This simple little question is amazingly powerful, especially at the end of a session that covers a range of topics, because it allows space to think beyond the immediate issue. This question drills down, giving clients’ permission to raise another issue that wasn't on the agenda, yet is the real thing that's troubling them.
The issue that clients say they want to work on is often not the real issue; this question gives them time to reveal what's really going on.
In a previous life before becoming a coach, I spent many years interviewing executives about their work in the corporate world and made an interesting discovery. We'd have a formal meeting for an hour when a person gave me all the facts and figures, the official story I needed to write up for an article. Yet the most intriguing tales, the best one-liners, emerged on the informal walk to the coffee machine or the lift out of the building after I tucked my notebook out of sight. In these moments, I captured the best headlines and off-the-record stories. Similarly in coaching, the most important discoveries often come at the end of a session, when clients feel they've off-loaded what they thought they ought to work on. Now relaxed, their unconscious minds come up with the most useful information.
Michael coached ...