“What kind of pickle are you?”

This is a true story.

In the early 1900’s, my grandmother Avis lived with her family on the south side of Chicago.  She was a little girl at the time, probably around 5 when this particular event occurred.

They lived above the family-owned and operated Ziemsen’s, a local neighborhood grocery store where folks could buy just about anything for the home… including pickles.

In fact, at the counter there were two large barrels of pickles for customers to purchase.  On one of the barrels, there was a sign for 1 cent, and the other barrel was labeled 2 cents.  This way, the customers had their choice of pickle.

Well, one day, my grandmother, Avis, noticed her grandfather restocking the barrels at the counter.  He would bring a larger barrel of pickles from the back storage room, open it up and proceed to transfer pickles into both of the counter containers.

As you can imagine, this action puzzled my grandmother.  Of course, being a five year old, she didn’t get it.  So she asked him, “Goosfadder,” (that’s what she called him), “Why is it that you have two different barrels of pickles and one says they are for one penny and the other is for two pennies, but they are the same pickle?”

And he looked at her with his eyes of years of wisdom and said sweetly to her, “Well Avis, sometimes people just prefer a more expensive pickle.”

In other words, it’s not that one pickle is any better than the other, it’s the value that the customers are giving to their purchase.  If they pay for the two cent pickle, they will appreciate it more.  It’s a greater value.  Same pickle, but for some reason it tastes better.  On the other hand, perhaps those that buy the one penny pickle will feel like they’re getting a great deal (cause it’s a pretty darned good pickle) but are saving a whole penny.  I mean, how much better could a two penny pickle be?

So really, it starts with the value that we place on our product, but it’s also about the value that the customer feels they are getting.  And if those customers feel like they are getting a great value, either by getting a great pickle, or a great deal, they’re more likely to come back for more.

In case you haven’t made the connection, this is a great clear example of how we, as coaches, view ourselves and the rates for our coaching.

So the question I have for you is, “What kind of pickle is your coaching?  A one cent or a two cent?”  Only you will know.

But once you decide it–your price and your value–then put yourself on display in that barrel (metaphorically speaking, of course) and put a big sign out to tell everyone looking for a pickle that you offer the best pickle in the neighborhood.


(There are so much more of these insights and articles to help grow your coaching, plus video bits, downloads and TONS of archived recordings for you to enjoy, learn and grow.  Visit https://bedo.org/freebies-and-downloads to access HUNDREDS of items all designed to help you truly BE the coach you are here to BE!)

“Look, on the phone! It’s a friend! It’s a therapist! No, it’s Super-Coach!”

Yes, Super Coach!  With strange powers of curiosity, and level three listening.  Super Coach!  Who can shift perspectives in the blink of an eye.  Who can take a client into the deepest depths of their emotion.  Who can create powerful visions and goals.  Super Coach!  Able to Hold a Client’s Agenda while simultaneously Holding the Client as Naturally Creative, Resourceful, and Whole.  And who can focus on the smaller agenda while at the same time seeing the Meta-view to the Client’s Whole Life.

When the Evil Gremlin strikes unsuspecting victims with his lackeys Stuck, Procrastination, and Playing Small, Super Coach is there–ready to dish out a one-two punch of Values and Perspectives, and follow it up with an uppercut of Choice.  Wherever there is Fear, Super Coach is there with his Cape of Empowerment.  Wherever there is Playing Small, Super Coach has plenty of “Bigger Game” in his utility belt ready for action.  Wherever there is Overwhelm, Super Coach uses his super strategy of small and simple steps and powerful goals to help the client move forward towards the life that they desire and deserve.

Hold on to your headsets, kiddies.


Yes, sometimes it feels just like that.

However, it’s not always so wonderful.  Remember the big lesson “With great powers, comes great responsibility.” And we have to use these wonderful skills wisely.  Just because we know how to dig into every problem that comes our way, doesn’t mean that we always have to.    In fact, sometimes having these coaching tools and training can be so exciting that it’s such an easy trap get sucked into trying to coach everyone we come across all the time.  And what usually happens?  We rub them the wrong way and they get upset and turned off.  Why?  Well, mainly because they didn’t ask for it.  It was an unrequested overstepping of boundaries.  There isn’t an alignment with both parties (you and the other person) that you will be coaching them on the issue.  It’s different with our clients. There, we have that relationship established, it’s part of the Alliance that’s designed.

One of the skills that we as coaches need to strengthen is the knowing of “When to coach/ when not to coach.”

Think about Superman.  He’s always super—that’s who he is naturally.  But if he wasn’t careful, he could be flying around non-stop 24 hours a day saving people.  As super as he is, he knows that he needs to sometimes stop, put on his Clark Kent clothes, and go around just as a normal human—sometimes having to watch his friends go through frustrations and sticky situations, and knowing that that’s a part of life and they need to experience it sometimes.  Of course even when he’s Clark Kent and Lois is about to spill her coffee on her dress, he’ll still lend a little bit of help by secretly blowing a little puff of air to lift it back up, unnoticed by anyone.  He’s not obvious about it.

It’s just like how we can continue to hold our friends and family Naturally Creative, Resourceful, and Whole.  We can be naturally Curious about their lives, we can Listen to them and their issues, and not have to actually “coach” them to some big change or resolution or revelation.  Sometimes we don’t need to put on our whole Super Coach persona and just simply use out coaching skills on a subtler level.   “BE” with them—listening, holding, and self-managing—without actually having to don our costume and DO “COACHING” with them.

So make sure that you use your powers wisely.  Just because you’re a Super Coach yourself, doesn’t mean you have to Coach everyone all the time.  Coach when it’s appropriate.  And when it’s not, simply put on your everyday clothes over your Super-Coach costume, and love your friends.

That’s the Super-est thing you can BE and DO.

“…So as a Snake sheds it’s skin”

OK, how many of you at some point felt like giving up this whole coaching thing?

What?  Really?  So, it’s only me that’s felt that way? Come on.  You had to have felt it at some point.

Perhaps while you were taking one of your coach training classes, or when you were swamped and overwhelmed in Certification, or perhaps when you lost a client (or maybe five in one week) or got yet another “no”, or maybe everything was fine until now and something just got triggered while you were reading this.  And maybe you’re still so excited about coaching that you haven’t yet fallen into the pit of despair. and with all those classes and experiences you’re learning how to wield your coaching tools with more confidence and competence.  You’re growing as a coach every day.

So even if you’ve already been there in the pit of despair and frustration, or not, I’m here to tell you that eventually at some point, you’ll question your commitment and ability and direction with coaching.  You’ll doubt what you are doing.  You’ll want to give up and do something easier and less fulfilling.

This is natural, and every single coach (even yours truly) has been filled with that very doubt-sometimes more than once.  You see, it’s part of the growing process.  You’re stepping out of the comfort zone, your stretching and growing, and starting to take some risks.  And sometimes when you stretch a little too far, grow a little too fast, you end up being a little tender and vulnerable.

Sure it would seem the most likely alternative would be to stop growing, stop stretching.  After all, if it’s going to make you tender and sensitive, easy pickings, then why do it?

Well, for starters, ever try to “not grow”.  It’s kind of impossible.  Growing is a part of life.  We have to grow.  Externally as well as internally.  Physically as well as Spiritually as well as Mentally as well as Emotionally as well as a hundred other ways.

So we can’t avoid it.

Besides, if we really and truly kept in the same place with our lives, we’d go crazy.  We’d get itchy and uncomfortable and desperate to break out and try something new.  So stretch and grow.

Like a snake that needs to shed its skin when it has become too small.  The outer layer becomes really uncomfortable and confining and ugly looking, and finally the snake can’t take it any longer and withdraws someplace safe to remove this frustration.  Even after the hard outer layer is finally left behind, the new skin that is now exposed is tender and vulnerable, easy to be injured by the outside world if it’s not careful.

You may wonder why the snake does this if it places it in danger.  Wouldn’t it be much easier and safer to simply keep the old and uncomfortable shell?  At least it would help protect it from danger and help it live longer.

Good question.  In fact, it sounds very much like the one that was just asked two paragraphs ago.

It’s certainly a question that our Saboteur keeps asking, and in fact, would have us believe that it’s better to stay small.  But the snake knows something that your Saboteur keeps conveniently forgetting.  We (the snake as well as us) will naturally continue to grow.  You can’t stop it.  It’s part of living.  And the more the snake resists that inevitable growth and change, the more uncomfortable it will be confined in that tight, dry and crusty shell.

Kind of like trying to fit in the clothes you wore in high school-not only are they way too small, but terribly out of date.  However, by going with the growth and change, and even helping it along by clearing off the old, and no longer helpful outer shell, the snake has the freedom and ability to grow even larger and more powerful than it was before.  And that makes for one happy snake.

Not to make any assumptions that you are a snake… but you get the metaphor.

So, knowing that you might be a little tender in the process, but that it will help you grow bigger and stronger, what’s the old skin that you want to shed today?


“I want to be a PCC coach.”  I heard my client (who is a coach, cause I coach coaches) say to me.

We did all the work that happens in coaching and set our sights to designing a specific timeline and goal and all that stuff that we do in coaching, and her assignment was to come up with some kind of structure that would help keep her focused—eye on the prize, as it were.

Part of the approach we were taking was about finding ways to “already see yourself” at that end goal.  This was a tactic that I had been exploring with other clients as well as with myself throughout my own MCC journey.

I knew I couldn’t officially call myself an MCC… yet—not in my signature or business cards or website or anywhere—but I felt it important that I find some way to indicate to others that I wasn’t just another PCC coach, but an MCC who just hadn’t gotten the hours yet.

I saw other people listing their non-coaching credentials like “LMNOP, pending approval” or “XYZ under submission” or whatever clever jargon that people use to declare they’re something that they haven’t been actually approved and validated by their reviewing organization.  However, that “fudging it” didn’t didn’t feel right.

And then it hit me.

-ben dooley PCC (but I roll like an MCC).

That way, I was clearly acknowledging I was officially a PCC coach, but what you’ll get from me is an MCC experience and MCC level coaching.

How clever.  People liked it.  I got emails and comments and “that’s so great” and all that wonderful support… until I got a call from ICF.

“You can’t have that in your signature,” they said.

“Why not?” I replied.  “I’m not saying I’m actually an MCC.”

“I know, but there have been some complains about your signature, and you can’t include that credential unless you really are one.”

“These people don’t understand,” I pleaded my case, hoping for some special dispensation to support my cause.  “I’m saying, ‘This is how I show up.  This is the bar I hold myself to.’  I would think those coaches would appreciate that I am striving to be at that level and am playing a bigger game.”  I used all the fancy coaching terms I could think of to really make my point.  (Looking back, I can completely see the frustration and objection on their end, and I probably would raise the same concerns if I saw someone posting themselves that way.)

So I went through all of my signatures and documents and cleaned it out.  Unfortunately, I had run that campaign for so long, I lost track of where it appeared (I’m still coming across, “but I roll like an MCC” and now wince a little at the audacity as I delete.)

But I was not deterred.  I knew that while my actions weren’t right, my motive was.  I knew that even if I couldn’t advertise it, I needed to continue to see myself as “already an MCC coach”.  That would keep me focused and exploring and growing.  Eye on the prize, as it were.


Let me clarify this a little bit.  We’ve all heard concepts and approaches like this.

Our results are based on our actions, and our actions are supported by our thoughts and feelings.  So with that in mind I was looking for ways to reprogramming myself to “THINK” like an MCC, FEEL like an MCC, and ACT like an MCC.”  After all, my whole professional base was BE DO, right?

I realized that first I have to BE an MCC coach, before I can DO MCC coaching, and before I can actually HAVE that status given to me.

It all made perfect sense.  I just needed to find structures that weren’t going to upset anyone along the way (which totally changes the energy and the impact of the action).

Fast forward to my conversation with my client.


She wanted to set her sights on becoming a PCC coach and was feeling that it was still far out of reach.  Yet, she was good—skilled in her coaching, articulate in her work, and full of passion and commitment to her excellence.

So when I asked her to explore how she could support already seeing herself as a PCC coach, she came up with the idea to “make” a fake PCC certificate.  By no means was it meant to sidestep the official process and begin living some strange unethical lie (on the contrary, she’s one of the most ethical coaches out there I know), but this document would be her own and post dated to inspire her to get all her hours completed by then and to address all of the other requirements and keep herself focused.

It was so simple, and I loved it.

I loved it so much I decided to do my own.  Scanning my very real and legal PCC certificate, I found a matching font and replaced the “P” with an “M” and then dated it December 15, 2010 which was three years from the day of that conversation.  Which meant I had given myself a three year timeline to make it official before it “expired”.

I had now officially declared myself in the next stage of obtaining my MCC.  I had declared it to someone else and created a reminder structure to keep myself moving.


And it worked.  I liked the idea of having it on my wall, in my office, right next to where I was coaching.  Occasionally I would glance at it while I was coaching and ask if I was doing what I thought was MCC coaching.  Often I said, no.  but sometimes I thought, yes.  And when I recognized, no, I quickly would get myself refocused.


Also, I was now truly “In the Game” and that destination of MCC was always tugging at me in the back of my head, pulling me forward, encouraging me to learn and grow and better myself in any way that I could.  And once I was “in the Game” I began to approach becoming an MCC very differently, and very deeply.

Commitment does that to you.

“What’ll ya have, Sweetie?”

“What’ll ya have, Sweetie?”

These words once evoked sheer terror, but now fulfill my dreams.

A while back, when I was just starting to go out to eat, I came across this restaurant.   It was exciting.  Here is was, a place that could give me any kind of food I wanted.

So I opened the door and went in.

In fact, I was really hungry–actually feeling quite desperate–and would just about eat anything.  I didn’t care what it was, as long as it filled my stomach.  The waitress came to the table and asked me what I wanted to order.   And I just stared at the menu.  I couldn’t make up my mind.  I mean, if I ordered the spinach omelet, then that would mean that I wouldn’t be able to eat the Cobb salad, or the Hawaiian Cheeseburger.  The trouble was, I was afraid to narrow down my choice, because then it would mean cutting out the rest of the menu.  And what if I was missing something really good, like a grilled cheese sandwich, or baked cod with corn?

However, if I didn’t tell the waitress exactly what I wanted, she wouldn’t be able to bring it to my table, and then I wouldn’t get to eat and satisfy my needs.  It was all so overwhelming.  In fact, I had a strong urge to just give it up and leave the restaurant, and commit myself to never eat out again.  I thought perhaps that I’d be better off at one of those “All-you-can-eat” buffets, where I could just load my plate with lots of everything.  But the only problem with that was the food was never as good, and I always ended up overindulging and feeling even more unsatisfied than when I entered.  But I knew that if I left now, I’d feel even worse, and that I had to give this a chance.

So what happened?

Well, first I couldn’t make a decision, so I stalled and continued to nibble on the bread.  And although it was filling, it wasn’t very satisfying.  And after a while, I really needed something more.  So, afraid to limit my options, I ordered one of everything.

It took a long time for the kitchen to prepare it all, and by the time it all arrived at the table, most of it was cold and tasteless anyway-very unsatisfying.  Not only that, but there wasn’t enough room on the table for it all and it was hard to organize and give each meal the attention that was needed.   And because there was so much, I could only take a few bites here and there and I wasn’t really able to enjoy any of it.  And after all that, I wasted so much time and money that I really didn’t get my value.

I really began to hate the process of going out and finding something to eat.  It was so frustrating and it always felt like I was going nowhere and spinning my wheels.

I realized that I needed to start acting differently and begin making clear choices.  And the next time I planned to go out and get food, I spent a little time beforehand thinking about what it was that I really enjoyed eating.  What dish would I be able to give deep focus and attention to, savor each bite, and know at the end that I had ordered the right meal.

This time, when I entered the restaurant, I knew exactly what I wanted.  It was a Ruben, on lightly toasted rye bread, with the cheese hot and bubbly, a side of onion rings and an iced tea, unsweetened.  By being super clear and specific about what I wanted to eat, the waitress was able to quickly go to the kitchen, convey my desire clearly to the cooks where they would easily prepare it and get it off to my table, nice and hot.

And then I could really enjoy my meal.

Not only that, but then every time I walked in, the waitress knew ahead of time what I wanted and would get it going before I even sat down.

Now, I love going to eat there.  Where the dining experience used to be frustrating and felt like an endless struggle, now it’s easy and fun.

The added perk about all this was that this didn’t have to be the one and only time that I could order from the menu and ask for a meal.  I wasn’t locked in to eating only Rubens for the rest of my life.  If I wanted to, I could ask for the bowl of tomato soup instead, or a butt steak with onions.  It could be different or the same.  The important thing was that I listened to what I really was needing to connect with, what dish was the best dish for that moment.  And then I went out there and claimed it for myself.

It’s like declaring your niche.

Many coaches out there (you may be one of them) are nervous about niches and target audiences.  But just like the diner, once you declare who it is that you really want to work with, then it’s much easier to find your clients and serve them to you on a plate… with cheese bubbling hot… whatever that means.


“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”

-Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill in “The Music Man” (1962)

I love this quote.  This funny thing is, I saw this movie about 30 years ago, and then was actually in a production about 22 years ago, and only recently did I get how powerful and profound this movie is.

I mean, think about it.

On the surface you have this traveling con man who slips into town and suckers people out of their money.  And his tactic is to teach what he calls, “The Think Method.”  that is, if you think yourself playing the musical instrument hard enough, you’ll be able to do it.

We know now that there’s something to that.  Sure you have to put in the work, but what he’s really professing is the Law Of Attraction.  And we see in the film that it actually works.  Of course not in the way that he intended.

Little lisping Ronny Howard wants to feel confident and loved, the Mayor’s men want to express themselves, and the whole town wants so badly to feel proud of themselves.

And then there’s Marion, the bespeckled, hair bound, conservative and protected librarian that has unintentionally captured the hart of Harold Hill.

Now, while in the timeline of this movie, Harold is trying to seduce her cause she’s the main obstacle in his scheme, he later realizes his feelings for her.  Again, what he’s been truly wanting all his life is right there in front of him.

And in the height of her protests he drops this quote.  Man, what a juicy line.  And he doesn’t’ even know how right he really is.  Of course he’s really speaking about everyone in the whole movie, even himself… and even us.

How many times have we wanted something, truly wanted it, and yet were holding ourselves back from it, afraid, protective, perhaps putting it off for another day.  And what are the consequences of that?  How many days, weeks, months, years of the same unfulfilled dreams can we truly endure?  What happens later on when we look back an see nothing but all the empty dreams that never had a chance.

Listen to Harold (after all, he is a Professor) and pick one thing, right now, that you’ve been wanting in your life, and do something NOW to head towards it.  You may get it, you may not, but at least you won’t have the burden of never knowing.

And you can always think the Minuet in G while you’re doing it.  That always helps.


The other day I was talking with a client, and she uttered the dreadful “B-word.”

I almost collapsed in shock and horror.

I mean, when we Designed our Alliance, we covered language considerations–and we built in permission for the occasional “S-word” that may pop out from time to time, and even the “F-word” here and there.  But I was completely unprepared for the stinging damage of the dreaded “B-word.”

Of course, it’s much worse than all the other “[letter]-words” out there.  So much worse.  It’s the grand-daddy of them all.  A word so deadly, because it sounds so innocent and harmless, and yet every time it escapes past someone’s lips, irrevocable damage is created.  I’m talking about a word that can, in an instant, erase any sense of hope, self-esteem, possibility, value, praise, acknowledgement, connection, and love.

It is the gremlin/saboteur’s favorite word.  It uses it mercilessly and without care as to what Values are diminished.

How many times have you longed for the phrase, “I love you,” only to have it quickly followed by “BUT…”?

What about the numbing impact of, “I’m sorry, BUT…” or. “You did a great job, BUT…”, or, “You are the most beautiful, wonderful, talented, amazing human being in the world, BUT…” And what about what we say to ourselves?  Things like, “I did a great job, BUT…”, or “”I’m confident and powerful, I am loved, I am good, BUT…”

Oh the pain, the pain.

In fact, no matter how wonderful and heartfelt those first words are, no matter how much detail and proof and power supports them, they are all instantly eradicated with the crushing blow of one simple word.


And whatever phrase follows continues to forage a path of fear, ego, domination, control, and disconnection.  It kills instantly whatever words of love and gratitude existed for that brief moment, and all that’s left in the wake is blame, resentment, embarrassment, shame, anger, sorrow, and pain.

My friends, the time is at hand.  Stop the spread of this evil word before it’s too late.  I encourage each and every one of you coaches out there to join in this campaign and work relentlessly with each and every one of your clients to erase this heinous word for their vocabulary, before any further destruction occurs.

In fact, I challenge you all to take on playing the “BUT” game.  Have a partner (your coach, your client, your spouse, family member, friend, co-worker… anyone that you care enough to create positive connection with) and place each other on strict scrutiny.  Give them $1 for every “But” the is uttered.

Then, practice converting each “BUT” into an “AND” until every “BUT” is eliminated from our vocabulary.  Then, and only then, will we truly have the chance to grow and thrive.

BUT… you already knew to do this, right?


“Who holds the title now for “The Worst Coach in the World?”

When I was going through my early stages of coach training, I was convinced that it was me.  In fact, in my Supervision calls in Certification, I got a rating of a “1”.  This is when the Supervisor and I would listen to one of my coaching calls that I did with one of my clients, and then we’d evaluate it together.

I can tell you, it was horrible.  I loved the Supervision part of Certification because it was a great place for  me to learn, and after having brought some difficult calls to the sessions, I decided on that one because I felt that I had done some fantastic coaching and was ready for a little pick-me-up and affirmation.  Yet, when I listened to it again with the supervisor, I realized that had done everything wrong with my client.  I coached the saboteur, I was so stuck in my head and trying to solve the problem.  Let’s see, what else?  I certainly didn’t pick a principle, there was absolutely no listening, curiosity, or intuition.  And self-management?  Puh-leaze!

When it came time for the scoring, I actually gave myself a “0”.  The kind and generous Supervisor gave me a “1”, only because it didn’t seem that the client was worse off by the end of the call.  In other words, at least I didn’t damage them. (Comforting thought it was.)

So after that experience, I was convinced that I was the “Worst Coach In The World.”  And in fact, I was convinced that no one would be able to take that title away from me.  Oh sure, there were other coaches who said they were the worst, but they couldn’t hold a candle to my incredible ineptitude.  On top of all that, my Saboteur was very proud of this achievement and missed no opportunity to remind me of my coaching status, placing my awards high up on the mantle, polishing them every day, like a proud parent, “Look at that.  My boy.  The worst coach in the world!  Not every Saboteur can brag about that.”

And it didn’t end there.  In fact, I received my second gold medal of “Worst Coach in the World” when I took my exam.  I didn’t just fail, I FAILED!!!!  Again, the saving grace in my feedback was that I at least hadn’t damaged the client. (It’s not every coaching session where the client actually stops the coach and tells the coach what to do because the coach is completely somewhere else and doing anything but coaching.)

And every time after that when I offered my coaching, I secretly new that it was just setting myself up for another refusal to come, because of course they had to have known about my trophies.  They could probably see my crown.  I imagined that total strangers would be phoning each other in the middle of the night to warn unsuspecting victims to not fall prey to the “Worst Coach in the World” when I called to offer my coaching.  And if they did accept, then it was at their own risk and they would eventually find out that I was a fraud, a sham.

However, strangely enough, time passed.  And somehow, after a period of time I seemed to have misplaced my trophy.   The luster and novelty of it all had worn and my Saboteur seemed to have forgotten it’s gloating pride.  I began to realize that not only was no longer the reigning champion of coaching sucktitude, I was actually pretty good at this stuff.  And in fact, getting better all the time.  I was accumulating proof, not of my poor skill, but of my powerful impact.

What’s even funnier is that because I now coach coaches, I keep running into coaches all the time who claim to be the reining king or queen or coaching misery.

So I’m wondering.  Who is it now?  Where has the title gone to?

Perhaps you think it’s you.  But remember, there can only be one “Worst” so perhaps you’re mistaken.  Maybe you are super sucky, you’re part of the royal family of crappy coaching, but you’re not the Worst.

In fact, I challenge you to write down 10 coaching successes.  10.  Anyone can do ten.  Even if you fell asleep in Fundamentals you can come up with 10.

And if you can come up with 10, then you can easily expand that to 100 in time, and then more and more.  And if that’s the case, then there’s still hope for you yet.

Perhaps you can sell your trophy to the next “Worst Coach in the World” on Ebay.


Let’s take a few moments to learn life lessons from my sweet and nutty beagle, Ivy.

You see, being a beagle, Ivy loves to chase rabbits.  It’s her blessing and good fortune that we live right next to an empty lot where bunnies flock.  Sometimes if she’s lucky, one will creep into our yard.  When that happens, she’s off like a rocket, pursuing her fluffy-tailed foe.  At least until it manages to slip through our fence and all she can do is stare longingly through the boards at the “one that got away.”

And when we’re out for a walk, who knows what bunny, or even a squirrel, may cross her path.  In a split second, she’s exerting every ounce of power to overtake her prey.  There’s only one problem.  She’s restrained by the leash.

This frustrates her to no end.  She keeps pulling and pulling, until she’s up on her hind legs like a merecat, straining at the leash, desperate to break free.

She wants that rabbit so badly, she can almost taste it.  And yet, she can’t break free from this strange restraint that prevents her from moving forward and obtaining her goal.  She pulls so hard sometimes that the leash starts to tug on her throat and she starts to cough uncomfortably.

Through all this, the bunny doesn’t move.  It just remains motionless, staring at her, waiting to see if she’ll get any closer.

Finally, the little hasenpfeffer hops away to safety, increasing the urgency in Ivy.  “Quick!  It’s getting away!   I got to get it NOW!”

And yet, no matter how much she wants it, she doesn’t get any closer.


It’s like how we are with our own desires and goals.  We want something badly in our lives, and we make efforts to get it, but there’s something that holds us back.  Sometimes we can’t see what that is, and that frustrates us even more.  We pull and strain, sometimes even making it uncomfortable for ourselves, but nothing happens.

Where we differ from Ivy is that we have the ability to discover the leash that’s holding us back.  We can actually explore ways to undo its grasp that is has on us.  That’s one of the beautiful gifts of coaching, the ability to discover what is really holding us back from not only moving forward, but catching the prize and sinking out teeth into that soft furry flesh of fulfillment…   Sorry, perhaps that’s a little extreme in the metaphor department.  But you get the idea.

We have the power to uncover and change our limitations.

Ivy can’t do that.  Sure she can look at me with those sweet soft brown eyes, now fire red with bloodlust-aw, it’s so sweet-but it doesn’t get her any closer to her goal.


Finally, the rabbit runs away to safety.  The urgency in Ivy has passed, and she has lost interest and is more concerned with sniffing around on the ground.

At least until the next tantalizing opportunity arises.




“Aren’t you worried about your exam?”

Nope.  I’m confident I will pass, and I figure if I don’t, then there’s something important to learn.

I had that conversation six years ago at an ICF conference.  I had already long past achieved my PCC status and was well on my way to logging hours to complete my requirements for MCC.

Not only that, but I was the teacher of coaches—I knew this coaching stuff solid (at least back then I thought I did.  Looking back now I realize that perhaps my ignorance was bliss).

Perhaps this sounds like ego talking (and maybe there was a little involved) but there was also deep confidence.  You see, I had already gone through the gauntlet of failing a coaching exam.  A tale that was as sordid and brutal as any Grimm Fairy Tale, any Hunger Games book, as dark and twisted as a Steven King novel… ok, perhaps not that much.  But at the time it was pretty bad.  In fact, it was the only time I truly thought of giving up coaching.  In truth, I actually had given it up… but for one last thing.

Anyway, that’s another story which you can read it here in all it’s PDF splendor


How I gloriously failed my first coach certification exam, and lived to tell the tale.

It’s packed with wonderful learning and in the end, although it was painful and frustrating in the process, it ended up being an invaluable experience—one that continues to still, many years later, provide me with powerful lessons to remember, pass along to other coaches, and unpack new ones.

But it’s particularly important for this story for a few reasons.

  1. A) At the time, even though I had failed, I had gotten tremendous support and insightful feedback.
  2. B) I had firsthand experience of failure in coaching, and then grew from it.

BONUS: I was able to transform that experience to benefit other coaches, thus not only passing it on, but reinforcing it within myself.

And as the years went by, I continued to explore and deepen my coaching in exciting and fun ways.  I knew more and more with each passing month.  I continued to hone my skills and shared all that learning with my clients (coaches) as well as fellow coaches I engaged with.  (And the more you share, the more it grows, right?)


Looking back to that conversation at the conference those years ago, I suppose my devil-may-care response to that very frustrated and irritated coach might have looked like it was full of overinflated ego, (well, as I said, maybe a little, born of innocence and ignorance) but it was really just simply confidence (perhaps also born of innocence and ignorance).  I knew that the bar had been raised, but I also knew that whatever it was that was asked of me, I could handle it.  The change in credentialing policy and procedure didn’t intimidate me, it called me forth.  It challenged me and I willingly accepted it.   After all, I didn’t want this to be too easy.


You see, at the time, the ICF had noticed that the credential of MCC was losing its credibility.  There were coaches who were MCC but weren’t displaying the level of skill and competency that would be expected of a Master Certified Coach.  Time was you simple fulfilled your requirements of hours and experience and made your submission and that’s that.  You were an MCC.

A Master Certified Coach.  And all it took was just logging enough hours to show you’d been doing this a long time.  With the assumption that if you had been coaching for a long time, then you certainly must be a Master Coach by then.

That was the theory, I guess.

I don’t mean to discredit those early MCC coaches.  On the contrary I’ve engaged with some incredible and truly Masterful coaches, but there were also many who hadn’t been truly tested of their merit, skill and competency.

The ICF recognized this little discrepancy and made some changes in the requirements to make it harder, including ALL coaches would have to go through an exam, as with the other levels, but of course because this was the highest credential, the bar would be much higher.  As a result, what was once relatively easy to achieve suddenly swung the pendulum the other way to a 90% failure rate.

Ah, I would think to myself, if only I had gotten there sooner, I would just need to submit my hours like I did for my PCC and then I’d be in.  No exam, no testing, no having to prove my worth.  Those were the good old days.

But I welcomed the change.  Because I knew that this was going to be hard.  It was supposed to be challenging.  If anyone was going to be considered a Master at something, then they need to really be solid and strong.  More than just a load of experience.

A Black Belt in the martial arts have to go through a test.  It makes sense here, too.


Many coaches, I suspected, weren’t ready for it.

I was.  True, I had only been coaching for 5 years, but I already felt I could DO what was requested of me.  The only thing that was holding me back was the fact that I didn’t have enough hours accrued yet.


So with that in mind, along with the new rules and requirements, I began to devise some expectations and assumptions.

  1. A) I already was a great coach. All my clients (of whom most were coaches themselves) told me. And I knew it from my own experience.
  2. B) The exam would be no different than what I had done before, only they were looking at it more closely.
  3. C) My style was out of the box, creative, non-linear at times. Exactly what they were likely looking for.
  4. D) Whatever happened, I knew I could handle it.


This seems perfectly natural, doesn’t it?  I mean, take a look at where you are now in your life—your coaching career, your business, whatever.  And look at that next thing that you want to achieve.

Your only frame of reference of whether or not it’s possible is the information that you currently have at your access.

  • What others are saying, what’s in the outside world that is coming to you. In this case, the stories that other coaches were sharing about rumors they had heard (I had yet to actually hear from anyone who had taken this new exam requirement) and also what my clients were telling me about their experience of my coaching.
  • What we make up, think of, choose to remember, feel and believe. In this case, I was pretty proud of my coaching and my knowledge and depth of what I had discovered about this craft and how I was passing it along to others.  And when I would come across any outside sources about coaching, they would only confirm what I already knew and practiced.

This of course works against us, too, right?  We have a design to accomplish something and realize (or feel) that we are currently not at that level, and then we determine automatically that obtaining it is impossible.

For me, this was the opposite.  I clearly saw it in my sights.  I already had a feeling of just how possible it was.  And I had racked up enough personal proof to suggest that this was entirely doable.

And so I set myself on a plan to move faster there.  I was five years into my coaching career and I was confident I would get that MCC before I hit my 10 year mark.  But I had to start NOW.

And so start I did.

Convinced that when the time came I would either pass easily, or if I didn’t, I would graciously accept the experience and chalk it up to more great learning.

Little did I know what experiences awaited me.

You know, they say that it’s the journey, not the end destination, where all the important stuff lies.  Heck, I did not realize just how true that was.