Posts on Jan 1970

Why Promises Matter

We often think about our language as representational; words represent things. When we say things like I paid, I ate, we signed, we went, and so on, we are depending on the words we say to convey the actions that we took. However, there is another way that we use language that is probably even more important.

In some cases, we use our words to convey intentions rather than actions. And in fact, when we actually get around to doing, the words themselves don’t really matter very much. Language usage like that is the most important kind to us as coaches.

What I am talking about are “speech acts” which are a way of using of language in which the saying is the doing. When we say certain things, we are convey an intention of future behavior.  For example, when I say, “I promise to meet you at 3:00” those words convey a commitment that only exists until something happens. At 3:00, the meaning of those words change. Whether I met with you doesn’t matter. What becomes important is whether I fulfilled my intention.  Did I keep my promise or not?  When the deadline is reached, the act of promising is more important than the promise itself.  My promise becomes a direct insight into my integrity and trustworthiness.

When we fulfill our pledges, then our credibility rises.  So as coaches, we have a real opportunity to do what we ask our clients to do.  When I tell a client that “I will send you an article,” my speech act is an important reminder that I need to keep my promise if I expect my client to keep his commitments.

How else are speech acts important as a coach?  Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

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Finding Balance by Creating Margins

Most of us grew up using margins when we write.  Remember the red line on the left of the paper?  When we use margins, a note is easier to read.  When you write “margin-less”, like the note below, it is difficult to read.


As coaches, we listen for what is said and what is not said.  Often I find my clients are pushing their margins to the edge in their business and life.

What are the signs of a margin-less life? There are different clues for individuals.  One sign for me was when I overslept, was hurrying to get the kids to middle school, ran out of gas, coasted down the hill to the gas station, had the sixth grader drive so I could push the van to the pump and that was a ”normal” day.

Other signs include:  a client has a beautiful home, big screen TV, several cars and yet yearns for time to take a walk.

The client may be headed toward “margin-less” when she finds herself  apologizing for being late for a conference call or appointments that she set up because she was running behind.

In spite of running a successful direct selling business, the client is living from check to check.

The person you are coaching has more than $5000 in credit card debt.

Your client recognizes his impatience with his spouse or children growing more frequently.

In his book, Margin, Richard Swenson, M.D. points to four kinds of margins we must create for less stress, better health, and greater productivity:  he addresses financial, health, social and emotion margins.

A client may find real value in exploring and applying these margins to her life.  As a coach, you can ask powerful, open ended questions to allow her to create personalized action plans to set and keep margins in each or any of these areas.

What are some questions you might ask to support your clients?

What are some of the things you can do to create and keep safe margins for yourself?

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