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As I write this, I am ill with flu – I’ve had it for 3 1/2 weeks. In the second week, for the first time (that I can remember) in 22 years of coaching, I canceled a coaching session because of illness – in fact, I canceled three days’ worth of sessions. As you can imagine, it was a big decision for me for the first time and made me wonder when it is OK to cancel and when not. I mean come on I’ve been ill before but didn’t cancel – why was this different? Where is the line we shouldn’t cross as coaches?

Additionally, there are probably other times when our circumstances are such that we should consider canceling our sessions due to other forms of unfitness: examples might be if we are clinically or situationally depressed at the time, or suffering from anxiety or panic attack, or in the middle of separating from a loved one, or in the middle of some conflict with someone – the list goes on. These can also be seriously debilitating.

There are “external” considerations too, right! Can we afford to take three days without income? How might cancellation affect the momentum and focus of our clients coaching program? Is today “a must” for them?

Of course, we could always take the issue to supervision – it would make a great topic for discussion – but that would be too late and would only help us for future decisions. But it’s today that we are feeling debilitated and it’s today that we need to decide whether to cancel or not! It’s today we need to perform or not perform! For me, our duty of care as coaches does not include the liberty to perform at anything less than our best. Performing adequately is not good enough! We need to perform at a level commensurate with our normal range of performances – after all, whose interests are we serving? Primarily, I believe I am serving the interests of my clients, and their stakeholders – current and future. Will I be abiding by this level of duty of care if I coach my clients today? Is it in their interests that I coach? If yes, then I can go ahead. If not, I must cancel.

This is a pretty high standard for all of us, I know! How will I know if I can or if I can’t? I suspect the answer to the question may be similar to the one I believe I unwittingly arrived at over the last three weeks – I think I just knew, deep down, intuitively, where that line was, and then erred on the side of caution. Intuitively, we know whether we are up to it, or not.

We’ve all been in the same situation probably many times. So, these are just my thoughts – I’d be really keen to hear about your experiences and comments.

Let’s all make a world of difference.

Until next month

Take care


If you would like support and guidance with any of these or other supervision topics, please use this link to my diary to set up a FREE informal Virtual Coffee Chat with me.



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