Friday, April 19, 2013

Seven things we coaches can learn from goats

Posted on Friday, April 19, 2013 by International Coach Federation

I consistently draw motivation and inspiration from my Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats. This may seem a little unconventional, but just go with it. Sometimes I just watch “Trixie” and "Vincent aka Vinnie Van Goat" in amazement. They are ZEN warriors and continue to teach me how to be a better human every day. Here is just a tiny list of things we COACHES can learn from my goats.

1.  GOAT: Live Life On The Edge  VS.  COACH: Be Fearless For Your Clients
They climb to the highest reaches of their goat jungle gym, nap on top of the huge recycle bins, and test the severity of the current to our electric fences. These goats teeter on the brink of danger at least ten times a day. They are fearless, just like we coaches need to be. Ask the tough questions. Point out the dumbfounding assertions. Remain fearless.

2.  GOAT:  It’s All About The Food  VS.  COACH: It’s All About The Motivation
Just like our pot-bellied pig neighbor, Delilah, Vinnie and Trixie will do anything for food. Though these kosher herbivore creatures might have different tastes from each other, Vinnie and Trixie have one thing in common: nothing motivates them like food. As coaches, we must remember that all individuals are motivated by something. Our job is to define exactly what that is – for our clients.  Look for it and listen. It will become clear. Keep their motivators in mind constantly.

3.  GOAT: I Open At My Own Pace!  VS.  COACH: The Client Opens When Ready!
Whenever Vinnie and Trixie hear the door open to the backyard, they always come over to the entrance of their pen. However, once you hop over the fence into their space, they back away slightly. When they are ready, they approach wearily, slowly, throw their necks in the air and get right up in your space. That’s their way of hugging. As coaches, we have the incredible opportunity to work with all sorts of unique characters. I believe the aforementioned situation is the exact same dance we maintain with our clients. They are excited to start each session. We open ourselves. We challenge their space. Once ready, they open. This is one of the most extraordinary gifts – to witness clients transform right before our very eyes. 

4.  GOAT:  Be Master Escape Artists  VS.  COACH: Be Ready For Anything!
Goats can escape from any fence, any pen, or any situation if they feel threatened. It is incredible to watch them scale a six foot fence with just two steps (or hops, rather). We, as coaches, get to embody the definition of determination and dedication, mirroring my goats. Therefore, as coaches, we must be ever-ready for whatever happens and continue to stay open and flexible at ALL times, no matter what.

5.  GOAT:  Just Walk It Off  VS.  COACH: Never Take Anything Personally
Trixie likes to test her agility every time we turn around. When she gets hurt physically or emotionally, she makes a little goat-noise squabble, shares her woe with Vinnie for a two-second bit, and then walks and shakes it off. Now, that's inspiring. I invite you to go even one step further with your clients. This is your friendly reminder never to take anything personally. It’s all about them. Not about you.

6.  GOAT: Be Curious About Everything   VS.  COACH: Be Curious About Everything
Goats are curious 100 percent of the time. They explore. They circumvent. They plot. Vinnie and Trixie carry within them a great light of curiosity and it's infectious. Write this down. Be curious 100 percent of the time. Ask questions. Pry. Challenge them. Be confident. Be curious.

7.  GOAT:  Be Playful All The Time  VS.  COACH: Never Take Anything Too Serious
Vinnie and Trixie constantly act as if life is just one big playful recess. Even though they are literally “fenced in” behind my house, they embody the true meaning of freedom. If my goats can find intellectual/spiritual freedom within their fenced domain, it is more than possible for ALL of us to find freedom within our abstract “caged” minds. They never take anything too serious. Words to live by and remember! Every once in a while, remind your clients that freedom is theirs to behold at all times. We all need to be reminded that sometimes life is just not that serious.

If we watch, goats – or really all animals for that matter -- can teach us great wisdom. Goats are not the smartest animals, but they sure are among the happiest I have ever experienced first-hand. We can all take a lesson from them. I continue to be awe-inspired and learn from them each and every day.  I am blessed to have these zen-filled and magnificent creatures in my backyard.

Challenge question:  From where do you draw your insights and inspiration for coaching?

By Seth Santoro. A first time self-help author, coach, blogger, public speaker, aspiring TV host, and producer, Seth’s vision is to Inspire the World, One by One, to Smile From The Inside.  He has a great deal to say, the basis of which is Know who you are, Embrace who you are and Be who you are - no matter what the circumstance or what your past – and you can heal from anything.  Seth’s first book in a trilogy series is “How I Learned To Smile From The Inside,” available now on Amazon. Learn more about Seth,


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  2. Very good tips, thank you for sharing. Always important to keep a level head and remember that it may take others longer to learn concepts that we believe are relatively easy to grasp. That's where I have struggled in the past. Great tips!

    - Jackie from New Hampshire public speaking


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