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Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are.

Welcome to the fourth edition of the year of this newsletter. This month, we’ve added a “what’s happening?” section below so that you check out some of our offerings for something that will suit your needs.

The third of the ICF’s updated core competencies deals, in part, with contracting in a coaching session; in other words it’s where the client and us agree on the topic for the session. Having shared this topic, one of the ICF requirements is that the “coach partners with the client to define what the client believes they need to address to achieve what they want to accomplish in the session.” For a long time, I couldn’t make sense of this as I saw part of the reason the client was bringing this to a session was because they had tried to resolve their issue without success; that is, they had tried to address these areas without success. As Einstein apparently said: we cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that caused it. Our job as coaches, then, is to help our clients find another level of thinking that serves them better with this particular issue. So, how would our client know what needs to be addressed?

Myles Downey, in his wonderful book Effective Modern Coaching, gave me a clue. He draws on the equally wonderful work of Timothy Gallwey, often referred to as the Father of Modern Coaching, and points out that there is always a gap between performance and potential – people are always capable of better. What stops us from fulfilling our potential? Well, apart from the fact that there will always be an albeit diminishing gap, no matter how much we improve, the truth is that we often get in our own way. There are numerous innovative ways that we do this, all normally based on fear and doubt. Downey and Gallwey refer to this as “Interference”, with Gallwey coming up with this formula:



 Accordingly, for a long time now, I have listened in my coaching sessions for what might be interfering in the performance (whatever that means for my particular client) on the basis that I believed that if we could overcome or reduce that interference, potential (and therefore performance) would automatically increase – and it does, just as Downey and Gallwey ‘promised’. Our clients normally unwittingly provide us with the interference as part of their current narrative. For example, recently a coach and I were going through a recording of one of her sessions. In the middle of a two- or three-minute response her client was offering as part of his current narrative, he said: “I keep finding an excuse to put off the commencement of the project.” It is normally this type of interference that is the real issue that needs to be resolved, not the presenting issue the client said they wanted to discuss. Put another way, dealing with interference takes the discussion to a deeper level of thinking than the level that caused the issue.

This has been working for me, and my clients, for quite some years now. However, in a new mentor coaching cohort that started a few weeks ago, we were discussing the updated core competency 3 and one of the members of the group, an experienced coach himself, challenged me on my focus on interference, saying that he came from a positive psychology background and was understandably therefore not keen to focus on something negative. In a demo coaching session, he then used a positive psychology approach in his contracting and then had the courage to experiment with interference by asking, “So, what is getting in your way?”

His contracting in the demo coaching session was near perfect (if there can be such a thing in coaching) and really made me think. In effect, he had successfully used both potential and interference to help the client define what they needed to address.

So, there you have it, and I am the wiser for it: there are two variables in the formula that impact on performance – potential AND interference. Thank you, Pranesh!

Until next time, why not experiment on listening for BOTH or EITHER and use this to deepen your clients’ level of thinking about the problem they are presenting. I would be delighted if you would share some of your thoughts on the subject with me by using the “Comment” button below.

Have fun everyone!

Kind regards



 5 Series FREE Webinars

The following webinars will be conducted from 16h00 to 17h00 SAST (GMT+2) on consecutive Wednesdays in May

4 May: 5 Lessons I’ve learnt about building a coaching business

11 May: 5 Common Mistakes Coaches Make

18 May: 5 Ways to transform your coaching sessions – and your clients’ lives

25 May: 5 Coaching Models I find indispensable

To register for any of these webinars click on date and follow the link


 Accelerator Mentor Coaching Session

If you’d like to learn how to objectively assess how effective your sessions are and/or where your areas of coaching development are, please click here to my diary to set up this accelerator session and learn more about that session.


 Mentor Coaching Programme

By attending this programme, you will learn how to master whatever level of coaching you are at and, in the process, coach at a higher level – and, if it’s your next accreditation you are looking for, I will help you with that as well. To learn more, join me for a free webinar on Tuesday, 10 May at 16h00 SAST (GM+2) or click here to have a no-obligation exploratory chat.

The last date to register for the June cohorts is 24 May and the groups commence on 3 and 4 June respectively.


 Mastermind Groups

My mastermind groups consist of 8 coaches who meet every 2 weeks for 10 sessions to support each other’s business development, help solve problems and challenges, and hold each other accountable to complete things we say we’ll do. To learn more, join me for a free webinar on Tuesday, 3 May at 16h00 SAST (GM+2) or click here to have a no-obligation exploratory chat.

The last date to register for the June Cohort is 26 May and the group commences on 2 June.

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