A lesson in patience

When I was growing up, my dad was one of the most impatient people I knew. Given how much patience it requires to be an effective coach, rebelling against his ways played a considerable part in me connecting so passionately with coaching (no offence, dad!). And when I say“coaching” I mean facilitating a learning journey, which consists to a considerable extent of holding space, laced with sharing observations and generally being curious.

A crucial part of coaching effectively in this way, is dropping the idea that we know anything, and the idea that we would add value by sharing what we know, or offering suggestions or guidance.

This is often the hardest aspect to learn for coaches-in-training. And this past week I was reminded of the best possible way to train your patience:

Children – especially young children!

I appreciate there’s different parenting philosophies and that kids do need boundaries and to be told what to do on many occasions. But to see my nephew learn to figure out how to piece together a new LEGO spaceship, or to watch Leah grapple with where to best stick her breadstick (fantastic, little one, so we’ve learned that your eyes are not ideal, where else might you try…) it dawned on me with a never-before clarity:

Whether or not I make it a habit to interfere with their process is gonna make a huge difference to their future attitude towards learning, problem solving, and ownership over what they’re creating.

And boy does it require patience, to hold space instead of interfering!

am my father’s son, after all, and so I had to work hard to learn to hold space for people who are learning something new – especially difficult when I think I know how to do it. After all, I’ve built my fair share of spaceships (the Lego kind, that is) and I’ve mastered the art of sticking breadsticks into my mouth many moons ago.

And so I remind myself that letting them figure things out in their own time and in their own way, and to let them own the results, may just be the best service I can offer…

…along with perhaps a few pointed comments, questions, observations, or sharing what I’m curious about (IF that is welcome!). After all, I ama coach.

Of course this is MUCH easier with clients than it is for, let’s say, family. I think the more you love someone, the more there’s an urge to interfere with their learning, to try and guide them or share what you know – with best intentions of course, but it often isn’t as helpful as you might think, especially when it comes to the more complex questions in life and work.

I honestly believe that patience trumps advice, on most occasions, with the notable exception of when time is of the essence and the house is on fire. Do tell me where the nearest exit is! But if we can afford it, please give me space to learn so I can own what I know.

How, if at all, have you learned to be patient, I wonder?

Drop me a line, I’d love to hear what lessons life has taught you…


New Content – Psychological Coaching at Cambridge University


Earlier this year Cambridge University reached out to me to design and teach the first module of their new Coaching Masters. In this module, Psychological Coaching, I’ll be introducing a number of approaches to coaching grounded in psychology, and we’ll be teaching this in-person as part of a 5 day intensive for the first time next September. The programme is now open for applications, so if you’d like to take your coaching to the next level in a stunning learning environment, by all means check out this programme! https://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/course/mst-coaching

That’s it for this week! If any of this resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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With Love