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You Decide, Honey

Is there a place for coaching at home? You decide. What follows is one of my most memorable encounters with my daughter.

One Monday afternoon a handful of years ago, I was in the kitchen when I suddenly heard a burst of protest from upstairs.

“Mooooooooommmmmmm!”

“Yes?”

“I CAN’T go to gymnastics practice tonight.” By that time I was headed upstairs.

“Why not?”

“I’ve got too much homework this week!”

At the edge of giving in (hey, what more honorable excuse than homework?), and yet wanting my daughter to honor her commitment to the sport, I decided to do a bit of coaching.

I asked questions like:

As the layout of the week and its demands became clear, I could see her wheels turning. After some silence, during which, (1) she was processing the information that she had put on the table, and (2) I was trying unsuccessfully to form an opinion on whether or not she ‘should’ attend gymnastics practice that evening, I said something like, “Ok Honey. You know best. You decide.” 

She took a swift, almost indignantly deep breath, and replied, “Ok! I’ll go to practice tonight.”

Indeed, she went, and she made the rest of the week work quite well.

I learned SOOOO much from this encounter. When similar challenges would arise, I would try to help my daughter sort out the situation, and then leave the decision up to her.

While this is an example of how things can play out at home, it is applicable anywhere. We coaches can help our coachees make their own sense of the chaos, and then ‘throw’ the responsibility for making decisions back into their laps. We must continue to let them know that we believe that they are ‘naturally creative, resourceful, and whole’*.

While my daughter appreciated these conversations in general (and there were many), I will never forget the time she came to me and said: “Mooooommm!!! I’m gonna ask you a question. And this time I DON’T want you to say ‘You decide, Honey!’ I just want you to tell me what to DO!”

*See CTI’s Co-Active Coaching model