Helping people change

By Jim LaDoux
Listed below are 10 insights along with a few questions from the coaching book titled, Helping People Change.

1  |  A  personal  vision  is  critical

Research shows that excavating and articulating an individual’s personal vision is crucial. Uncovering a person’s hopes and dreams is the key that unlocks positive emotions and intrinsic motivation — and propels that person to genuine, lasting change. The best way to help other people to learn, grow, and change is by helping them move closer to their ideal self.
  • Have you asked a client, “Who do you wish to be?”
  • What prevents people from talking about their hopes and dreams?
  • What questions do you ask that requires people to imagine?
  • Does your Client Intake Form invite cients to share their hopes and yearnings?

2  |  Avoid  "fixing"  the  client

In our attempt to coach a person seeking help, most of us naturally take a problem - centered approach, focusing on the gaps between where they are and where we think they should or could be. We try to fix them. Conversely, when the context is a long - term dream or vision, people draw energy from that vision and are able to sustain their effort to change, even through difficult times.
  • Do you recognize the similarities in this approach to the appreciative inquiry approach to coaching?
  • In coaching situations, how much time is spent on problems and challenges verses emerging opportunities? How do you identify the gap between a client's current reality verses their preferred future?
  • How can a coach help clients recognize their own assets and sources of wisdom?

3  |  Coach  with  compassion

Coaching with compassion helps people discover the ways that they would most like to grow and change in their lives and provides them with a process to make and sustain those changes. A student who was quoted in the book, stated, “All those that were important figures in my life planted seeds of inspiration and ideas and then allowed me the freedom to take that in directions that worked best for me, all the while supporting and encouraging my choices.”
  • Who sows seeds of inspiration in your life? 
  • Who are your mentors and coaches? 
  • How often do you invite a client to put their dream on paper?
  • How might you help clients identify the people in their life that can inspire them?

4  |  Recognize  positive  and  negative  emotional attractors

Two chapters in the book address positive emotional attracters (PEA) and negative emotional attracters (NEA). When coaches arouse positive versus negative emotional attractors in a client's brains, it creates a more receptive and motivated emotional state. The science of PEA and NEA, illustrates that while we need negative emotional attractors to survive, it is the positive emotional attractors that allow clients to thrive and flourish.
  • How may a coach guide conversation that includes more PEAs?
  • How might coaches help clients work around NEAs without discounting them? 
  • How do you help clients recognize the cost of acting VS not taking action? 
  • What are the PEAs in your life that draw you toward your preferred future?

5  |  Help  clients  cultivate  a  personal  vision

Discovery and development of such a vision is the neurologically and emotionally most powerful way to engage the positive emotional attractor. Masterful coaches help clients cultivate personal visions.
  • What can a coach do to help clients cultivate their dreams?
  • What might be some pre-work or following assignments to help foster one's personal vision
  • What are some statements or questions that facilitate the articulation of a personal vision?
  • How clear is your personal vision related to your fitness, finances, friends and family, future, etc.?

6  |  Evoke  transformation  by  asking  the  right  questions

Both style and timing of questions can inspire the PEA and change, or the opposite.
  • What's the difference between powerful questions and powerful questioning?
  • What does it mean to follow the client's "skinning branches?"
  • Are there ways you can me more fully present with clients so that you can ask better follow up questions?

7  |  Change  culture  by  changing  organizational  norms

The author invites readers to explore ways to embed coaching into the fabric of organizations, and as another tool for equipping and empowering people.
What are some ways you could envision an organization or a church embedding coaching practices into their setting, making it part of their culture?
What are some ways you could invite a client to use coaching principles in their personal or professional lives? How might you help clients say less and ask more questions?

8  |  Identify  coachable  moments

Great coaches, managers, and teachers help people find and do what they love. They engage us in conversations that inspire us. They make us want to develop and change, and they help us to do so. Coaches facilitate conversations with the purpose of achieving some type of change, learning, or new level of individual or organizational performance. Sometimes coaching takes place during predetermined coaching sessions, but it also can occur while walking to or from meetings, at lunch, or in other less formal settings. The author encourages readers to look for and embrace coachable moments in one's life and work.
  • What would be some indicators of a "coachable moment?"
  • How would you invite a client to step back or go deeper with a coachable moment?

9  |  The  importance  of  mentors  and  community

Does your coaching lead to ( 1 ) the experience of mindfulness, ( 2 ) the arousal of hope, and ( 3 ) the demonstration of compassion? After a coaching or mentoring conversation, people should feel charged up, excited, and full of purposeful movement toward their dreams. But it isn’t only the people being coached or encouraged who will feel charged up. Effective coaches, mentors, and dialogue partners, too, will leave the conversations feeling inspired.
  • How do you create coaching conversations that are a source of inspiration?
  • Who else might be dialogue partners for the people you coach?

10  |  Significant  change doesn't  take  place  in a  linear  fashion

The change process does not begin with a starting point and then progress smoothly until the desired change has been completed. Instead, behavioral change tends to occur in discontinuous bursts or spurts, which the author describes as discoveries. Five discoveries must occur for individuals to make a sustained behavioral changes.
  1. The client explores and articulates their ideal self.
  2. The client uncovers an accurate view of their real self.
  3. The client thinks about what they’re most excited to try in the way of behavior changes.
  4. The client experiments with and practices new behaviors.
  5. The client recognizes that they’ll need continued assistance from a network of trusting, supportive relationships.


  • Which change steps do you need to pay closer attention to in your own life as you seek transformation?
  • Which change steps do you need to pay closer attention to when coaching clients?

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