• David de Souza

'The Coaching Habit' Summary



The biggest takeaway from this book was the learning the simple conversation starter question: "What's on your mind?" Initially I thought this question was too simple but after using it on my wife I found the results were amazing.

Want to dig deeper than the core principles? Check out my notes in Roam Research and see how the principles from this book connect with other books I've read.




Core Principles:


I have summarized 'The Coaching Habit', distilling the book into 16 core principles:

  1. You need to know what triggers your habits. If you don't know you'll continue doing what you've always done.

  2. There are 5 possible habit triggers: 1. Location 2. Time 3. Emotional State 4. Other people 5. The action preceding the habit.

  3. Backups: Systems that are resilient have (multiple) fail-safes so that if something doesn't go to plan the whole system does not fail. Do the same with your habits so that when something goes array, you get back on the horse.

  4. When you get a long Email reply with either: (1) There's a lot going on here. What's the real challenge for you, do you think?" or (2) Before I jump into a longer reply, let me ask you: What's the real challenge for you?

  5. Give positive affirmations when you receive a response E.g. I like it or Fantastic.

  6. Our brains have a preference for clarity and certainty.

  7. Become unafraid of silence. It is a trait of successful people.

  8. "Why" questions make people defensive. Reframe 'why' questions into 'what' questions.

  9. "Out of curiosity" reduces the abruptness of a question and makes it easier on both you and the person answering.

  10. The Kickstart Question: What's on your mind? After asking this question use the 3P framework to focus further: (1) Projects: What projects are you working on and what challenges are you facing? (2) People: Are there any issues with people you are working with? (3) Patterns: What patterns of life and behavior do you want to to change?

  11. The Awe Question: "And what else?

  12. The Focus Question: "What's the real challenge here for you?"

  13. In 71% of decisions, the choices are binary, yes or no. Having 1 extra option (doing something else), reduced failures by 30%.

  14. There are 9 universal needs. Translate what need the person wants when they ask a question: (1) Creation (2) Recreation (3) Affection (4) Participation (5) Identity (6) Freedom (7) Understanding (8) Protection (9) Subsistence

  15. There are 4 variables that determine how your brain responds to a situation, whether it is safe or a threat: (1) Tribe: Your brain is asking: Is this person part of my tribe? (2) Expectations: Do I know what is going to happen (in the future?) (3) Rank: Your brain is asking: Is this person more important than me? (4) Autonomy: Your brain is asking: Do I have a choice in this situation?

  16. Advice usually doesn't get remembered. By asking a question, the generating of answers increases the odds that it will be remembered.


Let me know how these summaries can be improved? Contact me via Email (david@thisdomain.co) or on Twitter.



The 80/20 of Worldly Wisdom: