Asking Ourselves the Hard Questions - International Coaching Federation
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Asking Ourselves the Hard Questions

Posted by Marc A. Wolfe, ACC | November 22, 2019 | Comments (10)

As coaches, we are expertly skilled in helping clients achieve more together than if they continued to “go it alone.” We do this by using the tools of coaching, including active listening, and by asking very powerful questions; both help us assist our clients toward solutions that can result in their next level of success.

But how often do we ask ourselves the same powerful and insightful questions about our own business?

Chances are, as small business owners who are focused on our client’s needs, we put ourselves—and our own growth—low on our list of priorities, if on the list at all. But, ignoring ourselves won’t help us or our clients.

Why Clients Seek Our Help

Let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the common reasons why clients need our help in the first place.

For many coaching clients, they:

  • Feel stuck and want to get unstuck
  • Believe they have stopped growing, personally and/or professionally
  • Are ready for change but don’t know WHAT changes to make or HOW to make the changes

How many times do we feel these same things? How often do we feel that we’ve stopped growing or that “something” is preventing us from reaching our own goals?

When it comes to helping clients, we know what questions to ask but for our own business, do we ask ourselves the tough and insightful questions that should be asked and answered? Do we challenge ourselves to make the changes necessary to reach new levels of success in our business? I know for me, the answer has, at times, been no.

That recently changed when I embraced being uncomfortable.

Finding Our Path When We are Uncomfortable

People tend to resist change. We get so set in our ways that often our first instinct is to reject change—especially if changing isn’t our idea. Our clients’ growth relies heavily on our ability to help them see where they want to be. Change might take the form of challenging the way they think or helping them rethink the very issues they are experiencing.

We also resist change because we like to be comfortable. But when we choose to stay comfortable, we may miss amazing opportunities. Worse yet, we may also miss out on becoming the coach or person that we were truly meant to be.

Recently, I found myself in an uncomfortable place when I was asked to give a keynote speech and lead an interactive workshop for a large corporate audience. While these activities were outside of my comfort zone, helping people at organizations with change is, in fact, consistent with who I am and with my mission to help people overcome the challenges they face. Before accepting the opportunity, as I do with my clients, I asked myself some tough questions to make sure this opportunity matched up with my mission and vision. By taking this step, I was able to navigate through the discomfort and make a great decision to be uncomfortable and to grow.

Because I accepted this challenge and spoke to this audience, many new opportunities have opened up, which I would have certainly missed had I simply avoided being uncomfortable.

As coaches, it is our responsibility to invite our clients into what’s uncomfortable and then help them see their way through it so they can achieve the results they desire.

Two Good Questions to Ask Yourself to Help Your Growth Journey

As with our clients, we too must stay on a growth journey, which may sometimes mean being uncomfortable. Below are two questions coaches should ask themselves.

Why Did I Begin My Business?

Do you remember why you wanted to be a coach? How often do you reflect on who you are and who you said you wanted to be? Successful brands never stray from their core principles and values but instead seek new opportunities that reinforce who they are.

Should I Find a Mentor or Coach?

As coaches, we are often asked to help others clarify and move forward. But who do we call to help with our success? Developing a close, ongoing relationship with a mentor or coach can help keep us grounded, hold us accountable to our values and encourage us as we navigate our growth journey.

The Key Takeaway

Our clients count on us to ask the right questions that will help them on their journey. If we don’t regularly ask ourselves the tough questions, we may end up missing opportunities that could lead to personal and professional growth, new business opportunities and increased revenue.

So, what do you need to ask yourself today?


Copyright Marc A. Wolfe

mark wolfe headshot

Marc A. Wolfe, ACC

Marc A. Wolfe, ACC, is the founder of Marc A. Wolfe Enterprises, a team of professionals that help business leaders, organizations and individuals uncover who they were meant to be. He has the ability to uncover what’s holding organizations back from additional success and helps them move forward with their new awareness, vision, and actions. For over 20 years, Marc has helped both small U.S. and global companies in the health care, retail, financial, nonprofit and media/entertainment industries. He is based in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Additionally, for the purpose of full disclosure and as a disclaimer of liability, this content was possibly generated using the assistance of an AI program. Its contents, either in whole or in part, have been reviewed and revised by a human. Nevertheless, the reader/user is responsible for verifying the information presented and should not rely upon this article or post as providing any specific professional advice or counsel. Its contents are provided “as is,” and ICF makes no representations or warranties as to its accuracy or completeness and to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law specifically disclaims any and all liability for any damages or injuries resulting from use of or reliance thereupon.

Comments (10)

  1. Sherman Mohr says:

    Great post Mark. Your work in leading people and companies into the discomfort so growth may occur is legendary. I’ve always known your “truth-telling” and “truth-seeking” was a strong suite. Appreciate this written reminder.

    • says:

      Hello Sherman, thank you for your kind words. Candor and honesty are tools that need to be leveraged for growth and I am happy to help us all see what helps on that journey.

  2. Bob Thames says:

    Excellent post Mark. We should talk more next time we meet up. I have spent the last 15 years studying how and why people and organizations change, even published a book on it in 2009. I absolutely agree that asking ourselves the hard questions on the front end is the key to successful change. While we have all heard about negative resistance to change, there is also something called positive resistance to change. That is rich territory, because it’s natural and embedded. Even though we may know we should change, there is still resistance unless fully explored and extended.

    • Marc Wolfe says:

      Hello Bob, thank you for your insights. I look forward to more dialog on the ways we can use both the positive and negative perceptions and experiences to help us to create change.

  3. Great post, thank you! Will you share more on the questions you asked yourself to make sure the opportunity matched up with your mission and vision? Thanks!

    • Marc Wolfe says:

      Hi Estefania,
      Whenever I move from doing the comfortable, familiar things (coaching leaders, for example) to giving a keynote at a Fortune 100 company, I ask myself if I am changing the WHY I do things or just the WAY I do things. So it’s about asking yourself if delivering a speech, in this example, is still helping people see, think, or act differently because of the questions I asked during the keynote. So I keep asking myself what can I do that still aligns but also challenges me to do more, see more, help more.

  4. says:

    I like the idea of asking the tough questions to ourselves! We not only will grow ourselves, but also could help challenge our clients to do the same. I think we can use this tool of ‘powerful questioning’ in our daily lives. The more we use it, the more we become comfortable with them, and hopefully we’ll ultimately feel comfortable going out of our comfort zones. Thank you for sharing!

  5. says:

    Thank you
    I like the idea of reflective questions.

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