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Coaching for the World Cup of Life

[From a keynote address to the New Zealand Association for Psychological Type, July 2, 2011]
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My favorite definition of coaching comes from the origin of the word “coach”: a vehicle for taking valuable people from where they are to where they want to go. Using personality type in my coaching practice improves my ability to show those I coach that I value each client, their time, their goals and aspirations, and their unique way of being.

Chances are, if you use type you’re coaching someone. A child? A friend? Clients during teambuilding or conflict resolution? Life coaching clients who are trying to balance priorities or find meaning? All of these are legitimate coaching vehicles for helping valuable people head in a direction that is right for them. To me, that’s coaching for life’s “World Cup.”

World Cup Coaching

Of course, the most common usage of the word “coach” refers to sports. As I prepared this talk, I ran across an article called “Rugby High-Performance Coaching” by Ben Pierce, which described the five key goals that the All-Black coaches have for each player. And, I’d say these are my top goals for every client I coach!

1. Maximizing their full potential. This phrase was part of my company’s mission statement long before the All-Blacks became “my team.” The All-Black coaches work with each player on strengths and weaknesses in ways that maximize motivation and passion on game day. Similarly, I work to balance maximizing client strengths and using type to soften the necessary identification of pitfalls that can kill a career, to motivate them to change. Some coaching philosophies insist on ignoring weaknesses, but just as in rugby, ignoring key blind spots can eventually get you sidelined in your career.

2. Responsibility. In rugby, this means being held accountable for on-field mistakes, yet learning from them rather than being paralyzed by fear of making the same mistake again. I want clients to correctly identify the role they played in mistakes, brainstorm how to avoid it in the future, and move on rather than be handicapped by what happened.

3. Creativity. All-Black coaches emphasize creativity rather than one-dimensional play, striving to be more creative than their opponents in a game that is inherently unpredictable. I know that type is a great tool for helping those I coach tap their unique ways of being creative and capitalizing on those talents.

4. Professionalism. All-Blacks are to be aware of their status as team representatives and role models and act accordingly on and off the field. I hope that my clients, too, see the bigger picture of the influence they can have on others and frame their goals and actions accordingly.

5. Preparation. Graham Henry tells his players, “If all the little things are taken care of, the rest will take care of itself.” This is true in life as well. Using type helps clients understand the importance of Action (E) and reflection (I), being grounded in reality (S) and pondering possibilities (N), objectivity (T) and subjectivity (F), coming to a conclusion (J) and exploring more information or options (P). The more they practice using tools that work for them, the more these skills with each preference surface naturally as needed.

World Cup coaching, then, blends a client’s goals and individual needs with key factors that add up to success in any field. Whether I’m coaching teachers, other coaches, business leaders or colleagues, these five principles help me differentiate coaching to meet the needs of each individual in the high-stakes game of pursuing a meaningful life.


Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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