The Car Keys

I’ve been meaning to write this story for a couple of years. Appropriate that this story is the topic for my first weekly column for The Seattle Times: Transformation is sometimes about the small things (like car keys).

I’m always interested in how small changes can cascade through a client’s personal and professional life. The trick, for the coach (or the spouse or the friend or the manager), is to hear the opening for that small change.

Small changes have great power because they’re sustainable. They don’t overwhelm. They’re easy. And they tend to ripple into other areas of a person’s life.

In this case, I kept pestering this poor guy about why he was late. I like to think I knew his tardiness was important because I’m a great coach, but really it was just dumb luck. In any case, my rude questions started a conversation that snowballed into profound transformation for this client.

A beloved client was late to our coaching session. This client, a senior leader at a large company you’ve heard of, finally arrived in my Seattle office flustered and apologetic.

“Sorry, sorry!” he said, wiping sweat off his face.

For some reason, I decided to pin him down: “Why are you late?” I asked.

“I couldn’t find my car keys,” he said. “So I had to call Lyft, and that took longer than I thought.” He apologized again.

Again, I didn’t let it go: “Why couldn’t you find your car keys?”… (Read more at the Seattle Times)