I’ve been obsessed with coaching for the past year and a half.
I completed the Landmark Curriculum, a series of 4 structured coaching programs focused on personal effectiveness, communication, integrity, and leadership.
I then coached their Self-Expression and Leadership Program, supporting a group of 5 participants over 4 months as they planned and executed real projects to impact their communities or businesses.
I completed the Oneness Health program, which incorporates diet planning and cleanses, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, reiki and yoga into a holistic health program for leaders.
I worked with a voice and speech coach weekly for 3 months, addressing everything from vocal tics to public speaking and executive presence.
And then I hired 6 coaches for my online bootcamp Building a Second Brain, training them to lead participants through each stage of understanding and building a system for personal knowledge management.
These investments totaled approximately $25,000 along with countless hours of study, preparation, and learning-by-doing. It may seem like a lot of money and time, but these have been some of the most valuable investments I’ve ever made. As direct outcomes of these programs I’ve quadrupled my business income, built a world-class team of collaborators, transformed my relationship to my body and mind, and expanded to completely new activities like paid writing, public speaking, and now, offering coaching services of my own.
As I first wrote about 3 years ago, I’ve been deeply dissatisfied with the vast majority of the articles, books, and courses on productivity and performance I’ve encountered.
Virtually all this content misses the most important thing: fundamental behavior change. I don’t mean the superficial habits visible to the naked eye, but the internal ones — the counterproductive thinking patterns, the flawed mental models, the limiting beliefs, and the incomplete paradigms that dictate what is “possible” and “impossible” in the first place.
We need a new way. A new paradigm for behavior change itself, that focuses on:
- applying what you already know, instead of acquiring more theoretical knowledge
- simplifying and stripping down your approach, instead of adding ever more sophistication and detail
- unlearning what is stopping you, instead of learning new “tips and tricks”
- taking away obstacles and noise, instead of adding new strategies and tactics
- building support systems — strong relationships and communities — that bring out your best self, instead of doing everything by yourself and for yourself
I’ve concluded that deep behavior change is indispensable to really making an impact on people’s performance. And coaching is absolutely indispensable to behavior change. There’s simply no way around it.
The mission of Forte Labs is “to enable people to derive more pleasure and freedom from their professional life.” To do this effectively, I believe we have to go to work on the most fundamental levels. Otherwise, we are just adding to the noise.
I’ve invested a lot in coaching, and now it’s time for me to pass on what I’ve learned to you. Some of it can be written up in articles and ebooks, which I’ll continue to do.
But the best stuff cannot. The personal breakthroughs as you step beyond where you’ve gone before. The profound realizations as your blindspots get revealed. The discomfort turning to excitement as you walk through what you thought were brick walls.
These breakthroughs can only come from an experiential learning process, not by simply acquiring information.
I’m extremely proud to announce the launch of the Forte Labs Coaching Program. It will incorporate the best ideas, techniques, principles, and frameworks from dozens of different disciplines. It will be project-based and relationship-centered, focusing on the kinds of learning that can only happen in human-to-human communication.
There are 4 operating principles we are building on to set this program apart from other coaching services:
1) Using content as a foundation
We require you to complete one of our self-paced courses on your topic of choice before applying to work with a coach. This helps you get the easy stuff out of the way at an affordable price, sets you up with a common foundation and vocabulary, and allows you to review the material before, during, and after your coaching sessions.
We understand that coaching is a relationship, and not one to be taken lightly. We require applications to be able to learn as much as possible about your background, goals, and expectations. Your first session is dedicated to learning every detail about what is important to you.
Humans are social creatures, and surrounding yourself with effective people is the best way to become effective yourself. You will have access to a monthly group call for the duration of the program, where you can share your successes, get feedback on challenges, and benefit from the learning of others.
4) Limited engagement
The initial term is designed to end after 2 months. This ensures we have the time to work with you to define a goal for that time period, with the supporting structures and accountability you need to actually get there. After 2 months, you’ll have the option of continuing with an ongoing coaching relationship.
I’d like to introduce you to the person I’ve partnered with to build this program: Corey Padnos. Corey has extremely diverse experience as a professional voiceover actor, sushi chef, competitive weightlifter, certified fitness coach, and professional development coach. His passion for high performance and belief in the power of coaching are the threads that tie all these experiences together.
We’ve worked closely together for the last 6 months across several programs. The results I’ve seen him produce with diverse clients gives me the confidence to bring him on as a partner.
I got into coaching when I was 21, and fell on my ass until I was 25. I was fresh off my first brain-based movement certification and I wanted to share everything I knew with the world.
I figured that everyone would want to learn about neurology because it’s COOL. But guess what? Sharing what you know with people and hoping they get interested isn’t coaching. That’s telling people about something and shoving it down their throats. You can imagine how successful a coach I was when I first started (read: I wasn’t).
People don’t actually need you to tell them about something for money. They can ask a friend or Google the answer. Coaching is giving people training and guidance in order to reach a goal that is important to them. Once I learned that, I became the coach I always wanted to be.
There are two things I want you to know:
- How I coach: whether I’m coaching productivity, movement, or performance, there are some common principles that I’ve settled on as the most powerful and effective.
- My personal coaching philosophy: every coach has a different philosophy or an opinion on how coaching should go. This is mine.
How do I think about coaching?
My methodology is grounded in neuroplasticity — the idea that the brain can change itself. I love this theory because it gives space for you to be the person you want to be. Although genetics, circumstances, and life experiences are all relevant, I do believe that at the end of the day if you want it enough, you can be anything. The high performers that get what they want (high-level CEOs and athletes) tend to have coaches to remind them of this.
1) My preferred coaching model: ARCS
There are tons of coaching models out there. None of them are wrong, but the one that I got trained in and prefer is the ARCS Model. It’s my favorite one because it ensures that the coach and coachee are on the same page.
- Attention: I raise a question that challenges how you do things or offers a new approach to something that is important to you.
- Relevance: Why this coaching is important to you. I could give you gold and if you don’t see why it’s important, then it’s not going to help you.
- Confidence: You understand what you just learned and you’re confident you can do it over and over again. This is a reward for your nervous system.
- Satisfaction: You’re satisfied with the outcome and have actions to take. You’ve received feedback and reinforcement that the actions you’ve taken worked or didn’t work and you know why.
2) Stages of Learning
I said earlier that I am an avid student of neuroplasticity. I think of everything as a skill. Habits, movements, even taking on a new attitude — they are all skills. Did you know it actually takes practice for your brain to create a skill?
I’ve taken the Fitts-Posner Learning Model, normally applied to motor learning, and applied it to learning just about anything:
The Fitts-Posner Learning Model
- Cognitive learning: 1–1,000 Reps
- Associative learning: 1,000–10,000 Reps
- Autonomous learning: 100,000–300,000 Reps
For our brains to really own a new skill, it takes 100,000 reps. I hope this model give you space to understand one thing: respect the process to mastery. It takes time and you will probably not be a superstar your first week of learning something new. Hang in there. As your coach, I will help you greatly speed up that learning process.
3) How To Create a Habit: A Formula
You’ve probably taken a self-help seminar, read a brain-hacking article, or read a magazine with someone who looks good naked on the cover. For what reason? You want to change a habit. But really, it’s not how you look, how you hack your brain, or what you know that gets you results. Below is an equation I use with my clients:
B(Behavior) = M(Motivation)A(Ability)T(Triggers)
In other words, if you want to change a behavior, you have to deal with Motivation, Ability, and your Triggers for taking action. You can figure out some of these by yourself, but trust me when I say that coaching seriously speeds up the process. Why? Because if you knew how to learn a new skill or change a habit by yourself you probably would have done it by now.
What is the practice of coaching?
1) Coach off the principle. Limit your instructions.
Principle: “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”
I had a unique opportunity to train under two subject matter experts on Chinese Weightlifting last summer. One of the coaches told me five principles across every lift. And he said to me, “We only say five words to each of our athletes.” Why? You only need five words to coach people how to lift. Everything else overcomplicates what you’re out to accomplish.
The lesson I learned: say only what’s needed, discard the rest. The human brain can only take on so much new stimuli before it is overloaded.
2) Are you a coach or are you a critic?
Coach: Fills in the blanks to help you achieve a result.
Critic: Tells you what to do.
How do you know if you’re coaching or criticizing? If your client is left with power, you’ve coached them (they may not like you, but they feel powerful). If they feel disempowered, you’ve criticized them. The more you criticize, the less likely you’ll create change. And trust me, it has taken years of falling-on-my-ass practice to learn how to speak to different personality types and not have my coaching land as criticism. And I’m always learning.
3) Manage the promise, not the people
This was advice that I got from my friend Sanam years ago and it stuck.
Without trying to come off as cynical, people are going to let you down. And when they do, things get personal. “They didn’t follow what I said.” Or “I hate them.” Or, “They’re wasting my time.” When people let you down, you create an opinion about them. That’s why when I coach people, I always bring it back to a goal.
When I manage people, it becomes about me and my opinion of them. When it comes to managing a promise, it becomes about them and how to help my clients achieve their goals. Treat their promises like gold and they will rise to the occasion.
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