Giving up on the need to fix clients is key

Coaches inevitably at times want to simply fix their clients.  We all know the look when a client arrives for their session and slumps apathetically into the chair. The immovable feeling of stuck-ness. No first step toward reaching their goals. No attempt in a recent assignment. Without any responsibility for their sense of well-being.

For many of us, there’s a temptation to dive in and troubleshoot, tinkering with the problem at hand. While we know that the work has to come from the client. As a coach, we can get wrapped up with the success or failure of our clients. When coaches come up against failure, they often find themselves focused on what it takes to fix their client.

Is it the resume that needs to be rewritten to attract the job they’re looking for? Or is it their personal sense of purpose that inspires them to do the work they dream of in their lives?  As a coach, it may be easy to fall into tunnel vision and focus on what needs to be fixed in order for the client to achieve their goals.   For any coach, finding the perception of seeing their client through a lens of wholeness is the only way to really help clients to succeed.  It will also eliminate the need for the coach to fix clients.

What it means to be whole

As a person with a disability, I come up against this sense of self-brokeness often. How do I make my voice clearer or my movements smoother? Others see me as a person who needs to be fixed. At times, I also fall into that belief.

So often our concept of wholeness, particularly as it pertains to us as human beings are steeped in imagery and cultural history. Thes factors unconsciously limit the way we think of ourselves and others. Even those of us who work within a paradigm that promotes wholeness unconsciously fall prey to our ingrained perceptions. We can find it difficult to embrace a broader perspective of what it means to be whole.

1. Identifying Wholeness

Identifying wholeness in clients is, in metaphoric terms, seeing beyond the wrapper to acknowledge the intrinsic value of our humanity. This means recognizing and supporting our clients to see that they have the creative empowerment within to express themselves and their visions despite real or perceived limitations. The creative solutions clients discover combined with their unique set of conditions create a highly personalized expression of wholeness.

No matter what a person has experienced, where they are starting, their background, or what/if any traumas they experienced or are holding onto, they are truly whole human beings.

At the core, wholeness is a practice of compassion and holding the client’s potential far more expansive than the way they hold it for themselves.

2. An Exploration of Wholeness

Recently, I had the pleasure of initiating a Co-active Accessibility and Wholeness Project for the Coaches Training Institute (CTI).  As I embarked upon CTI’s Coaching Certification Program. The project aims to make all of their training programs accessible to people of all types of abilities.

This project stemmed from a personal need as a scholarship recipient to find ways to make the learning processes more accessible to me and to the other students. This was so we could all learn from one another in a more cohesive manner. Yet, it has rippled into other areas of leadership, with community-wide explorations of inclusivity.

Over the course of a year, CTI staff and I dove more and more deeply into what it meant to be whole, particularly from the perspective of how that wholeness expressed itself when a person also experienced life through the lens a disability.

When we appreciate how a client’s challenge impacts their understanding of who they are, it not only adds to the trust in our coaching, but it also empowers them to see themselves in a new light.

3. Expanding Wholeness in Everyday Work

By working with the uniqueness of our limitations, we find an even greater joy to our own expression of wholeness.

For example, while my slurred speech can be frustrating to some, I have found it slows others down and brings them into the presence of our connection. The deepest beauty of this enables the other person to listen to themselves more fully while also listening to me.

Addressing wholeness is not a one-time activity; it is a constant process of maintenance, catching ourselves when we focus too narrowly on what needs to be fixed, broadening our view, and addressing the person in all of their wholeness.

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Barton and Megan Cutter are leadership coaches, disability inclusion experts, and national speakers. They combine their experience of living with a disability, uncompromising wit, and professional background in leadership development to support corporations and businesses. Owners of Cutter’s Edge Consulting, they work with human resources, hiring managers, and leadership teams to leverage the talent of all abilities within their organizations through inclusive program design and coaching. Authors of Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll in 2012, they inspire transformation. Their blog, resources, and inspiration can be found at and discover daily inspiration on Twitter at @inkinthewheels.