How to coach yourself in four steps

One of the superpowers of coaching is you can apply it to yourself, not just your clients. Here's how and why.

One of the superpowers of coaching is you can apply it to yourself, and knowing how to coach yourself is important before you can coach others with certainty.

I’ve been a coach for eight years and one of the things I love about coaching is my ability to manage myself through moments where I feel stuck. I can coach myself to be unstuck and back on track in life.

Here’s my tips to take away and start coaching yourself, but the first frame is that coaching only works if you take 100 per cent responsibility for your life.

Truth is you are 100 per cent responsible for the results you are creating right now. Most people think being responsible for what’s going on means they need to shoulder the burden of the country, the weather, the government, what happened to them when they were kids.

Wrong. That’s not what I mean.

You have to know and accept there are things outside your control. And what you’re responsible for is your response to those things. That’s it.

(If this is something that resonates with you, I'll be talking about it and a stack more coaching strategies at The Coaching Institute's free global virtual 'Coaching Mastery' summit on September 22-24.)

Ultimately from a coaching point of view we say you are responsible for the thoughts you think and the meaning you place on those thoughts. And you are responsible for the actions you take or don’t take inside your life.

That’s called your circle of influence. Yep, it’s whatever is inside your world that you can influence.

So, after you take responsibility there are three things you're responsible for:

  • The thoughts you think
  • The meaning you place on those thoughts
  • The actions you take—or don’t take

Think about an event inside your life that has caused you some challenges. Something has happened and you’re not happy with the outcome.

Ask yourself, what did I make the event mean? What meaning did I give to that event?

As coaches, one of the things we look at is the fact we are in control of the meaning we place on events. That then determines how we feel about it and the story we’re telling about it.

Think about someone who is in a car accident. They were driving along a country road. Lost concentration, veered off the road, clipped a barrier, spun around a little. They were freaked out, filled with adrenalin, but not hurt.

So, they could place two meanings on it. One: that they are a terrible driver, that it was a warning sign they are doomed, that they shouldn’t be on the road anymore. That this could mean they have a bad year ahead.

The other meaning could be that it was a welcome wake up call to pay more attention behind the wheel, that they’ll learn from their lucky escape. Then they decide to put their energies into thinking about something else and get on with life.

Same event. Different meaning.

I encourage you to use that in your everyday life. I have a friend who calls it ‘the prism of positivity’ and thinks of events like a kaleidoscope, where you have the power to turn the cylinder and make the same beads fall into different patterns. You decide what you’re seeing.

Later today, you might have a strong conversation with someone. Step outside and see grey skies. You could be in traffic. It’s totally up to you whether you see the talk as honest and productive feedback or an attack, whether you see the grey skies as a drainer or giving the world the rain it needs, whether you see the traffic as holding you up or giving you some much needed space to think.

Start to tell yourself the stories you want to hear.

You are in control of the stories you tell yourself. When we have this level of awareness, personal responsibility becomes so much easier and we get to tell ourselves the stories that support and champion us to be our best.


One of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend

Matt Lavars life coaching
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute