You know the old saying: That which does not kill you makes you stronger? It expresses the sentiment that challenges are somehow “good for us.”

The April, 2013, Heart and Soul of Coaching call explored the topic of challenge, including:

  • What challenge is, really.
  • Some of the global trends in challenges you and your clients may be facing.
  • Three concepts offering new framing for the use of challenging in coaching.

This article recaps and expands some of the highlights of that call as a way to help you review and ground the central teaching points from that call.

As we move into the topic of challenge, I’m asking you to notice what you notice. Notice what sparks for you, what inner push-back you have, and what meaning you assign to what you are experiencing.

Key points:

1.    A baseline for this discussion: Challenge means to push against in order to elicit a response.

2.   Challenging in coaching is:

A conscious use of a push based in love

rather than in the coach’s need to prove anything,

offered in support of a client’s growth.


3.   Coaches with a softer or more gentle coaching approach may shy away from challenging clients because they associate challenge with confrontation.

4.   Challenging does not have to be based in a confrontational dynamic, and can in fact, be delivered very transparently, gracefully and graciously.

5.   Your coaching style may use challenging very subtly and so transparently that you and your client may not be aware you are already using it.

6.   Notice how you relate to and use challenging with your clients so you can more effectively leverage the learning opportunities.

7.   This requires you to notice your own relationship with challenge. How do you respond to challenge? What are the stories you hold about challenge in your life? In your client’s lives?

8.   A big part of the value you deliver in coaching lies in your ability to help your clients make new meaning from what they experience, so they are empowered to inhabit their experience more productively.

9.   Understanding how to recognize and articulate the challenges your clients face is imperative.

Being able to recognize major trends in macro- or global challenges (those being experienced by humankind collectively) will help you provide more useful context for what you and your clients are experiencing. A couple of these macro-challenges include:

  • The challenge to integrate several major paradigm changes simultaneously which requires letting go of old belief systems, old ways of knowing the world, old systems and structure, and old ways of defining Self and success.
  • The push for humankind to finally get – at a cellular level – what it means to love ourselves and each other without reservation.


Is this topic on challenge speaking to you? If you want more, you can access the recording for the rich, rich call on challenge in one of two ways:

1.   As an active member of the H&S community, refer to the direct replay link sent to you in the monthly post-call follow up email.

2.   If you are new to the Heart and Soul community, you can learn more or join here.

I do invite you to listen to the call if you have not yet done so, so the notes posted here will have more meaning for you. Clearly, this is a topic with much dimension and texture, and I anticipate this is a conversation that will continue.

Please share anything from the call that resonated for you in the comments section below, or share anything that sparked an insight or an internal push for you.

I also invite you to learn more about my advanced language program for coaches, where you gain access to several powerful tools to help your clients unlock the learning potential in any challenges they are experiencing.

As I share at the closing of the call on Challenge:

My challenge for you is to notice what you notice. I challenge you to take a risk with someone you love. To do at least one thing today that is just beyond your comfort zone. And to love yourself and those around you so fiercely you’re willing not to be graceful or understood.

May you find the rich blessings waiting for you in your challenges!