For coaches

My Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday I coached a coach whose recent clients are incredibly diverse. They share only one trait — while their inner and outer lives improved quickly upon starting to work with my client, they believe there’s no connection between this development and their time with my client. In their cases, they did it themselves and it just coincided with hiring this coach. My client-coach wasn’t exactly worried or sad about the lack of accolades, but she did wonder if she was perhaps ineffective and superfluous as a coach.

I saluted this coach.

Lao Tzu explains her kind of success quite clearly. [Substitute “coach” for “sage.” You also can substitute parent, teacher, mayor, or boss.]

When the sage governs, the people
are hardly aware that she exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The sage doesn’t talk, she acts.
When her work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

Tao Te Ching #17, Lao Tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell


That her clients are hardly aware of her existence is a sign of this coach’s skill and ease.

[We also looked at whether or not her perception  of her clients’ opinions was really true. In some cases, there’s no way to know. But in two cases, her clients were quite explicit… albeit in a good-natured way.

And we considered the inescapable reality that the clients really did do everything themselves — see the second paragraph in the above poem!]

She already had it figured out, obviously, but reading this centuries-old bit of wisdom helped her put the pieces in a new arrangement. I hope you enjoy it too.

All my best,


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2 Responses to For coaches

  1. diane says:

    Lao Tzu and a new twist. I love it!
    Wise words indeed.

  2. Betsy says:

    Diane.. another version of which is Artemis… which is the Latin name for SAGE (sagebrush that is!). Thanks my sage friend!

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