More homework!

Last week, I blogged about “homework” and several wonderful people took up the opportunity to discuss this question in the “Free Coaching Meetup and Exchange” (register here: — thank you Navneet for picking it up!

We used part of the Coaching Meetup to collect ideas for experiments that coaches can invite clients to do if they cannot come up with anything by themselves. These are all experiments that don’t ask the client to do something specific about their issue but they all ask them to focus their attention on something in order to learn. For me, this is a big difference: inviting clients to focus their attention on something is very close to “coaching” because in the session, we actually are doing the same thing with our questions. When you are inviting the client to observe something or focus their attention on something, the responsibility for finding things out or implementing things rests with the client. Asking clients to do or implement a specific coach-designed action is more like “advice” and less like coaching, in my view.

Here are some ways of inviting clients to focus their attention on something potentially useful (and of course, the client decides that):

Observation invitation

This is a solution focused classic. We invite the client to observe everything that is going in the right direction and take a note of it some way. Next session we can collect all the moments and see what the client was doing, thinking or feeling differently in order to learn.

There are different ways of “note-taking”:

  • The bean exercise — The client takes 5 dried beans and puts them in one pocket. Whenever something is going in the right direction throughout the day, he or she moves one bean to the other pocket. In the evening, the client can look at the beans in the other pocket and reflect on what went right. (Thank you Julia Kalenberg for this exercise)
  • The gratitude diary — The client can note down 3 things that made him or her grateful in the evening (Thank you Luc Isebaert for this exercise)
  • Mason jar — Every time something good, positive, etc. happens, write it on a piece of paper and put that piece of paper in a mason jar
  • Video / photo diary — Take a picture with your cell phone or make a video every time something is going well. This one is especially great for teams. You can create a folder on a shared drive where every team member can post pictures. In the next team coaching session or retrospective you can celebrate! This also works with screenshots of zoom meetings btw.

Reminder invitation

Sometimes clients don’t want to forget something. Here are ways that some clients remind themselves:

  • Post-It notes — These are the staples for reminding yourself. Just write something down and put it in a visible space
  • — A lovely website where you can write a message to yourself that will be delivered to your email inbox at the time of your choosing

Experimentation invitation

If it is not super clear what to do, you can invite clients to experiment:

  • coin toss — In the evening toss a coin. If it is heads, you do one thing, tails another
  • coin toss pretend — Toss a coin in the evening again. If it is heads, pretend that the miracle happened and everything was solved the next day.

What are your favorites?

Do come and join us for the “Free Meetup and Exchange”: