Posted by: smilecoach | May 13, 2009

Why do people hire a coach?

Why do people hire a coach?
    a. Their spouse told them they could use one.
    b. Their boss told them they could use one.
    c. Their friend told them they could use one.
    d. They want something to be different in their lives – they want a change.

Which answer did you choose? Drum roll please! The correct answer is all 4. However, the first three seldom result in success for either the client or the coach. “D” has the greatest probability for there to be a successful coaching relationship. When I say the client wants a change, I am not speaking of the minor aspects of life. The change I am referring to is one that takes an important part of your life to the next higher level.

Making a significant change happen in your life is much more of a challenge than the positive thinking gurus would lead you to believe. I can’t tell you how many times over the past 4 decades that I have futilely tried to think my way into a making something happen. It never worked. Now I know why.

I haven’t found a silver bullet that makes change easier. What I have discovered are four personal characteristics that are essential to possess in order to successfully make it through what I refer to as the ‘Big Change Zone’. My discovery is the result of reflections on my own life as well as observing hundreds of clients battle through their changes. As often happens for me, the insight came in the middle of a coaching session. About two months ago, I was working with an incredibly talented artist who was really struggling with making a change. In the middle of the call the answer hit me and I found myself talking to him about the 4 C’s of ‘Big Change’. Sorry folks, there is no huge scientific study to back up my ideas. The only proof I have is how people have reacted to my insights when I share them. Hopefully, the responses to this post will continue to confirm the validity of the 4 C’s of Big Change.

By now you are probably saying to yourself, “Enough already Frank. What are the 4 C’s?” I hear you and they are Commitment, Clarity, Courage and Compassion.

I believe it is mandatory to possess the 4 C’s in ample quantity to make a ‘Big Change’ happen. No I can’t define big change exactly. It is different for each person. If there is something that your heart tells you is important and/or you haven’t been able to successfully make the change you desire, that qualifies as a ‘Big Change’.

In today’s post I intend to explain what I mean by commitment and then in three subsequent posts I will discuss the other three. Before I go on, I suggest that you bring to mind a change you want to make and as you read see if what I am saying makes sense and is helpful to you in making the change.

Commitment is defined as the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled. When you are in the ‘Big Change Zone’ being emotionally impelled is mandatory. Commitment represents a state of internal energy that is imperturbable. When you are committed you will do whatever it takes to maintain that level of energy. Most people mistake having an interest in something with making a commitment to it. The difference is immense. When you have a strong interest in something it indicates that you would be happy to see your interest materialize. However, if it doesn’t work out, well that is okay too. There is always a reason why you couldn’t follow through.

If you asked me at any point in the past five years if I was committed to writing the book on which I have been working, I would have quickly responded yes. However, I wasn’t. I had an interest in doing it and I always had excuses as to why I wasn’t working on it at the current time. Fear and procrastination were my constant subconscious companions on the book. It wasn’t until late last year when I became committed to completing it. I realized that living my life’s mission meant that I must complete and publish this book. When I realized that, the energy and creativity I put into it accelerated.

Here is a test you can use to determine if you are committed to making the “Big Change” happen. Ask yourself right now, “What are the top 3 things you are going to do in the next 7 days that will move you closer to success in your change?” As you asked yourself the question, notice the energy you feel as you answer it. Did you feel a surge of power as you answered? If you did feel the energy and you really do what you listed in the week’s time, then you are committed to your intention. If you got a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and a reluctance to come up with anything, you probably are not committed to your goal? If you got a sinking feeling and you don’t do the three things you said you would do and you have several excuses as to why you didn’t, then your commitment is weak at best.

There is no sin in not really being committed to a goal. The problem with ‘fake commitment’ is that when we don’t follow through on our intention it generates guilt and anxiety. The lack of follow through on commitments causes you to be out of integrity with yourself. If you can’t keep your word to yourself, how can you keep it to others? I think it is time to stop saying we are committed when we are not.

Clarity, courage and compassion are integral to having real commitment. It is very difficult to fully commit to something when you lack clarity about who you are and what you really want from life. What do you think, are you committed to your Big Change?

In my next post I will discuss clarity.


  1. Thank you Frank!

  2. Good morning Frank. Extremely insightful. I felt the low in the pit of my stomach. I realize I have many things I want to do and each year goes by and I am no closer to having them. It is because of commitment. It is easy for me to commit to other people’s goal but why do I have difficulty committing to my own?
    Thanks for the poke!!

  3. Hey Jessi,
    You are very welcome.

  4. Hi Larry,

    I am glad you found this post to be of interest. I believe that you will find the next 3 posts on clarity, courage and compassion to bring additional insigts on what gets in the way. If you would like to talk about what is getting in the way, please call me.


  5. Hi Frank ,
    we miss u , the insight is truth , and answering the Q ?? maid it more real . looking fowrared for the next one

  6. Hi Honey!
    Actually, the best thing is to be married to a coach…well ,this coach!!
    This is a great blog and I look forward to the rest of the series. When I look back on succcessful changes in my own life I can actually pin point the moments of commitment, clarity, courage and compassion. In fact, that might be a good exercise for folks. If you are able to see and feel how it felt when you started moving toward and experienced a successful change/transformation in one area you can possibly use that to help in another area. But here is an observation: I think the most meaningful changes in my life were like seeds that that grew from a singular thought, a singular moment of clarity that came in a moment of crystal knowledge and I caught it like a falling star. I think I have let some slip by when I am honest with myself. How does one keep that sense of aliveness, awareness and openess to these momonts of clarirty? I am not sure, but now realize I need and want to give that some thought. I think many women and some men live in a world of multi-tasking that absorbs a huge a amount of energy but it sets up a shield that deflects the falling stars of wisdom. I missed seeing a falling star the other night on our patio. Why? Because I was going through the check lists in my head. Being in the moment, breathing in the moment of now is so fundamentally important!!

  7. Hi Nora,

    I was happy to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Wherever you are in your travels right now, I know that you are creating miracles.


  8. Hi Sheleen,

    The exercise you suggest of reflecting on your own changes is a great one. Regarding how you sustain the clarity and energy, I suggest that on a daily basis we need to generate, protect and cleanse our energy. In a future blog I will provide the details on how to do this.

    In the meantime I will be glad to join you in looking for shooting stars.


  9. Hey Frank,

    A wonderful post!

    I have danced around commitment all of my life. And when I have truly committed miracles have happened. The biggest commitment I have ever made was to heal the holes in my heart and to truly embrace life with joy. Well my friend…”and so it is”. And you have contributed greatly to my standing in this place now!

    I love you and cherish your commitment to making a difference in the world. I have received much and am able to give much because of your commitment!!

    A forever friend,

    • Hi Sandy,
      I can hear the joy in your heart from what you wrote. I am incredibly happy for you. I don’t know anyone who has more courage than you.

      It was my lucky day when you were hired at Zenger Miller.

      Yes we are friends forever,

  10. Frank,
    Your post helped me really think about change. You and I have talked about the 3 C’s, but reading about committment helped me understand. By journaling I found out a few things that helped.

  11. Frank,
    I hit the enter key before I wanted to! So, to continue my post.
    In my journalling I realized I’ve been waiting for the clarity before the committment. So the committment to change is the committment. Agreeing to myself that whatever it takes, I will do. “Change” for me seems so non-defined, like committing to the unknown. That brings up a fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of truly committing to the unknown. That means I have to let go of my need to be in control (which I’m not anyway!)
    I look forward to your next post!

  12. Hi Frank,

    Your post comes at an impeccable time. I am looking for Big Change within myself.

    Speaking of big changes… Bryan and I have news for you!

    – Anne Soler

    • Hi Anne,

      Timing is everything in life. The more we know about ourselves, the better the timing seems to be. I look forward to hearing your good news. Please call me.


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