An Interview with Michael Marx
Michael J. Marx, EdD is the Founder of Blazing New Trails Coaching. He is a sought-after business and life coach for those who want to explore new directions. Michael’s purpose is to be a catalyst and his greatest joy is seeing people move from having a stalled life to a dynamic one. Michael holds the Professional Certified Coach credential (ICF), the Professional Certified Christian Coach credential (CCNI) as well as being a Certified Professional Life Coach (PCCI). He brings more than two decades of experience in teaching, coaching, and mentoring in an international arena. Michael is also the Immediate Past President of the Christian Coaches Network International and serves as the leader of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Ethics Community of Practice. In 2016 he published his book, Ethics and Risk Management for Christian Coaches. He lives at 8162 feet in the mountains of Colorado with his wife Joy and a dozen sled dogs.
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Every coaching conversation is different: different client, different context, different topic, etc. Coaches have to be able to flex and adapt to all those differences in order to provide valuable coaching. But while every coaching conversation will unfold in its own unique way, there are some things that need to happen in practically every coaching conversation (I say “practically” because there’s always that 1% chance you’ll need to deviate).
What needs to happen in every coaching conversation? Several things:
- The client needs to find focus on one topic (or at least one topic at a time)
- The client needs to generate new awareness about the topic, include new options for moving forward
- Options need to be translated into actions
- Actions need to be designed
One of the things I often hear coaches struggle with is that first bullet: helping the client find focus on a topic. This struggle can take on multiple forms:
- Some coaches struggle to invite the client to state clearly what they want to be coached on (the topic). Sometimes these coaches just chit chat with the client and wait for the client to steer the conversation toward something that sounds like a coachable topic. The telltale sign of this struggle is the coach’s question: “Is that something you want to be coached on?”
- Some coaches struggle to facilitate new awareness about the topic before diving into possible actions. These coaches hear what sounds like a topic and then jump too soon to asking questions like “What could you do about that?”
- Other coaches let their own experience and biases cause the coach to reframe the topic to match what is familiar to the coach. For example, a client might say she is struggling to get started on her book, to which the coach responds, “How could you find time to get started.” The coach assumes the issue is lack of time, but it could just as easily be low motivation, lack of clarity on the topic, or a hundred other things.
In this episode, we talk about personality differences and how we need to change our coaching style to adapt to our client’s personality.