Tag Archives: coaching

April 18 – Procrastinating or Just Waiting?

Monday. Isabella had to prepare a presentation on procrastination for a speech at the local ICF chapter but she had been putting it off for a while. “Ironic”, she thought, that a coach such as her should find herself as guilty as anyone else to procrastinating things – putting them off until the last minute, finding that she was running out of time and after finishing the presentation not having enough time to actually rehearse. Then perhaps excusing herself by saying that she had too little time to prepare. How common and how sad!

Yesterday in 1912 her newspaper Dagens Nyheter wrote about Titanic. Today Isabella was not facing icebergs but molehills of unsorted thoughts and letters trying to sink her. But she was not willing to drown so she kept swimming. The presentation just had to be ready today. Luckily she had no booked clients today and David was off to school. The chapter meeting was on Thursday for once. Usually they were on Wednesdays, a day which Swedes sometimes refer to as “Little Saturday”. A perfect day for many to go out for a drink or a dinner in the middle of the week. Isabella would have time during Wednesday to rehearse as her Tuesday was totally choked.

Isabella contemplated procrastination while doing research and jotting down what she found worthwhile to say at the meeting. She imagined many coaches who would attend the meeting were also prone to procrastination or had many clients that were. She had herself only been to one such meeting before even though she had told herself to go on more occasions than one. She had always found other things that she “had to” do or sometimes “forgotten” to actually go. When on that meeting she noticed that many of the coaches had been late or had not prepared much either.

Isabella realized that she had to say something about why people procrastinate, how it might be different from prioritizing or just waiting for the right moment. She was close to falling into the “It has to be perfect” trap. She remembered her ex Marcus before a deadline in his architectural office re-sketching, remodeling and re-everything until it was almost too late to actually hand something in at all. Later he always said “It would have been perfect if I only had a little more time”. But he never had. And Isabella had seen Marcus doing other things when he should have been designing on that project. A clear case of procrastination. And perhaps the inner demand to be absolutely perfect paralyzed him into doing nothing at first only to be stressed out of his wits during the last days before deadline making him work around the clock to avoid the pain and embarrassment of not handing in the project at all.

Maybe pain was one of the key factors to procrastination? And Isabella also thought that a person’s background was playing an important role in this combination of comedy and tragedy. Isabella had not really found that out for herself but actually read about it in a book. She believed what she had read though. The line she remembered was “the things you fear the most have already happened” and was attributed to the psychologist Donald Winnicott. Isabella smiled and jotted down the name knowing that a little “name-dropping” usually impressed coaches, even though they sometimes maintained that their coaching would come from within themselves and that they should be as empty vessels for their clients. Isabella knew that was bullshit for putting off reading the necessary material and doing the necessary research. Procrastination was again showing its ugly face.
“Yes – pain!” Not experiencing enough pain when not doing what you are supposed to or not feeling that it actually matters enough to be high enough on your list to actually be done in time.

But there was the background issue too. Winnicott said that previous relationships set patterns that you have a hard time breaking later on in life. If you expect to fail you might make just that happen. But Isabella felt that she should also put in a note or two about how life today is much more complex than ever before. We have thousands of things to choose from all seemingly just as important, fun or worrying. How can we pick the things that really are most important to do? Isabella of course had one thing she knew she would always choose first. The welfare of her son David. She even surprised herself after his birth feeling that she honestly would sacrifice even her own life to save his. When she was young she had never imagined that would happen.

She came to think of her client Harry. The cop. He had a hard time combining being both a professional policeman, a colleague, a manager, a husband and a father.

“We have too many things going on at the same time and no time to rest and to reflect on what to do next”. Isabella remembered that even during her last vacation she had both her mobile and her laptop constantly on alert. The curse of running a business perhaps, but she had talked about it with her friend Rebecca and she told her that the situation was similar for the employed. It is like the “Buridan’s ass” story – A donkey being placed between a pile of hay and a pail of water would die of both hunger and thirst because it would have no reason to choose one over the other. Today we are just like that donkey but there are thousands of haystacks and a million oceans of water.

But what should coaches do to bring a procrastinator out of the bewildering woods? Well coaches are taught to be encouraging and to see their client as able to solve matters and to take action if given the proper insights. Isabella knew only too well that this approach only worked for those who were not procrastinators. The procrastinators apparently did not take encouragement from the coach in the intended way. They smiled and said “yes, I will”, but nothing much would happen. They would not change their behavior. Isabella had been frustrated over this on many occasions, but had realized that her frustration did not help her, and of course not her clients.

Isabella nowadays usually takes on procrastination in several steps. First it is about defining if her client is procrastinating, what things the client is procrastinating and similar things. Then the task of trying to break that pattern can begin. The process of change is usually a long one and sometimes it fails. Sometimes a coach needs to face the music that coaching cannot cure everything. The client may have serious issues that only therapy can help, or perhaps not even therapy. The client has also be prepared to train hard on stop procrastinating. It is not different from going to the gym to lose ten pounds of weight. You get nothing for free. You have to keep on working hard. That truth is valid both for the client and for the client’s coach. If a coach is not ready to take on the hard work she or he should not be coaching a procrastinating client. A professional coach must also be prepared to fail with grace and advice the client to a good therapist. Perhaps CBT or even psychodynamic therapy might work. Isabella only had to structure her notes now to be ready for rehearsal. Fine. The right moment for that will be on Wednesday as planned. Having a structured plan and being able to stick to it was key qualities to avoid procrastination.

Waiting for the right moment is crucial. Even for murder. Today was not it. But a rehearsal learning to handle the ropes was in the cards. No gambling matter.

April 10 – Twin Lives and a Single Death by Coaching Detective

Isabella’s cop client Harry had a busy morning. His twins had their birthday and there really should be lots of presents, ice cream and singing. Their tenth birthday on the tenth of April. But they were no fools – they wanted real presents thought out exclusively for them. Daniel wanted a skateboard with a special pattern and red wheels. Alexander on the other hand was more of an intellectual wanting all of the Star Wars films I-VI. Being a cop made it easy to perform an investigation on these matters. He found a Skater’s shop in Södermalm, locate in the mall called “Skrapan (The Skyscraper)”. He knew that Daniel would want to choose for himself both the board and the wheels so Harry chose to buy a skater sweater and a gift voucher for “Any board and any set of wheels”. When he had his latest session with Isabella he had passed an SF shop in the Old Town and they had a complete Star Wars set. Harry felt relieved and happy as the boys opened their gifts. Ellinor, Harry’s wife looked happy too even though she had been up since four to prepare everything from coffee, ice cream, un-hiding the gifts and so on. She had left Harry sleep until six. Even though Easter was last week the kids had Easter Holidays this week too, making them both actually do something this week had been somewhat a challenge. Ellinor and Harry had taken turns on looking after the “DeeAys” as Harry called the twins. AS both Harry and Ellinor were working they had to make it possible to do some work from home. Their terrace-house in the northern suburbs of Stockholm had four bedrooms on the second floor and they had made that into a study. Harry had on more than one occasion asked himself why they had decided to get a house in Suburbia when both he and Ellinor worked in the city. There were of course several reasons. Buying a flat in the city would cost about a million crowns per room and the family needed at least three bedrooms, a study and a living room. So a house for two or three million or a flat for five? And there was the thought of having small children in the city or closer to nature. They had also found a very nice private kindergarten close to their house too on the way to the local commuter train station.  But there were downsides too. Both Harry and Ellinor had to spend hours commuting to work and back so the idea of spending time with their children in the countryside was limited to weekends and during weekends they both needed to work to compensate for the huge amount to travelling and still being able to pay for the house. Two rats in a pretty cage hoping that their boys were OK anyway. Right now mama and papa rat were giving them quite a treat. Everything seemed to run smoothly. Harry remembered Isabella and her way of making him realize how much his family really meant to him. He might, if he had chosen the “glamorous” super cop job, not even been here this morning to celebrate. Probably out at some crime scene in Scania or wherever securing footprints or tire tracks already taken by others. The super cops were only to be called on after thirty days. Not really “Cold Cases” but at least lukewarm. Much better to stay in Stockholm to enjoy happy faces. Harry thought that coaching had been a surprising experience for him. He went there with the sport vision of what a coach was and had expected to be told what to do. Instead Isabella had given him the lead, making him realize that he was in charge of his own process. Harry had found that a refreshing contrast to all the people telling him things all the time. He longed back to Isabella’s office and their next session. Nothing sexual of course. This was something completely different. Just trust. Ellinor had also noticed that Harry was happier than before.

Suddenly Harry’s mobile made a familiar weird noise. One of those signals that came with the phone but nobody wanted to have activated. Harry had chosen that one because nobody else had it at work. He could tell the call was for him just by the signal. Who would call him at seven in the morning on an Easter Holiday Saturday?

Stig Lindberg link from Wikipedia by Coaching Detective

It was Stig Lindberg. One of his colleagues at work. Not the famous Swedish designer who had the same name. And was dead. “Hi Harry. Sorry about this, but you really have to come in today.” Harry was amazed. He was the boss, right? ”What do you mean Stig? What can be so urgent that you want to drag me from my family on a Saturday? And when my twins have their birthday? Has someone killed our Prime Minister – again?” Back in 1986 the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme had been shot, leaving Sweden shocked. Sweden was still shocked by this, really. “No Harry, not that exactly. But it is  a murder for sure. A journalist at Aftonbladet. It is the weirdest thing I’ve seen in a long time.” “But, why do I need to come right away? Isn’t the man dead? Will he suddenly take off?” “It’s a woman  and dead for sure, but placed in a position you just have to take a look at and in a place that is a bit special too.” Harry began to realize that he would not be able to stay at home this time. “OK.where are we talking about?” “Outside Centralbadet in a pond. Drowned.” And she couldn’t have drowned all by herself?” Harry really tried to get off the hook. “Nope. You’ll see.” OK Stig. I’ll call you back in ten.” Harry turned to Ellinor and the twins. ”Sorry guys, but I have to pop into town for a little while.” Ellinor’s face changed from harmony to something Harry knew he would not appreciate very much. Disappointment. “So my dear Harry will prioritize the dead over the living again, is that so? Another corpse fiesta, I suppose?” Harry knew that he was in deep trouble and quickly needed a quick idea to compensate for him leaving his family now. “How about us celebrating by going to a restaurant this evening – you choose where and then we can meet there?” Ellinor was not satisfied but decided to play along for the twins. “OK, Daniel and Alex will decide.”

Harry left the house, got to the family car and hastily drove south for Stockholm city. This time on a Saturday the roads were pretty empty. The ordinary queues on that way to work were not to be seen now. “Always something.” Harry found himself talking to himself again. He decided to turn the radio on. He had it adjusted to one of the channels playing old songs, some even older than he was. He heard the familiar sound of “China Girl” and thought that he was also “stumbling into town” and perhaps even stumbling through life knowing very little about himself. The meetings with Isabella had opened him up a bit though. Formerly he would just follow the advice of the Chinese girl in the video. Keeping his mouth shut. Harry smiled. The next song was ”Light in Your Heart” with Hanne Boel, the Danish singer with enough soul in her voice to get to his heart too. And of course a vivid memory. Songs have strong powers for many people and for Harry too.

Harry parked the car in Drottninggatan, just outside the gates to Centralbadet, knowing that it was not a great spot to park in. He saw the blue and white plastic police ribbons placed to prevent people from entering there and destroying possible evidence on the ground. And he spotted Stig talking to one of the police women in uniform at the scene. Harry noticed that Stig needed a new coat more than he did and sent a thought of gratitude towards Ellinor who always tried to make Harry look his best. Stig apparently had no wife. “OK Stig, tell me all.” ”Right. Apparently this woman was drowned or so we think right now sometime during the night. But the weird thing is that she seems to have been positioned just over the water surface in the pond at first with ropes. The ropes were then to slowly break dropping her bound body into the water.” “What?” Harry didn’t understand a word. ”Someone had poured some acid or something on the rope for it to eventually break.” “Are you telling me that some weird person first bound and gagged her, then left her hanging there alive to drop to her death in the water later?” “I guess so. And on her birthday too.” Harry thought about the twins back home. ”Why didn’t she managed to get out of the water then – this pond is extremely small and the water can’t be more than 60 centimeters deep?” “I don’t know yet, Harry. Seems weird to me too. And why was she not killed immediately? Why let her hang there a while first?” “How long do you guess?” “Hard to say. Depends on the acid involved of course.” Stig had been right. A very strange death by water indeed. But in a beautiful spot just outside the building where the bath an spa known as Centralbadet was located. The building was in Art Noveau style. A style that most Swedes would call Jugend. Harry had mixed emotions towards Jugend. On one hand it was very elegant, but on the other hand it seemed a bit overloaded with ornament. A bit too much. This murder was a little too much too. Ropes, acid, a peculiar public space and Harry felt there would be even more oddities about this one later. Harry turned to Stig. “Who was she?” “A Johanna Sofia Isaksson, born in 1951. Worked at Aftonbladet. They have a special part of it that is about gambling. There.” “So she is fifty-nine?” ”Depends on the time of death. Today is her birthday as I told you – remember?” Harry didn’t bother to reply. He was thinking that what a weird coincidence to drown by a placed designed for swimming. Perhaps the killer had some weird sense of humor? Or was there something more to this? The murder had been planned to say the least. This was no spur of the moment thing. “Did she have any family?” “As far as we know yet no. We have not spoken to anyone yet though. A bit early for that yet.”  Harry saw in the reflection of restaurant Rydberg close by that some people had stopped to see what was going on already. Harry begun to consider the complications involved with murdering somebody in  place like this. First you have to make your victim appear here, then binding her, then hanging her up above the water, then pouring the right amount of acid on the rope and then get away. Harry guessed that it would be too complicated. So how? “Stig, have you thought about the crime scene?” What do you mean?” “Do you think that she was captured here, bound here and then drowned here?” “No, maybe and don’t know…we will probably know more by Monday when forensics have done some work on it.” “It’s not an “it” Stig it’s a “her”. Never forget that.” Yes, a probably single woman dead in the middle of Stockholm and lively twins waiting to have a feast in suburbia. Harry knew what to do. Coaching had taught him to make the right priorities. With a few exceptions of course…

March 22 – Lonely Hearts and Black Ones by Coaching Detective

Can alarm clocks have a sense of humour? When they play “Monday, Monday” followed by “Manic Monday” at 6.30 in the morning as a wake-up call you might wonder. Is it irony or just a coincidence? Isabella woke up with more of a Boomtown Rats feeling than that. “I don’t like Mondays.” Especially of course when she knew that she wouldn’t spend it in the company of her son. David will be with Marcus this evening and the rest of the week. Isabella knew that she would miss him like crazy. Not Marcus – David. To be separated from your children is painful even if it is only for a week. She remembered, back in the days she and Marcus were still together, that when Marcus had to leave town for a few days he hated that more than anything. The same kind of torment Isabella was going through every other week. Many people told her “Isn’t wonderful to have complete freedom every other week?” and even other separated parents tried to maintain that in order to rationalise things. The other mantra separated parents usually repeated was that “the children are better off this way as they do not have to see their parents fighting”. Isabella had tried to believe both these phrases but had failed miserably. She couldn’t really feel that she was free when she was without David but rather trapped by loneliness and a bad conscience. And as for David being better off moving between two half homes fifty-two times every year? The answer was no. The relation between her and Marcus was only about her and Marcus. David was a result at first, but now an innocent victim of it. An innocent victim feeling guilty. David had more than once asked if he was to blame for the split. Isabella knew that David was scarred already. Still, a small mercy was that the separation was not because of a betrayal. If Marcus had found someone else and left because of that, things might have been worse, or if she had. Such patterns are hard to erase in a child’s mind. Isabella and David had their Monday separation breakfast both knowing that again they would not see each other for a week. As many children facing these circumstances they are forced to grow up very fast. David too. He was a normal kid in most situations but he had learned to handle the separation process better than Isabella had, at least on the surface. Isabella noticed a tendency in David seeing everything as more fragile, more unstable and more unreliable than before. He had lost quite a bit of his initial trust in life. Marcus and Isabella had stolen that from him and they both knew it. Perhaps Isabella knew it a bit more, but you cannot measure pain can you? The old saying “You made thy bed, now lay in it” was a bit too simple. It should read “ You both made the bed, made love on the sofa, received a child, crashed the relationship and now You will ALL feel alone – including your innocent child”. Isabella snapped out of it. Not because she was good at it, because she must. David had to get to school. She could have a break-down later. If her calendar would permit of course. After Easter perhaps. Isabella thought “If Jesus could die and then live again so can I”. Isabella had always had a complicated relation to religion, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. She was of course officially a Protestant as she was born in Sweden, but felt that Protestantism was a bit boring and that Catholics seemed to have more fun. She also more than one close friend that was a Muslim and she also knew at least three Jews. Isabella thought they would all fit in at one of her parties and that they would all be good friends. She had named her son “David” knowing that it meant “beloved” in Hebrew and also knowing that no matter what religion that name might be OK. She wanted him to be loved by everyone. Isabella had taken a glance or two into the Bible, the Koran and the Torah texts and realized that they were written by people in a context. She also realized that the priests, imams and rabbis of today are very much in a context too. Amazing how matters of faith have come to be mixed with politics and how politics has turned into ordinary marketing and sales. Isabella had nothing against God, but she didn’t trust that ground crew longer than she could throw them. She had always found it weird that the Almighty God was such a lousy manager. He, presumably male of course, did not manage his office very well as he could not make the office managers work together. He could not make his company “The World Unlimited” prosper either even though he had a total monopoly and he did not even manage to make his officers realize that they were actually part of the same crew. “Laissez-faire management” apparently does not work here. God has to realize that good staff is hard to find. The crew seems to be busy selling products like “jihad jello”, “crusade crackers” and similar products. Whatever happened to the “silly love songs” and “give peace a chance”? Isabella sighed. She had started to look for meaning elsewhere as so many of her clients also did. She met so many people in her work that were fed up with markets, politics, religion and their daily life. All they wanted was to find an escape from it all. Something or someone to free them from the constant information attack only there to sell them products. The product could be anything of course. Lately one of the products had been “coaching”. Coaching had quickly become the new cure for anything, but nobody really knew what “coaching” was or believed it could apply to everything. In a way to get a coach had become something between getting a guru, a teacher  or a healer. On the other it was also similar to getting a dentist, a doctor, a hairdresser or a new handbag. The experience of actually being a coach was a mix of all these and working at the ER.

To Isabella’s astonishment she found that many clients treated their coach like they would a handbag rather than they would a doctor or dentist. If your dentist or doctor made you realize that you needed to take some steps to get better you would do it. At least Isabella would. But a handbag, no matter how sophisticated or expensive you just take for granted. After the first joy of buying it has worn off nothing really happens. Isabella had recently tried real hard to make her clients understand from the start that personal development is not a product given to the client at the first meeting, but a process over time where the coach and the client are equally responsible. She usually added that the process should continue even between the meetings. And of course she wanted to tattoo her clients with “NQFTL!” on the inside of their eyelids. So many clients seemed to believe that a single coaching meeting contained a “Quick Fix To Life”. Isabella had to write a big “NO QUICK FIX TO LIFE!” on her Whiteboard ever so often. Reality issues were hard to handle in life.

When life itself was an issue that really was outside handling there were only three ways to react: To fight, to flee or to play dead. Sometimes all of these patterns may apply, perhaps in a certain sequence. In the apartment in Östermalm lay someone who had already played dead before and had fled more than once too. Enough of that now – Time to fight. And time for a hearty breakfast. On a mission all the depots must be filled. When you are on a tight schedule getting flu could spoil everything. That was not going to happen. Not now. Not ever. Physical and mental strength were the keys to success if you could speak of success here. It was more about setting the records straight.

In Södermalm, after leaving David at school, Isabella went straight to her Old Town office to meet her first client. Again it was Camilla, who she had seen once before and had not been straight at all. Not in any sense of the word. Isabella wondered how Camilla had dealt with her infidelity issues, her bisexuality and her wife. Isabella reflected on her own mistakes at their first meeting too. Of course, marriage between women being a fairly new thing, her mistakes were understandable but not excusable. A good coach should always meet her client where she or he is at the time and never jump to conclusions. Camilla was her first client explicitly lesbian, semi-lesbian or bisexual and officially in a gay marriage. Isabella had a hard time choosing between different terms to call her client in regards to this subject. There was always a possibility that Camilla wouldn’t identify with whatever term she decided on. Isabella eventually settled for “Camilla”. The simple solution.
Camilla was on time again. Today she wore a sporty extremely yellow down jacket, a blue tight stretchy pair of jeans and black boots. She looked at least ten years younger than last time they met. She was smiling and gave Isabella a hug too. A happier client, Isabella thought at first. Then she begun to wonder if that was actually true. She would not jump to conclusions with Camilla again and she was really curious to find out what had happened since their last meeting. Isabella had to admit to herself that her Sapphic experience level was low, limited to what she had read, seen in films and a few experiments at thirteen with her best friend limited to kisses and a touch of breasts. Isabella had read somewhere that almost every young woman, and man for that matter, has thoughts about having sex with the same sex at least once and that does not mean that they are gay at all. But Camilla was of course in another division. And now equipped with a nice cup of herbal tea in Isabella’s office confidently placing herself, crossing her legs getting ready for her next session. Isabella smiled, realizing that Camilla had placed her legs exactly as she had. Mirroring another person is usually a good sign of liking. And Camilla HAD returned for her next session.

But Isabella knew that it was seldom the second session that was the hardest. She knew that it was the third and forth. The first two usually were easier for clients. The first two were filled with curiosity, novelty and fun. The third often meant really starting to get down to what really mattered and the fourth usually meant that the client started to realize that she had to actually make some effort herself. If a client managed to overcome this obstacle and start to make things happen between sessions then she would return for her fifth session. Isabella had noticed a pattern in the clients that would break the coaching relationship. They usually didn’t do any of the agreed assignments decided on in the sessions and if they had made notes they usually forget to bring them to the next session. When they enter the room they started to excuse themselves even before taking a seat. “I haven’t done anything.” The vision of hard work apparently prevented  the client from continuing her coaching process. Then there was usually a period of self-deception. The client would start putting off appointments, finding different excuses for not being able to show up or forgetting the appointments all together and finally saying that perhaps she did not have enough time for coaching at this point due to boyfriends, work or something and would return later. The “later” would never happen of course.

Isabella wondered if Camilla would have the mental strength to continue beyond her second session. But she was here now. Sitting calmly, but with her left thumb and index finger fingering a pendant in the shape of a green Fabergé egg. Isabella thought “If that thing is real it would cost a bit.” She had seen a real item such as this one at an auction once in New York at it went for five thousand. Dollars. That would be around thirty-five thousand Swedish Crowns. Isabella recalled that Marcus had about that gross salary per month as an architect. She found it kind of funny that a pendant around a woman’s neck would remind her of her ex. The pendant was more beautiful than Marcus though. Isabella forced herself to focus on Camilla instead of letting her mind wander off like this. “Respect your client.” Isabella’s coaching teacher’s words brought her back on track. “Welcome back Camilla. How has things been for you since we last spoke?”

“Well, you remember that I had been unfaithful with a man at a conference?” “Yes.” Well that man and I have come to an understanding. No more sex between us if my wife cannot either know about it or take part in it.” Isabella felt a bit uncomfortable speaking so freely about sex. “And?” A classic non-demanding question where Isabella did not have to reveal her feelings much. There was a second of silence. “I just love being penetrated sometimes with something alive. Cecilia’s dildos are not the same for me. But I feel ashamed of feeling this way. I don’t want to cheat on Cecilia. I love having sex with her and I love her. When it comes to nearness and caressing me with her fingers and tongue, no man could ever replace her.” If Isabella ever blushed outside a bedroom this was such a time, but she managed to keep her cool. At least on the surface. “ I assume than that sex plays a very important role in your life?” “Sure does.” Isabella started to suspect that Camilla’s image of coaching leaned towards her session being similar to a confession booth. “So, Camilla, what do you want to take with you from today’s session?” Camilla smiled. “I am a bit confused. Well confused may not be the right word. I feel torn between telling Cecilia the full story about Peter and the conference and the understanding, or if I should try to ease Peter into our marriage without mentioning that we have actually met already. And I don’t know how I should go about doing that either, really.” Isabella thought hard. “What would be the advantages if you tell Cecilia everything?” “I would feel more honest.” “So if I interpret your answer you feel that telling is best for your peace of mind?” “Yes, I suppose so.” “Yourself aside, what would be the best situation for Cecilia?” “Good question…..I haven’t thought of it like that before.” “Would you consider doing that now?” Isabella tried to penetrate Camilla in ways she might not quite like as much and Camilla’s fingering of the egg pendant became even more intense as she tried to find a sentence within her that could make sense. “ I guess that there might be a risk that Cecilia would be very hurt by that fact that I have made love to Peter already behind her back.” “What would happen then, you think?” “She might leave me, or we would at least have huge issues between us.” Isabella let Camilla stew for a second before she put the next question on the table. She chose a question that could be answered with yes or no. “Is risk important to you?” Camilla stopped breathing for at least two seconds. Nobody had asked her this before. She hadn’t even asked herself that. Camilla had seen Peter on the sly knowing there were risks involved. Well, realizing it after a while anyway. And her last relationship had ended after an affair, then with another woman. “Yes, I guess I have to admit that – even if I don’t want to.” Camilla smiled in a way that Isabella didn’t know how to interpret. The smile was a combination of surprise, bewilderment, seduction and embarrassment. Or something else. Isabella penetrated Camilla a bit more. “What does that result in for you?” “I feel like a blackheart but also a bit more alive too, I’m ashamed to say.” “So Camilla, if given the hard choice between keeping the kick of the risk plus the shame of liking it and possibly losing Cecilia and stop having affairs on the side and to make your relationship with Cecilia more stable – what would you choose? I don’t want you to answer right now but to consider the question and what you would do to create the best environment for both outcomes. Can you do that for me? And then we will discuss your choice in our next session – OK?” Camilla looked both happy and in despair. Isabella knew that this was a delicate moment in their relationship. Camilla could easily choose to flee after this session as Isabella demanded something from her a real decision leading into the future. “OK” Camilla said it and Isabella only hoped that her client would stick to her promise and return for her third session. But this was also what coaching is about. To dig into the client’s mind to find out what the core of the matter really was. And dare to plunge into the client hearts, both black and lonely. Just sitting there being nice would not lead her clients anywhere. Better to walk down Inferno lane for a while than to only sip a sunny drink in the shade learning nothing.

Camilla rose, put her yellow appearance back on and left giving Isabella a hug and an elegant kiss on her right cheek. AS she hadn’t when they met, Isabella interpreted it as a vote of confidence.

Later, when at home after her four clients and completely alone her encounter with Camilla returned into her mind. Isabella sighed and was a bit envious on Camilla. Nor only had she someone, but there was also the fact that she also got some. S.E.X. And it had been a while now for Isabella. She had not had much time to really think about it before. David, work and everything had taken up all her time. If she HAD lived with someone she would not have had the time to be faithful, let alone unfaithful. But now, all alone in her apartment, she wanted hands on her, lips on her and more. Even in her. And all she had to make do with was some boring film showing off a beary Swedish Crusader in the twelfth century.  Not so sexy, not so exciting. With a warm blanket and a cup of comforting green tea she would be alright anyway, she thought. And then the silence of the black winter night would sweep her away into a hopefully dreamless sleep.

There was no room for sleeping for our killer. A detailed map had to be constructed with all the important spots marked in blue, all the routes marked in green and all the risky intersections marked in red. A list with all the items that should be used in each phase was slowly being completed too. There would be at least an hour before it would be honorable to take a nap. Still time to back down, settle for what had been accomplished so far and to quit.  But realistically – the job had to be done. No real peace would come without that. But fear of both failure and fear of the job itself could easily take the better of anyone. A focusing meditation was in place, as always.

March 12 – Metal Birds and Tigers – by Coaching Detective

Isabella woke up early knowing. Knowing that she needed to be creative this morning. She was wise from the day before that warm water was a scarce commodity in her hotel room. As a resourceful coach she had found a workaround. Every UK hotel room she had ever been in had a way to make tea. So she made hot water there and poured it into the wash-hand basin thus creating a real possibility to actually wash her hair. Unfortunately she had not arrived at the almost compulsory need to cut her hair short at the reached age of forty so she still had hair below her shoulders. But she followed the latest international hair trend and usually assembled it in a pony-tail, only changing the elastic band colours to match her clothes. Isabella had a tough time washing all her hair in the basin but did her best “kettle water wash” she could and dashed down to get breakfast. Just a coffee with plenty of milk to break the acid, a piece of dark bread with some marmalade on and she was ready for another day in coaching paradise.

In the Swedish morning paper Svenska Dagbladet that was opened at that very moment in Stockholm you could read that in this Year of the Tiger, eleven tigers had actually starve to death in China. No paradise for tigers there. The reader created an introvert smile. “Hopefully this tiger will do better.” It has always been apparent that the tiger was the perfect image for describing someone in three-striped shoes on the hunt for something. An endangered species too. The smile expanded into a quiet laugh.

In Victoria Plaza Isabella smiled too. David had sent her an SMS saying “dad can’t make breakfast – come home”. There was sadness in the smile of course – not on the fact that Marcus was so absent minded that he always burnt food but because she longed for her son. “There is always a price to pay!” She was not really in agreement with the thought of making her son’s life miserable but she had realized that keeping the relationship with Marcus would have made David even worse off than now. Now he had in a way both his parents without seeing them in conflict. And she thought that Marcus in this way got a better contact with David than before when she was there competing. Isabella had understood that she had also made it more difficult for Marcus to be a loving parent to David being more extrovert in her feelings towards David than he could ever be in her presence. That space had not been available to him then. But now David and Marcus are much closer. And amazingly enough in some quaint way Isabella liked Marcus better now as he now is becoming a great father. “Perhaps he will learn something from this and will come out a better man. Perhaps I have actually made him more attractive to women.” Life surely is strange. Like so many times before a bad thing might lead to something good. At least for Marcus. It is not always attractive for a man to find out that the woman he is attracted to is divorced with a child. On the other hand men should get acquainted with the reality of today – the divorce rate in Sweden is about 55 percent. So half of the women and half of the men are divorced. Chances of actually meeting someone around forty who has no children and who has never been married are very slim. Perhaps if you meet someone like that you might ask yourself  “What is wrong with this person?” The modern family consists of you, your children from before, your present spouse and his/her children from before, the possible children you have created together and all the people involved in all the children mentioned before. Quite a complexity. It must have been less complicated before when one life was enough. It seemed to Isabella that we tend to “wear and tear” your relationships as we have also done with clothes and our whole planet. It had to change one day.
As she arrived at the Plaza she went directly to take a seat for the first speaker of the day. And it was on sustainability. Isabella had already had those thoughts a few minutes ago. We do have to take care of our planet. The keynote was delivered by a guy named Sir John Whitmore. Sir John was right of course in that coaches has to keep the big picture in mind at all times. Amazing that everyone seems to be competing to be most “sustainable” these days. Isabella thought that we need to talk a lot before anything real comes out of it and that we are now still in the “talking phase”. This was not only true in the coaching profession but in the business community as a whole. There is talk on every website on sustainability and corporate social responsibility but not all companies really live up to what they preach. “Sustainability boiled down to marketing.” Isabella clearly saw the irony in that. Sir John on the other hand meant business.

After a break it was time for a Keynote speaker – a woman called Veera Johnson. Her topic was “Success lies in Diversity and not Perfection”. She was one of those “happy witnesses” that confirmed that coaching actually works as one of the tools to develop leaders and organizations.

Diversity in Red at the AC Conference

Veera’s topic gave Isabella a few thoughts to take home, but perhaps not the thoughts that Veera had intended. Isabella connected “diversity” not only with different abilities and talents but also different sexes, cultures and skin tones… Many connotations to be found there…The word “perfection” lead her to imagine all the clients dreaming of the “perfect” jobs, relationships, educations and homes. A shining dream, quite impossible to reach, but clients were still willing to die trying for it.

“Part of the human dilemma – longing for perfection knowing that if you find it, you will no longer be human.”  Isabella had learned that lesson many years ago, trying so hard to be a perfect daughter, a perfect lover, a perfect wife and a perfect mother. Isabella knew that she would always fall short if she tried that. She had found the perfect reminder never to fall into that hole again. She hums the theme to “Mission Impossible” and imagine herself being married to Tom Cruise. “Cute but too short in both body and mind. And who wants a boy who is over forty-five anyway?” Isabella preferred a man, perhaps someone like Harrison Ford who could carry Melanie Griffiths up a steep staircase or so. “As women obviously are just as intelligent as men, the only apparent reasons for using them would be to use their strength to carry the bags and their libido to create kids.”  Isabella smiled at her joke, knowing that she was far too modern to have those kinds of primitive, old hard-core feministic views on men. She knew perfectly well to see every person for who she or he is and not to put anyone in a ready-made little prejudice box.

A Box is Bought in the Old Town

Speaking of boxes. In a little shop in the Old Town of Stockholm someone had just purchased a small wooden box. A box just right for containing a number of small objects. The store keeper had imported lots of junk cheaply to sell off at double price to tourists. He treated this customer no different from any tourist from any of the numerous countries coming here. Many of the things he offered were associated in one way or another to Stockholm, Sweden or the Old Town. The German partiality to elk objects he could never understand, but didn’t really care as long as they paid for them. His latest customer was no German. Other statistically good guesses would be a Finn or a Russian, but no. The customer had not said even a single word so guessing was hard. The store keeper loved the challenge though and kept on guessing. He noticed that the customer had both Euros and Swedish Crowns in a small stack of bills so he assumed he could rule out Denmark and the UK. But anyone could purchase any currency and keep the home currency at the hotel, making it just as possible for any customer to originate from anywhere. This made it of course even more fun to make a guess. Almost like shooting dice, but the dice being slightly modified in favour of a certain result. But this time the shop keeper could not find a proper image to fit his client.

an Image can mean so mucg at the AC

In Victoria Plaza other images were on. Isabella was attending a workshop on using imagery in coaching lead by the quite legendary Stephen Palmer. His idea was to spread the word that using images could change the outcome of coaching sessions and make coaching able to produce self-confidence, energy and stamina in coaching clients. Isabella was all for images, as she herself came from the journalistic profession and had close encounters of the third kind with at least one architect. Architects usually had no idea on how to use words, but images were their home turf. As the workshop went on she again felt the familiar longing for home and David. She would run for Gatwick as soon as she ever could. It was nothing wrong with the workshop at all but it could never compete with her son. Isabella sighed as she realised she had one more workshop to attend before getting released.

On the other hand she was curious about the subject: Emotional Intelligence. The lecture was held by one of the pioneers of emotional intelligence – Dr Reuwen Bar-On. He made a most powerful point: “Listen, observe, understand and only then give consultation, but really listen!” Isabella smiled as she thought “Typical – a man speaking of really listening. Most men could not even spell the word.” And still there that man stood on the stage, obviously knowing something to say about it. And with a background both from the military forces in Israel and also formerly living in South Africa he should know something about a “not listening culture”.  She imagined that being a major in the armed forces of Israel for eleven years would be extremely challenging for a man really interested in listening. Or an extreme learning experience, as you can learn as much from the thesis as the anti thesis. Something close to how a Buddhist would approach something bad happening or when meeting a bad person. What is the lesson to be learnt? Perhaps war produced a man interested in communication? Just like everything in itself has the possibility to turn into its opposite? Or that you sometimes need something really bad to wake up and really do something good? Isabella had read something on Taoism a few years back and did not understand much of it but had picked up that they always said that something at face value looking bad not always was entirely bad and vice versa. And that everything always changes. It was some kind of comfort in that, Isabella thought.  And the man was really into listening.

THe AC Conference in London - March 2010

He showed the Chinese character for “to listen”, which he said consisted of a combination of “heart”, “eye”, “ear” and “undivided attention”. He meant that we should all listen with both our ears, but also read all the visual expressions, use our heart to feel what is really said and focus on nothing else when we are listening. Isabella reflected that it was something of a crash course in coaching. Coaching is so much more of course, but really listening to your client is a good starting point. Isabella found it, however, more and more difficult to focus on Mr Bar-On. He went on to explain more on the science of Emotional Intelligence, but Isabella thought “I can get that from a book later.” She decided there and then to make herself scarce and make a run for the airport, giving her more time to look for another gift. David was to be well materially compensated for her absence. She knew that something from “Lord of the Rings” or “Star Wars” would be hugely appreciated. David was turning into a boy now. He was not just a child anymore. A special transition time for him, being in two worlds. Both needing soft animals AND hard swords. Isabella remembered the other day, when David had shown her that his teddy bear knew Kung Fu moves. He had seen Kung Fu Panda of course. Amazing, but in such a film you could actually find things worth using in coaching. I a scene we are taught the saying “Yesterday is History. Tomorrow is a Mystery, but Today is a Gift! That is why it is called the Present.

Today is a Gift

So being here now is a key. Kind of the Mindfulness teachings which are so popular today. Mindfulness has of course “borrowed” that notion from LaoTzu and Tao. Same coat, new box. Isabella thought that the wrapping does not matter as long as it fits. Only infants are more interested in the boxes than the contents. When David was a baby he could play with the boxes for hours, completely disregarding all the very thoughtfully chosen toys he was presented from within them. Perhaps we all have an internal infant showing up at times. Perhaps that infant loves the free space inside the box and the abstraction of the outside. With those two the infant can imagine anything, making anything possible. The thoroughly designed toy can only do one already defined thing. A car is a car and a doll is a doll. A bit boring for a creative infant. Perhaps even boring for anyone. Isabella knew of course that David expected a bit more than just an empty box.

Just hours ago our mysterious client left the store with just that. An empty box. The new owner had every intention of filling it with objects. Just a minute after leaving the store one small object was already put in there to mark triumph.

Isabella ran like crazy to board on time. The search for David’s present had taken longer than she had expected, but now she saw the staff about to close the gate in front of her very eyes. She yelled “Stop! Please! Wait!” – And all other possible shouts that might catch the staff’s attention. And yes – they saw her just in time and let her onto the plane. “Sometimes you are in luck”, she thought. After a few long deep breaths she calmed down and mumbled to herself: “Yes, Steel Eagle – Take me home!!

Flying home from London

March 8 – Making Foolish Plans for Perfection – by Coaching Detective

To Die For - By Coaching Detective


A killer wakes up in a small rented flat in the part of Stockholm called Östermalm. The place is cramped with boxes and bags recently transported here from France. Now, 25 years later, Stockholm seems like a very weird place but this is not important at all. The Plan is all. The killer has waited enough. All sorts of tools, equipment and accessories is purchased i the little town on the Loire river and cannot be traced. Most things are prepared for the attack…
In Södermalm, only a half hour away, Isabella also wakes up. She has also preparation work ahead of her today. The plan is for her to go to London to take part in a coaching conference there. The conference is hosted by the Association of Coaching (AC). She is not a member but that is not a requirement to take part. A different rate though. The conference starts on the 11th so she need to get things sorted quickly now. The flight tickets are already purchased and she has booked a room at a small hotel in Belgravia, just walking distance from the Victoria Plaza hotel where the conference is held. Half the hotel rate was a key factor. Now Isabella is focused on making sure that everything will run smoothly here in Stockholm while she is away, especially regarding David, her son. Marcus has of course promised her that “everything will be fine”, but Isabella really has a hard time letting go. She always wants to be in control, even though she realises that it is seldom possible. Then there is the packing. The airline company had strict rules for bags and weights and Isabella tried to figure out the best composition for a three day trip. She had to leave for London the day before the event in order to get there on time. Isabella thought “Too much trouble for so little time!” but she had a feeling that the event would be great and widen both her coaching experience and her network. So she kept on packing believing that the near future would be great fun and a perfectly happy time.
In Östermalm the killer was unpacking instead. Unpacking crucial stuff to prepare for events to come and smiled in a way showing lines that had not been seen in that face for quite some time…A kind of joy that had nothing to do with happiness- On the surface nothing was to been guessed. Nothing revealed the process that was going on here and nothing should. Practice makes perfect.


March 4 – You Only Live Twice? by Coaching Detective

Yesterday was yesterday. Isabella felt that it had been a great day, but some of the coaching had not been so easy. She still had Camilla vividly appearing as soon as she closed her eyes for a moment. Amazing how easy it was to arrive the wrong conclusion. Better to let the client tell you more before starting to put things together. But Isabella loved putting things together! She had a flair for making sense of only fragments, a feeling for connecting them into something bigger. Her family had laid puzzles every Christmas when she was young and she had always tried to figure out “who did it” in the numerous detective stories she had read. If she had not become a journalist and now also a coach she might have wanted to become a detective or a policewoman. But both journalism and coaching was about finding out too. She had therefore chosen to have a “one-liner” in relation to her company and her e-message signature. “Detect Yourself!” And today she would have the pleasure of meeting her first cop! During her coach training there was a discussion on if you had to have field knowledge in order to coach someone and the class had been divided into two groups. One group believing that the process knowledge you had as a coach was quite enough, and the other maintaining that field knowledge was an asset and even crucial if you should coach a person higher or deeper into a special field. Isabella was inclined to agree that on one hand you could find more relevant filed questions if you knew stuff but on the other hand there was also a risk of the coach steering or colouring the conversation leading it to unwanted places. And now she was waiting for Harry the cop. She had no prior experience from police work other than her interest for detective stories. She hoped that he was nothing like “Dirty Harry” from the Clint Eastwood films. And nothing like Inspector Clouseau either. Isabella had been very lucky a few weeks ago and had by chance landed a deal with the Stockholm Police force. They had created a Personal Development Program for their leaders and one part of it was cash that the individual leader could spend freely. Three of the policemen had chosen coaching by ISIS. One of them was Harry Andersson.
She had already received information on the three cops that she had been “given”. On Harry she read: “Inspector, The Criminal Investigation Unit, social security number 660526-1715, married, 2 children, Stockholm”.  Isabella deducted that Harry was born not so far from where she was born. “I wonder where.”

Enter Harry! Mr Andersson was a mid-tall, mid-thin and mid-grey man. At first glance no one would detect him in a crowd, but when he started to speak he gained the room back by his empathic, open attitude. A more perfect police officer than could be expected really. And he had chosen coaching to develop himself too! Isabella felt happy to meet him at once. This session might be even more interesting than usual. Harry Andersson curiously checked out the practice, the availability of coffee and Isabella and finally he relaxed and became coachable. First they talked a while on the long term goals Harry was expecting from his coaching relationship with Isabella and Harry had a vague feeling that he wanted to become clearer in his relations at work and to get more focus into his daily life in order to be more efficient at what he does. He had recently been put into a new role as an inspector investigating fairly complicated cases and even murder and he had not yet passed the rookie state in the unit according to himself. “The others don’t see this of course, but I know.” Isabella replied that this was a process well worth investigating and a process known in other professions too. “What areas are we talking about here?” she said. Harry hesitated a second, reflecting on the question. “I think there are three…hm…first the balance thing between work and home, then the work relations that I need to define and finally there is finding a method, a focus,  a way to really get results in my investigations as it seems committing crimes are getting into fashion 2010.” Isabella stopped breathing for a second. As the deal with the Police only covered six coaching sessions they really had much work ahead with three areas any of which would take six. As a journalist she knew to take the most important stuff first. “What area do you think is the most urgent one?” “Well all of them are, really. And I feel that they cannot easily be divided either. That is perhaps also a problem.” “OK Harry, do you think we could start by you just telling me about yourself right now and then we take it from there – can that be the plan for today?” “Yes, we can do that.” “So what can we agree on to achieve today? What would you be OK with after this first session?” “A bit hard to say….perhaps that I feel that we have started to pin down my situation and that I know where I am.” “So if we have defined a number of issues to resolve today that would be OK?” “Yes that would be fine.” “How many issues are we talking about then – three?” “I think there should be more, perhaps five.” Isabella and Harry agreed on pinning down five issues today they should try to resolve during their coaching relationship. “Alright Harry, tell me about the life of Harry!” Harry smiled and started to tell Isabella about work, his present family and his former family, his twin boys who were 9 now “and blonde as wheat”, his trouble getting the hang of the unit and how his family was getting a bit tired of him staying late at work and still arriving home with more.”Amazing how thing can get complicated and it seemed like I became someone else in only a few weeks after starting on this job. Just like my two twin boys look almost exactly the same but they are two completely different people. And still they both exist in the same family and have the same genes! I may have become my own evil twin!” “And your “former family” – how come that didn’t last?” “The same old story. One of us began to study and found new interests and a new angle to life. The other stayed the same and wondered what happened. Hundred years ago the “until death do you part” was true. You actually did not live long enough to get tired of each other. Today we have room for at least two lives! I am not at all sure that this is a good thing.” Harry went quiet for a while and Isabella saw a little sorrow spreading in his face. She quickly got them back on track again “So how does the evil twin work for you?” “Actually he doesn’t. Neither at work nor at home. I want to get rid of him.” “How do you feel about him?” “I hate him!” “Good. Hate is a splendid motivator.“ Harry laughed. “Hate, money, love – all the classic murder motives eh?” “I suppose so.” Isabella worked hard to meet the goal for today’s session but towards the end it was clear that five issues was not to be pinned down today. Isabella said “Where do you feel we are right now Harry?” Harry of course realized too that the original objective still eluded them. “We haven’t pinned down the five issues yet!” “So what do you think about them right now?” “Perhaps I need to first figure out who I am right now before going on to think about where I am…” “Is that something you will take with you from this session and something we can start with at our next?” “Yes, I think so.” After finishing the session by agreeing on a new session and letting Harry off the hook this time Isabella reflected on the session. The “several lives during one life” was interesting, but she also thought that you actually also lived several lives every day in your different roles. Isabella was a coach, a journalist, a mother, a daughter, a woman, sometimes a little girl, a human being and a part of the fabric of the earth. She smiled to herself seeing how “Next Age” that thought was. She har heard about “Next Age” the other day as the successor of “New Age”. It was funny in a way.  The latest flu was officially named “The New Flu” in Sweden. Perhaps the next one will be “The Next Flu”? And then what? Naming is hard….but Isabella clearly saw one thing from the session with Harry – You don’t only live once or even twice! There is more….for good or bad….

You Only Live Twice

March 2 – In the Beginning Was the Work…from Coaching Detective

What a new practice needs, apart from clients of course, is furniture. Nothing fancy, a couple of chairs, tables and somewhere to keep papers and administration in. And to get the furniture delivered you need to be equipped with patience in abundance. Every dealer needed at least three weeks to deliver. Isabella was astonished on the inefficiency and thought “What if entrepreneurs reasoned in this way – we would all go bankrupt within seconds!” So to survive she had to get old stuff from her basement, really saved for another day as most stuff we keep in store without ever using but for dust collection. This was an exception though. She found 4 white IKEA chairs and two tables she could use. Nowhere for paperwork yet…”I feel like an absolute beginner.” She smiled remembering the old Bowie song from the mid-eighties and what had happened when she and her then boyfriend Robert saw the film. They had both been absolute beginners, really. But that was then and she had been just 18. More than a lifetime ago or so it seemed.  Another time and another place anyway. Her mother still had some contact with Robert’s mother and said that he now lives in London and works for an oil company. Isabella could imagine herself living in London but never ever working for an oil company. Not after seeing what oil spills can do to the wildlife. “Stop!” She had to remind herself to focus on getting sorted to start receiving clients. Fortunately the furniture was pretty light and could be squeezed into two taxis so after a couple of rides she only had to decide where to put it. Carrying furniture up several stairs took some work, but work that was worth the effort. This was truly a miracle, to be able to be “a casa” as it were. Before she had to rent a room by the hour in different places in the city and there was always the risk of double booking, getting to pay for the room even if the client missed the appointment. Isabella was fortunate enough to get a fair amount of clients now and she had also a sub-contractor deal with a coaching firm that gets clients through the recently launched governmentally supported job coaching program. This program really put a new focus on coaching as a tool for progress and highlighting it as a possibility for everyone, not only executives, leaders and people with huge wallets. There was also stuff in lifestyle magazines on coaching now. Not all publicity had been good lately though. The tabloid press, represented this time by one of the two daily ones, had tried really hard to create a “scandal” of the job coaching program. Isabella guessed that the paper had mainly two reasons for their efforts – one being that this paper was not so keen on the government at hand and the other the classic trying to sell papers. Taking a closer look at these articles it was clear that the journalists could neither count nor show any facts to show that the job coaching program had failed. On the contrary statistics from the employments offices showed that it had been a success! Isabella wondered if there had not been other reasons for some people to get on a crusade against coaching and coaches. Perhaps extremely private agendas and even medical conditions. These persons would not be helped by a coach either – they would need therapy instead, and for a coach the ethical rules were clear – if a client is beyond coaching she should advice therapy. But even these negative people really helped to put coaching on the map for people. Coaching was discussed not only in the papers but everywhere: in schools, on buses and on TV. “Coaching is truly here to stay.” It was interesting times. And tomorrow she will have her first Old Town client…

The Old Town - Coach HQ in Stockholm from Coaching Detective

March 1 – The Game Can Begin at Coaching Detective

“Not only does God definitely play dice, but He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.”
Stephen Hawking

I love him who is ashamed when the dice fall in his favour and who then asks: Am I then a cheat?

Friedrich Nietzsche

Amazing how terrible things can turn into greatness. Isabella Strand knew that this day was a new beginning for her and a chance to get a new base for her. She had been a hobby coach, beside her work as a journalist, for a couple of years after attending the coach training at an accredited school. She had recently achieved the qualifications and last Friday she got her ACC certification from the International Coach Federation. The last six months had not been easy for her as she and her husband just separated and all the paperwork was done just recently. As Isabella and her now ex husband Marcus also had a child and a cottage there was some angry words shared during the process but all in all the divorce was fairly civilized. Much of the reason for the divorce was that Isabella for many years felt she tried failingly to reach out to Marcus to make him open up and also trying to make him take a more active role in their marriage and more responsibility for their son. After six years of trying she gave up and told Marcus that she wanted a divorce. Marcus, as a standard introvert man, was totally shocked and had not realized until it was too late that something was wrong at all. Isabella once ironically said “I should have written it in your Outlook Calendar.” Her son David, who was now 8, was to be every other week at his father’s new apartment pretty close to hers in Södermalm at the centre of Stockholm.  The cottage was pretty well located and fetched a fair price which Isabella and Marcus split evenly between them. So the divorce actually gave her an opportunity – some cash to invest in a coaching practice. She had never really appreciated the countryside anyway. Too much fishing and too many mosquitoes.
Old Town in Stockholm - Place for Coaching Detective

Today, after leaving David at school, she would sign the contract for the new practice. By some odd fluke she had come across an ad for a small place located beautifully in the oldest part of Stockholm. The Old Town was truly a picturesque place to run a business in and such a perfect location for coaching. Every building here had been used for so many things over the years and there were even medieval buildings close by. Change was written in stone here at the same time as you could say that you always bring history with you. Isabella was so happy that this chance had appeared on her horizon and grateful that she could take it too. What she didn’t know was that the next few months would be more surprising to her than she could ever imagine and that events would develop in unexpected ways and directions. But today everything was all well.

A few hours later she stood outside her new business “home” waiting for her landlord to arrive. It was a grey day but her sun was shining from within so it didn’t matter. Finally a blond lady appeared on the stairs and said “Hi, you must be Isabella! I am Anna.” And sure enough she was right on both. Isabella thought that Anna looked nice and trustworthy, not so bad for a landlord…
The two rooms plus a waiting room were rather small but on the other hand the rent was fair and it would not take too much furniture either to fill them. Isabella started to imagine herself here and came to the conclusion that”Yes, this will be just fine!” Anna had brought the crucial bit of paperwork in a folder and it was time to fill in the necessary stuff. “Isabella Strand Inner Search (ISIS)” was the first item to fill in at the top and since her business not yet was a limited company she had to use her social security number. She noted “680404-1744” and realized that not only could someone tell that the company was owned by a woman but also that she was born in a certain county. “Never mind!” she thought. It was obvious to anyone seeing her that she was a woman, and the county thing she usually told people after an hour of conversation anyway. No secrets at all there. “A company these days has to be transparent”. Anna informed Isabella that the former tenant had been a private investigator. “The rooms are already tuned for search!” she said. Isabella smiled and wondered who would be her first client here. Amazing synchronicity that Isabella had a “one liner” that in some weird way was connected. “Detect Yourself!” After signing all the copies and getting her own she received two sets of keys containing two keys for the practice door and one for the main door to the building. And there was a door code too. She tried to memorize it “1789”. She suddenly realized that the code was a simple one to remember – it was the same year as the French Revolution and also the same year that the house was built! “This place will surely be a revolution for me too!” she said a little too loud, making Anna jump a bit by surprise…Then Anna had to run to meet another appointment so the two created the usual separation ritual and Anna was gone…
Isabella was alone in her new empty practice but she did not feel alone at all. She felt she had just met a new friend – and it had walls and a floor! Here she could do great things – great coaching, great business and just feeling great too. Tomorrow she would scout for the right furniture but right now it was time for one word, one shout “YES!” She had finally a home away from home….
Next week she will start her new life and right now she will be busy planning all the details. Right now someone else is also planning details – but not for life but quite the opposite!