My wife and I spent the month of October in Bali. My wife is working on a book project, so it was something of a writing retreat for her. I had to purchase a one-month VPN to keep up with the ADAPT coursework as the video content is delivered via Vimeo and Vimeo is banned by the Indonesian government.
We made high speed internet a priority when choosing AirBnB accommodations and got a good monthly rate on a “digital nomad” cottage with an outdoor kitchen on the outskirts of Ubud. We rented a scooter to zip around town, spent a lot of time in cafes drinking topnotch pour overs, did Bikram Yoga classes at Ubud Yoga Center, had great meals in local restaurants, and became regular customers at Locavore, a butcher shop specializing in locally-sourced pastured meats. There’s some great pastured pork in Bali.
October was a long month, consisting of five weeks of content. The Functional Health track veered from dietary studies into lifestyle-based considerations.
The month started off with two weeks of shopping and food prep material. Week 18 consisted of a great series of lessons from Chris Kresser on technology addiction. Week 19 covered sleep and physical activity. Week 20 addressed stress management.
The month brought into focus my own relationship to technology and how it effects so many areas of my life – from sleep to stress management to creativity. Aside from the effects of blue light on circadian rhythms, equally problematic is the effects of the content that one consumes online. What we put into our minds is its own kind of “food” and can be considered a part of our “diet.”
Chris Kresser recommends making digital detoxes a regular part of our lives. Last year I spent a month on my guru’s off-the-grid ashram in Northern Arizona with absolutely no internet connection and can say that it was a great relief to be unplugged. This year I’ll be returning for two weeks over the holidays and looking forward to another digital detox.
Art and Practice of Coaching
Week 18 was dedicated to the transtheoretical model of change, also known as TTM. TTM organizes stages of change into five categories – pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Clients have different needs at each stage of change. The perceptive coach, able to identify what stage of change their client is in, can tailor his or her approach. A useful measuring device to have in the toolbox.
The highlight of the month was a heavy dose of video lessons as well as two instructor sessions from Robert Biswas-Diener. Robert is the author of several books, including The Upside of Your Dark Side and The Courage Quotient. His approach to coaching is based on identifying a client’s strengths and harnessing them in the behavior change process.
In Robert’s week-17 instructor session he brought student volunteers on screen for a series of demonstrations. After just a few minutes of asking generic conversational questions, he was able to identify each student’s primary strengths. It was quite impressive and great fun to watch.
In week 20 we had an instructor session with Ken Kraybill. Apparently that will be the last one. As I’ve written in previous reports, Ken Kraybill’s lessons on Motivational Interviewing (MI) have arguably been the heart of the course. In the coming months, however, we’re going to see more of Robert Biswas-Diener, taking a deeper dive into positive psychology coaching.
Ken Kraybill vs Robert Biswas-Diener
Robert, in his week-17 instructor session, said that he is not a big fan of reflective statements and uses them sparingly. He prefers powerful questions instead.
I found this exceedingly interesting because Kraybill’s approach is based on reflective statements. He advises using two reflective statements to each question and believes that successive questions can make a client feel “interrogated.”
I consider both Kraybill and Biswas-Diener to be master coaches and love the fact that they contradict each other on this.
They are both right. I see it as more a matter of style than substance. Reflective statements in the hands of Kraybill evoke a deep response from clients. Biswas-Diener uses powerful questions to get to the same place.
What Kraybill and Biswas-Diener have in common is a conviction that change needs to come from the client, that the client needs to do the work, and that the empathic presence of the coach is the critical factor in evoking client response.
When pressed by a student’s question to explain why his clients don’t feel interrogated by his line of successive questioning, Biswas-Diener said that it’s the “human element” in his response. I took this to mean that because he responds to client answers with interest and curiosity – empathy – that it serves the same purpose as reflective statements. The client feels heard/understood. The desired response is evoked.
After a heavy dose of Ken Kraybill, I find Biswas-Diener’s approach refreshing. He’s a bit of a rule breaker – a character trait I can relate to. I feel that my own coaching strength lies in the ability to ask powerful questions and am still in the process of becoming comfortable using reflective statements. I think I’ve become more adept at using them as the course has unfolded, but they still feel slightly gimmicky for me.
Knowing the importance that Biswas-Diener places on powerful questions has given me permission to lean into my strength.
We’re nearing the end of the pre-practicum. The official end date is December 20th. In November we will start a gradual transition to the practicum. We’ll be initiating the process of lining up practice clients as well as giving more focussed consideration to professional development issues. Exciting times ahead.
It seems that one of the changes that’s been made for the 2nd cohort has been to make the transition from pre-practicum to practicum less abrupt. In the practicum we will have to pass a series of tests demonstrating our ability to coach up to the ADAPT standard. Things are going to get real. I can see the wisdom in getting our feet wet before diving into the deep end.
Stay tuned for my November report.