These are words taken from a written account of the impact that a 6 month coaching programme has had on the CEO of a rapidly growing Marketing Agency. All the words apply to how he now feels, in contrast to how he felt when we started.

What I want to tell you about is the counter-intuitive manner in which these shifts were achieved – and how the focus of our conversations challenges some of the orthodoxy and ‘best practice’ in coaching.

When I first met Martin he was deeply sceptical about the improvements that coaching could bring him. He admitted to feeling stressed and over-burdened by both his workload and the weight of responsibility he was carrying.

Martin’s primary objective, initially, was to do more with his time: to be more efficient and more productive with this precious resource – he wanted to learn Time Management. His focus was very much about doing more with a limited commodity.

His secondary goal was for his staff to be more responsive, doing what he asked effectively and without dissent or delay. He wanted to be a good manager and leader.

Paradoxically, at no point did we discuss how to manage his time better or how to lead his people more effectively.

Instead, we explored what Martin did with the little time he had when he wasn’t working – his Rest.

And rather than focussing on his staff’s behaviour, we examined his reactions to that behaviour.

And the reason for this is very simple, even though it flies in the face of received wisdom:

  1. How we use time to work is a function of how we use it to rest.
  2. How others behave towards us is a reflection of how we react to them.

In both these cases, the point of focus for our conversations was very far removed from the issue that presented – and these weren’t the only ones.

In all cases, Martin’s focus shifted radically from trying to deal with problems ‘out there’ to seeing them as derivative of his own mental and emotional dynamics.

And, as the words in the title suggest, this is a profoundly liberating insight.

The upshot of all of this is that Martin now has time on his hands. He does less and his people are doing more, with more autonomy. That makes for a happier business – and one that is able to grow.