Executive Coaching & Fierce Compassion – The Game Changer


Has someone ever held you with fierce compassion? Told it to you like it is, in a way that may have shocked you, but stuck with you for a long time? Some call it tough love. But I recently heard of it translated another way, as “fierce compassion.” For those of you acting in a coaching capacity in your job, being fiercely compassionate with your teammates or employees means you will learn how to be fiercely compassionate with yourself.

Fierce compassion means acting out of love and holding the client’s biggest game all at the same time. It means seeing the client. And believing in their best selves no matter how dire the current circumstances may appear. It means asking questions that get to the heart of what’s desperately being protected. It means feeling vulnerable in asking the questions with clients so they can be open to their own learning.

For example, some years ago my coach told me: “Trinnie. Stop.” And then: “You seem to be making decisions out of convenience.”

Game. Changer.

I looked at how I made decisions. And evaluated how I could make them based on my values instead and then what I would need to do to have some potentially tough conversations.

Or another coach later on asked: “Where is your voice in this?” Oh my. Had no idea.

The point is that without my coaches’ fierce compassion, I would have drifted along in my story, completely oblivious to how it appears on the outside. And frustrated that I was stuck. My coaches had to courageously make a pointed statement, or ask a tough question. Because of their courage, I could entertain different options.

The beauty of being fiercely compassionate is that there is no violence in it. The questions are asked with much love. This is the heart of changing the game. I have learned that these gentle giant questions are the most powerful for my clients’ personal and professional growth. For example, we can compassionately ask a client in what way she is contributing to the present situation? Or what he is pretending not to see? Or what is really at risk?

Why don’t we act with more fierce compassion for one another? Being fiercely compassionate isn’t for the light of heart. You risk triggering someone, no matter how soft the start up. But if I’m even more honest with myself, what’s really at risk is rejection of the relationship and how that would hurt.

To be fiercely compassionate with one another is an act of courage. It means believing so much in our clients’ best selves that we are willing to risk the relationship in service of their growth. It is built on trust. Said with love. And begins with having fierce compassion for ourselves first.


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