Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0275, October 24, 2006 ....

Dear friends,

Coaching is a skill set all effective facilitators can benefit from in their work with groups. Ultimately, there will come times when it's prudent for us to step out of our facilitator role and step into the role of coach, trainer, or consultant to help individuals or entire groups move toward move effective behaviors or clarity of goals and action steps.

This week's article, "Mindful Coaching," was submitted by executive coach and author Doug Silsbee. In keeping with our recent theme around the inner aspects of working with ourselves and others, Doug has identified several mental habits that distract us from mindful presence with our clients. While they may have served us in the past, these mental energies continue to follow established mental pathways, like a stream following a worn groove over bare rock. Meanwhile, like seeds stranded on the bank above, new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new possibilities fail to sprout for lack of water.

Upcoming Expert Tele-seminar: The Mindful Facilitator...Cultivating Professional Presence Through Mindfulness. Join Doug Silsbee and I in this one-hour interview where we'll discuss practical strategies for recognizing and working with the attachments that pull us away from being fully present and in service to our groups. Check out the details after the article.

Are you an executive, manager, or supervisor troubled by high turnover, low morale, and low productivity? We're now offering a two-day workshop providing skills and tools to move organizations forward by developing a new type of leadership--a coaching style of leadership that builds and sustains workplace relationships that yield new levels of productivity. Click here for details.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis


Click here for detail

Click here for details

Live Two-Day Workshop
for Facilitative Leaders

The Point

Mindful Coaching
Recognizing Your Habits

Self-Facilitation Skill


Jim Sobosan, in his April 2004 ILCT article on Living Mindfully, spoke eloquently about the process of cultivating present moment awareness. In particular, Jim makes the point that "knowing what is driving my train allows me to identify and master my distractions." Recognizing distractions as they arise, and choosing to come back to our present experience with our client is central to coaching mindfully.

Through development as a Buddhist practitioner and as a coach, I've identified a number of mental habits that distract us from mindful presence with our clients. While they may have served us in the past, our mental energies continue to follow these established pathways in our minds, like a stream following a worn groove over bare rock. Meanwhile, like seeds stranded on the bank above, new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new possibilities fail to sprout for lack of water.

Becoming aware of ways in which our own conditioning "hooks" or distracts us is inherent in our self-development work. This work, I believe, is essential if we are to know the territory as we coach our clients through their own conditioned patterns in order to become more fulfilled and effective.


There are several common habits of mind that challenge all of us to remain both humble and mindful:

  • Projections: We look at the world through the filters of our experiences. The sense of comfortable intimacy and our feelings of irritation with our clients' limitations say more about us than about the client. This confusion of ourselves with our clients may lead us to approaches based on our own history and needs, rather than those of the client. Recognizing this potential is the first step towards seeing the client more clearly.

  • Self-Judgment: We can judge ourselves for mistakes or missed opportunities. For example, if I notice that I'm distracted and not listening well, I might be hard on myself. It's useful to see that my self-judgment about being distracted takes me away from my client just as surely as the distraction did in the first place! The trick is to cultivate the ability to observe myself without judgment.

  • Identity: We all have a story about ourselves that we believe and desire to be true. We can sometimes present ourselves to others in ways that invite them to reinforce this identity. For example, wanting to be seen as smart or as a good listener may subtly distort our interactions with others. Seeing the subtleties of our identity, and the ways in which we seek to affirm it, allows more space in the coaching relationship.

  • Expert Mind: It is easy, in developing competency in any area, to begin to settle for approaches that have worked in the past. The more comfortable and expert we feel, the easier it becomes to follow routines. Models, proven lines of questioning and templates, while helpful, can put us in a metaphorical sleep as our minds default to established neural pathways in our brains. True mastery comes from being present, from seeing the client as new and fresh in this moment, and providing what best supports the client's learning.

Recognizing and freeing ourselves from these and other habits requires rigorous and constant practice. We can learn to see and accept the unique set of habits that has defined us as a personality, and they begin to lose their hold on us. Doing so expands our experience of ourselves, and a clearer, less filtered view of what is around us.
Service to our clients requires all of who we are. The constant practice of cultivating presence and authenticity with our clients is mindfulness work at the highest level. We can be grateful that our chosen profession of coaching illuminates our blind spots, shows us new aspects of our selves, and provides limitless opportunities to deepen our own practice and growth.

About the Author. This article was first published in ILCT's Tomorrow's Life Coach in August 2004. Doug Silsbee is an author and coach in Asheville, NC. Doug's coaching provides mindful support for personal and professional change. His 2004 book, The Mindful Coach: Seven Roles for Helping People Grow, discusses these and other habits of mind, and provides a wealth of practical tools for developing mindfulness in coaching. Doug can be reached at or His book can be previewed or ordered through this website.

How can you be a more mindful coach and facilitator with your groups? Please click reply and share your comments. I'd love to hear from you.

Micro Skills Tele-Seminar

The Mindful Facilitator...

Cultivating Professional Presence Through Mindfulness

Featuring Doug Silsbee,
Executive Coach, Consultant, and Author

"Just in Time" Learning

Doug Silsbee is a master teacher and author of The Mindful Coach: Seven Roles for Helping People Grow. In this interview, we'll emphasize practical strategies for recognizing and working with the attachments that pull us away from being fully present and in service to our groups. Attend this one-hour tele-seminar with Doug Silsbee and Steve Davis Thursday, November 9th at 1:00 PM EST (NY Time). Some of the points we'll discuss are...

What does mindfulness mean to me as a facilitator?
What mental habits create conflicts of interest?
How do mental habits subvert the work that I do?
How does professional presence benefit me as a facilitator/coach?
How does my professional presence benefit my clients?
How can I recognize when I'm attached, or in the grip of a habit?
What practical tools can help me name and work with the habits that pull us off center?
How can I integrate mindfulness into our own professional development?
And, answers to any questions you bring to the teleclass.

Click here for registration and full details.

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In the Spotlight

Coaching Skills for Managers

You know your group has the talent to be more productive than they are, but you're not sure what to do.

The talent may be there but new skills may be needed.

  • Eager for more effective tools to move organizations forward, executives and managers are discovering that exceptional performance requires a new type of workplace relationship.
  • Knowing both the technology and the process to achieve this relationship is essential.
  • A coaching style of leadership builds and sustains workplace relationships that yield new levels of productivity.

Coaching is Literally Exploding onto the National and international scene. 

  • Coaching is a powerful model for management and leadership
  • Coaching models are now available that are designed especially for the workplace
  • Coaching positions companies for healthy and rapid growth
  • A culture of coaching reduces employee turnover, improves morale, and increases productivity

Here's how you can get these skills and fast...

The Coaching Clinic Workshop!

picture of Steve Davis

What is the Coaching Clinic?

The Coaching Clinic was designed by some of the most recognized leaders in the coaching movement and is supported by Corporate Coach U International (CCUI), who’s only focus is corporate training. In this two-day seminar you'll learn coaching skills and competencies that you can apply immediately in you workplace.

The Coaching Clinic is growing in international stature, as it is becoming “The Gold Standard” for organizations around the world to develop the leadership competencies of their employees. CCUI is just in the process of translating the workshop material into 10 languages in addition to English.

The unique distinctions of coaching have a proven track record for producing major shifts in corporate culture by raising standards and competencies.

What Can I Expect From the Clinic?

The Coaching Clinic effectively trains individuals in skills necessary for coaching within an organization. It is a fully developed model which can be implemented immediately to:

  • Promote innovation and accelerate results
  • Effectively develop and retain valuable organizational members
  • Improve organizational communication and team effectiveness

During the clinic, participants will experience:

  • A First hand look at coaching technology now being used in leading domestic and international companies.
  • Proven methods to inspire others to believe in their own success, sharpen their focus and make radical shifts to achieve extraordinary results.
  • Discovery of their personal coaching style using an inventory which positions them and their employees for rapid development.

Who Should Participate?

  • Executives, managers and supervisors.
  • Human Resource, organizational development and quality improvement professionals.
  • Anyone wanting to learn advanced communication and organizational leadership skills.

"The Coaching Clinic, presented to the administrators and managers of our hospital, opened up understanding and communication resulting in a new way to work together."
Dr. John Jarvis, Medical Director, DESERT VISTA HOSPITAL

Click here for agenda and further details.

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