Just Between Coaches
ShouldaWouldaCoulda - How to Motivate Your Coaching Clients to Take Action (Micène Fontaine)
July 27, 2021
Have your clients been should-ing themselves to death? How do you motivate your coaching clients to take action? Melinda Cohan and coaching colleague Micène Fontaine address this common coaching challenge.
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I should do this. I should do that. Are you hearing a whole lot of “I should” from your coaching clients, but they’re not making progress on their desires and dreams? Have your clients been should-ing themselves to death? Have you? How do you motivate your coaching clients to take action and follow through? And what's the harm in engaging in a little should-ing anyway?

In this episode of Just Between Coaches, senior coach and host Melinda Cohan invites her coaching colleague, Micène Fontaine, an entrepreneur at Designarts.org, and a former ACES coach at Mirasee, to address this common coaching challenge. During this session, they’ll discuss how coaches can help their clients tackle the very common habit of should-ing.

In this episode we discuss:

“It's a very cathartic way of letting go of those stories that are not ours.” – Micène Fontaine

Guest bio: After a chance encounter with a yellow elephant, Micène Fontaine left his role as an ACES Business Coach and shifted his focus inward to explore creativity, its role in business and personal development. When he is not doodling, writing, running, or baking blueberry pies, Micène runs a lifelong learning organization (Design Arts Seminars, Inc.) that helps design professionals leverage the power of design and architecture to solve today’s most pressing societal and environmental challenges. Micène writes a blog on Change by Design and occasionally appears on Podcasts such as this one :-) You can connect with Micène on  LinkedIn or nurture your own yellow elephant on Instagram or at micene.com.

Resources or websites mentioned in this episode:
Micène Fontaine @ Designarts.org 
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Music and SFX credits:

Track Title: Clouds
Artist Name(s): Acreage
Writer Name: Marshall Usinger

Track Title: Coastline Dream
Artist Name(s): Wild Sky
Writer Name: Adam Simons

Track Title: Coo Coos
Artist Name(s): Dresden, The Flamingo
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Artist Name(s): Outside The Sky
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Episode transcript: ShouldaWouldaCoulda - How to Motivate Your Coaching Clients to Take Action (Micène Fontaine)

[00:00:01] Melinda: Mirasee,
[00:00:06] Micène: I think it's part, it's hard wired into our behaviors as human beings, but we can make peace with it, we can let it be and say it's not helpful and that's not aligned with who I am, what I want to do and it's not my story.
[00:00:22] Melinda: Hello and welcome to Just Between Coaches, the podcast that tackles difficult coaching conversations head on, My name is Melinda Cohen, my company, the coaches console has supported more than 50,000 entrepreneurs in creating their own profitable coaching businesses. Today we're going to talk about a very common and equally important topic that all coaches have to deal with. Mm it's a tendency, even a habit of so many of us I'm talking about should ng, I should do this, I should do that. What's the harm? And engaging in a little shooting? My coaching colleague, Micène Fontaine, an entrepreneur and an aces coach at mere seat will explain in just a few minutes, but to start off the episode, I'm going to read an email that we received from a listener, it's from a coach who wants to remain anonymous and a little side note here. Unless you tell me otherwise, any email that you send me that we read on the air will be anonymous. We want to encourage you to be open about what's troubling you without worrying about what your clients might think. Mm Hi Melinda. I'm having trouble with a client of mine staying on track and trusting the process. He perceives that he should be ahead of where he actually is. He's very determined and devoted to his businesses vision. But there's a gap between his vision and reality. He's constantly in the mindset of I should be at such and such a level by now or he'll say something like if I had only gotten 10 more students in my course, I would be seen as an expert. His constant should've woulda Coulda is getting in his way. He's losing his motivation and momentum and what can I do to help him anonymous? I understand I have experienced this a lot. My clients, my students, other coaches, everybody, we all should all over ourselves. My very first coach, which was 19 years ago now very directly pointed it out to me, Melinda. She said you're shutting all over yourself. But is this a problem that is fixable? Or is this just an inevitable human behavior? What is this should-ingthing about? Why do we do it? And is it always a harmful thing? Yes and no. Let me explain when we're stepping out of our comfort zone, going for a goal or our desire. We start to talk about the things we should do to get there. The kind of should-ingkeeps us in forward motion. We feel like we're making progress even when we may not be making as much progress as we like. That can be helpful. Should that Should is also a way to set intentions. If we have awareness, we can say let's move from a should intention to an action item. So this should can become a reality. However, if we're not careful and we live in the land of ambivalence for too long, that's when the should-ingstarts to take a negative turn, it's always a disaster when we compare somebody else's external situation with our behind the scenes situation. When we say I should be at seven figures by now, or I say I should be a new york Times best selling author. We beat ourselves up for being where we are and we failed to acknowledge the progress that we have made. That's when the negative side of should-ingreally gains momentum now, I don't think a human being can get themselves out of the dark side of shooting. I think we have to have a coach, we have to have a mentor, there has to be a guide to help us see straight again and that's why I'm going to introduce you to miss and Fontaine in a moment. Micène is written on the subject of should-ing, he has some pretty interesting and cutting edge thoughts about it.
[00:04:18] Melinda: Our guest coach today on Just Between Coaches is Micène Fontaine. Micène has more than 20 years of experience running a small business, he is also an aces coach at piracy and a Frenchman living in the us. Welcome Micène,
[00:04:33] Micène: thank you Melinda, glad to be with you.
[00:04:34] Melinda: I'm so happy to have you here and I'm really excited to talk about this conversation and mason, what do you think about the coach's concern about shooting?
[00:04:43] Micène: Well, I think they are not alone. For sure. Like you mentioned in your own experience, it's been mine as well. A lot of should-ing going on with myself and with people I am a business coach for
[00:04:55] Melinda: and I'm curious, mason, why do you think we should all over ourselves so much? Like what function does it serve if any?
[00:05:04] Micène: Hm I think for one thing there is the should-ing, sometimes it's not us should-ing on ourselves. I think it goes back to expectations. I think we should ourselves because of aspirations that we have and things we see out there and we want to rise to that level. The thing is as you pointed earlier, sometimes it becomes negative. It becomes toxic. That's when the should-ing leans towards the toxic side of the spectrum and then there is the other side you mentioned, which is it gets us into gear. But I don't consider that to be shooting. I consider to be stubborn optimism or something else. But that's why it becomes help
[00:05:47] Melinda: interesting. So like the comparison, the expectations when we're comparing that, that's when if we're not careful, we start should-ing all over ourselves or others start doing it to us even.
[00:06:00] Micène: Mhm I think it boils down to taking on someone else's story without examining it and making it our own. I think that to me is where the should-ing on ourselves ball down to when I say I should let's say have employees. If I'm going to be an entrepreneur, that's a very common one. Unless and until I have employees and staff, I don't have a real business. I hear that a lot. So that's one of those big shoulds out there and that is somebody else's story that we've decided to take on as our own without examining it, without looking at what it means for us. Without looking at whether or not it's aligned with what we want or if it even makes any sense. So that's to me is the marker of should-ing.
[00:06:49] Melinda: And tell me, do you think that should-ing can ever be beneficial to the person who is doing it?
[00:06:55] Micène: I don't think so. I really don't. I think what can be beneficial is too Yeah, maybe except make peace with the shooting. I think you mentioned earlier, we won't be able to extricate ourselves from all the should-ing that we do. I think it's part it's hard wired into our behaviors as human beings. So I don't think we're going to walk away from that ledge very easily. But we can make peace with it. We can let it be and say it's not helpful and that's not aligned with who I am, what I want to do, and it's not my story, that's my business partners story, that's my mother's story. Let it be and remind ourselves of whose story that is, I think what might be helpful, what is helpful is leaning towards the stubborn optimism side of the spectrum, which is believing in things we should do, taking action, showing up to do those things so long as they are aligned with what we actually do want and who we are, our vision, our values.
[00:08:02] Melinda: Now, let's let's look at the opposite side of that. Like what is the harm that is done when we get in that trap of shutting
[00:08:10] Micène: for me? It spirals out of control pretty quickly I think, I mean I am not a mental health professional, but definitely the should-ing can quickly turn into depression, can quickly turn into anxiety, lack of self esteem, or even on the everyday paralysis, you know, you feel paralyzed with all the shoulds. If you start listening to those voices to those shirts, then it becomes paralyzing and it prevents you from taking the next step. So I think the immediate result of should-ing is in action in many
[00:08:51] Melinda: cases. Yeah, yeah, like playing small, like a holding back and so they're not showing up and yeah, very interesting now with all the awareness you have because you've written on this topic and with with all the awareness that you have, I'm sure the listener is wondering, do you still should all over yourself? Every day?
[00:09:11] Micène: Every day? Every day? I should end. I remind myself, okay, nice try. No, it's hard. I haven't mastered the not should-ing on myself, but I try to remind myself of the fact that it's part of the journey. It's those voices will creep up and it's okay to welcome them to say thank you for the reminder and you're not my story. And I did not cast myself in that role. So I'm going to go back to doing what I set out to do. So that's what I do with it. But no, they don't go away at least not for me. And if you have the secret,
[00:09:47] Melinda: I want to know. I was hoping you did because I don't have the secret either. 
[00:09:51] Micène: Well, maybe maybe the secret if there is one is asking yourself whose story is that? I think it's it's helpful if you can catch yourself, you know, at the time of the should-ing and really pause, okay, why am I feeling that way, whose story is that? It's a very powerful question. I didn't come up with it, I forget where I heard it, but I thought, okay, that is actually the key.
[00:10:14] Melinda: That's a powerful coaching question, right? Because then it's up to them to say, well I'm telling my story, but not if you're using the word should, then it's not your story, right? So immediately they'll either begin to agree or disagree, but in either case you're calling out that pattern.
[00:10:34] Micène: Exactly. And you know, coaching context, I remember one specific example of someone showing up really, really frustrated, they add on the agenda to create some content as many entrepreneurs, do you know, blog posts, these type of things and they are decided that they should be writing that content well ahead of time, well ahead of the date on which they were due to post it and they showed up with that, that it should be ready. And after a few questions, it became clear that the content was good. That's when they did their best work and it wasn't compromising anything, neither quality nor their timeline, but someone else had told them that it should be done on a different schedule. So we were solving for something that was a non-issue and it created extreme anxiety for this particular entrepreneur.
[00:11:32] Melinda: Now, I also have a process to address should-ing when you're living in the land of should-ing, I should do this, right? I should do that. It's usually wrapped in the tone of complaining of some sort, right? So I'll say to my clients on a call, all right, You've got five minutes to take the BMW around the block and BMW stands for bitch moan and wine and I can say now you can bitch moan and wine, I'm setting the timer, let it rip for five minutes, get it out of your system, because after that we're getting to work and then they do right, and when they're like the timers going in for those five minutes, they'll actually make it worse and it just gets really messy with their should-ing, but they get it out of their system and it's been a technique that's worked really well for me,
[00:12:21] Micène: I love it, I love it, I will borrow that, I think it's fantastic. I think it's the should-ing you asked earlier, I think you ask, well, where does he come from? How helpful is it? I think a lot of it comes as a reaction to pressures, like societal pressures and and and there is no space sometimes for that bitching and moaning or venting, and I think that can be a great way to vent, Let that be what it is, and then move on with the story. We chose not the story in our head. So, I think that's a great way, it's very cathartic way of letting go of those stories that are
[00:13:01] Melinda: not out. I also find that when I tell them that I always get a giggle or laugh and it lightens the because whenever we're should-ing ourselves, we take ourselves so seriously and it just lightens the mood and then we can shine the light and then now they're not the resistance in that energy anymore. I find it kind of breaks open the hold that should-ing can have on somebody.
[00:13:23] Micène: Absolutely. And you know that story I mentioned earlier about the the entrepreneur with their content creation and we have a good relationship. So I said, okay, let me make sure I understand this correctly. You are trying to write content on a different time schedule, not to solve a quality problem. Not to have any prime at all. But just because someone else told you that was a good idea. So is that what what's going on? Yes. And they realized, I mean right there, just just me poking fun at the fact that we were obsessing over a non issue. 
[00:13:56] Melinda: The absurdity of the should-ing. Yeah. That's a great quote. The absurdity of the should-ing. That's that's a right down double for me. Anyway, Now I wanna I want to touch on a more sensitive but nonetheless important angle and I can only speak from my own experience. But I find that women should all over themselves all day every day. Like we are constantly comparing ourselves to the masculine or magazine covers, our neighbors, our friends, like you name it. And so I'm wondering is this should-ing something that you have observed in, you know, different demographics or maybe more than other demographics, for instance, age, race, nationality, gender, sexuality. Like do certain groups of people feel like they should be at a different stage than they are more than other groups.
[00:14:48] Micène: Absolutely, Absolutely. There is this concept that stuck with me a few years back. It's called intersectionality. So it's essentially the way I understand it. All those different facets of we are that we bring to the table. So it can be any of the facets you mentioned. It can be gender. It can be sexual orientation could be race could be culture. The list goes on. And yes, I think definitely for me there is a part of me that that comes with extreme privilege. I am a male. I'm white. I'm French. So that comes with things. But other parts of who I am come with a lot more shoulds than the other parts. So it could be a gay male. I'm an immigrant. Once again, the list goes on and I think that the same thing is true of the people we coach and sometimes those things are very visible, whether I'm right or not, you can see that and you might be able to draw implications around what types of should-ing might be going on for me, but sometimes it's something that's entirely invisible, uh, to the coach. So we never know the extent of the should-ing that goes on in people's heads in their lives. And that's why having that trust built with the people you, you coach is important. But yes, to answer your question very directly, definitely for a lot of people that intersectionality of who they are and what they bring into the world does come with a long list of shoulds that is not necessarily very helpful in them doing their best once again to rise up to a level of expectations that the rest of the world has set for us, usually without any basis whatsoever.
[00:16:33] Melinda: And I think what's coming up for me right now is as a coach, it's so important for us to hold that space for in that container for our clients because some of the should-ings we might hear because we hear them say I should do this, I should be that if I could have done this, I would have done that. So we might hear it and it might be explicit and obvious, but there might be the underlying should that aren't as obvious that we need to be mindful of as we're holding space where and guiding our clients.
[00:17:04] Micène: Very true. Absolutely. And sometimes, I mean, I don't know if it's true for all coaches, but for me, what I'm trying to say is the extent of the shoulds that go on into someone's head is really, really hard to figure out. And some of yeah, it's just difficult to understand the extent of the weight you mentioned for women. If you, let's say a black woman entrepreneur happens to be, let's say an immigrant or uh, in the same sex relationship, those add up very very quickly and it becomes very difficult to just show up and do what you want to do as an entrepreneur and make the change that you'd like to see happen in the world because all those shoulds really wear on you.
[00:17:53] Melinda: Now, I can see it being helpful to say should in two scenarios, like, similar to what I said before, if if you're in the early stages of setting a goal, if you're not able to see the next steps, well, just guess like if you were to guess what should you be doing and how might you go about X, Y, Z, like that kind of should-ing can be helpful. And then, like I said, taking the BMW around the block and encouraging them to cough up that fur ball if you will and just holding that space. So I'm wondering, is there ever an instance where you would encourage someone to say I should, can you see a positive side to all this?
[00:18:32] Micène: Yes, Again, it's should-ing on ourselves when there is no guarantee of results, but the things we think we should do, our lined with the way we want to show up in the world, what we want to see happen. It's very intentional, it's very deliberate. It's our story, we own it and we, okay, we're showing up to do the work even though there is no guarantee of results and that's a big part of the entrepreneur journey. You have to show up every day with things you should be doing, even though you don't know if they're going to work as anticipated, you may have to pivot, you may have to iterate, but still you show up your stubbornly optimistic, the stubbornly optimistic side of the equation
[00:19:15] Melinda: Love that stubbornly optimistic. So now I want to go back to anonymous to summarize some of the things that we talked about first. Today's topic should-ing. It's very common. We all do it and if we're not careful and aware, should-ing will prevent us from moving forward. It will, it will take us out of being present and we'll go into the dark side of it. But when we can stay in the positive side, it actually can equip us to move forward and there is that positive side that when we set new goals, should-ing can help us imagine our next step or guess when we're not sure to keep us in that forward momentum.
[00:19:57] Melinda: and then to help your client become aware of his or her should-ing, you can ask questions like who's story are you telling? Whose story do you feel you're not adhering to and help them discern if it is their story or is it someone else's? So icène any parting words?
[00:20:13] Micène: Maybe just to quote is this quote I love in a book called The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The quote is “if you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain”. So I'll leave you with that. I think that speaks to the should-ing.
[00:20:28] Melinda: Beautiful. It's all part of what creates the amazing nous of whatever journey we find ourselves on. Nice, well, I want to thank you for listening to this episode of Just Between Coaches and I got to thank my partner today, Micène Fontaine, who shared some interesting points of view about should-ing and one of the things that I loved, the absurdity of should-ing, I'm going to definitely borrow that and if you want to hear more from him about his expertise, you can find that and much more right on design arts dot org. That's design arts dot org, Micène. Thank you. We will do this again sometime.
[00:21:04] Micène: My pleasure, Melinda thank you for having me.
[00:21:06] Melinda: I'm Melinda Cohen and you've been listening to Just Between Coaches.
If you like today's episode, you'll surely enjoy the inspirational episodes over at Making It. In this podcast, you'll hear successful entrepreneurs describing what making it means to them and how they made it. This episode was produced by Cynthia Lamb. Danny Iny is our executive producer. I wrote this episode with Michi Lantz.
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