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The Coach Approach

January 6, 2005, Vol. III Issue 1

Dear Friends,

As is custom in a new year, many of us give ourselves permission to make a fresh start, to set new goals, and to succeed at whatever it is we feel needs to change in our lives. All too often, our good intentions become just another false start.

Dr. Karen Wolfe is passionate about the results she’s seeing with ‘Mindful Coaching’ as a means for achieving goals, self-discovery and as a promising change agent for the healthcare system.

High quality coaching is the new tool for health promotion and according to WELCOA (The Wellness Councils of America) it has the potential to increase the return on every dollar invested in health, wellness and human development. Coaching synthesizes what is known about how people improve performance based on psychology, communication, education and studies of the brain.

And, what’s the other thing that comes to mind for the first of the year? No, not diet! Exercise. Explore a new take on yoga from Winalee Zeeb.

Yours truly,

Raise the Bar in 2005 with “The Coach Approach”

I really respect my friend, speaker and author, Dr. Karen Wolfe. So when she’s excited about something, I pay attention. For the past several years, coaching has become her passion, and I learned in talking with her recently that it’s not just any kind of coaching that has her excited.

“I’d been in the wellness movement for 9 years, and I noticed that just telling people what to do and expecting them to change wasn’t working. I’d heard about coaching from a variety of sources, and finally decided to take a look,” she told me. “Because of my interest in the mind-body connection and mindfulness, I was attracted to ‘Mindful Coaching,’ and attended their training.”

“What I learned surprised me. This was about empowering clients to make their own decisions. This is not about telling people what to do and giving people advice like the model that health promotion has been based on. Mindful coaching asks questions and the individual sets her own goals.”

“Mindful coaching is an asset-based approach, believing that everybody has answers within them and focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. The traditional health promotion approach is deficit-based, believing that an individual is lacking something and we have to fix it. This is the predominant model in our culture, including medicine and education.”

She quickly decided to become a trainer. “I wanted to be able to train health professionals in a method that I felt could make a huge difference in realizing actual behavior change.”

In Mindful Coaching, the concept of mindfulness and being fully present in the moment with the client is emphasized. “There’s an aspect of my coaching that is about accessing my intuition. It’s intuitive listening, where I feel like my soul is really asking the questions. I’m not filtering or judging,” she continued. “It’s about listening to your intuition first, and the more we listen, the more it shows up for us. This becomes most powerful in the deep soul relationship that develops between the coach and the client. Our souls are speaking to each other.”

Karen observed that not everybody wants to be trained as a coach, But they want to learn coach-like skills to be more effective in the work that they do.

“I’m going to be working with a large national organization this year, based on some recent research results they got indicating that the real power in change is through connection, community and relationship. I’ll be teaching them what I call ‘The Coach Approach,’ focusing on how to ask powerful questions.

“A culture for coaching is based on the belief that everybody has the answers within them, and then applying coaching skills in every area of life. I use it as a parent, wife, and as a friend.”

Instead of giving advice, she sits back and asks questions. (She admitted this can be frustrating to people like husbands). As importantly, she emphasized, it’s about the intention to have people reveal who they are to you, rather than simply the intention to listen more and talk less. “As a parent, this really, really helps,” she said. “There’s a noticeable increase in self-esteem for children. The child gets to reveal who she really is through listening, and feels more

This brings us full circle to her book, Create the Body Your Soul Desires, the Friendship Solution to Weight, Energy and Se*xuality, where friends use a coach-like approach of questioning and listening, and developing a deep, soul level connection.

“I define ‘The Coach Approach’ as ‘The art of supporting individuals in reaching their desires and goals.’ It is creative and spontaneous rather than linear, the approach I learned in medical school. The coach is not doing the work, she is supporting another individual to do her work. It’s about realizing THEIR goals not about what I want for them.”

“This coaching model has so many promising applications,” Karen said. We started talking about what would happen if doctors adapted this approach with their patients (suspending momentarily the limitations of seven minute consultations). “Just think what would happen,” Karen said excitedly, “if the doctor just had the intention to discover the patient’s strengths, what strengths they have to help them recover, rather than giving them a pill because they’re lacking something and they have to fix it. That, in itself, would be a huge shift. That’s why I’m so excited about coaching. It presents possibilities in so many ways.”

“I believe that in hospitals, utilizing coaching skills could provide the key to preventing burnout in health professionals because as long as we are telling people what to do and feeling responsible for their change, we are going to continue to get burned out. For nurses, if we shift the burden back to the individual doing the change, it relieves the burden on the nurses feeling responsible for the patient’s healing. This is a BIG ONE,” she said.

When people are looking for training, they should make sure the course fits their specific needs. Mindful Coaching training is short-term, accelerated training for health professionals, for eight weeks and is for people who have already done counseling or client work. There are weekend intensives at the beginning and end of the training and 2 hour phone classes once a week.

Dr. Karen Wolfe is a physician, national and international speaker, author and mindful life coach. She has extensive experience in healthcare, wellness and disease management and presents at local, national and international conferences.

If you’re interested in booking one of Dr. Karen Wolfe’s programs, call me at 503-699-5031.

Winalee Zeeb, Putting the Play in Yoga

I was delighted to get to share time and dance with my dear friend from Michigan, Winalee Zeeb when she was here in November for the Nia FAB, a gathering of Nia teachers from around the world. Winalee is the one who introduced me to Nia and was my White Belt trainer.

Like many Nia teachers, she has been a fitness instructor for many years (since 1981) and is a yoga teacher as well. Besides that, she is admittedly, “out of the box,” preferring creativity and joy to regimen and rules.

At the urging of her students, she’s created Yoga@Play, an hour-long program on DVD or VHS, for people who want to enjoy the benefits of yoga at home and have a little fun in the process. What I remember about her yoga classes is that the time absolutely flew by and I always went home with a feeling of total well being.

In Yoga@Play Winalee takes a joyous approach to yoga, playfully exploring a continuous flow of postures blended with gentle and invigorating movements. And it’s all done to the empowering music of Karen Drucker and Jana Stanfield. “No experience necessary,” she says with a wink. “This program is for every body.”

Winalee thrives on sharing the joy of movement, along with her innovative philosophies for creating balance and wellness. She delivers motivational keynotes and conducts “playshops” guaranteed to relax, refresh, and renew weary bodies and stressed-out souls. To learn more about Winalee’s programs, call me at 503-699-5031.

You can order the tape or DVD at Click on products.


Give Yourself Permission

I don’t know about you but I’m having a hard time getting energized in this new year. Is it the cold I succumbed to on New Year’s Day, the unrelenting news and sorrow of the tsunami devastation in Asia, or a simple case of post-holiday blues?

I’ve decided I just need to give myself permission to be with it and keep taking the little steps that need to be taken (along with the vitamin C and the echinacea), to get things done slowly but surely. I think I’m not the only one, because I’ve received quite a few Christmas cards this past week, and a few post-birthday greetings! Friends, please know I am always happy to hear from you any time of year!

Until next time, be good to yourself, for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

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