making it count
Mis-Use Coaching

Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  

When it comes to doing something right and/or muddling something up, there are many, many more ways to muddle something than there are ways to do something correctly. Mis-use coaching. That’s the way reality is set up. Do you understand why it is that way? Gregory Bateson entertained that question from his daughter in one of the metalogues. On that occasion he offered this explanation. There are lots of ways to mess up your bed, there’s only one basic way that it is properly “made.”

Similarly we can say that it is easier to mess up the Well-Formed Outcome Questions than to ask them correctly. There are many ways to mess them up, and only one or a few ways of asking them correctly. In the following, the proper way to ask the question is in bold. The questions under them are actual attempts at asking the question which I’ve heard.  Some are funny, some are ridiculous, some are redundant, some are boring. While supervising coaching sessions, I have often stopped the coach and asked, “Are you trying to ask question x?”  When I get a yes, I said, “And what is that question?”

If you ask it wrong, you will probably get wrong or at best, unuseful information.

A common problem is losing track of the subject. You begin with one thing and it slowly shifts to something else so that the later questions are on a different subject. That’s failing to hold the frame.


1) What do you want?            

Wrong: What do you want to talk about?  So, what’s up with you these days?

What issue would you like to talk about?  So what’s your problem?

2) What will you see or hear when you get what you want? [For tangible objectives]

Wrong: What does that belief look like?  What will you hear when you reach that level of fitness?  So what will be your emotional state?

3) Why is it important to achieve that? 

Wrong: So, why do you want that?  Why did you do that?  Why are you that way?


4) When do you want to achieve this outcome?

Wrong: When will you start this?  When could you begin?  When does this occur?

5) Where will this goal occur?

Wrong: Where do you want to be a better parent?  When you are at the gym, where do you want to do this? [Redundant]. 

6) With whom will you do this, if anyone?

Wrong: Who is involved in this?  Will they need to sell this to?  Who will your parenting be for?  Who can help you with this?


7) What do you have to do to get what you want?

Wrong: Do you know how to do this?  Can you do that?  How will you reach your goal?

Client says “I don’t know what to do?”  Wrong next question: “Okay, so how do you do X?”  Do you think you can do that?


8) Is this goal within your area of control?  Can you initiate this action and sustain it?

Wrong: Are you powerful enough to do this?  Can you control this?  How much control will you need to do this? 

If given a “no” answer, “Well, would you like to try it anyway?”

9) Can you? Do you have the skill or the capacity for doing this?  If yes, what?                  

Wrong: What skills will you need to do this?

10) Have you ever done this before or something like it before?  If yes, when?

Wrong: When have you done this before?  When have you solved this before?


11) How many things do you have to do?  Are there steps and stages in reaching this goal?

Wrong: How many steps are in your plan? Are you aware that there are 3 steps to X?

12) Do you need or have a plan or strategy?  If yes, how do you best like to plan?           

Wrong: So what’s your plan?  How much of a plan have you got so far?

13) How will you monitor your progress?  What milestones will you set up in your plan?

Wrong: Have you ever monitored a plan?


14) What, if anything, could stop you?

Wrong: What problems do you see with the plan?  When would something stop you?  What will probably stop you?

15) Do you have the external resources?  Do you have the internal resource you need?

Wrong: How many internal or external resources do you have?  How do you feel about those resources?

16) Is it ecological, holistic, and realistic?

Wrong: So it’s good for you to do this?


3) Is it still compelling and attractive?          

Wrong: How compelling is your goal from 0 to 10?

17) Are you going to do this?  Are you ready to make a commitment to this goal?

Wrong: When will you make a decision about this?  How do you feel about that decision?

18) How will you know you have achieved it?  What evidence would convinced you’ve of success?” 

Wrong: How will you know you’re done?  Are we done now?  Can I go home now?

If you are frequently asking these questions and would like to understand how to more effectively communicate, contact Shawn and have a chat on how we can support your best performances

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Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~


Because meaning is constantly changing, as I noted in the last post, it is unstable. Being unstable, meaning and the construction of meaning allows you to form, unform, and reform it. Meaning is co-created between you as a Meta-Coach and your client engages in the coaching conversation. Because of this, you discover it. Yet it is not discovered in the sense that you happen upon it and, Eureka! you found it, as if it were a thing. It’s not
like that. Meaning is discovered in that you and your client discover your meanings and each other’s meanings in the process of the conversation.

The same thing happens to writers.

As a writer I am often discovering meaning- what I mean and the meaning of my own words- in the very act of writing. I discover what I mean by writing and as I write. I know that sounds strange. But sometimes when I am trying to articulate an idea, I begin writing, then in the process I discover another idea, or an idea that had been on the edge of my consciousness, an idea that I had never fully “thought” before. In this, writing for me is often like a living conversation, as I imagine my readers and consider their thinking,
perspectives, needs, etc. ideas emerge in the process of writing.

It happens similarly to readers.

For the reader, meaning is forever being delayed. You are always waiting for the next word to make sense of the previous. Steve de Shazer wrote that meaning is deferred in reading because understanding itself is an emergent property which arises through a cumulative process. As a reader, it is natural and inevitable that I often create misunderstandings in my mind. Read anything new to you, foreign, challenging, and it will happen to you. Yet by embracing your misunderstandings and continue to read, you will slowly find those
misunderstandings being corrected and new understandings developing. 

Coaching Conversation

And while the ongoing development of meaning happens in both reading and writing, it happens much, much more often in a coaching conversation.
Because the conversation is so dynamic and because we both are trying to understand the client’s wants, desires, hopes, fears, needs, values, etc., the conversation is a joint search for discovery. The way language works in the conversation is one of experimenting with possibilities, testing out hypothesis, experimenting with another possibility, etc. The questions and answers going back and forth co-create the direction that we go and the
areas we explore. 

You coach not only to meaning, but for meaning- to discover and/or to create

The coaching conversation is also both personally intimate and at the same time, a social event. It is inter-communication and inter-action between the players.  If as a coach, you momentarily pretend that you are not part of the conversation., what happens to you? What happens to the other person? Does it not sabotage the entire effort? As a social event, the coaching conversation provides a crucible place where new and exciting
meanings can develop in the dialogue. It is from that crucible that meaning emerges. So welcome the exploratory discovering of meaning that you and your client are engaged in. Give up any and all illusions that you are supposed to know all the answers. You don’t and you won’t. You are an explorer in another’s reality. As you have been invited in, you have the privilege of being a co-creator.

Where To Find Meaning

We order our phenomenal world of meaning with language in all of its forms (linguistics, gestures, movement, kinesthetics, etc.). That’s why we have to look inside, behind, beneath, and within language to discover a person’s meanings. Yet in this there is a tricky element. That’s because words themselves do not mean, people mean. Words do not have strict and precise meaning definitions. Instead they are mired in and dependent upon contexts. It is context as a semantic field which often determine meaning.

Next time you coach, consider how long it takes you to truly come to understand your client’s meanings. Consider also how that the very process of seeking to discover this meaning enables your client to also discover his meaning. Notice how that this discovery process is itself an intervention even though we don’t call it an intervention. Finally, notice how in the discovery process the meaning is or becomes more fluid and unstable and because of that, transformation becomes more likely.

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~ Article written by Shawn Dwyer and L. Michael Hall PhD ~

The Concepts of Time

To get over the past, you need to understand about the concept that we call “time”-what it is, what it is not, what you are actually referring to when you speak about the past (or the future). Since you cannot see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, or smell it-the “time” that you speak of is not empirical. It is not part of sensory reality. It exists not in the external world, but in the internal world. It is an idea-a concept, an understanding.

Events In Time

What then do we have “out there” in the external world that we use to construct the idea of time? Answer: Events. To have “time” you have to have events and you have to compare events. That’s what the clock does.
The clock compares the revolving of planet earth in relationship to the sun.
As the planet faces the sun, we call that “day” time and when it turns away from the sun, we have “night” time. By dividing that event then into hours and minutes and seconds, we end up with what we usually mean by “time.”

Conceptually, time arises in each of our minds as we compare events.

That gives us the three time zones (past events, current events, and future events). So what is “the past?” It is the events (activities, actions, experiences) that have already occurred. You keep them by remembering them.
And to “hold them in mind” or memory-you give them lots of meanings.
Conversely, when you remove meaning so they don’t hold any significance to you, when you do not invest significance into them, then you won’t remember them. They will pass on (out of your memory).They will stop affecting you.

This now gives you yet another way to get over the past-namely, change the meanings. If it remains a living part of your semantic network today because of how you invest meaning in it, then de-investing meaning in that event or experience will free you from it. This is easier said than done because de-investing means letting go, releasing, forgiving, etc.


Now one way you keep things in mind is to use the previous events as references. That is, you refer to a previous activity or experience in order to understand current activities that are similar or that remind you of the former. This process describes how you understand anything. You establish a reference, a frame-of-reference, as a template for understanding. We ask, “What are you referring to?” Think about “insult” and you understand that term by relating it to previous references. So with all words.


Past references are good when you use them for resourceful learning, for finding resources for current challenges, and for feeling good. They are not so good or valuable for feeling bad again, for re-traumatizing, for keeping resentments, for feeling bitter, etc. Now when it comes to getting over the past, it’s essential that you make sure that you have permission to do that.


Another process is establishing a strong robust sense of now, that is, of today. This is what Perls was doing with his mantra statements: “Lose your mind and come to your sense; be here now.” What the losing of the mind (the meta-mind) does is break the old trances of the past and their post-hypnotic suggestions. The stronger your grasp is on today, on the present, the less of a hold the past will have upon you.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

Finally, there’s that statement from Richard Bandler, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” The reason that you can still have “a happy childhood” is because you can recode your past. You can “change your personal history” to such an extent that you can find resources today about healthy parenting and induce yourself into that story and make it yours.
You can use your imagination, invent an imaginary guided tour to a happy and healthy childhood and experience in your mind what you did not actually have. Doing that will give you the references that you did not have in actual history, but now you have in memory.

Past Learnings

Then, as you get over the past, you can begin to use your past for more resource things. You can use your past for learning, for finding resources and having useful references, and for feeling good (nostalgia). There is simply no reason or valid use of using your past to feel bad. Wasn’t once enough? And the purpose of remembering a negative event is to learn from it, not to re-experience it. So to “get over the past”-change your code of the past, especially of those referent events that you have given too much meaning to.

Use the NLP Patterns – Change Personal History; Decision Destroyer.

For time-line patterns – See Adventures in Time Lines (1997).

and my favourite is Pure Potentiality

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~ Article written by L. Michael Hall PhD ~

I started out the day intent on counting the total number of decisions that I tyically make within the time frame of one day. My first decision occurred when I sensed morning light coming into the bedroom, that’s when I decided to look at the clock, it was 6:15 a.m. I then decided to push the button that turned on the radio. I decided to listen to the news. Soon I decided to get up, then more decisions in the bathroom, and even more decisions about getting dressed, which sock to put on first, etc. I decided to do my morning exercises (crunches and pushups), I decided to go downstairs, I decided to eat breakfast which included multiple decisions about what to eat, what to prepare, how to prepare, etc. Later I decided to go to Starbucks which entailed dozens more of decisions, to turn this corner, to wait for that truck, to … It soon became overwhelming. I hit more than 200 decisions in the first hour.

Decisions govern our lives.

Most are ordinary and either are barely conscious or so completely automatic that they are totally unconscious. Previous thinking and deciding about various things have now become automatic decisions that operate as my “way of being in the world.” Previous learnings created decisions that now comprise my lifestyle. Decisions mold and form and engineer our lives.

Then there are the circumstances that I default to (an implicit decision) that actually replaces or substitute for a conscious decision. I decide to take Elm Street because I can see construction up ahead on 7th Street. I didn’t really want to go down Elm Street, but I also didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic. The decision didn’t seem like a decision, that choice seemed determined by that circumstance.

Conscious Decisions

Then there are the conscious decisions that determine and govern life today and life into the future. “Should I say yes to this project or not?” “How can I say no to this request without hurting her feelings?” These are the decisions that we struggle with- we consider the pros and cons on each side of the decision. And if there are several choices, then we have multiple sets of pros-and-cons. And so we go back and forth between saying yes to the choice or no. All of this also influences my identity: Am I a decisive person or not? Am I indecisive?

Pausing to Think

Now to create high-quality decisions in all of these cases, you have to pause in order to think. Otherwise you will be merely reacting to events and circumstances and defaulting to old programs that actualize previous thinking. And that may not be good for you. To switch off the autopilot – you now have to step back (go meta) to gain perspective-to see the larger picture and to consider what is really important to you. This means becoming mindful of your values and the criteria that you set for what is truly important.

To decide

You first have to define what’s meaningful to you, what you consider significant to your overall well-being, and set your highest intentions. Otherwise you will just be engaged in wishful thinking.

This process shows up in Meta-Coaching in several ways. We begin every coaching session by inviting the prelude of a decision by asking for the person’s agenda, wants, dreams, hopes as we ask, “What do you want from this coaching conversation that will make the most transformative difference in your life?” This starts the deciding as it invites the client to make a
choice- “What should I bring up?” In making this decision, the person will either talk about what he positively wants (a toward-value) or what he does not want (an away-from value or dis-value). More decisions then arise as we ask a series of well-formed outcome questions-

“What will that look like or sound like when you get it?” “Why is that important to you?” “When do you want that?” “What do you have to do to get what you want?”

leading and facilitating

Through the process of leading and facilitating the well-formed outcome conversation, the client evidentially sets the agenda and creates (or co-creates with the coach) a desired outcome for the coaching and for her life. This is the first pause, the second one comes next as we inquire about the values and dis-values of taking actions to make the decision real.
This involves identifying all of the values and benefits of the objective as well as the dis-values and costs. Both sides are critical for truly being mindful of what a person will gain and the price one will pay for that gain.

At an even higher level, we often step back for yet another pause. This is the pause of considering the standards or criteria that a person is using- against which the decisions are made. To make a decision, you make it against some criteria.
What are you treating as most important? Is it time, money, health, energy, joy, accomplishment, achievement, efficiency, recognition, respect, etc.?


Pausing here to look at your criteria and the prioritization of your criteria enables you (and your clients) to be much more thoughtful, mindful, and reflective in decision-making. Doing this enables you to become truly discerning in the decision-making process. Yes, you can make many decisions quickly and within a split second and for the everyday kind of decisions that we make minute by minute, that’s usually fine. Yet for truly high-quality decisions, you’ll want to pause- step back- get mindful -elicit your highest values in order to make great decisions that you’ll be proud of. Pausing and thinking enables you to access some of your highest executive thinking powers. Anyone can learn how to do this through decisive education at The Coaching Centre

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Intention And Intentionlity Are Different

At the heart of Neuro-Semantics we train and coach intentionality. That’s what the Intention Pattern in APG is all about. That’s also why we ask a series of meta-questions about a person’s “reason why” he or she does or wants what the person wants. Via this process, we enable a person to access a power within that can set a direction for life and control of one’s attentions. Then from a highly energized intentional stance, a person can develop a laser-beam focus for her flow or “genius” state.

Yet intention and intentionality are not the same. They differ and they actually differ significantly. For years I confused the two to such an extent at times that I even identified them as the same thing. Yet they are not. What about you? Can you clearly articulate the difference between them? To fully understand this, let’s back up to the idea of wish, then we will go to will, and after that to intention.

The following is an attempt to trace the conceptual understanding of intentionality from wish to will to intention and finally onto intentionality. I have taken this primarily from Rollo May’s development of it in his classic work, Love and Will (1969). If the process seems deep or thick, just keep reading. Later, when you get the full picture, reread this
article to pick up the more refined aspects of these distinctions. The distinctions here are specially important if you are a coach or a trainer and lead to some incredibly powerful states and experiences as you will discover.

Wish -> Want

The first question in Coaching is, What do you want? Some people don’t know what they want. They have not developed a “want.” They are not at that stage yet. So we have to begin with something that’s prior to a want, yet something which indicates that their will is engaged. Start with what interests them-their wishes. “What do you wish for?” In a chapter on “Wish and Will” (Chapter 8, Love and Will) Rollo May noted that wish comes first and that within wish is an element of meaning in it. What do you wish for? With the development of consciousness, wishes arise. A wish is not merely a push from behind or a need calling for satisfaction. Because a wish has some selectivity in it, it begins to orient you to the future.

“I am saying that there is no will without a prior wish. The wish, like all symbolic processes, has a progressive element, a reaching ahead, as well as a regressive pole, a propulsion from behind. The wish thus carries its meaning as well as its force. Its motive power lies in the conjunction of this meaning and force. We can now understand why William Lynch should hold that ‘to wish is the most human act.'” (Love and Will, p. 209)

“Will is the capacity to organize one’s self so that movement in a certain direction or toward a certain goal may take place. Wish is the imaginative playing with the possibility of some act or state occurring. … Will requires self-consciousness; ‘wish’ does not. ‘Will’ implies some possibility of either/or choice; ‘wish’ does not. ‘Wish’ gives the warmth, the content, the imagination, the child’s play, the freshness, and the richness to ‘will.’ ‘Will’ gives the self-direction, the maturity, to ‘wish.’ ‘Will’ protects ‘wish,’ permits it to continue without running risks which are too great. But without ‘wish,’ ‘will’ loses its life-blood, its vitality, and tends to expire in self-contradiction.” (215-6)

“Will enters the picture not as a denial of wish, but as an incorporation of wish on a higher level of consciousness.” (265)

We start first with wishes, although even here many people cannot go. They suffer from a denial of wishes or a rationalization of wishes. For them wishing is unrealistic and sets them up for disillusionment. So they refuse it. If you have a client like that, then explore, “Do you allow yourself to wish? To dream? To wildly imagine possibilities?”

It is the childlike ability to wish that we build up will, from there we build up intention and from there, decision and focus. So it is at that point that Rollo May says that William James identified “the central problem of will, namely, attention.” Then noting that this was a stroke of genius, he then quoted William James:

“When we analyze will with all the tools modern psychoanalysis brings us, we shall find ourselves pushed back to the level of attention or intention as the seat of will. The effort which goes into the exercise of will is really effort of attention; the strain in willing is the effort to keep the consciousness clear, i.e., the strain of keeping the attention focused.”
(Love and Will, p. 218)

For years I have been quoting and crediting this to Rollo May. Obviously I have been wrong. Apparently somewhere along the line I must have forgotten that Rollo May was quoting William James. Then one day during my early morning reading, I was re-reading Love and Will and discovered. Then to make his point, Rollo May quoted one of James’ most earthy illustrative stories about will.

“We know what it is to get out of bed on a freezing morning in a room without a fire, and how the very vital principle within us protests against the ordeal. [The scene is New England before the advent of central heating.]
Probably most persons have lain on certain mornings for an hour at a time unable to brace themselves to the resolve. We think how late we shall be, how the duties of the day will suffer; we say, ‘I must get up, this is ignominious,’ and so on. But still the warm couch feels too delicious, and the cold outside too cruel, and resolution faints away and postpones itself
again and again just as it seemed on the verge of the decisive act.

Now how do we ever get up under such circumstances? If I may generalize from my own experience, we more often than not get up without any struggle or decision at all. We suddenly find that we have got up. A fortunate lapse of consciousness occurs; we forget both the warmth and the cold; we fall into some revery connected with the day’s life, in the course of which the idea flashes across us, ‘Hollo! I must lie here no longer’ -an idea which at that lucky instant awakens no contradictory or paralyzing suggestions, and consequently produces immediately its appropriate motor effects. It was our acute consciousness of both the warmth and the cold during the period of struggle which paralyzed our activity…” (pp.218-219, original source: Principles of Psychology, 1890).

In analyzing this, Rollo May says William James jumped over the whole problem of will with his statement about the “fortunate lapse of consciousness” which enabled him to get out of bed and begin the activities of the day. So he asked, “What went on in that ‘fortunate lapse of consciousness?'” He says that if our decision is based on “luck” or “happenstance” then our house is built upon the sand. Then we have no basis for will at all. What happened in that revery? May suggestion-in that
moment the phenomenon of intentionality occurred (p. 220).

Lying in bed and engaged in the revery of the day’s activities you mobilize your attentions and wishes so that you begin to imagine doing and experiencing those activities. Then without awareness of the change of your state, you suddenly find yourself up and moving and getting yourself ready.
Here wishes and imaginations as emotional representations evoke a sense of experiencing. You are now intending-literally turning yourself toward your vision and images. You are intending an object.


When we go to an English dictionary, Webster says that the first meaning for intention is from the verb intend which means “to mean or to signify.” “I intend to do something.” It secondarily carries the meaning of purpose or design. Within “intention” is the root word tend which refers to “movement toward something, tend toward, tendency.” Here is a turning toward something.

Rollo May says that the more significant aspect of intention is its relation to meaning. When we ask, “What is the intent of the law?” we are asking about its meaning. He then added, “Meaning is an intention of the mind.
Meaning has no meaning apart from intention.” So we can think that with each act of consciousness we are tending toward something, we are turning toward something. So intention has within it, no matter how latent, some turning/ tendency/ movement toward a direction.

This fits another definition from the dictionary and the primary way the term is used in Phenomenology. Intent is the “turning of the mind toward an object.” Edmund Husserl, father of modern Phenomenology, extended the concept of intention to the whole of our knowledge by emphasizing that consciousness is always consciousness of something. “Meaning is an
intention of the mind.”

The person who first distinguished intention from intentionality was Husserl. He learned intentionality from Franz Brentano who believed that consciousness itself is defined by the fact that it intends something, that it points toward something outside itself, “it intends an object.” The intention is the turning toward something with one’s consciousness (mind)
and intentionality is what lies behind the intention and gives meaningful contents to consciousness.


That’s intention-tending toward something. From intention, Rollo May then defined intentionality as “the structure which gives meaning to experience.” Don’t confuse this with “intentions.” Intentionality is higher. It is the dimension which out-frames the intentions, it is the background framework.
Intentionality describes the higher-level capacity which you have which enables you to create the context for intentions. Intentionality provides you a way to imaginatively participate in calling out your possibilities.
This capacity comes out of your awareness by which you can form, mold, and change yourself and the future in relation to each other.

Intentionality lies at the heart of consciousness itself. At a preliminary stage of intentionality, intentions determine how you perceive the world. After all, the intention you bring to something governs how you will perceive it. Because when you have an intention you are “turning your attention toward something,” your perception is directed by your intentionality- your capacity for intention.

Suppose you are going to see a house in the mountains. If your intention is to look for a place to rent for the summer months, you will view it to see if it is well built, gets enough sun, will work for your vacation time. If your intention is that of a real-estate investor, you will view it in terms of what needs to be fixed, how it can be priced attractively higher than the cost so you can make a profit. If you are visiting a friend, you will view it with the eyes of seeing it in terms of friendship and hospitality – open patio, easy chairs for afternoon talk.

When you cannot see an obvious thing, there is probably nothing wrong with your eyes or even your mind. You cannot see it because the intentionality in which you are trapped makes it impossible for you to see it. This is why, when you are learning NLP structures, you often cannot see the processes due to the story that you get caught up in. Until your intentionality changes, your perceptions will be stuck. Yet change your intentionality and a whole new vista of possibilities will open up.

Intention and Intentionality

If intentionality is used as a means for knowing reality, as an epistemology, then to intend an object, to turn your mind to it, is to know that object regarding its meaning (significance). Of course, by the meaning you bring to it. You know it in terms of the intentional concepts that you bring to the object. Your “knowledge” is informed by your intentions.

Thomas Aquinas said that intentionality is what “the intellect grasps about the thing understood.” Yet what your intellect grasps is also what your intellect seeks to find. It is not clean or objective -it cannot be. “What are you looking for? “What are you expecting?”

Intentionality as your capacity to set intentions is also your personal epistemology- your way of knowing your reality-knowing its objects and its meanings. From there you set intentions so you can then carry that the meaning of reality as you have come know it. (May, p. 223). In this, the objects of your intention conform to your way of understanding
(intentionality). It fits! It always fits and that can be the problem. Here we see your mind as an active forming and creative participant in what you come to know.

Intentions can be conscious or unconscious. Psychoanalysis has demonstrated that we never have a purely conscious intention, but also unconscious intentions.

Intention is a psychological state. With an intention, you can get yourself to voluntarily do this or that. Your intentions formulate your purpose and agenda. Why are you doing this or that? Your purpose is what you get out of doing something.

State of Being

Intentionality is a being-state rather than a psychological state. It is the framework for both conscious and unconscious intentions. It is the meaning frame from which intentions arise. It is a state of being, that is, it is the totality of your orientation to the world at a given time. Intentionality occurs in the back of the mind, as a level above your
immediate awareness and is often outside conscious awareness. As a form of epistemology, intentionality establishes your response-style, which is not purpose per se. However, it is the basis which makes your purposes possible.

You participate in forming the future by your capacity to respond to new possibilities and to make them actual. You do that by tending toward them and intending them- this activates your neurological energies-wishes, imaginations, emotions.

“Intentionality in human experience, is what underlies will and decision. It is not only prior to will and decision, but makes them possible.” (199)

Intentionality and the Human Powers

Intentionality then refers to your capacity to stretch forward which, in turn, creates tendency and even tension. As an this inner matrix of your meaning-making powers intentionality mobilizes many other critically important experiences, namely, vitality, courage, care, potentiality, identity, anxiety, and motivation. All of these are also derived from intentionality.

First, vitality. “Man’s vitality is as great as his intentionality; they are interdependent. … Vitality is the power of creating beyond oneself without losing oneself.” (242).

Second, care. The root word “tend” which literally means “to take care of” establishes the close relationship between caring and intentionality. When you care about something or someone, then life matters! Heidegger, another Phenomenologist, says care is the source of will. If I care about being, I will shepherd it with attention to its welfare.

“Care is a particular type of intentionality … ‘intentionality’ and ‘care’ lies in the literal term ‘tend,’ which is both the root of intentionality and the meaning of care. Tend means a tendency, in inclination, a throwing of one’s weight on a given side…” (289)

Third, courage. “The degree of one’s intentionality can be seen by the degree of one’s courage.” (243). Courage also arises from intentionality and, in fact, the stronger your intentionality, the more robust your courage
to pursue your highest values and visions. Need more courage? Try more intentionality.

Fourth, potentials. The degree of intentionality defines your aliveness and the potential of your commitment to a cause, that is, your capacity to respond. The Latin stem is intendeze which literally means “to stretch.”
>From this we get our word “tension.” Intention then is a “stretching” toward something.

“Imagine is the house of intentionality and fantasy one of its languages. … fantasy in its original meaning of … ‘able to represent,’ ‘to make visible.’ Fantasy is the language of the total self, communicating, offering itself, trying on for size.” (278)

Fifth, identity. In intentionality you experience your identity. “I” is the “I” of “I can…” “I will…” “I choose…” You experience your identity in the action, or the possibility of making something actual that you intend. Consequently, to experience more of your identity and your sense of self in a more robust and grounded way, use more of your
intentionality. Not only does it develop your courage, but also your very self.

Sixth, Anxiety. Kierkegaard says that the intermediate variable between potentiality and actuality is anxiety. Anxiety creates energy within you to act, to move, and to respond. It may have the feel of fear, but it lacks an
object that it may be afraid of. It may have the feel of excitement, yet again, without a specific object for the excitement.

“Normal, constructive anxiety goes with becoming aware of and assuming one’s potentialities. Intentionality is the constructive use of normal anxiety.
If I can have some expectations and possibilities of acting on my powers, I move ahead. But if the anxiety becomes overwhelming, then the possibilities for action are blotted out.” (242)

Seven, Motivation. Intentionality is also related to the intensity of an experience, that is, to how you experience aliveness in the experience. We call this aliveness or vitality- motivation.

“The degree of intentionality can define the aliveness of the person, the potential degree of commitment, and his capacity…” (243)

Coaching the Clarification of Intentionality

Rollo May, as a Psychologist and Psychotherapist, says that in therapy the real battlefield lies “in clarifying the intentionality of the patient. … it shifts the struggle to one between authentic fulfillment and non-fulfillment. … my task is to be conscious of what the intentionality of the patient is in the particular session.”

Now isn’t that also true in Coaching? Yes! When you coach, you are facilitating the authentic fulfilment of a client by tapping into his or her deepest and highest intentionality. So you ask the series of meta-questions about intentions. This activates the person’s intentionality.

“What is your highest intention? Is it healthy? Are you fulfilling your best intentions? Is this your life’s center? If you don’t know what you want, what do you think you want? What would you like to want? Why did you come here today? Above and beyond your goals and objectives, what do you care about?”

Your consciousness is a consciousness about what you perceive and what you want. In this your meanings and your intentionality are complementary aspects of your “will to meaning.” And that is one thing that makes you uniquely human. So start with your wishes and let them become what you will and then empower them with the power of your intentionality as your daily intentions set the direction of your life.

~ Article co-written by L. Michael Hall PhD and Shawn Dwyer ~

Do you want more intentionality? See Accessing Personal Genius, sometimes called Self Leadership here https://thecoachingcentre.com.au/product/self-leadership/

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Behind “What Stops You” Are Powerful Assumptions

Behind “What Stops You” Are Powerful Assumptions


~ Article written by L. Michael Hall PhD ~

When you coach, there are a few basics that you want to know. The starting point is always, “What do you want?” To make sure the answer is relevant and important, you want to know “Why is that important to you?” Then to make sure it is grounded in reality, you want to know when and where the person wants it. From there you will want to know if the person knows what to do. “Do you know what to do to get what you want?” If the person does not, that’s great! It means that you, as a Meta-Coach, have a job! Now you get to earn your fee. Let there now be a chorus of hallelujah!

Blocks to Success

Now along the way, you will be identifying blocks and interferences. “So what stops you? Could anything stop you from getting what you want?” There usually are blocks. If the person says “no, there’s nothing to stop me,”
then look confused, scratch your head, shift around in your chair, pause …
Then look your client in the eye and ask:

“So if nothing stops you … then why are you not out there doing what needs to be done to get what you want? Why are you sitting in my coaching chair?”

Usually the person will now start to get real with you. This makes, “What stops you?”, a truly great question. But you have to work it. Sometimes you have to repeat it several times. And when they tell you what stops them, don’t just buy it on first hearing. They are most likely to give you a list of superficial excuses. Question them. “That stops you?” “How does that stop you?” “How much does that stop you?”

Two Things To Distinguish – Get The Assumptions!

At this point you are going to hear two kinds of things that your client asserts which stop him. You are going to hear facts of the world and you are going to hear internal beliefs and assumptions. The “facts” are actually the real life factors that will occur, or could occur, that you’ll have to deal with. These are actually not what’s stopping a person. A person may use them to excuse themselves from acting. Yet the fact that others act, and do not let these things stop them, show that these are not the actual interferences.

I don’t have enough money for this (or time, personnel, energy, etc.).

Because they will (or could) laugh, say no, reject me, think I’m stupid, etc.

Since the project could fail, be difficult, take longer than expected, etc.

The internal beliefs, assumptions and frames are what’s actually stopping, blocking, and interfering the realization of the goal.

Self: I’m not adequate, not skilled, stupid, unlovable, have low self-esteem, etc.

Ideas: My ideas don’t count, aren’t creative, never work, etc.

Others: People with power and money control things; managers never listen, bosses don’t care, even the experts can’t figure it out, or are divided, they are too competitive, etc.

Change: You can’t change an organization, change is hard, only those at the top can create change, trying to change things means conflict which is bad, etc.

Back of the Mind Blocking Frames

Consequently once you get the block or interference out on the table, you’re ready to ask meta-questions and invite the person to step-back to find the interfering block and it will always be a limiting belief, decision, identity, understanding, etc. It will be some frame that creates the limiting or fallacious interpretation.

What are you assuming that stops you?

What limiting belief, decision, understanding, identity, etc. stops you?

Therefore these beliefs, decisions, understandings, identities, etc. almost always operate as an assumption. That is, they are just assumed and not questioned. Functionally that makes them unquestionable which explains why the person can’t get beyond the block. She assumes “that’s just the way it is” (e.g., they are, I am, etc.). Then, assuming this limitation, he just accepts it, resigns to it, and/or never even thinks that it could be otherwise. This, in turn, eliminates any critical thinking. In fact, it stops thinking.

Now you are in a place where you can intervene and there are many ways to do that. One way is to reverse the assumption. “What would be a positive opposite assumption?” Typically, just reverse it.

Limiting assumption: “I’m not able to handle conflict, so I can’t be assertive at work.”

Reverse assumption: “Because I am able to handle conflict, I can be assertive.”

Turn into a question: “If you knew that you could handle conflict, what would you do to reach your goal?” Or, “what ideas would that generate in you?”

Limitation: “I can’t stand failing, I need to get things right, being wrong means I’m stupid.”

Reverse: “I don’t have to get it right the first time, being wrong lets me learn.”

Question: “If you knew that you can always learn even when things go wrong, what would you do, what ideas would that stimulate in you?”

As a Meta-Coach

So as you flush out the hidden assumptions in the back of the mind, turn them around, and put them inside a meta-question, you are setting up a new hypothesis and giving your client a chance to try out a new way of thinking. It sets up an experiment for life (the tasking).

1) Detect limiting assumption.

2) Reverse it and turn into a liberating frame.

3) Attach to the person’s goal (well-formed outcome).

4) Ask as a tentative hypothetical meta-question.

5) Ask the question repeatedly and in different words.

When you do this, you enable your client to think imaginatively beyond their old fears, limiting beliefs, excuses, and model of the world. Often what you are doing is designing a Torpedo Question for your client.

Interested in a coaching conversation? contact us here

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