Self-Coaching 101

Change one habit. Surprise yourself. Think like a winner. Sound familiar? Quick hit advice seldom leads to lasting change (for that matter we might as well throw in the old standby ‘Lose ten pounds and don’t forget to exercise!’) Lasting change begins by first changing your state of mind so you can express new thoughts in new behaviours.


Here are three key ‘coaching-lite’ questions you can use to chip away at calcified thought patterns and open up a new mindset for taking positive action. It’s best to run your concerns through these diagnostic questions when you are emotionally level. Avoid diving in when emotionally overwhelmed or caught up in the drama of the moment.

3 Questions You’ll Be Glad You Asked

1. What else could it be?
When you’ve figured out the situation to the best of your ability take one step back (yes back, not forward). Return to the drawing board and ask yourself for one more idea about what might be going on.
Benefit to you – Deeper thinking can lead to insights you may not have considered before.

2. Where’s the challenge in this?
Look beyond the initial knee-jerk ‘no’ response. No – I can’t do that. No – that’s asking too much. Ask a positive question instead – ‘How could I stretch myself to achieve what looks initially implausible? What could I do differently to achieve a new result?’
Benefit to you – Proof that your abilities are solid and you have a reservoir of untapped strengths. (If the result is work-related you’ll also have a new achievement for your resume!)

3. Where’s the opportunity in this?
Looking beyond the immediate situation – either good or bad – and ask yourself ‘What else might it hold? (A chance to build your reputation or develop a key relationship?) There may be several ways you could play out an impending scenario that could lead to something bigger and better than you originally imagined.
Benefit to you – More motivation to think and act strategically by taking a closer look at the big picture before taking action.

Once you’ve experienced how quickly these three questions can rewire your thinking and open doorways to affirmative action, you’ll want to expand how you use them. Try them out with your kids when they are working through a first time problem and walk them through their thoughts on a solution. Select a single one when working with a peer or direct report and see how it changes the tone of your conversation. And of course, use them regularly in coaching yourself to great success and satisfaction in your personal and professional life.

Asking coaching questions – it’s a habit worth building.