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The gift of coaching

The gift of coaching

March 17, 2020
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This morning started with me getting a gift, the gift of coaching a wise woman, assisting her in finding insight and just-do-it-determination.

But… isn’t the gift hers then?

Well. Yes. That too.

But what I find true in most coaching sessions I do (when they are done… hm. How can I phrase this? When it makes sense for me to coach said person, when it’s truly a mutual agreement, and when there is absolutely no sense of me doing it just to be kind. Those coaching sessions!) is that they are truly a gift for me as well. I am reminded of my own wisdom, I am inspired by my client’s journey, and their struggles and bumps-in-the-road help me shine a light on similar aspects in my own life.

The synchronicity is palpable and that’s another signal that we are a good match. When what my clients are working on is a different shade of grey perchance, but still, close enough to my shade at the moment, I am kept on my toes. I do my utmost to keep just ahead of my client, in order to serve to the last drop of my capacity, knowing that at anytime my client will leap ahead of me, having me stretch farther, giving it my all to catch up and just, barely, pass them by again.

It means I do the work, and they do the work, and when we meet up, there are synergies, even though, don’t get me wrong, while I am coaching, I coach. I am fully present with my client and they are in the driver’s seat. My agenda, my needs, do not take center stage. But whatever I am working on at the moment is there. It’s present, and that presence is, to my experience, of service to the process.

(And I know coaches are not supposed to admit this. But hey. Perhaps that’s why I am not interested in having clients who are “way behind me” [don’t get me wrong here! There’s no judgment to this, just discernment on my part.] but rather those that are but a step behind me, helping me keep sharp and at my best. I would not have thought of this without these two questions coming from coach Dave: Who can I coach? And who do I want to coach? Great questions those!)

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Daily reflections on coaching

November 6, 2018
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in Tip
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I am a sucker for challenges, especially of the kind that goes something along the lines of “do x for y number of days in a row”. So when I stumbled upon a challenge on Facebook to join the #BusinessBoomUtmaning (utmaning means challenge in Swedish) which challenges me to post a Facebook live-video every day between the 1st and 21st of November, I was game!

The group is in Swedish, but I chose to do my challenge in English, and I also decided to have Coaching as the theme for the entire gig. Every day since November 1th I’ve created a short Facebook Live-video, and I have every intention of fulfilling my obligation to myself of running the course.

And since it’s a daily challenge for 21 days, it’s easypeasy as well – because it means I know that every day I am to do a Live. I don’t have to wonder if “it’s today or not”, because it is. Every day. For twentyone days.

My choice of theme gives me ample opportunity to reflect upon what Coaching means. For me. And for my clients – at least what they share with me. Additional perks is learning to do FB Live:s, get me in the habit of doing videos, get better at talking directly to the camera, get thinking of coaching more specifically, get more to blog about (because whatever I reflect upon most likely can be turned into a blog post) and as icing on the cake, it’s great fun to keep tabs on how many views each video gets.

Do you enjoy this type of challenge? Or do you abhor them?

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A touch of gentleness

March 28, 2020
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In much of the work I do –tankespjärn, coaching, leadership training– I use me as my go-to-example. What I write and tell stories about (in essence what #tankespjärn is about) is not something I’ve thought up, it’s something I have lived for many years, and still live. Daily.

#tankespjärn has been my life philosophy for 20+ years (even though the word came to me in 2013), and it’s been the single biggest contributing factor having me shift from being the most negative person in the world, to… something very different, if perhaps not the most positive person in the world. But not far from. So whatever it is I write or say, is what I’ve done. Myself. I know it can be done, and I know that it can be helpful.

I also know it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution that I am ”selling”, and I try my utmost to not be prescriptive but descriptive in my work. I share what has worked for me, in the hope that it might inspire you to think differently, to act differently, to try on a new trait or two to see what might come of it. Not saying you must do what I’ve done, but rather, that it’s possible to create huge shifts in inner dialogue and ways of interacting with self and others, if what’s is isn’t serving you. And I’ve yet to meet one person who’s served (truly) by all he/she/they do either consciously or unconsciously.

I’ve learned how to be gentle (with an edge) towards myself, after having an internal dialogue hijacked by a combo of Hitler/Mao/Stalin, and in this era of an epidemic of harshness (not speaking about Corona…), the opportunities that open up when people learn how to treat themselves gently –self-honoring– are just limitless.

A little bit goes a long way, as a touch of gentleness, teases out even more gentleness, and soon enough, you’ve unlearned harshness and learned gentleness.

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Throw the hat!

March 19, 2020
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Stop thinking! Start doing!

That was the message I got in a mastermind-session a month ago.

You’ve been thinking too long, it’s time to throw the hat and commit.

And it’s true. That’s what I need to do.

Like I did last summer, when my coach Dave during a coaching session challenged me to throw something out there, and revert in 15 minutes to the session. That turned out to be my first proper Mastermind-class which I gave weekly starting in August of 2019, running for three months. It turned out lovely, and I truly enjoyed it, as did the participants.

If Dave hadn’t challenged me to throw that hat (sending the invite to 10 handpicked people I’d love to have participate in my Mastermind), I would not have done it. And that would have been my loss. Truly.

So whyyyyyyyyyy don’t I throw the hat for #tankespjärn?

And yeah. I know. It really doesn’t matter why.
What matters is that I do it.

So.

.

.

.

.

.

…cliffhanger.

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Good bye 2019!

December 31, 2019
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This year with the intention As I am has truly been a most wonderful, challenging and rich year. So much has happened, so many meetings have taken place, so many insights and lessons have come my way. 

Monthly follow-up of the intention of the year: As I am
Continuously following up on the fairly detailed ambitions I set within four areas (bodily, mental and spiritual wellbeing, creativity and financial husbandry) has been a very interesting activity, helping me to remain focused, as it has given me at least (!) a monthly reminder on what it is I want to focus on.

Timetravel
The invite to T and Hs 100-year party in Stockholm gave me a day (or two) of time-travelling. The theme of the party was the 1920s, and with my soul sister S and A I was given a chance to truly travel in time. As if I simply stepped outside of my ordinary life during these days… magical!

Cold baths
I started taking cold baths at the end of November 2018, and took it to new heights during 2019, ending on a high with 8 days of cold bathing in a row. Thanks to the deep breathing-practice that’s taken a firm place in my life during 2019, I’ve given up the quick ”in and out”-dips of before, in favor of five-ten minute submersions in cold water, thanks in large part of breathing and focus. It’s absolutely amazing and definitely something I will continue doing!

Coach Dave
In December 2018 I hired coach Dave for a year’s worth of coaching, at substantial cost, a tad more than 100% more than I’ve ever invested in myself before. When the time came to pay the second installment, my Jenny (who does my company finances) if Dave was worth it. My answer was fairly illuminating: No, Dave isn’t worth it, but I am! It’s been a fantastic journey and I have learned a lot, but perhaps the most important insight is just that one. I am worth investing in!

Podcasting
I have released one round of my own pod Doing gentle with an edge, and have twice as many episodes recorded but as yet unreleased. I will, in due time! I have taken part in Caspians Ett samtal (for the second time round; in Swedish) and have, thanks to Caspian, moderated the pod Fria Barn (in Swedish) released in the fall of 2019. Together with Caspian and Mr D I am also busy recording a number of episodes of a new pod in English which will be released in January. Finishing of the year with a couple of days of New Years retreat with those two gentlemen – what a wonderful way to end a year and a decade in!

60 hours of tankespjärn
For many years, tankespjärn has been my companion, as a word, as a concept, even, when I started to reflect upon it, as my life philosophy, since long before the word revealed itself to me. During the year the idea to host 60 hours of tankespjärn was born in a conversation with coach Dave. That’s what happened and there will be more, mark my word, in years to come.

Pecha Kucha and TEDxSlottsparken
As I so often do, once again I say: Thanks to Caspian I did a Pecha Kucha in Lund in April headlined How I broke up with my inner dictator, and that experience in contrast with my June experience as a moderator at TEDxSlottsparken was enormous. I was very nervous to do the Pecha Kucha, whereas I, moderating TEDx felt calm and collected. The difference? My Pecha Kucha was written in advance, and had me timing speech with 20 slides for 20 seconds each, while as a moderator I could act in the moment from what was, which (apparently) suits me much better!

Kenya
Nine days in Kenya after midsummer turned into one of the most rewarding experiences of the year. It’s given me so much, in so many aspects, such as an increased understanding of the tree-savings-scheme I have as a part of my (and the kids) long-term savings since 2015, to an increased network and a very close friendship with my roommate Lena. I finished the blog-year with a 25-days advent calendar here, with images and stories from the trip, something which deepened my gratefulness for going, even more.

Mastermind-pilot
Another thing was born during a coaching conversation with Dave, when he gave me 15 minutes to “do something”, which resulted in my sending out an invite on the fly, to a handful of chosen people, to participate in a Mastermind-pilot. During thirteen Tuesday evenings starting in August, had me spending an hour with four participants and me as the facilitator. What a journey that turned into. A pilot that definitely has me wanting more!

Culture
It’s been a year of many lovely cultural experiences of all kinds. With Heléne I have experienced Patricia Piccininis A World of LoveGuds olydiga revben, sing-a-long to Rocketman på Spegeln as well as Stina Wollters exhibition in Borstahusen. Add to that a fantastic production of Mozart’s Requiem at Malmö Opera with Skånes Dansteater, yet another sing-a-long with Dirty Dancing on the big screen and last but not least, performing Stabat Mater over Easter, the first-ever performance of Missa Brevis at All hallows eve and the choir trip to Jämtland.

Goodreads reading challenge
I set a goal to read 75 books during 2019, and finished my 76th book on New Year’s Eve, so mission accomplished. I also have the 12 Swedish och 12 English books I chose at the start of the year, to read and blog about on a monthly basis. Ever since I invented this challenge in 2018, when I chose 26 + 26 (which was a bit too much) I have realized this to be an excellent way for me to ensure that the books I buy “in order to read” which then end up unread on a bookshelf, actually get read. So I will do the same for 2020, 12 + 12.

Ready to leave the nest
My firstborn headed off to Australia on adventures in January, coming home end November, just having turned twenty. 10,5 months on the other side of the planet, and if I had any doubt before the trip, by now I am 100% certain this kid is ready to leave the nest. This makes me very happy and grateful because this is what parenting is really about, making kids ready to fly on their own!

The year that has passed has, of course, been loaded with a huge number of things besides the few I display here, but in general, it’s been a fabulous year with up’s and down’s, with tears of joy as well as sorrow, with amazing moments in solitude as well as in togetherness, and I am thankful to each and everyone and everything–including myself–that’s participated in making this year so rich.

Finally, I wish for you and yours to have a truly wonderful new year, in joy and love, with warmth and light–take good care of yourself!

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On the fly

August 13, 2019
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in Tip
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Just finished my second Mastermind call, with the group I have initiated. Second one-hour call of a total of thirteen, running from August till the end of October, on a weekly basis. Four participants, and me as moderator.

The fun part is, I sent invitations for this Mastermind, on the fly. Dave the coach gave me a challenge to ”take action” during a coaching call early June, and this was what came to me: I want to start a Mastermind group for coaches and/or people interested in coaching.

When I sent out the email invites, then and there, I had nothing planned, except ”a three-month Mastermind”. I didn’t have a set starting date, no plan for content or anything really. Except, of course, six and a half years of being an active participant in my own Mastermind-group, which, as my wise friend Caspian pointed out, certainly means I am extremely grounded in the Mastermind concept as such. Had it been something which I have no experience or expertise in, I would not have made this type of invitation, that’s for sure.

So.
Just do it, on the fly.
Throw something out into the world.
Chances are (quite good actually) that if it’s something you have found value in – someone else will too.

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Three questions

May 22, 2019
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Finished another coaching conversation with coach Dave. A conversation much like any conversation really.
Flowing this way, then that way. Slowing down, sometimes stopping altogether, only to pick up speed, and rush forth!
Like a meandering river, conversations ebb and flow. Much like life, honestly.

Is that what coaching can be?
Yeah. Why not! Whatever serves in the moment, that’s what coaching can be.

Today, what served me the most was a meandering conversation, that has me popping ideas like crazy, on blog posts, sales pitches, other conversations to have and on and on…

Now, to ensure I don’t go off the deep end, Dave brought me back to the importance of three very basic questions. Questions I hereby vow to stick with for the next month (because boy… is it ever easy to skip these and start to build a house without having gotten the foundation well in place first!).

I will sit with them. Reflect upon them. Dig into them.
Write. Speak. Share. Listen. Learn. And… act!

The latter aspect might be one of the more important ones, given where I am at, and what I want to accomplish. So I will dig deep and act upon my findings. I will try it out, because I cannot figure this one out on my own, in conversation only with myself (and coach Dave). I have to (and want to!) put this to the test, something not done in silence, not done alone in my chambers and not done theoretically.

Three questions.
One month.

(Or more? Who knows… Or less?
Nah. I will give it a month!)

You with me in exploring this?

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Follow up – March 2019 – As I am.

April 6, 2019
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I intend to go through my intentions for the year at the end of each month. This gives me a monthly reminder of my intentions as well as ample space for reflection and possible adjustment.

March. What a month! And it’s already finished, but far. It’s been a month with a lot happening – both in and with me.

2019. The year when I will…

* have my bodily wellbeing in focus by:

  • continuing with my daily Seven accompanied by burpees: ✅Soon I have 1700 Sevens in a row…
  • Headspace daily: ✅
  • run a minimum of  75 runs: 1 run in March as well. I will take a run when I feel like it.
  • take cold (outdoors) baths as often as I can – and add to this by taking cold showers: 1 cold bath in March, one which had me go into the water twice on the other hand.
  • dance Lindy hop as often as I can (taking a class during the spring, and then there’s the social dancing as well!): 7/10 classes completed, haven’t missed a single one.
  • continuing to ride my bike and walk as much as possible: walked almost 60 kilometers and biked just short of 310 ditto.

* have my mental and spiritual wellbeing in focus by:

  • reading at least 75 books, of which 12 in Swedish and 12 in English already have been chosen. These 12 + 12 I will be blogging about: Read 17/75 böcker. Blogged about A fine balance (book 3 of 12 in English) and the Swedish counterpart is I det sista regnet.
  • learn at least five songs by heart including lyrics on the guitar, which will be made possible by my aim at ten minutes of guitar playing on a daily basis: Missed out on playing the guitar three days in March, and have stopped setting a timer for 10 minutes. Sometimes I just play one song, sometimes two, sometimes three. So 10 minutes a day isn’t something I live up to on a daily basis, but I am playing, more often than not! And soon I have Utan dina andetag down pat and Shallow which is our current homework-song is coming along quite nicely as well, because I really enjoy this song!
  • I will let the wonderful book The book of Awakening by Mark Nepo be my daily companion: ✅
  • hold digital 24-hour sabbats at least twice a month: 9-10th and 23-24th of March I observed my digital sabbat. In April I aim for the same on 12-13th and 19-20th.
  • börja podda: Alltså… inledande avsnittet klart, upplagt på Soundcloud, och ytterligare tio avsnitt fiffade… men iTunes ratade mig. På kryptiska grunder med en hjälptext som inte gjorde mig klokare. Så jag skrev om. Ratad igen. Skrev om igen. Ratad igen… så då lusläste jag den där hjälptexten ännu en gång och skrev om igen, på lite annat vis. “Submitted for review” i över en vecka, över månadsskiftet… men idag (4 april) så är den “Active”! Whoop. Oj liksom – men det får jag skriva mer om i nästa månadssummering ju! *cliffhanger*
  • släppa (minst) 4 e-böcker under 2019: Spinner tankar men inget som konkretiserats. Än.

* have creation in focus by:

  • booking at least four two-day writing retreats during the year: pondering a few ideas about writing retreats, including the possibility of running a digital retreat? My ideas from January remain.
  • keeping up with daily Facebook Lives for as long as there’s energy in doing it: ✅
  • blog daily: ✅
  • start to pod: Well…. the introductory episode is finished, upoladed to Soundcloud, and another ten episodes are ready to go… but iTunes rejected me. On cryptical reasons with a help text that did nothing to make me wiser. So I re-wrote the metadata. Rejected again. So I re-wrote it once more. And was rejected yet again… so I took a finetoothed comb to that help text, and re-wrote once more, but with a twist. “Submitted for review” was the status on iTunes for more than a week, passing the end of the month… but on April 4th, the status was changed to “Active”! Whoop!! I mean – wow! But hey… more of that in next months monthly summary! *cliffhanger*
  • release (at least) 4 e-books in 2019: thoughts are swirling, nothing concretized as of yet.

* have financial husbandry in focus by:

  • sowing, sowing and sowing a little bit more; on a weekly basis intentionally work on my various income streams: ✅
  • keep tabs on my set invoicing goal on a monthly basis: ✅I reached my set goals in January and March, not in February.
  • keep an accounts book on private income and expenses: ✅I have to say, keeping tabs on my finances, both incoming and outgoing, sure makes for a higher state of consciousness around what there is. I highly recommend it.

And finally – on all levels – experiment and play, experience pleasure and exploring and challenging myself, all the while being gentle to myself: brother and sister-in-law on a quick visit to Sweden so me and the youngest kid of the house got on a train to Vejbystrand for just short of 24 hours (where I totally make said youngster completely embarrassed to have a mother like me, as I stand in the middle of the square in Ängelholm and start to d a n c e until brother, sister-in-law, mother and aunt arrive on the bus. Youngster n o t happy, let me tell you. The residents of Ängelholm smiled on the other hand!), brother gave me an introductory course in genealogical research with help of the app Ancestry, getting the last of the pod-work done as well as records an introductory episode, went to a vernissage and a 24-hour castle get-away with my most lovely wives (yes!), give birth to, and starts to work on an idea that is very close to my heart in coaching conversations with Dave, spend a full weekend dedicated to Stabat Mater with a concert in Denmark as well as in Malmö with a get-together at my place after the Malmö-concert, for friends and family who are attending the concert, manages to go skinny dipping in the ocean (cold bath!) despite the fact that it’s almost storm winds out, coaches, walks, enjoy the sunshine and bike rides and generally: living life!

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Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school (book 2 of 12)

February 24, 2019
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in Tip
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Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school.
A book by Alan Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.

“In the end, nobody can give you professional capital. It’s an investment. […] Nobody’s going to be prepared to invest in anyone unless they are willing to invest in themselves. This is by far the best place, and indeed the first place, to begin.” 

I remember a coachwalk I had with a client, who got a massive insight into exactly this: how he had mistakenly believed that it was the sole responsibility of his employer to invest in him, rather than something he also had responsibility for. By (also) investing in himself, he would be increasing his own human and professional capital, serving both himself as well as his current, and future, employers.

“Working with big ballroom audiences, or conducting training workshops outside of school or using one-to-one coaching to enforce compliance with imposed programs, has little deep or long-standing impact on teachers’ daily practice.
What is crucial is what happens between workshops. Who tries things out? Who supports you? Who gives you feedback? Who picks you up when you make a mistake the first time? Who else can you learn from? How can you take responsibility for change together? The key variable that determines success in any innovation, in other words, is the degree of social capital in the culture of your own school Learning is the work, and social capital is the fuel. If social capital is weak, everything else is destined for failure.”

As I have been working with Pernilla Tillander with all pre-school as well as all school-staff in the commune of Skurup in the south of Sweden during 2017-2018, I am totally onboard here. We have done four half-day workshops with all staff (in groups of maximum 70 people), spread out over two semesters, with process leaders following up b e t w e e n the modules – and those follow-up sessions have been absolutely critical for the success of the personal group development we were hired to provide! Because the truth is this: we can provide an opportunity for personal group development through leadership training. But we, me and Pernilla, are not the ones who makes it happen for real, that is up to the participants. We do our bit of the work, of course, but the rest is up to the participants. They have to do the work: “The best place to begin is always with yourself. Your own experiences, frustrations, ideals, and sense of self are the crucial starting points.”

Now, this is a book with a lot of good stuff. It’s well laid out and presented, and ends with clear and concise suggestions for developing roadmaps ahead, on three levels, for teachers; for school and district administrators; and for state, government and union/federation leaders. And I definitely think there’s a lot of value to be had, in making the suggested changes to ensure a growing and continuously evolving professional capital. (And honestly, they do target teaching and education, but there’s plenty of value for any person, organization or workplace interested in culture and development through learning better, more and continuously.)

Hargreaves and Fullan push all the way to the edges of the box I call the school system. But boy would I like to see them push beyond those edges! Now that would be something extraordinary, that’s for sure. Because although they are great at prodding sore spots, identifying areas that must be transformed…. they are still locked within the paradigm of schools, in the way schools are, and have been, since they were first created. They do make a pass at the unit of the lesson but fail to take their own advice, never fully making a pass at the unit of schools.

“The unit of the lesson that Hattie adopts as the standard currency of teaching and schooling is more than a century old. Yet, lessons have never been the only unit of teaching and they will likely become less and less the unit of teaching in the future. […] If we are saying that it is outdated to base teachers’ contracts on class sizes, using the class as the unit of calculation, then we have to acknowledge that among administrators and researchers, the lesson may be and should be becoming equally outdated as the unit of teaching and learning too.”

Don’t you agree with me that it would be very interesting to see them take this critical viewpoint up a notch or two, encompassing the entire system of schooling and education?


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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The Talent Code (book 1 of 12)

January 27, 2019
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in Tip
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The Talent Code. Written by Daniel Coyle. Subtitled Greatness isn’t born, it’s grown. The basis of this entire book is this: Skill is a cellular insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows in response to certain signals. This is, in other words, a book about one thing: myelin. The fatty layer that wraps around neurons insulating the neural thread, so the signal can travel more rapidly along it.

It’s also a book about three things, which is how the central nervous system generates more myelin:
Deep practice
Ignition
Master coaching

Deep practice“It’s all about finding the sweet spot. There’s an optimal gap between what you know and what you’re trying to do. When you find that sweet spot, learning takes off.”

Ignition is about finding that thing you love. Stoking the fire, wanting to put more fuel on it, daily. And that requires character: “Usually, we think of character as deep and unchanging, an innate quality that flows outward, showing itself through behavior. KIPP shows that character might be more like a skill – ignited by certain signals, and honed through deep practice.” 

Might be more like a skill? No. No doubt in my mind. Character is as flexible and formative as any other skill. Learning to read and write, to dance and sing, to ride the bike and drive a car. Skills that we can acquire. Learning to be kind and generous, helpful and loving, funny and intense. Or for that matter unkind and harsh, mean and petty, jealous and hateful. All skills we can learn, even though these latter are usually talked about as character traits rather than skills. But we can learn them. It’s not a matter of being born with or without. Practice makes perfect (given that the practice is deep of course!).

Master coaching is being this kind of teacher: to get [the student] inside the deep-practice zone, to maximize the firings that grow the right myelin for the task, and ultimately to move closer toward the day that every coach desires, when the students become their own teachers. 

In the words of Robert Lansdorp, professional tennis coach: “If it’s a choice between me telling them to do it, or them figuring it out, I’ll take the second option every time. You’ve got to make the kid an independent thinker, a problem-solver. I don’t need to see them every day, for chrissake. You can’t keep breast-feeding them all the time. The point is, they’ve got to figure things out for themselves.”

Another way to put it is in the words of Thomas Carruthers: “A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” 

I’ve experienced this several times in my professional life, and it is the most rewarding experience I can think of. When I am no longer needed, my work is done, and I can move on. It’s simply the best ever!

The Talent Code is a fast and easy read, shining the light on learning in the most helpful way. 10 minutes of guitar playing a day, is on my list of intentions for 2019. And yup, I will be tweaking it towards more of a deep practice, that’s for sure!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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