Easy As Pie …


At least, so it would appear to some.

Coaching is seen as one of the “easy” careers by many … adding it to a list which includes teaching, counseling, and consulting.  I find it morbidly interesting that so many jobs I have done fall into this category.

For several reasons, people in general often perceive these helping professions as ones that are simple and easy to do, hardly requiring any work or preparation at all.

After all, look at how people who are really good at these jobs act … like it is no big deal to help a person or an organization change, learn, or heal.  When you really know how to do what you do, it does look easy.

During my therapist period, a good friend once said to me “Well, all you do is sit around and talk to people.  That’s not very hard to do.”  

I wish I had a dollar for everyone who has ever said to me, especially about being a counselor or a coach, something like “I‘ve been doing that all my life and I’ve never needed any training”.    Usually said right after I mention the rigors of completing a degree program, certification course, or licensure process, this admission only tells me that the person has little or no understanding of the change process.

Off the top of my head, here are some reasons why this might be:


Change is partly behavior, which is visible, but more so emotional and cognitive, which are less visible and more open to misinterpretation by others.   If you stop smoking, you are visibly not smoking, although you might be visibly more “edgy” or “tense“.

Emotions can be reflected physically, as when body parts quiver during times of high stress or we perspire more than normal.  However, we cannot truly know the emotion that another is experiencing.

Cognitive changes are displayed directly by our words and indirectly by our behaviors.  Words and behavior can be congruent or not congruent, and identifying which is occurring is key for any effective change process.

We cannot know how another person is changing, unless we know what to look for and how to evaluate what we see or hear …


Talking is something everyone does, more or less, on a regular basis.  Since most of us talk every day, we tend to see talking as “no big deal“, something that does not require special preparation or focus.   

If we think that chatting with someone provides therapeutic outcomes, we are half-right.  Sometimes a person derives great value on one level from simply talking with another person.  This is why we encourage people to visit the ill or lonely and reach out to others.

However, chatting is not change …


Here’s where it gets interesting.  A client may leave a meeting sounding positive and looking confident, without having created either a plan for change or commitment to that change.  

A relatively long discussion can represent empty minutes without any valuable content or progress, while a short interchange might mean significant shifts are occurring.   A trained person, be they a teacher, counselor, coach, or consultant, has been educated to sense deeper levels than the superficial. 

If a coaching sessions looks simple, it could be either a master coach doing what they do apparently effortlessly OR a couple of people just passing time while talking.

So, in one obvious way, coaching without being trained IS easier … but not particularly effective or professional.

By the way, have you ever baked a pie?   Ain’t all that easy to do:)

Unexplainably feeling rather hungry for something sweet in the Heartland ….




Optionitis …

Diving Board - Morguefile.com DivingboardThis post is about diseases and swimming pools …

Of late, I have found myself immersed in discussions about discerning one’s call, completing both familiar and new career/interest assessments, and generally doing a fair amount of reflection on my personal essential question:


This has not been easy for me.  I enjoy taking both psychological and vocational assessments, as anyone who follows my Facebook stream knows.  My idea of enjoyable bedtime reading is titles such as “What Color Is Your Parachute” and the like.  I can spend hours researching and learning about career paths, certification processes, and consider almost any career field as fair game for daydreaming.


You see, I have this condition called “Optionitis“, which simply means I strive to keep all my options open at all times.  Option reduction, whether voluntary or involuntary, is to be avoided.

The primary symptom of Optionitis is a strong desire to keep as many options on the table for as long as possible.

My reasoning is that if I fail at one thing, I have other things to fall back on.   This safety cushion mentality has resulted in me carrying multiple credentials, earning degrees in diverse fields (always with multiple majors or fields of study), and an eclectic taste in reading and learning.   I know a lot about many things.


Another aspect of this condition is creating Diving Board Moments:   That point when you are on the tip of the diving board, high above the pool, and all you have to do to move out and down is … well, move.

But you don’t … instead you freeze on the perceived safety of that board, while staring fearfully at the cool and clear water that seems so tremendously far away.  When we say to ourselves that we need the security of our current employment while we transition to something else, we are on that diving board.

… Or maybe you are like the person trying to step into the gently bobbing boat from the dock.   As you place one foot on that unstable boat deck, you are seized by fear that your footing will fail and you will fall into the deep and cold water.

Three things here:

If you remember how to swim, falling into water is much less scary.

If you move onto the boat, your footing will become less unstable.

Eventually you will get used to the gentle bobbing of the new place you are.

Keeping my options open gives me many potential directions to go vocationally, but it also allows me to remain stuck in place for much longer.  I can decide not to decide for a very long time.   Does this sound familiar to anyone?


Action is the prescribed medicine to cure Optionitis.

When discerning your calling or, better yet, your purpose for being, you can collect options and protect choices for only so long.   In my experience, many more people regret staying in a job too long than those who think they left too quickly. 

Risk is scary, but it is also where the prizes are …

Trying to move on out to the tip of that diving board in the Heartland ….


A Gift For Us: BKpedia


I take books very seriously, …

When the opportunity arose to experience a trial subscription to Berrett-Koehler’s BKpedia digital subscription service, I jumped at the chance.


For a yearly subscription fee, you have digital access to a wide array of books and articles around leadership and change.  BKpedia now offers two distinct collections:  Advances in Leadership and Management plus Organizational Change and Innovation.    

These collections include many BK titles, along with content from other well-known and respected sources, such as The Center for Creative Leadership and AMACOM, with more titles and collections coming.  


Caveat:  BKpedia has much more to offer in services and features than I mention in this post.  Visit the site to get the full value impact. Continue reading

Some of the Best People …


A monthly collection of leadership thinking and wisdom from one of the most active leadership groups of which I am aware.

I feel humble that my own modest contribution is included, especially given the quality of my fellow contributors.  

LWG visionIf you want to promote effective and progressive leadership, get to know and connect with these folks … time and energy well spent:)

Better yet, join our group and add your voice.  We’ll be a little closer to our goal and much enriched by your involvement and contributions.

Just click on either image to enter a new world of leadership thinking and development.

Feeling like I’m soaring with the eagles (or maybe striding with the Giants) in the Heartlands ….


Image:  LWG website

Book Review: Mastering Leadership is Masterful …

Holy Grail - Arthur Rackham - WikipediaIndiana Jones sought the Holy Grail and other archeological treasures …

Harry Potter searched high and low for horcruxes to fight a great evil …

Frodo endured deprivation, danger, and evil magic to end another great evil

Luke Skywalker underwent the Hero’s Journey as he discovered his past and his future …

As in our imaginary worlds, so it is in the real world.  Everyone seems to be searching for something … something big, something that will change our world.  

While not  as exciting as the above, many in the leadership world have long sought one model that will give us the intellectual structure to really understand and enhance our leadership.  Many have tried and in the process given us valuable insights, useful concepts, and down-to-earth advice on how leadership works and how to make it work better.

Book CoverMastering Leadership:  An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results is a mouthful, but this title delivers what it promises.  

Robert Anderson and William Adams may have just done what some of us thought impossible:  create a unified theory of leadership which ties it all together. Continue reading