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How to Practise Consistent and Never-Ending Improvement as a Coach

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There’s a saying that our coaching can’t outgrow who we are. If your personal and professional development and its application is steady and ongoing, so will, inevitably, your results and the results your clients achieve.

This is known as Constant and Never-ending Improvement or CANI.

CANI originally comes from the Japanese Kaizen. “Kai” = change and “Zen” = good. Change is good.

Influenced by Dr Edwards Deming, Tony Robbins developed the CANI acronym more than a decade ago.

After the Second World War, Deming originally went in and taught the Japanese that in order to achieve economic and world domination, every single Japanese person and organisation should focus and commit to CANI – constant improvement.

Bringing it to coaching perspective, if you improved a tiny aspect of how you work with your clients every day, you are well on your way to achieve mastery.

You can apply CANI in different areas of your coaching relationship – communication, rapport, creating a non-judgemental environment for the client, and your personal and professional education are a few examples.

Someone rightly said, “You’re either green or growing or ripe and rotting.”

You don’t have to take abrupt giant steps toward your goals. More often than not, steady steps matter more than the giant steps we take every once in a while.

Let’s take an example. If you set a goal of reading one coaching-related book every week, you’ll have to finish 52 books in a year.

With our busy live, this may be a tall order and the goal in itself too overwhelming.

This is because we focus on the end result, which is a huge chunk – 52 books!

Instead, try this: How about you read one hour a day. That becomes your new focus. At that pace, you can easily finish an average-sized book per week.

This goal becomes much more “doable” – and because it sits well with CANI, you’re well on your path to read 52 books.

It ties back with how Japan can make better products – they don’t have hidden super-powers; they simply “get” the CANI principle right.

As a Coach, You Are Your Own Brand

We all have our personal brands. Everything we do reflects back on us and how “sellable” are our ideas, opinions or coaching style.

Sellable doesn’t necessarily mean money. It could be having an influence on the client in a positive way so they take action and bring about a change.

Here are 5 ways you can constantly improve your own personal brand and set an example for your clients:

1. Ongoing professional development:

An outstanding coach will always advance their knowledge and experience in the profession. In order to practise CANI, stay abreast of the coaching market, trends and development.

Here’s the thing: If you accumulate all the knowledge in the world and do not pass it on to your clients, then you’re not improving. Some coaches want to be the “go-to” resource for their clients, so they get very stingy with their knowledge.

Be the opposite. Share as much as you can. If you read a great book and you know it will help your client overcome obstacles in their path, recommend the book. Be generous with what you know.

Remember, as coaches, we are just one resource – not the only resource.

2. Accept feedback willingly:

The coach that cannot accept feedback cannot coach. They may do a coaching session and carry out a process, but they don’t bring true coaching to the client.

The coach who blocks feedback is blocking learning. This rigidity is hard to maintain because it blocks growth, rapport, and team work.

So whether you deem it as good or bad, welcome feedback. In fact, have a certain lightness about it. Have fun with it and make it look easy. Then integrate it into your new behaviour and set a standard for excellence.

You’ll find you can serve your client much better when you give up the rigidity and arrogance.

3. Come from a place of curiosity:

It’s easy for a coach to assume they are always right. Especially when you don’t examine a belief in a while, you’ll end up assuming it is OK to continue living with it.

At other times, it’s a hidden strategy to maintain the status quo. But here’s the thing: Your client wants to work with someone who is open and curious.

Would you like to work with a coach who is the opposite of that? Same goes for your client. Be the ideal coach you’d want to work with!

4. Stay abreast of coaching trends and development:

What we learned years ago in school isn’t enough for today. What we learned years ago in a coaching class isn’t enough for tomorrow.

Are you reading the current books on mentoring, leadership and coaching? Are you across the basic Meta Dynamics ™ model also known as the Critical Alignment Model (E.S.I.P)?

Are you reading current coaching journals and magazines? Are you contributing to them?

As we get more familiar and comfortable with the ideas, we can take in different areas of information and hear information we’ve heard before, but differently. We hear/see different distinctions. We hear/see new insights.

5. Use empowering beliefs that serve, support, nurture and challenge:

Beliefs are feelings of certainty about what things mean.

We may believe that most people are deceptive. This will lead to very different choices and decisions as compared to the ones when we believe most people are good and we’re capable of determining who’s who.

Same goes with your clients – they may believe money is evil. And may still want to measure success by the amount of money they make. As you can see, they will get some very conflicting results.

A belief should serve you and who you’re becoming. It should also serve those around you and whose lives you impact.

A belief should support you in achieving your goals.

A belief should nurture you.

A belief should challenge you so you’re reminded that nothing has meaning unless we decide to give it that meaning.

All beliefs help us to sum up a situation quickly – however if a belief is harmful, it will cause you to sum up a situation incorrectly. A good coach is always open to dumping and disregarding a belief that is not in alignment with their (and their client’s) highest good.

Parting Words

As a coach, practise CANI by doing your homework, honing your skills, making a commitment to serve your client and getting better and better, consistently, in small steps, every single day.

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