A visual self-coaching tool

Part of the reason coaching works is because you’re talking out loud.

And when you talk out loud, you process all the thoughts swirling around your head in a different way. That’s why sometimes when you describe a problem to a friend, the answer comes to you before you’ve finished.

When a thinker is in a tricky situation with lots of people or groups involved then I get them to map it out so they can see it visually. Like this:

A communication map that shows me in the middle of the page with other bubbles representing the vendor, project executive, IT, my manager and head of department A close to me and a bubble for the Department A Representative in the far top left corner.

This map is of a time when I worked at Penguin Books and I was asked to lead an IT project. It’s shows the people involved in my tricky situation, can you guess who was causing it?

You guessed it, the department A rep. I could not stand him and he didn’t think much of me either.

I wish I’d known this technique back then, maybe things wouldn’t have gotten as bad as they did. More on that next week.

For now, grab a pen(s) and paper or open a doc you can draw in and try it out for yourself. This self-coaching technique will only take 3-4 minutes and it’s easier than talking out loud to yourself.

  1. Think of a tricky situation happening now or from the past that you’d like to improve/reflect on.
  2. Draw yourself in the middle of the page.
  3. Add other people, teams or groups that are relevant to the situation. Their proximity to you roughly shows how easy or hard it is to communicate with them.
  4. Keep it simple, 7 relationships or fewer and go with your gut, it only needs to be good enough.
  5. When you’re finished sit back in your chair and ask yourself:

What do I notice now?

What else do I notice?

6. Then ask yourself:

What options do I have now?


You might also want to leave it for a while and come back to look at your map later.

Or perhaps look at it from another angle.

Or show it to someone without telling them the back story and see what they notice.

You can even send it to me if you want and I’ll tell you what I see.

Either way, drop me a line at jude@thinkwithjude.com and tell me what you think.

Want practical coach ideas that you can use everyday?

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