How Coachable Are You? by Van K. Tharp, Ph.D.

A note to readers: While Dr. Tharp’s content is timeless, this article is from our newsletter archive and may contain outdated information, missing links or images.

I’ve been reviewing notes from a coaching class I took recently. Several people involved in the class make a million dollars a year or more just from doing one-on-one coaching. One of the things these coaches do is to offer a free one-hour coaching session and 90% of those people then become clients. The 10% rejection rate are the people these coaches absolutely do not want to coach — the people who don’t seem coachable.

So what is coaching all about? Well the essence of coaching is to help you self-actualize and achieve self-mastery — the subject of my article a few weeks back. Primarily, coaching is done through skilled questioning (i.e., based upon the belief that you have all the resources you need inside) and moves you toward possibilities. People who have attended my workshops may notice that I usually answer questions from students with a question. The following diagram shows what happens as you move from problem to possibility and from direct intervention (here is a problem — let’s fix it) to indirect (you find the resources to get what you want through questions).

The following table should give you some clues as to how ready you are for self-actualization. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on each item.

So the ultimate form of self-actualization is when you take charge of your own life and find the resources to get what you want. When that happens, you can just have an intention for something and get it. Now sometimes, different methods of support are required for helping people self-actualize. Various situations require one or more of the following kinds of support: therapy (help getting through particular existing issues), training (help learning new knowledge or new skills); consulting (finding your own resources through questioning for solving existing problems); and coaching (finding your own resources through questioning to achieve whatever new possibilities you desire).

Scroll to Top