A Meta Tool Box—Silence, Walking, Writing, Doing: #1 of 28 Big Ideas from the World of Coaching

Updated: Jan 6

Silence, walking, writing, doing: 4 tools in a coach's meta tool box. Photo by Emma Simpson/Unsplash.

This article is second in a multi-part series that adapts and excerpts my entire book, The Coach Within: 28 Big Ideas for Engaging the Power of Your Own Wisdom, Creativity, and Choices* (Everything Goes Media, 2017).


1. A Meta Tool Box

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

— Abraham Lincoln

“We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

— Marshal McLuhan

When working with a coach, a client has one of the best tools possible for making desired changes and expanding their life…the coach! When we coach ourselves, however, we can skip straight to the other powerful tools of coaching. Before we dive into those coaching concepts (serialized here in this and 27 subsequent articles), I want to introduce some meta tools you’ll need to support your work with the ideas and techniques presented in this series. These four devices will help you implement the rest of the coaching tools to follow. One or all of these modes will be the ways you explore the concepts, make them your own, come to understand the principles more deeply, and apply new practices your life.

Silent Stillness This refers to any formal or informal meditation or relaxation technique (or collection of techniques) of your choice. Sit, lie down, assume the lotus position…as you wish. At times you may want to employ a passive or receptive style in which you wait for inspiration around a topic. At other times, being in silence and stillness may allow your mind to shut out other distractions, freeing you to properly address a concern through active deliberation and reflection.

Walking Walking — easy, practical, healthful — is a terrific way to sort things out. Get your blood flowing and your limbs moving rhythmically and the flow of ideas and answers is often not far behind. As with silent stillness, sometimes a passive approach is best. Just walk with no purpose, for enjoyment, to clear the head, and see what comes up. Or, bring an agenda to your walk, and let the motion support some active dreaming and planning.

Writing With this meta tool, you’ll be harnessing the powerful way that writing organizes and frees one’s thinking. Figure something out by writing it out. Tap your inner world for direction (this is a more exploratory, receptive approach), or create as you go (this is a more active use of writing). Brainstorm with pen in hand to generate possibilities.

Practice Practice means just doing it. It’s finding real-world ways in your daily life to test out a coaching concept. One you’ve tried it, do a little review. How did it go? How did it feel? What will you do differently next time? Where else can you rehearse this technique? When can you use it next? It might help to think of this as “Pause and Practice.” When faced with a situation that you suspect requires a different approach than your usual go-to, pause. In that pause, choose a coaching tool to wield.


Your Coaching To-Do’s

Think through how these four tools do work or could work in your life, and prime yourself to begin using them to support yourself and your goals.

Silent Stillness. Take note of which silent and still methods you currently use to access your internal resources. Which do you like best? Which is most effective for you? Which ones might you want to try? Select the one you will use first.

Walking. Consider the regular intervals of walking that are already part of your day. If none exist, think about where you can insert them…before or after work, dinner? While doing errands? At lunchtime? Imagine pausing before your next walk, making a point in advance to use that time to consider a coaching concept, flesh out ideas, make decisions, imagine ideal scenarios, etc. You will be using some of your walks this way as you go through the material in this book (and perhaps from now on), so ready yourself for this new habit.

Writing. Decide where you will collect the writing exercises that are coming up — computer or paper? If paper, designate or purchase a dedicated notebook or journal. If computer, create the folder where you will store the documents you create. While note taking on the computer may be quicker, more integrated with your daily activities, and allow better for future searches, cutting, copying, and pasting, many find the slower pace of writing by hand more conducive to organized thinking and get an extra satisfaction of creating a personalized journal in one’s own script. Your choice.

Practice. Think of the areas of your life where you may want to focus your practice and attention as you proceed. Reflect on the bounty of themes, roles, concerns, projects, and goals currently present in your awareness. You may decide to practice each concept introduced in a different arena or you may want to target one or two areas for the duration. Brainstorm a list to get the ideas flowing and to perhaps uncover the issues that most need attention in your life.

* affiliate link