Coaching the childhood story: Daring to ask

In this short blog, we look in on a coaching moment in which a coach is exploring the childhood story of the leader she is working with. She is highlighting how the internal narrative that developed out of that childhood story is impacting on the leader in the here and now. As she does so, she is moving backwards and forwards in time. Overall, she is opening up the possibility for something new to be generated and this is the promise that resides in coaches daring to ask, in coaches daring to elicit a leader’s childhood story.

I am so conscious that this idea I’m sharing with you about letting go of that ‘old internal narrative’ you’ve been holding on to all your life sounds very conceptual and abstract to you, but let’s go back in time. Let’s go back to when you started to think about all the beliefs you held that were engrained so early on in your life. You have no experience of life without them and bringing them into your awareness is bound to be unsettling.

I have heard you say:

I am completely unloveable when I am angry; when I refuse to comply, when I say “no” to people.’

These short statements, and many more like them, have held power over you in incredibly intense ways, despite them mostly being held privately inside yourself and completely invisible to others.

In our coaching together, I have sat alongside you as you have experienced your heart pounding in your chest, holding back your tears to the point of it being incredibly painful for you. Those beliefs formed into a set of rules that you created to survive and thrive in your childhood environment – and we know there were many, many more. Breaking these internal rules is, difficult. You have had a lifetime of putting them into practice and perfecting them.

And, the big uncomfortable question we need to look at now is:

What’s the new internal narrative that you want to write for yourself?’

It may feel like you are staring into a deep, dark void. It may feel daunting at times. But it can also be a journey of re-discovery:

‘Who does the adult woman want to be now that she has free choice?’

Such an exciting question.

Shall we explore that together now?”

You can read more about coaching leaders, their high stakes behaviours and childhood stories in my book, ‘Where Did You Learn To Behave Like That?’ which you can get by visiting –