The Seven Wisdoms - WISDOM FIVE - Commit to Transformation | By Fran Fisher, MCC

Wooden Tree as Bookshelf for Coaching Wisdoms

This week we continue a series of articles by Fran Fisher MCC, based on her book, "Calling Forth Greatness, Seven Coaching Wisdoms for Transforming Your Life".

Fran is a Master Certified Coach, Author, Speaker, and Champion for Learning, Growth and Transformation. In this series, Fran shares her passion for bringing the empowerment philosophy and principles of coaching into everyday living. Her vision is a world where the coaching approach is woven into our fabric of life!

See all 7 wisdoms here.

WISDOM FIVE - Be Committed to Transformation

Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Maimonides

The goal of the coaching process is a transformational experience for the client, not just to 'fix' their presenting issue. This is based on the 'fishing principle' that Maimonides shared with us thousands of years ago.

Typically, a client will bring an issue to be explored or resolved. Coaches know that the presenting 'issue' is rarely the real or underlying problem. And coaches also know that exploring for that deeper issue will provide a greater possibility for a transformation of the 'eating for a lifetime' kind vs. problem solving at the surface level and helping our clients 'eat for a day'.

"Transformation" in the coaching context means that the client has shifted their relationship to their issue. For example, they now see the problem from a different perspective or they've accessed a capacity that frees up their ability to move forward. Most often this shift is from a victim relationship with their issue to an empowered relationship with their issue.

In this context transformation = empowerment: teaching clients to learn how to fish for themselves vs. giving them a fish.

The ultimate goal of a coaching conversation is to assist the client in accessing their innate wisdom and building their capacities for resolving their own issues going forward. Fran Fisher

A Coaching Example

To illustrate this point, let's say that my executive client, Robert, is having an ongoing problem at work causing him a great deal of stress and impacting his job performance.

I ask him to relate his feelings about the situation in a metaphor. He indicates the situation feels like he is on the deck of the Titanic, and he's aware that the ship is sinking. He feels compelled to rearrange the deck chairs, but he keeps getting pulled away to help with the lifeboats. I explore the metaphor further with him. So we imagine I am standing on the deck of that sinking ship with him, and he indicates that rearranging the deck chairs is his immediate priority.

Dealing with the presenting issue

If I align with him at this presenting or 'surface level' of his issue, then together we roll up our sleeves and rearrange the deck chairs to his satisfaction. The chairs are lined up in the number of rows and at the angles he desires. The finished product is aesthetically pleasing for him. We have done a piece of work together and we have accomplished a result. My client is feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction - short-term.

But what about long-term?

That's right. There is, of course, an underlying issue that has not been addressed. The ship is still going down. And we don't know what is driving his need to rearrange those chairs rather than helping with the lifeboats.

Exploring underneath the issue

So, committed to supporting my client in shifting his relationship to his problem at work, I invite him to explore underneath his presenting issue.

Now my client will have the opportunity for shifting his point of view, raising his self-awareness, learning more about himself and building on capacities that will positively impact all areas of his life - not just the presenting situation.

How specifically might I do that?

I ask Robert, "What's important to you about rearranging the deck chairs?"

Let's imagine he says, "What's important to me is having orderliness." Then I ask, "If you had that orderliness, how would your life be different?" And he responds, "I would experience freedom from distractions and less stress."

In a real-life coaching conversation, we would now step out of the metaphor and I would invite him to explore how this awareness connects with his current work situation, and what he can learn about himself. Now we are addressing the deeper 'want' - the underlying 'issue'.

Bless those who challenge us to grow, to stretch, to move beyond the knowable, to come back home to our elemental and essential nature. Bless those who challenge us, for they remind us of doors we have closed and doors we have yet to open. Navajo saying

So, how can you explore underneath the issue?

An effective way coaches can help clients achieve a deeper, more lasting change is by inviting them to explore for the importance, meaning, or motivation for what they want. This opens up access to their essential self and to greater self-awareness. Clients begin to feel a sense of freedom to make more empowering choices rather than feeling restricted, stuck, powerless, or a victim of their circumstances.

The deepest "wants" my clients then reveal to themselves are often core values, such as organization in Robert's case. Core values could also be integrity, partnership, freedom, clarity, inner peace, well-being, harmony, fairness, trust, etc.

Then from this level of awareness we can explore how to honor those values more fully. The opportunity is now for the client to empower themselves forward.

"Do you know that you are a more efficacious voice for transformation in the world than any book, teaching, philosophy or religion? In fact, you are the only dynamic point of transformation that exists!" Paul Tuttle


Being a catalyst for transformation starts with your commitment to living true to who you are at your essence.

And being a catalyst for transformation in your relationships calls for 1) a commitment to being an empowering influence and 2) being authentically curious vs. being judgmental.

Learn to ask curious questions like, "What's important to you about that?" or "What does X mean for you?". This helps the other person access their deeper want, and raise their self-awareness of what is driving their choices or behaviour.

How to Benefit from this Wisdom:

As you read each of The Seven Wisdoms in this article series, you'll be asked to reflect on how you can apply these principles in your own life or work. Choose one way that works for you, and apply it to each principle. You could keep a specific notebook for this process or simply use your journal.

Here are a few ways you can benefit more deeply from this wisdom:

  • Your Calling Forth Greatness Inquiry: "How am I contributing to profound, long-lasting positive change for myself and others?" Reflect on this Calling Forth Greatness Inquiry for a day or a week. Notice what shows up; notice the impact; notice what you learn.
  • Visualize how your life and the lives of others around you could be empowered using this Coaching Wisdom.
  • Using this Coaching Wisdom as your focus; Journal around your learning or design your own inquiries to deepen your learning.
  • Work with a support buddy; share your challenges, progress, and learning; celebrate your results!

"There can be no more important task in our life than to get in touch with our own inner self, the source of all Being. The deepest self within each of us is the Self of the whole universe, and it's also the source of all healing and transformation." Deepak Chopra, MD

Watch for Fran's Next Monthly Article, WISDOM SIX: "Call Forth Greatness"

© 2019 Fran Fisher, MCC

If this article resonates with you, get the whole book: Calling Forth Greatness, Seven Coaching Wisdoms for Transforming Your Life, available here on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback formats.

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Contributing Author:

Fran Fisher, Master Certified Coach, MCC. is a champion for the power of coaching and its transformational impact in the world. She is one of the pioneers of the coaching profession and a founding executive board member of the ICF. She specializes in coaching and mentoring coaches for their MCC. Connect with Fran on LinkedInFacebook and learn more about her free resources for coaches at

Learn more about Fran & see all their articles here >>

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