Coaching from the Inside Out (#818)

A reader of these tips wrote in last week to ask about our upcoming Coaching from the Inside Out event in London in July. The key question in their email was this:

I’m interested in your upcoming coaching event in London, but I’m curious why you make a distinction between inside-out and outside-in. Isn’t all coaching a combination of both?

Here’s an excerpt from my reply:

 

In 1931, the nine year old actor Jackie Cooper was playing the title role in the film Skippy. In order to coach a great performance out of him, the director reportedly bought Cooper a puppy as a present. On the day of the big emotional climax of the film, with the cameras rolling, he threatened to shoot the dog if Cooper didn’t cry on demand. Cooper bawled in terror, the scene was filmed, and Cooper went on to become the youngest actor ever to win an Academy Award for best actor for his performance.That’s an extreme example of what I call the outside-in approach to coaching. From Knute Rockne’s real life “Win one for the Gipper” speech to Gene Hackman’s understated half-time pep talk in the film Hoosiers, the coach finds the athlete’s (or client’s) hot buttons – their values, beliefs, and emotional access points – and presses them in key moments to “push them into greatness”.

There is a place for this kind of coaching, and at its best it is truly magnificent to watch and experience. Yet to paraphrase the great motivator Zig Ziglar, this kind of coaching is like taking a bath. Just because you had a great one yesterday doesn’t mean you won’t need another one today.

People do internalize outside-in coaching over time – they learn to give themselves pep talks in their heads, and to visualize danger or reward to coax an extra mile run or an extra hour of work out of themselves. But this kind of self-manipulation is ultimately self-defeating, as it’s most often driven by what a person thinks they should do and has a tendency of pushing them further and further out of sync with their innate wisdom and inner knowing.

Coaching from the inside out isn’t just about getting more out of a person in the moment. It’s about pointing them towards the source of great performance until they see it for themselves and can connect with it almost at will. It’s less about setting someone’s emotions on fire than re-igniting their divine spark, which feels like inspired well-being on the inside and looks like a twinkle in their eyes to the world.

There is a beautiful story about the spiritual teacher Syd Banks talking about the inside out approach with a man who was considering changing careers and beginning to work with people in this new way.

Syd said “We have the most wonderful job in the world. We find people in various stages of sleep. And then we get to tap them on the shoulder and be with them as they wake up to the full magnificence of life.”

And that for me is the promise of the inside-out approach. Worst case, our clients feel more at peace and have a more wonderful experience of being alive. Best case, they feel more at peace, have a more wonderful experience of being alive, win the big game, and drive home in a Porsche. Either way, the world is a better place for having them (and us) in it.


If you’re drawn to it, I’d love to see you in London or on one of our other events around the world.  In the meantime, I encourage you to look for yourself and see what you can see about the energy and intelligence behind life. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the more you look in that direction, the simpler and gentler your life becomes.

 

With all my love,
Michael

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