Today Chris is:

…in Ho Chi Minh city on the MIST startup week.

Met some truly wonderful people doing awesome things.


One of the questions I’m asked most is; “what does a mentoring or coaching session consist of ?”

This is shortly followed by “What exactly happens ?” then sometimes “What is your role, and what do you expect of me ?”

I’ve put together a short description below to give some understanding of what happens and some of the principles I use in mentoring. The ‘you’ and ‘your business’ can be interchangeable dependent on why you have taken up a coaching or mentoring programme. Similarly mentoring and coaching are interchangeable in the description, though they are different in practice.

The main principles of coaching and mentoring

My role as coach is to help you think for yourself. It is NOT to do your thinking for you.

The subjects you bring to the coaching sessions are best explored, addressed and questioned by you. They will not be addressed by my limited knowledge of you, your organisation or other people.

I will offer my own insights, perspectives and frameworks, but only after you have had sufficient time to come up with your own ideas. Your ideas will often be far better than mine. I will only offer my insights if you specifically ask me to. There are no short cuts I’m afraid.

A really successful session is where your answers will be far better than any I could come up with.

My role in these sessions is to use my expertise and behaviour to keep you thinking for yourself through a particular type of constructed questioning, and a particular way of giving you attention to your responses.

Life’s obstacles and hurdles are similar to those of a business. They come from obstacles in your thinking. Things that are untrue, limiting and assumptions. We will examine these areas in detail to overcome and better understand them. In doing so, there are often long silent pauses, or occasionally emotional outcomes. These are all normal reactions and a sign we are making progress.

I will guide my behaviour and responses to look at the positive viewpoint. I will assume you are intelligent, are able to make choices about what you do and how you feel, and are eager to form solutions for both you and others.

What do I need to bring to a coaching / mentoring session ?

The key, is what would you like to achieve in these sessions ? Either for you or your business. What changes would you consider a good outcome of the sessions.

If we are discussing your business or your performance at work, are there areas where perhaps your personal views are not aligned with that of the business or your management/peers ?

Sometimes sessions can have a significantly emotional content. You should consider how you feel as well as noticing some of the more logical signs.

What would be helpful background information for me ? – What can you tell me about you and/or your business, the performance, the people, your interactions with others and particular situations that stand out, even if they don’t necessarily seem connected.

I hope that this description is a helpful insight into coaching. Whilst perhaps a little daunting at first, so many of the people who have sat with me during these sessions have reported improved performance, a feeling of improved well-being and a new-found confidence in dealing with others.

Its OK to say no.

“No thanks, that’s not what I want to do.”

“No, that’s not on my priority list.”

“No, I don’t have time for that, and I have other people and projects that deserve my time instead.”

“No, I don’t have to do that, even if you think I should.”

“No, you left that way to late to try and give to me last minute.”

“No, its just not for me, try someone else.”

It’s not as hard as you think it is. It’s perfectly OK to say no too. The vast majority of people who may ask you for your time, effort or attention will understand when you say no. There are only 24 hours in a day and we all have a finite capacity to get things done.

We also have a finite capacity to get the things that we want to get done too. It may be important to the person requesting, but it’s not necessarily important to us.

Then there are people who make assumptions about our time. Who look initially a little stunned when you say no. Your family, boss, colleagues. They assume you’ll say yes. You just have to say “no” more than once to make yourself understood. On a rare occasion I’ve said to this sort of person, “which bit of no, do you not understand?” Its a phrase that comes with potential conflict, but sometimes it’s the only way.

Then there’s my favourite, someone who leaves tasks until the very last minute, and then hands them to you with a deadline that’s so close, you’d need to drop everything to attend to it if you were to have any chance of meeting the deadline. They can have had this issue a week, before handing it to you with a deadline in the next 24 hours. It’s like being handed a poisoned chalice. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  On hearing no, the run off to their boss, who immediately appears at your desk, asking you if you understand the priorities of the business and customers. This is of course relevant, but not relevant. The priorities you are fully behind, covering for people who fail to plan and communicate properly is the thing you have issues with. Saying no in this case is hard, but very necessary.

Saying no is not always easy, but sometimes it’s incredibly important to do so.


Pin It on Pinterest