Archive - November 2017




I used to love to play baseball because next to hitting a home run, stealing bases was the most fun.  Walking to the next base, because a team mate struck out got me ahead a little, but it was not fun at all, really.  I remember that we turned the street in the neighborhood into a baseball field and played into the twilight.  What a great preparation for learning about how to do goals in life.  The games we play give us a developing sense of direction by having clear rules.

Life is not always like that.

I wouldn’t play the game if I didn’t imagine the home run.  What are the home-runs today?  We need to know.  What if we strike-out – a lot?  There are a lot of times at bat and a lot of innings.  I never quit until the game is over.  I knew the next swing would be a home-run, or I’d get on base and steal to the next.

I remember that I was never discontent or driven to get to the next base, I was just excited at the thrill of it.

Can you be on your own “first base”, whatever it is and not be discontent or driven, but rather be in the thrill of what will get you on to second base?  Often it’s the risk of going out on a limb.

That’s the skill of real goal-development.  As fast as we can do it, discontent begs to become imagination.

How fast can you turn discontent into imagination and vision and not let it become drivenness?  Are you even really playing in the game of your life or have you turned it into “flat land” or dampened its intensity for some false sense of stale peace?

In the same way I can turn a game into discontent and drivenness because I don’t think I’m winning, can I do the same with life?  How often have you been on third base and didn’t know it?  How often was that the next hitter that would have brought us home someone or something we never expected?  Play the game, know your goals, and play well into the twilight until the light is gone.

As we play into the twilight of our lives, fully alive, an inevitable theme in having goals that are malleable and that change over time is this theme than runs between “holding on” and “letting go”.

Life and its transitions are not essentially about letting go; they are about choice and attachment.  It is the fear of attachment that drives us to hold on more tightly to what we need to move away from.  It is this that will destroy our sense of direction from having goals, more than anything else.  When we know what we want to attach to, letting go is much easier.  When we focus on what we want or even kind of want, letting go is slicker.

Attachment.  It makes many shudder.  We want no more attachments, no more entanglements, and no more things (or people) to wonder about.  But we get through major life transitions when we grow toward, when we have the courage to attach, to connect, to move forward, and to define new wantings and unclaimed desires.

© Dr. William K. Larkin



Where does goal setting belong in the coaching process?

Goals are not where you start; they simply are just not.

If you have to start with goals, and I believe that you don’t, at least begin by asking a person how they got to their goals.  You ask something like, what is it that you think these goals will give you if you accomplish them?  What are you looking for these goals to provide for you or for others?  What do you think this goal will do for you?  How will its accomplishment make you feel?  In fact, what is it that you think a sense of accomplishment will do for you?


The second question is to ask if these goals are in any way aligned with a person’s real strengths and talents.  I do not believe that everyone can accomplish anything they choose to and I think when we tell people that we, as coaches, are not being ethical.

We have ways to test people’s strengths and talents that at least give us some indication of where their real abilities might be.  But that is just the start.

Parents can tell their children that they can be anything they choose to be. Teachers can encourage their students to reach for the stars.

But professional coaches had better be more careful in these making these promises, so closely tied to their fees, and inherent in their ethics and values.

Can we tell people to dream and to vision?  Most certainly.   But these dreams and visions come from a process of learning to live in an UpSpiral, and about how flow affects that nature of what we image in our vision.

I know there are exceptions of people accomplishing great things against great odds; there are a lot who don’t.  There are those who reach their impossible dreams only to find out that the dream was impossible in giving them what they expected that it would, and they feel betrayed and as though life is meaningless.

I do think that the process of accomplishing a goal and leaving it behind, gleaning what it has taught, and discovering to what new endeavor it points is valuable. I don’t mean to undermine that as a process of learning.

See your process of accomplishing goals as the “open door” of learning, novelty, insight, and allow that to move you to take the next right step.  If you’re really tuned in, that step is likely somewhere right in front of you, at hand, ready for you to seize upon it and move ahead.

Or not.

What I do mean to assert here is that coaches have an ethical responsibility to educate their clients in the formulation of goals and visions that are sound, achievable, and truly personally fulfilling.  We may be cheer leaders for winning but the pom-poms of superficially understood metaphysicsand neuroscience need to be surrendered for real research in coaching that is both a science and a craft and a skill.

The issue that underlies the formation of goals is meaning-making.  How do we make meaning? These “meanings” are different at different times in our lives, so a knowledge of developmental issues is important.

Oftentimes goals are attempts at making meaning when the absence of meaning has not been squarely faced.

How many times I have had a client simply write down a goal and see it in front of them for them to know it isn’t what they really want to do, it’s just confabulated filler?

Goals are an essential component of the coaching process, but only when they are preceded by the necessary foundational work in the neuroplasticity of the positive mind, which pokes at what’s meaningful, what’s most personally significant, all of which take form in written goals and action steps.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute