Mindful Coaching – The Power of Silence

Some years ago, as a member of The Coaching Foundation, I attended a workshop lead by Doctor Angus McCleod entitled ‘The Power of Silence’ (Angus McLeod & Steve Breibart; experiencing silence as a tool for change).  This experience changed everything for me.  As a novice Coach I was nervous of silence, and a pause in dialogue with my Coachee would make me anxious.  I felt the pressure to interject with a powerful incisive question of course!!

But less is more. Stay present, be mindful, relax and pay attention.  Remember that listening to that silence is good. Allowing the time for thinking/feeling to happen is powerful in itself.  Being there with the Coachee, giving them your attention, ready for when they decide to come back to a dialogue, allows the Coachee to experience an exquisite sense of the Coach simply holding the Thinking Space for them.  In the Thinking space the Coachee has permission to allow their thoughts to wander and connections to be made. This can be hugely powerful.

This is what Coaching can do, and it certainly is Mindful Coaching at its best.

However, silent attention sometimes only takes us so far, and in Nancy Kline’s work on the “Thinking Environment” (as she calls it) she tells us that asking incisive questions can remove barriers.  So if you have an incisive question you could offer it and then give your Coachee ”Time to Think”.  Our best thinking happens when we have a great question to consider and then the time to think about it.

How to learn to be Optimistic

affirmations-441457_1280In a previous article http://www.capstickssaxton.com/…/197-3-more-ways-to-build-resilience  I pointed out that optimistic people tend to be more resilient than pessimistic types.  However the good news for pessimists is that optimism can be learned.

Martin Seligman, author of “Learned Optimism: How to change your mind and your life” reaches the conclusion that the tendency towards optimism is learned (rather than dispositional) and can therefore be trained. He has arrived at this conclusion following his studies of learned helplessness.

The ability to learn to be optimistic is important because it means that people can learn to be more resilient and to develop ways of looking at their life that facilitate rather than inhibit their performance under stress.    Remembering that our emotions flow from our thoughts, the methods that have to be mastered involve taking control of our thoughts and developing our positive thinking patterns. This is how you move your mind from the shade into the sunshine.

Seligman has designed training which helps people to learn and develop the positive thinking skills of learned optimism. The ABC model developed by Albert Ellis and used by Cognitive Behavioural Therapists is the starting point for Seligman’s training method.  The ABC model works like this:  Continue reading

The power of optimism


The origin of the word “optimism” is from the Latin optimum which means “the best”. By optimism I mean the tendency to positive thinking, finding the best in a situation; to look on the bright side; to regard a glass half full rather than half empty.

Researching this topic I came across a story about Andrew Carnegie, written by Alex Banayan, who posted it on Linked In.  Andrew Carnegie started his career with nothing and yet he became the richest man alive; worth more than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined.

According to the story, one afternoon, a young man walked into Carnegie’s office to interview him about his success. Carnegie could have talked the young man through his journey from poverty to riches, or told him about his dealings with John Rockefeller. But Carnegie talked about something else.

His optimism.

Apparently, Carnegie said the most important thing in his life was his “ability to shed trouble and to laugh through life.” He said that seeing life through a lens of positivity was worth more to him than millions of dollars.

“Young people should know that it can be cultivated,” Carnegie said. “The mind, like the body, can be moved from the shade into sunshine.”

It seems that optimism makes good business sense. By not getting weighed down by the negative, Carnegie could keep his focus on the positive, bounce back from failures faster, and see opportunities where other people didn’t know they existed.  He also seems to have discovered the fact that optimism can be cultivated…we can move our minds from the shade into the sunshine. This is something that Martin Seligman shows us how to do in his writing on Learned Optimism, which will be the subject of my next post.

3 more ways to build resilience

bouncing-159517_1280 Life can be tough at times and the pace of change seems relentless. What can we do to maintain the ability to recover quickly from challenges, such as redundancy, that come along and knock back our confidence?  In an earlier article  I described 3 ways to build personal resilience; namely take care of yourself, learn from your past, and avoid getting stuck by making an action plan.

Here are 3 more practical steps to help build and maintain our resilience

  1. Learn to be optimistic
  2. Accept change
  3. Set and achieve goals

Read more.

How Resilient are you?

The humble Snowdrop  pushing upwards towards the light, heralding the promise of longer warmer days to come.

This tiny plant, bouncing back from frozen temperatures, for me illustrates the resilience of Nature.

As the year unfolds, how resilient are you feeling? Maybe it’s time to think about ways to build your resilience….. Read more