Paradigm Shift

September 14, 2012

My latest blob post on Paradigm Shift can be seen on:

Handshake 2.0.

Enjoy, and feel free to share your comments.




executive skills

July 24, 2012

My BLOG this week relates to the article I have published on executive skills.

Enjoy it at:



Relational Presence

June 15, 2012

My most current Blog post on “Relational Presence” can be found at HandShake2.0:


Leave comments here OR there.


psychotherapeutic culture

January 4, 2012

Last July I Blogged about the distinction between coaching and psychotherapy.

Part of my work in the area of the distinction between coaching and psychotherapy relates to what I call “the psychotherapeutic culture”. This relates to the historical tendency for the psychoanalytic movement and later the psychotherapy profession to define the terms of “mental health”. One of my central points is that the bar has been consistently lowered for having a mental health diagnosis. The coaching profession and the coaching paradigm is pushing back on this idea. The coaching paradigm believes that people are fundamentally “creative, resourceful and whole”. More on that another time…

Recent news supports my contention that the psychotherapy culture tends to pathologize normal human behavior. In The National Psychologist (Jan/Feb 2012) the lead article discusses the further “medicalizing” of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) publishes. The DSM is the ‘bible’ of psychiatric disorders. Anyone who receives psychotherapy for ANY reason gets a diagnosis from this manual if they want their health insurance to pay for it. The fifth edition of the DSM is slated to be published in May of 2013. I quote from this article,

[The DSM will] “lower the threshold of mental disorders to the point that sadness at the loss of a love one could be diagnosed as major depressive disorder”.

Need more be said? As a professional coach who is also licensed as a counseling psychologist this tendency to pathologize normal human behavior within a person’s normal adult development concerns me. It blurs the line between coaching and psychotherapy and can confuse both coaching professionals and the consuming public. So that coaches and psychotherapists are absolutely clear about these distinctions I have created a course to examine these differences and the paradigm shift that is occuring.

One last thought. I am not critical in general of the psychotherapeutic profession. I was a psychotherapist myself up till about ten years ago. If not for the psychotherapy profession there would be many ‘lost souls’ in this world with nowhere to turn for their very real psychological disorders. My concern is how overreaching the psychotherapy culture has become in defining normal experiences and behavior within the rubric of mental illness and the stigma that this can bring. This tendency to create dysfunction where none exists does not support the achievement of one’s potential or creating a satisfying life. This is one reason that the coaching profession is being so well receive in the market place. When practiced in accord with the established core competencies, coaching becomes an alternative to psychotherapy for everyday people, who want to develop their potential and create and live a meaningful and satisfying life.

Pt 2: Distinguishing between coaching and psychotherapy

December 8, 2011

In this second of three videos I help the viewer understand the coaching paradigm so a clearer understanding between coaching and other professions is possible. This is the second part of three, from my presentation to the Denver Coach Federation.

See part I in a previous Blog post (July 14th, 2011).

The course I teach in this area can be found here:

Happy at Work?

November 11, 2011

Are you happy at work?

Some may think this is SO soft a question, that there is no sense in even asking it.

My dad would have said, “You don’t work to be happy.”

So now we are discovering the link between happiness and retention and productivity, etc.

Here is a very cool survey to measure your happiness at work:

(Wall Street Journal connection)

Consider giving it a try. You will learn some things just by taking the survey and looking at your results. I promise.

And if you want to explore the implications of your scores, well isn’t that what coaching is for?


Note: Jessica Pryce-Jones the person associated with this work was one of our presenters where I co-chaired the science track of programs at the recent ICF Conference in Las Vegas.


Executive Skills

November 3, 2011

What are “executive skills”? Think of these as higher order cognitive abilities. We usually are not good at all of them. There may be a correlation between executive skills and “strengths” in general. There is a simple, self published measure of executive skills that I have gotten permission to reproduce:

If you want to do a simple self assessment this tool is a great one.

When I did this assessment it brought more clarity to every success I could recount in my life. It also affirmed my decision to hire my executive assistant Cathy. Her strength, my weakness! A great working relationship.

If you are curious, feel free to print and take this assessment. If you want to discuss your results, let me know. “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.”


August 29, 2011

Intuition is an easily misunderstood concept. Often dismissed as “woo woo” in the past, there is good evidence and a body of literature that now legitimizes intuition as an important executive and coaching skill. In fact the article cited below says that:

“intuitive intelligence” (Sadler-Smith and Shefy, 2010) … may sit comfortably alongside EI. (Emotional Intelligence)”

The study also acknowledges,  “the importance of creating an organizational culture that values and nurtures intuition. This requires leaders to share their intuitive experiences and give weight to intuition alongside rational, process-driven analysis in organizational decision making.”

To find a coach who shows evidence of a strong competency in the area of intuition look for the following qualities, and to develop your own intuition consider the factors cited in this article:

. is self-confident and client-centred;
. gives themselves permission to access and use intuition;
. listens to their body;
. is mentally and physically prepared;
. is disciplined, focused and organised;
. is responsive to challenges in the moment;
. seeks permission from the client to use intuition;
. establishes and maintains rapport with the client;
. is unattached to their intuitions;
. is objective about their intuitions; and
. is courageous in their engagement with intuition.

From the article:

“As a profession (coaching) the more we are explicit about the use of intuition, the more we talk about it, the more we can benefit from it. Indeed the purpose of this paper is to contribute to the legitimatisation of intuition as a critical skill in coaching and employee development.”

So for both coaches and coaching clients, the development of intuition is an important task. I work with both coaches and my coaching clients to do just that.


Teaching and learning intuition: Some implications for HRD and coaching practice

Penny Mavor Quintessenza Consulting and University of Surrey, Guildford, UK,


Eugene Sadler-Smith and David E. Gray

University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

Pt 1: Distinguishing between coaching and psychotherapy

July 14, 2011

I am very excited about the feedback I am getting on the three videos that I have on the distinction between coaching and psychotherapy. In part one I begin to define the psychotherapy paradigm that is deeply embedded into Western culture.

I hope this materials helps viewers start to understand that there is a real and significant difference between coaching and psychotherapy and these differences are deeper than simply the language that each uses, though that can be  a basis of comparison.

The deeper distinctions are of a philosophical and ontological nature and really define the underlying coaching and psychotherapy paradigms. In part one learn about the psychotherapy paradigm.


Words mean something…

April 16, 2011

So here is a video that is going viral.

Short and to the point.

Change your words and change your world: