5 Timeless Coaching Tips
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I feel very fortunate that for over 20 years now, I have spent much of my professional life training professionals.  It’s the work that’s near and dear to my heart, and I’m aware of what a great honor it is. From a young age, I’ve always admired my teachers. In so many ways teachers can be like our first gods. These days, there are all kinds of opportunities to learn from experts about how to be a good coach, practitioner, healer, or counselor. As I reflect upon my own journey, I thought it would be a good idea to offer you some of the great life coaching tips that I’ve accumulated along the way from a number of my beloved teachers. I hope these 5 coaching tips speak to you as surely and steadfastly as they have to me. Let me know what you think.

1.    Begin Your Meditation Now

When I was a graduate student at Sonoma State University in California, I was in an amazing transpersonal psychology program. One of the highlights of my education there was my teacher, Robert Greenway. Amongst his many talents, he would lead a 2-hour silent meditation session several times a week. Nothing could be more torturous. After sitting for many grueling and sadistic minutes that seemed like a lifetime, I’d be asking myself why in the world anyone would want to meditate. Dr. Greenway always rang a small bell when there was only 5 minutes left. He’d say in a very low voice, “Begin your meditation now.”  The first time he ever said this, my brain exploded in confusion. I was ecstatic there were only 5 minutes left, yet his words were essentially saying “ let go of the past, let go of the struggle, let go of the story you’ve been telling yourself for the last few hours, and start fresh.”  It was clear that there was a deeper life teaching here: keep every moment new and crispy. I often remind myself to “begin your meditation now” whenever I find myself pushing to get out of the moment. If you get bored or anxious in a client session, in a classroom, or anywhere, begin again in each moment. Time is precious. Life is precious. What if your Life started right now?

2.    What About Uncertainty?

In this very same graduate program, I had another epic teacher – Gordon Tappan.  He had this fascinating talent that whenever he communicated an idea he held important, somehow, the room would get brighter. Really. Of course, this is impossible, but a bunch of us students figured out over lunch one day that we were having the same experience. One of the statements that Gordon would consistently make that seemed to create the most unexplained luminosity was when he would randomly ask this question: “What about uncertainty?”  Eventually, I noticed that he asked this whenever one of us know-it-all graduate students would speak with conviction and authority about how life or the grand design of the cosmos actually works. He valued the unknown. He valued not knowing. He drew power from being wise enough to understand that not understanding is it’s own deeper wisdom. I like to think that I know a lot, yet whenever I’m sitting with a client or teaching students, I hear Gordon’s voice reminding me that relaxing into the uncertainty and the unknown of life has an uncanny way of transforming us. I’m still trying to make the room brighter.

 3.    The truth spoken without love isn’t quite the truth

My most influential yoga teacher, Yogi Amrit Desai, had a special knack for speaking in such a way that no matter what he said, the listener would always feel loved. It was remarkable to observe. I’d always wonder what his secret was. He could offer difficult and challenging feedback, but it always seemed to land softly. One day, he divulged his secret, which really wasn’t such a secret after all.  He said “the truth spoken without love isn’t really the truth.” I learned so much in that one statement. We often say things harshly, with an edge, with judgment, or with the intent to hurt – even though what we’re saying might be accurate or true. You could tell a young child “ Your reading skills are absolutely terrible. What a mess. You should be doing far better at this point in your education.” Or you could tell that same young child “I’m so excited to help you improve your reading skills even more. By the time you grow up, your reading ability will be absolutely amazing.” I think you get my point. Whenever I’m with a client and I’m afraid to say something edgy, I remind myself to come from love. Can you think of a better strategy?

4. Before you speak, make sure it’s an improvement on silence

People talk a lot. You don’t have to look very far to find someone who has a lot to say. These days, listening is at a premium. When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I remember being at a big family dinner where the conversation was loud and authoritative and continuous. At some point, someone barked above the crowd

“This is such a typical New York get-together. Everybody talks, nobody listens.”  For a moment, there was a pregnant silence, and then the yakking continued. We often become uncomfortable with silence. It’s as if the pause in the conversation is too painful for us to be with. And yet, listening to the silence is magic. When I’m with a client, I love to listen, I love to talk, and I value each moment of silence as if it’s gold. I learned this from my teacher’s teacher, Babaji. He said, “Before you speak, check in to see if it’s an improvement upon silence.” In the moments when words are absent, we can hear everything. The wisdom of the universe can finally speak to us. Trust the quiet.

 5. What if every session was your last one?

In my early days as a practitioner, I’d often find myself having insights or opinions I wanted to share with a client, however I’d get concerned that what I had to say would be too much and my client would walk out the door never to see me again. Or in the worst-case scenario, they’d pull out a machine gun and shoot me. I have an active imagination. Granted, as professionals we need to choose our words thoughtfully. At the same time, we’re being paid to help make things happen by being smart. Inspired by reading Stephen Levine’s book One Year to Live, I had the thought one day, “what if I treated every session as if it was the last one I would ever deliver on planet Earth?” Suffice it to say, this changed my professional life. I started taking more chances. I stepped out of my comfort zone with clients. By imagining that the session I was in with the client was my last one ever, how could I not give my absolute heartfelt best? Often times, I will literally say to a client, “ if I was going to die today and this was my last session, I want to go out with a bang. So here’s what I would tell you so this last session would be meaningful and real…” Trust me, when you say this to a client from a place of sincerity, they listen. Be bold. Live your professional life to the absolute fullest. Give your clients all of you. In fact, if this was my last blog ever, I’d say this to you: “ It’s okay. Go for it. Go for all of it. Go for the life you want. Be the person you want to be. Give the love you want to receive. Be the abundance you want to have.”

I would love to hear about a situation where trusting uncertainty revealed a surprising result.

Warm regards,
Marc David
Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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Begin your meditation … now

The problem is, you think you have time – Buddha

Everybody talks, nobody listens.

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  • Maureen

    Wow! I adore these tips! You have given me a new appreciation for silence and uncertainty. At this moment I am sitting in a hotel room full of uncertainty as we send our child with complex learning disabilities to college and after reading this I feel so peaceful. Thank you!

  • Stephanie Abbott

    Thanks Marc for the great coaching tips! My yoga teacher once said “you’ll learn more from the silent and breath then you will from the asana” and I finally understood this when I started teaching. I continue to be in a learning place when it comes to truly learning listening skills. Your advice here is priceless…

    Steph

  • That was beautiful Marc, full of hard-earned wisdom. Thank you for sharing it !

  • Stacey Morgenstern

    Hi Marc,

    Thank you for sharing this gem! “the truth spoken without love isn’t really the truth.”

    Such a great reminder of how important your “come from” is…

    xo
    stacey

  • I love all of this advice. Especially the one about silence! Thank you for sharing.

  • Beautiful!!

  • Christine

    All of these tips resonate so deeply inside my being. They are truly beautiful, respectful and for me, truthful. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your learning with the world.

  • Thank you Marc for the tips… great reminders! It was nice to slow down and takw these in!
    Especially love the; “the truth spoken without love isn’t really the truth” and “what if every session was your last one” – I didn’t realize until I read your post that this is what I do to create those breakthrough’s – yeah! But I will work on a few other skills….
    Thank you!

  • KarnaN

    Hi everyone,

    Karna here, Director of Student Relations at the Institute.
    Marc asked me to get back to all of you.
    Thank you so much for all your kind comments!
    We are glad that you enjoyed this article.

    Warm regards,

    Karna Nau
    Director of Student Relations
    Institute for the Psychology of Eating

  • kim snow

    Hello Marc,

    You are one of my hero.. thanks for sharing your insight which is truly value for me..

    kim

  • joe Grosso

    Marc,
    As you know I grew up in Brooklyn (in the 50’s) when there was more silence, deep breathing and (meditation), then known as prayer. Holidays and any celebration was always loud, no listening, yet plenty of love and great Italian home cooked hand made food stirred with love, TIME and passion: aside from still the finest drinking tap water on the planet. A fact, I was in charge of the NYC water supply system for over 23 years ( your grandpa Jack) was living proof to that quality.
    You constantly remind me of the powerful impact of being present and in the moment when it comes down to pure nutrition, and eating. You are light years ahead of all the other respectable voices in the field of Nutrition. You keep it clear ,simple and full of sincere love. I am blessed to have the luxury of communicating with and all others who share my experience on your website.
    Thank you
    Sincerely
    joe grosso

  • Ellen kittredge

    Loved this post. Thanks, Marc, for the wise, wise words!

  • Thank you, Marc. Your posts always inspire me. Your final words especially touched me today–not that they are new, but as they were obviously written from your heart versus your intellect, their truth touched me deeply: “ It’s okay. Go for it. Go for all of it. Go for the life you want. Be the person you want to be. Give the love you want to receive. Be the abundance you want to have.” namaste

  • Keeping it simple is the key. We tend to think we need to have all of the answers and know all of the nutrition facts, but starting with ourselves is the most important aspect of coaching others. The statement,“the truth spoken without love isn’t really the truth” is powerful while remembering to listen and be comfortable with uncertainty. Letting go of control and being in the moment with higher source provides all that is needed to be a great coach.

    Thank you for these insightful reminders of why I am here and what my purpose is!

  • Marc David

    Hi everyone,

    Marc here. Thank you for your sweet comments!
    I am grateful that you enjoyed this article.
    Thank you for your passion in this work!

    Warm regards,

    Marc David

  • Sally Callaghan

    It’s simple truths like these that inspire me to be the best I can be and to give the best I can for my clients. Thank you so much for sharing and for paying it forward, I know that by reading and remembering this advice my practice will be forever enriched. Thank you.

  • Thank you Marc for such wonderful and inspirational tips. Each and every one of them made me ask myself how can I incorporate more of it into my life and coaching practice. Thank you for that.

  • Jyoti

    Simply AMAZING,,,,each and every tip, so beautifully written and expressed.

  • Great tips! Really life changing 🙂

  • As I read this article the first time, I remembering thinking what great tips. As I read it the second time, I began to incorporate them into my coaching practice and as I reread today, I smile, realizing the subtle shift. I had enjoyed listening and silence, as well as speaking my truth with love prior to reading your article, but adding the others truly made a difference. Much gratitude to you…

    • KarnaN

      Hi Jan,
      Karna here, Director of Student Relations at the Institute.
      Wow! Thank you for your kind words and your dedication to this way of thought!
      Warm regards,
      Karna Nau

  • Michele

    When I read your material, I automatically become a sponge!

  • Thanks, Marc – this all rings true.

    I just finished an illustration project – a children’s book, and my first time drawing to someone else’s words.

    It was such an exercise in beginning again, over and over. “A squirrel? I don’t know how to draw a squirrel! “. Followed by “okay. What would a squirrel look like if I did know how to draw it? What do I love about squirrels?”

    A lot of trust and a month later, it’s done. And will likely be published soon…and I learned so much.

    • Hi Christa –

      What a great example of trusting uncertainty and diving into the need of the moment!

      Warmly,

      Marc David

  • I love these 5 tips. Feels like permission to do what I know to be the truth. The uncertainty can be a bit scary and i am finding that it creates an openness and even vulnerability which opens me wider to life. Thank you.

  • I love the idea of living in “don’t know.” When I step into thinking I need to know, I go to my head, to another book, another theroy, another authority. “Maybe there’s a perfect way to eat and I just don’t know it yet.” And I get anxious. But if I go to “don’t know mind,” and drop into my heart or my body, innate intelligence shows itself. Is raw food the best? Don’t know. Are grains ok? Don’t know. Then I can be in inquiry with it. THE BEST!!

    • Hi Susan,

      You’re right on – trust the body wisdom of what makes you feel most at ease and harmonious within yourself. Inquiry is so powerful – thanks for sharing.

      Marc

About The Author
Marc David
Founder

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.