40-Day Business Leadership Peak Performance Programme Day 2: Collect Problems

Hey you made it to Day 2. Great! So how did you go with the homework, yesterday? My clients get amazing results simply by applying that tool. But did you do it? Did you find asmall problem? And did you try the STOP, START and CONTINUE tool? Was that useful?

(By the way, pay attention if you skip the homework – especially on a regular basis. The power of this program is in doing the small activities – it really is. The homework isn’t time consuming or onerous at all.)

In my experience, most coaching programmes start with problems. People engage in coaching because at some level they have a problem that isn’t resolving easily or at all. Problems will provide you with the most obvious opportunity to improve your performance. So today we are going to look at your frustrations or problems.

Being overweight was an obvious problems that David wanted to explore. Yelling at staff is a problem identified by Kevin. And late paying customers were a problem for Ron. In each case I asked them to apply the STOP, START and CONTINUE tool. (By the way, 99% of my clients are male client stories but there are some female examples coming up soon. Just thought you’d like to know that.)

Meet Ian, a leading hand at a large timber joinery: “One of my key problems is apprentices borrow tools off me and don’t return them Then I have to go hunt around finding them! Often they’ve lent them to someone else. It’s so annoying. It slows me down and then makes me look bad.”

For now, forget about why Ian does this for a moment – why he simply can’t say ‘No. Sorry. No can do. Please get your own.’. Focus instead on some STOP, START and CONTINUE behaviours Ian could apply to this situation.

Ian could STOP lending his tools to apprentices; he could START insisting apprentices buy their own tools; and he could CONTINUE with that policy.

Sounds obvious but his was a problem for Ian that made him feel anxious everyday. See Ian wanted to be liked by his work mates. But this problem was not resolving. In fact it was getting worse because Ian was training his apprentices to rely on him being organised so they could borrow tools from him. And he was therefore training them to be irresponsible – the very thing he was trying to avoid!

The message he was putting out was, “It’s OK to borrow my tools; and it’s OK to be unprepared and irresponsible.” That ISN’T the message Ian intended. (I want to point out that as benign as this problem sounds it was impacting Ian’s day.)

The other problem is that Ian’s staff know that he is a softie and they can get away with being unprofessional and unreliable. They rely on Ian being a softie and on being well-equipped and well-stocked with the tools they need. Ian needed to STOP being a softie, too.

Ian implemented his Stop, Start, Continue plan and within three days the apprentices got the message. Ian then confessed that he missed the apprentices coming up and chatting so later on we will explore the unstated benefit of your problems. Then Ian listed some other small problems he had. Then he started applying his Stop Start and Continue tool to those problems. Within six weeks most of Ian’s niggles had disappeared and he started doing his job a LOT better. He started to notice that the apprentices that bought their own tools were much easier to work with and improved and he then reported that the discussions her was having with this apprentices were very satisfying. One apprentice thanked him for teaching him to be responsible. The unexpected good result started to show up. Ian’s boss also commented that ‘things’ were going much better in the workshop.

Make a list

Yesterday, you were asked to identify a small problem. Nothing major. For now, only pick small benign problems. I want to emphasise that you start very small. The temptation in coaching is to try and tackle big problems straight away. But the research tells us that trying to fix too much, too big and too fast is not normally resourceful. It can even be a mistake. We’re building leadership muscles through incremental gains.

Start small and stay with small stuff, initially. Don’t go too big too soon. Get a feel for the tools and how they work – first. Jumping into bigger challenges is like having a swimming lesson in a toddlers swimming pool and then deciding to go for a swim in the ocean during a storm!

The research suggests to start with small problems and make small incremental changes in 2-3 benign areas of your personal and professional life. And to maintain those small changes over 30 and 90-day time frames.

So once again, try this activity out on a small problem.

Yesterday I asked you to think of a problem but the truth is you’ll have a lot of problems. So I want you to make a list of all the problems you can think of that are obvious to you right now. The tool here is Collect Problems. Don’t worry about how to fix them – just collect them. Get a list. Then pick a very small problem on the list and use the Stop, Start, Continue tool.


This is a bit like yesterday. Yesterday you thought of something small that you could try out the STOP, START or CONTINUE tool on. So try another one. But today start ‘collecting small problems’ to use the STOP, START, CONTINUE tool on. Make a list of obvious things that are bothering you. For now though, focus only on small benign problems.

See how you go and see you tomorrow. Oh, and if you have time please listen to the podcast.



Andrew Priestley is a qualified business leadership coach with clients worldwide. He is the author of The Money Chimp, Starting and How Money Flows Through Your Business. You can contact him through www.andrewpriestley.com

Please feel free to share the link and please leave feedback and constructive comments.


It goes without saying that this is for information only and The Author  cannot be held responsible for any losses or damages that occur as a result of reading this material.

© 2017 Andrew Priestley/TCE Ltd

Leave a Reply