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Compliments of the season to you and best wishes for 2023 – I sincerely hope it’s a year that brings you everything you wish for!

This year I am planning to write about an aspect of one of the ICF’s core competencies – a different one each month – that will make a difference in your coaching sessions but that is seldom spoken about.

Like “the ghosts” we sometimes coach if we are not careful when we are contracting with our client for a session goal (i.e. core competency 3). I have noticed two types of (what I call) ‘ghosts’ in my mentor coaching practice over the years and may even have been guilty of coaching these same ghosts in my early years. I call them ghosts because we coach around these session goals when it’s not possible to do so – they are not in the room, so to speak.

Let me illustrate what I am saying. The first ghost is a person who is not in the room, a person whom our client is trying to ‘change’ in some way. The truth, as we all know when we stop to think about it, is that we can’t change other people – we can only change our view of them and/or how we respond to them. And that is all we can coach our client on. So be careful to notice when your client says that what they want to accomplish in the session is what someone else needs to do and how that someone else should behave. Seems obvious, but the ghost sometimes sneaks into our coaching conversations.

The other ghost I sometimes witness has to do with an outcome that our client wants to achieve that actually is difficult or impossible to achieve in our sessions. These are often around a goal our client sets like: “I will be promoted to executive level within three years”. This type of goal is outside of their control and we can’t achieve it in our sessions, no matter how many sessions we have with our clients in those three years. What we can coach them on is something like, “I want to be in a position to apply and be seriously considered for any executive position that arises in three years’ time”.

So, be aware of any ghosts that sneak into the conversation especially when you are contracting for an overall objective for the coaching programme or contracting around the session goal – make sure the outcome/s required are within the control of the people in the room. Ask yourself the question: “Can we actually achieve that in our session/s?”

I would love to hear any examples you may have of your (or someone else’s) experience with coaching ghosts, so please share them with me at

Until next time!

Best wishes


A lot of my work is focused on supporting coaches, at whatever stage of their coaching journey, in areas like the following:

  • Getting better at what they do;
  • Dealing with issues that are arising for them;
  • Helping them build their coaching business;
  • Providing mentor coaching support for their ICF credentialing application;
  • Providing them with a community of like-minded coaches they can interact with on various levels.

If any of these resonate with you, or you are looking for support in any other area, please use this LINK to set up an informal exploratory chat with me

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