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Self-Coaching Lessons from My Nephew

14 September 2021

Allison admired her nephew’s approach to self-coaching and recommitted her efforts to help herself make progress on her own goals.

Tags: allison read, coaching, self-talk

Last month, I finally got to visit my brother and his family for the first time since the pandemic began. It was wonderful to be reunited and as is often the case, my nephew William educated and inspired me. (My niece and nephews have been blogging for us for seven years, and I’m certain you’ll appreciate what George IV, Kathryn, and William have to say about how to live.)

I got to drive the golf cart for William while he played nine holes, and I watched him coach himself like a true master. Before each hole, he’d casually mention what he knew about the hole based on previous rounds and what his goals were for himself. After each shot, he’d objectively tell me what he liked about what he did and where he thought he could improve next time. He was truly pleased when he did something well and didn’t beat himself up when he stumbled.

However, he didn’t just dismiss his mistakes. Instead, he used specific, descriptive, behavior-oriented observations to explain to me what went wrong, when he’d done better in the past, and what his plan was for improving next time. He could visualize what he wanted from himself for the next hole, and explained it to me. I asked a few questions to help him think through options, but mostly he asked himself what he wanted next and easily generated options for how to make it happen. Then, he simply moved on to the next hole. He seemed to let go of what had just happened and happily walked toward what was coming next.

My conversations with myself about some of my goals have improved since our visit. It was like William had already read one of our all-time favorite books, John Whitmore’s, Coaching for Performance. I think kids are the best teachers, and I sure am grateful for everything William reminded me of about the importance of steady self-talk when I need to coach myself toward a better outcome.


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