Belly Rubs

I told a favorite coaching client to stop being such a fucking puppy dog.

This guy is a rock star at work (he just received a performance review that many of us have spent years aspiring to), but he always feels on the verge of failure. He’s constantly seeking validation in a corporate culture that doesn’t give it out much. This causes him some anxiety.

Together, we named that need for external validation “Max.” He’s the puppy dog that needs constant pats on the head. Max is very afraid of failure.

The other day, my client and I were talking about new goals his manager gave him for 2011. “I don’t think I can hit them,” he worried. “I don’t want them. What if I fail?”

“Am I talking to Max right now?” I asked indignantly. My client nodded.

“I don’t want to talk to Max,” I said. “I want to talk to [my client’s name].” (I’ve always wanted to do that, ever since Master Coach-and-incredibly-awesome-guyJeff Jacobson did that during a coaching class.)

Again, I asked my client what he was going to do about those goals. This time he gave a very cogent and thoughtful explanation of exactly what he needed to do. His voice was calm and strong and confident. Max was nowhere to be seen.

At the end of the session, my client smiled and said, “This works. This really works.” And my own internal puppy dog got a nice, big belly rub.