It’s the third day of school. I’m sitting in my office (the discipline office) ready to enjoy a peaceful, productive day without interruptions.
No students get in trouble the first week of school. It’s my time to organize, scheme, and execute plans. It’s the most wonderful time of the school year.
Then, Rudy walks in.
I know Rudy from last year.
Everyone knows Rudy from last year. He got in trouble quite a bit.
Rudy just got in trouble now. On the third day of school.
I welcome him in and pull up two chairs next to each other and we start to talk. He knows the drill.
We talk about what he did and the teacher who sent him here. He knows the teacher from last year and he doesn’t like her.
I start to talk to him about getting along even with people we don’t like. I am met with the usual non-sequitur teenage resistance as to why that’s not possible. It could be frustrating to be in that kind of illogical conversation, but I’ve done this long enough to know he is eventually going to show his hand. Clue me in on what’s really going on in his mind.
And he does.
Rudy angrily slumps back in his chair. “What’s the point, she’s going to get me in trouble no matter what I do.”
That’s it, I thought. That’s the damaging thought poisoning his mind and tainting his actions.
First of all, that thought is not true. The teacher would not get him in trouble “no matter what he did.” If he showed up, sat down, and did his work, he’d be fine.
Secondly, that thought strips him of all power. It has built in defeat. She doesn’t like me, there’s nothing I can do about it, I’m doomed from the start. That kind of thinking takes all the responsibility off of him and puts it on the teacher.
Rudy doesn’t realize both of these things. Teens never do. It’s the hardest thing to realize your thought isn’t true and is giving your power to someone else. (Us adults do it too, btw.)
But I realize it. That’s what I’m trained to do. I am also trained at helping teens find a new thought, a better one, one that will lead to different results and change their lives.
I coach Rudy and we discover a pretty powerful replacement thought…
What is coaching?
My wife and I believe in the power of coaching to change lives. It’s done wonders in our own lives. We only wish we had the tools coaching provides when we were younger, which is why we are so passionate about sharing it with youth.
So just what is coaching?
Our brains are powerful tools. Our thoughts determine our outcomes in life. So in order to change the results we are getting in life, we first have to start with managing our thoughts. That’s where coaching really shines.
A coach helps you identify the thoughts and beliefs you currently have and begin to see how they are leading you to your results. If the outcome is undesirable, we work on changing the thoughts to something that is more useful and that leads to the result you want. By managing our thoughts we can influence our emotions, our actions, and therefore our results.
For example, if your teen’s current outcome is problems caused by a large amount of stress and anxiety, coaching would help them identify the specific thoughts and beliefs they have that are leading them to that outcome. From there we help them question those thoughts and slowly change them to more helpful ones. This can take a little time, as the brain becomes well practiced in believing certain thoughts we think regularly, but we can rewire the brain to new beliefs that will serve us better.
It sounds somewhat simple, but the results can be pretty profound.
An added benefit to coaching is that it is a tool you can learn to use by yourself. Once your teen masters some of the principles and tools we teach, they should be able to use self-coaching to change any undesirable outcome in their life. Coaching will teach them to challenge the thoughts that are holding them back–thoughts of self-doubt, fear, worry etc.
Thoughts like the one Rudy had that was keeping him stuck on the “discipline cycle.” It doesn’t matter what I do, I’m going to get in trouble anyway.
There is a much better thought he could choose to think...
I wrote Rudy’s new thought up on the whiteboard. We both looked at it.
“How do you like that thought?” I ask.
“It’s good,” Rudy nods.
We had discovered that Rudy believes his teacher hates him. She’s always looking to catch him doing something he shouldn’t be doing. He believes not just this teacher but most every teacher and staff member at school thinks he is a screw up.
He gets it. He understands why they think that.
But he also knows that’s not who he really is. He’s a smart kid (he really is, he wrote a whole five paragraph essay right in front of me). He has drive, talent, and potential. His past actions had just not allowed anyone to see it.
And that led us to Rudy’s new thought:
They’re wrong about me, and that’s okay. It’s my job to make it right.
The thought had everything: It’s true. It takes away his anger. It gives him back his power.
That thought changes everything for Rudy.
That thought is the power of coaching.