Coaching Tools 101: Who are you? Discover The Qualities You Value Most About Yourself!

Client pondering what qualities they value in themselves

In this article I talk you through one of my favourite coaching tools: Troll Travels, Who am I?

What is the "Troll Travels" Exercise?

This fun coaching exercise helps people answer the question: Who am I?

At the end of the exercise you get a list of the 5 qualities you value most about yourself—qualities that you believe make up the essence of you!

It's a fabulous exercise for helping people connect to themselves; to help them learn to both value themselves and be more authentic in the world.

And I recommend trying this exercise on yourself, because then you'll understand its value for your clients. Curious?

And the great thing is, you don't need to buy the coaching tool!

OK, obviously it's nice to have a coaching exercise for your clients to complete, all your clients actually need is a journal or piece of paper and a pen.

Who can I use the 'Troll Travels' tool with?

The Troll Travels coaching exercise is a great character and confidence building tool—and can be used by any coaching niche.

For example, a life coach might use this tool to explore authenticity/who their client is. A parent coach might use the results of this tool to help a client find a unique and authentic parenting style. A retirement coach might use the top 5 personal qualities to explore how your client wants to be during retirement!

What if I'm a Corporate, Business or Executive Coach?

Yes, you can still use this tool. In fact it's a great tool to help our clients connect to their most valued personal qualities, so they can be authentic in the workplace.

If you like, you can make this exercise more 'professional'—by swapping out 'Trevor the Troll' for a high-level boss. Ask your client to imagine a demanding, slightly scary boss. Who would that be? Then replace Trevor the Troll with your client's choice.

Include some additional questions to the exercise wrap-up to explore how their top 5 qualities play out in the workplace. Ask questions like:

  • How could you bring more of your authentic self into the workplace?
  • How could these favourite personal qualities boost their career, business—or leadership style?
  • And how could they do this in a professional manner?
Man with Troll's head. I hope you like my photoshop skills - Enjoy!

How to use the Troll Travels, Who am I? Tool

How long does this exercise take?

Allow 30-45 minutes to do this exercise—ensuring you or your client is in a place where you can relax and reflect.

1) First, make a list of ALL the qualities that make you, you

Who are you? Make a list of 50 qualities!

  • Include your 'negative' qualities. Afraid of heights? Self-judging? Find it difficult to meet new people? Include all of them. Believe me, it makes the next step easier!
  • Also include everything that pops into your head. Have curly hair? Write that down. Love dogs? Write it down. Like organizing events or feeling safe? Write it down.
Troll Travels Self-Discovery Exercise Page 1

2) Now, imagine you're about to cross a bridge

Just as you step foot on the bridge, Trevor the Troll appears and DEMANDS you give him 30% of your qualities.

  • Now strike through 30% (not 1/3, but 30%) of your qualities.
  • Make a mental note of which qualities you give up first…

TIP: Which qualities about yourself do you value least? Because these are qualities Trevor is taking away from you, and you're going to spend the rest of your life without them…

Once you've given up 30% of your qualities, Trevor lets you pass and you keep travelling.

Troll Travels Self-Discovery Life Coaching Exercise Page 2

3) Imagine you come to a second bridge

You arrive at a second bridge, but Trevor has been following you. In order to cross—and not get eaten—he demands you give him another 30% of your qualities (again not 1/3, but 30%).

  • Strike through ANOTHER 30% of your qualities.

Once you've given up another 30% of your qualities, Trevor lets you pass and you keep travelling.

4) Imagine you come to a third and final bridge

You arrive at a third and final bridge. And you guessed it, there's Trevor. He wants that final 30% of your qualities and you're home free.

  • Strike through A FINAL 30% of your qualities.
    • Consider what you value most about yourself: What really makes you unique? What makes you YOU?
  • Make a mental note of which qualities you give up last…

TIP: Think hard because once you're done, you'll be left with just 10% of your qualities for the rest of your life!

5) Review your remaining qualities

These qualities are what YOU value most about yourself!

This is just 10% of what you started with, so if you had 50 qualities you'll have just 5 left.

  • Take a look at the qualities you're left with and consider these final questions:
    • What do you notice? _________
    • Which qualities were easiest to give up and why? _________ (the ones you gave up first)
    • Which qualities were hardest to give up and why? _________ (the ones you gave up last)
    • Are these qualities what you focus on in life? If not, why do you think that is? _________
    • What have you learned about yourself during this exercise? _____________________

So, what are YOUR favourite qualities? Tell us in the comments below!

Want your own copy of this powerful and fun coaching exercise?

This coaching exercise is also in the Self-Discovery Toolkit here:

Like this?

This is just one of our many coaching tools! Learn more about what coaching tools are, when to use them and how they can help in our Complete Guide to Coaching Tools here >>

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Client thinking about what qualities they most value about themselves with lightbulb and question marks by ImageFlow via Shutterstock


  1. Emma-Louise

    OK, I'll share! These qualities were not what I expected - but after doing "Troll Travels", here are my most valued qualities:

    1) Curiosity and Openness
    2) Passion and Enthusiasm
    3) Courage and Inner Strength
    4) Creativity
    5) Cheekiness (challenging the way things are)

    I'd love to hear yours...

    • Emma-Louise

      Thanks so much for your comment. We listened! And have just created an 'email' button underneath the article. Hope this helps.
      Warmly, EL

  2. Ruby

    I did it with my teenage daughter and it was really fun, thank you!

    My daughter had colour, crazy & weird, family, fun and imagination

    I had quirky & fun, love & connection, creativity, positivity & fabulousness and colour

  3. Isobel

    This might be a silly question to ask, but I'm assuming you mean that each time you give up 30% of the original number of your qualities, not 30% of what's left? So if you started with 60 qualities, you'd give up 18 each time and be left with 6 - is that right?

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Isobel, it's always good to clarify understanding!
      So, yes, you have it. 30% of the original 100% of qualities someone writes down. Starting with 50 works best - they lose 15 each time (x3) and end up with 5 qualities the value MOST.
      Warmly, Emma-Louise

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Felicia, thanks for sharing your favourite qualities! A thought - family is something you value MOST in life, but it's not a quality of YOU (in other words it's not something you ARE)... I wonder what the last quality you crossed out was? Warmly, Emma-Louise

  4. Jean

    It seems like we are trying to say that we should spend more time on the 10% qualities that we retain and that defines who we are?

    However, what if I am someone who finds it difficult to meet new people, and this is a quality that i have thrown away, however it may be something I really want to work on?

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Jean,
      So, great question!
      And no it's not about spending more time on the 10% (5 or so) qualities!!!
      It's more about recognizing WHAT those 10% or 5 qualities are. And VALUING and CHERISHING those qualities about ourselves. These are after all the qualities you kept hold of and didn't want to throw away!!!

      You can still work on meeting new people! And in fact, while this tool is dated (this website is slowly being replaced by a new website—Fierce Kindness), you may like this free tool here:

      I hope this helps. Warmly, Emma-Louise


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