NOTE: As of 2022 the Center for Executive Coaching is now accredited with the ICF as a Level 2 Coach Training Organization. The ICF has changed their language and replaced ACTP with Level 2. We were among the first group of coach training programs to receive this accreditation, after a rigorous review by the ICF.

Why my kid’s swim coach knows more about coaching than most business and executive coaches

Some coaches might not like hearing this message:

My 9-year old's swim coach knows more about what makes a successful executive-level coach than many coaches with the highest ICF credentials.

This assertion is controversial, and so I had better make my case. Here is why I am confident that this assertion is true:

First, my kid's swim coach has documented results that are incredible. He has put swimmers into the Olympics, and also helped many kids get into top colleges with great scholarships. Few executive or business coaches can claim comparable results.

Second, he has a simple system that he uses to get results, and he can articulate it. Most coaches prefer to keep things complicated and fuzzy, by going deep "below the iceberg," as one cliche puts it. They ask all sorts of open-ended questions looking for profound insights, or at least hoping their clients will have sudden Eureka moments. They use buzzwords like meta questions, anchoring, and co-creating — all of which confuse and obfuscate instead of making things clearer.

In other words, most don't have a proven, simple, and practical system that they can replicate. They can't document that they get results from one client to another, using the same proven methodology.

My kid's swim coach does. His system is simple, and breaks down into three parts (which, by the way, would make for a great leadership development program):

1. Be a great teammate.

2. Show up for practice and do your best.

3. Focus on technique and the fast times will follow.

Kids who follow this program do well. It is that simple. His program is in the top 1% of the nation for swim programs — all because of his adherence to his simple, powerful coaching system. Almost any issue a kid has that is hurting his swimming performance comes back to those three elements.

Among coaches, some of the top ones in the field do this. Goldsmith has a wonderfully simple and elegant behavioral coaching methodology. Lencioni, while not a coach per se, keeps coming out with simple 3- and 5-part frameworks that he uses as a platform for speeches, books, and consulting — and that clients swear by. Similarly, I have a couple of simple methodologies that keep clients coming back and referring me to others.

But most coaches fail to do this and come across as being soft as marshmallows — regardless of ICF designations. They are engaging human beings, good people, and passionate about coaching, but their coaching lacks ooomph and uniqueness.

Dare to be practical, powerful, and simple. Be like my kid's swim coach, and take your clients to the equivalent of the Olympics and beyond. Have the courage and creativity to develop your own process, instead of using a brand name guru's stuff (be a guru in your own right!) — or using the typical generic things out there like SMART goals, thinking outside the box (gag!), blue
ocean strategy, etc. Otherwise, consider the possibility that your thinking about excellence and breakthrough performance is fuzzy, generic, and not worth your fees.

If you want a program that challenges you to do things the right way, we are here for you.




Army Corp of Engineers

Ascension Health


Bank of America


Best Buy

Booz Allen


Bristol-Myers Squibb

Brown University

Capital One


Charles Schwab & Co.

Children’s Hospital Colorado






Duke Energy

Galveston Independent School District

General Atomics

General Electric


Harvard Business School

Home Depot

Inland Steel

International Red Cross

Johnson and Johnson



Laser Spine Institute

Lexis Nexis

Liberty Mututal



Mckinsey Consulting





National Basketball Association (NBA)




Partners Healthcare


Procter & Gamble

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC)

Ralph Lauren


Rice University

Ross Stores

Russell Reynolds Associates

Schneider Electric

Shell Oil

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory


The Ohio State University

Tom’s Shoes

United Nations

University of Florida



US Air Force

US Army

US Army Medical Corps

US Marines

US Navy






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