaved like animals in the end, turning on their own for survival, cannibalism is noted once; some lost the will to live.  Some became “camp police” and received privileges; they became more of a friend of the Nazi than of their own.  There was, as you could imagine, a lot of apathy.

Frankl describes a time when he voluntarily moved to another camp to care for prisoners suffering from typhus.  Many of his comrades advised strongly against it; all prisoners were undernourished, over worked and kept in insanitary conditions and risk of catching typhus himself was high.  Yet Frankl notes that he willingly volunteered.  Certain that death was not far he preferred to meet his fate serving the need of others than to complete the meaningless manual labour that generally filled his day and die for nothing.  Despite his own suffering Victor Frankl chose service and possible sacrifice over his own safety.

Another thought-provoking passage for me was Frankl exploring a curiosity to the psychological and psychopathical characteristics and notes that within all this ‘hell’ there were occasionally random acts of kindness to others and self-sacrifice.  He writes this:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

And it was the use of the words “choose” and “attitude” that caught my attention.  It caught my attention because this is where I believe the only place that personal change, transformation or fulfilment of life can occur.  I like the clear notation that choice is always present and it is our own choice that chooses the way.

Naturally this sits with my own beliefs and values.  I think it would not resonate so well if it did not.  We are inherently prone to debate a cause from our own set of values.

Survival is the ultimate goal in life.  History is full of stories of people adapting to enable survival.  Some change their value set or strategise to achieve their survival and link it to their values.  As an example, the person bullied may become a bully themselves perhaps noting that those with perceived power are better off in life.  In New Zealand recently, a politician has admitted to committing benefit fraud in past years justifying that it wasn’t her fault, the system made her cheat.   And there we see an example of the exercising of a chosen attitude in a given set of circumstances.  The prisoners in the concentration camp might have said (and many probably did) “it isn’t my fault that I behaved like this, the deprivation of basic human requirements made me do it”.  Then there were others who refused to believe this and offered altruistic behaviour; they denied others to take away the last of their human freedoms, their freedom of choice.

So here is where my thoughts linger.  As a Coach, I meet people who seemingly are giving up their human freedoms.  They may request assistance to gain more confidence.  They may ask to be coached on letting something in their history go.  Some will firmly believe that the choices they have made were “not my fault”. They may desire change to how they are; it all comes from their beliefs and values and who they are in that moment.  In each of these examples they are relinquishing some of their human freedoms unwittingly and somewhat willingly. In these examples though, the people are starting to realise that there IS choice, that they have choices and seek out assistance to start to create choices.  And we as coaches can rejoice.

There are still many out there who are freely giving up their choices, their rights, their human freedoms, I believe there always will be. There are many out there blaming government, or circumstance or someone else for their predicament and relinquishing themselves of choice in doing so. Along with this there are others that seek to take away others human freedoms.  Those that prejudice against race, religion, sexual preference, and gender.  And the payoff for this if permitted, as Frankl also notes, is apathy.

Apathy, an outcome of people relinquishing choice of an appropriate attitude to circumstance, of relinquishing their choice to stand up for themselves and relinquishing their choice to stand up for community.

Together, any community can change this.  As coaches do we not have the ability to pave the way?  As coaches, we can share the message of choice, of the abundance that is create with a positive attitude.  United we can role model the value of strength in individual belief of choice, of self-awareness and self-responsibility to be our individual selves and responsible for ourselves.  Combined we can demonstrate that the act of giving allows us to receive far more than in the act of only taking.  I am reminded of the saying “no one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”  As Coaches, we can assist people to strengthen their internal positive beliefs, to have a voice and ensure that they do not give such permission to others.

I am often inspired by people like Rosa Parks, Kate Sheppard and George Williams.  They are just three of many people in history who chose their own way and made a difference in history.  They made a difference in lives and life.  It is these sorts of people who are the giants on whose shoulders we as coaches stand on.  I believe, we are required by the simple of act of being given life, by the choice to be a coach, we are committed to continue the legacy of the giants before us and by doing so, in some humble way, to be sure to leave our own legacy.


Christine Walter

Life Coach, Hypnotherapist, mBIT Coach