Tag Archives: Isabella Strand

April 12 – Is there a Letter Man? By Coaching Detective

Centralabadet - the place of a murder

Harry was back on the job. Sunday had been OK and a quiet family day. His mind had been elsewhere though, circling like a helicopter closing in on a landing site or four vultures over a fresh carcass. Harry amazed himself being so predictable in his metaphors, so boring, so male. No chance of Harry imagining butterflies around a daffodil or a swallow diving to its nest. Alas, he was a cop, a man and born in the industrial town of Eskilstuna. Steel and machines. He had, of course, an EKA knife in his pocket at all times as a reminder of his father who worked for EKA most of his life. A bit of a paradox for him to carry a knife around as it was not even allowed to carry one in public since 1990. Amazingly enough every builder and carpenter wares his outfit, including a knife, everywhere. “Strange exception”, Harry thought. He could imagine criminals dressing up as carpenters just to carry knives around.


Harry metaphorically shook his head to lose that thought. He had more interesting matters at hand. The “Tenth of April Murder”,  the “Pond Murder” or perhaps the “Johanna Murder”. The press usually found some half-witted title to every crime and was always trying to do the investigations and the trials themselves instead of leaving that to the professionals. In fact, Harry thought, the press more often than not was both interfering and counter-productive in relation to solving crimes. He wished the press would leave crimes alone. The press always hid behind “the public need to know” argument when creating leaks from the police just to sell papers.

“The press trade cops for copies!” Harry would rather see every crime investigation done before even letting the press know it exists. Often the revealing of names involved in the investigation to the press disturbs the process to the extent of perhaps jeopardizing the whole investigation making it impossible to convict anyone.


And this murder was his murder. He didn’t want anything or anybody to interfere with him solving it. And definitely not any private investigator. This was his chance to prove himself. A matter of pride. He had discussed how to handle the press with Stig and they had agreed to call it an “accidental death” for now. No point in making journalists interested. “Let sleeping dogs lie” Stig said. Harry knew that Stig did not like neither the bark nor the bite of journalists. Stig had been a “cop victim of the press” before. The tabloid press of course did what they could to sell and didn’t care who or what was sacrificed in the process. Stig’s marriages was, and perhaps even his possible police career. Harry easily had an ally against press interference in Stig.


This morning’s running through what they had, had to do next and possible leads was at hand in Harry’s office. For now there were only Harry, Stig and the young assisting officer Sahra present. Sahra had been hand-picked to Harry directly from the Police School being the possibly smartest cadet that year. She was a second generation immigrant, born in Sundbyberg. Her parents had left Isfahan in 1978, before the revolution in Iran. Her father had been recommended to the dentist training in Stockholm by a friend who studied there already. In 1980 the parents married and Sahra saw daylight in October 1981. She was still an only child. Harry had learned from Sahra that immigrants from Iran were a complex matter. You could never know why a Persian person had decided to leave Iran or what relation he or she had to any present or former government in Iran, any present of former religion och any present or former political movement. In short – you are lost. Unless you take time to get to know the person really well, ask the right questions and be prepared to drink enormous amounts of tea.


But generally most Swedish police officers preferred coffee and did unfortunately not really like to ask too many questions. Harry was somewhat an exception to the rule. The right coffee and huge amounts of questions. That was Harry. This morning he was bursting with questions on the mysterious woman in the pond. Stig and Sahra tried to provide him with some new information. Sahra begun:”We went to the woman’s apartment, which was quite close to the spot where she was found – in Wallingatan.” “And…?” Harry was as impatient as ever. “ A pretty clean apartment, really.” “Meaning…?” “Nothing really telling that any crime had been commited there, but…..” “Yes?” “Well, have you tried to buy a new apartment? “ “Of course, once or twice as a Sunday part time entertainment.” Harry saw the boring scene of such a show. “It was like the place was staged in a way – too clean and every detail put there for a purpose.” “Couldn’t it be that this woman had a pedantic streak?” “You have to go and see for yourself!”

Along Drottninggatan

Harry decided to do just that. He got keys from Sahra and was out of the office before Stig’s second cup of coffee was about to be on its way down. Harry took a short walk up to Fleminggatan and took the number 1 bus there, got off by Hötorget and walked from there. He strolled up Drottninggatan and passed the crime scene on his way to Wallingatan. Harry noted the quotes put into the street from books by the famous and infamous author/painter and alchemist August Strindberg. The quotes were not so flattering towards women. Harry would never ever think about his mother-in-law as stinking like a killed snake or the there had been no Hell before women were invented.
Strindberg quote - There was no Hell...

Strindberg certainly had women issues. Perhaps the murderer had that too. He stopped at Centralbadet for a while to get another feel for the place. He could the smell of food in the air, reminding him that he had forgotten to have any lunch. It was not the first time. There were several restaurants here. A Pizza place which served pretty good pizza, a few others and there was Rydbergs. Rydbergs was a bit more expensive the the other restaurants around Centralbadet and somewhere you did not go for lunch every day. But this day Harry decided to grab a late lunch there as it was possible to sit outside for one of the first days this year looking straight at the crime scene. Harry ordered what you should order at Rydbergs – a “Beef Rydberg”. Diced meat and diced potatoes and a raw egg yolk. In spite the name there was no connection between the dish and the restaurant. The dish had apparently been created at a hotel Rydberg built in the nineteenth century and demolished in 1914 to make room for a bank. Harry started to enjoy his lunch pouring the egg yolk over the diced food. Amazingly there had been water in the Centralbadet pond Johanna was found in as early as in April. But the fountain was not running yet. Usually the town waited until May before letting water into fountains and such. But there it was. He had seen archive photos obviously taken in midsummer or even after that, with all the trees having foliage and flowers all around. Now it looked a bit barren and cold. Not a place you would like to die. But admittedly a nice place to have lunch in.

Rydbergs Restaurant by Centralbadet

Harry’s phone rang. It was Sahra with more information. “Harry, she died in the water, but it is more to it than that. Apparently she had been given something to make her sleep first. Then injected a paralyzing drug into her. The lab says it’s curare or something similar. Then she was strung up over the pond helpless and acid was poured on the rope.” “Acid – why?” “To make the rope break and drop her into the water after a while.” “After a while?” Harry felt stupid repeating everything Sahra said but he was confused.


“So you are telling me that the rope was set up to break, but not right away? How long did she have to wait to die then?” “The lab doesn’t know. Perhaps half an hour or so.” Harry tried to imagine how it would have felt hanging there waiting for to be drowned, but failed. He thought the murderer had taken a huge risk too. Someone could have walked by and rescued Johanna before the fatal drop. Or was that part of it all somehow? Helplessness, chance, risk and something very elaborate. This was no impulse driven crime.

A Place for a Murder - Pond outside Centralbadet

After finishing his “luxury lunch” Harry left the scene and moved on towards Wallingatan and Johanna’s home at number 40. Harry noted that no “Isaksson” was on the plaque just inside the front door of the building. Johanna lived in a second-hand flat. Sahra had told him to look for “Gustavsson” instead. He took the stairs. His wife had told him to get some exercise this was about it right now. The blue and white striped band gave the apartment away. He got in, took off his shoes and coat in the small hall and went to work. This was a typical apartment from about 1930. In Sweden houses were just about to embrace Modernism, but in a Swedish variety called “Functionalism”. This building was at the crossroads. There were still strong echoes from the style known as “Swedish Grace” in Sweden. Harry didn’t know if a similar style existed anywhere outside Sweden. On the other hand he was no architect.


Sahra had been right. There were not many objects on display in the apartment. Harry also got a feeling that something was not entirely authentic here. On the kitchen table was almost nothing, but the something that was on display there was quite something. First, there was a vinyl record – an EP by David Bowie where Bowie is doing Berthold Brecht. Second, there were two hand-carved black and white dice both with the number six on top.  Last, there were quite a number of lottery tickets.


Harry knew that the other guys had done their bit, taking photos, getting prints and stuff so he was not worried. He noticed two glasses on the stone bench, newly washed. Not much chance of getting any prints from them he thought. He put the dice in his pocket and decided also to take the record with him to the office. Harry noticed a laptop in the bedroom/home office and a printer. There was a printed paper, looking as it had come out of the printer just now, but of course it hadn’t. As a matter of fact, when Harry took a look at it, it had been printed from a laser printer. The printer here was an ink-jet. Weird. And, come to think of it, another thing was a bit odd. Johanna had no record player either. Well, she had one for CDs, but nothing to play that EP on.

The printed paper read:


“It happened quite slowly that she gently slipped from gods thoughts
First with her face, then her hands, right at the last with her hair”


Harry immediately connected the note with death. Was this just a coincidence or was the note meant to be read? He took the note too. He wondered from where it was taken or if Johanna had written it herself? Or the murderer. He quickly left the apartment and headed back to the office only to be interrupted by a “beep” from his smartphone. Harry almost “Beeped” himself realizing that he would not only be late for his coaching session with Isabella, but also realizing that he had no idea what he was supposed to be preparing for the meeting. Up “beep” creek without a paddle.

Coaching Stairs

As Harry slowly mounted the stairs up to Isabella’s office a clear sense of shame came upon him as a 10 pound weight. Little did he knew that Isabella had huge experience from clients not doing their homework. At least four out of five client missed on at least one occasion. Many clients shamelessly never did their homework.

Harry, on the other hand, was a responsible guy normally and did not like to fail. He promised himself that this would be the first and last time he didn’t do what he was supposed to.


Isabella was read for him, coffee and a little cake followed by her usual smile. “Everything OK, Harry?” It seemed like Isabella had already seen right through him, or did he imagine things? “Well, a bit stressed at work, twin birthdays so I have unfortunately not done my homework for today. Sorry about that.” Isabella smiled again, knowing that a brilliant coach meets her client where he was at this point. No point in trying to force the client into a mold he would not fit anyway. “So Harry, where are you today?” “Hmm, here I guess, but also deep into a mystery.” Isabella, who was a keen mystery lover, took the bait – hook, line and sinker.


Harry decided to take a chance with Isabella. “Isabella, can you keep what I am going to tell you between us?” Isabella, knowing her coaching ethics, had no problem with that. “Of course Harry! It will not leave this room, but first I have to challenge you!” “OK…” Harry wondered what was coming, knowing that he had not done what he was supposed to do – making those notes they had agreed on. “Harry – are there a couple of minutes just before you go home each day and do you have a Smartphone?” Harry was stunned.”Yes, I suppose so, but what do you mean?” I want you to start an “electric diary”!” “A what?” Isabella had just with the help of her friend Rebecca entered into the Web 2.0 so she wanted to flash her newly found knowledge of the Internet. “I want you to get a Twitter account, a Facebook account or a Blog and each day I want you to write something there.” Harry started to fidget in his chair, really uncomfortable with the idea of writing. Writing had not been his strongpoint at school. He quickly went for a possible escape. “Well, Isabella – I don’t think my employer would appreciate me blogging.” “OK Harry, but you CAN get a Twitter account. I know at least two cops who tweets as we speak so there is no Cop Policy against that if you only tweet outside Police matters.” Harry knew that he would be a “Tweeter” or whatever they are called soon. Isabella was apparently not willing to let him off the hook. “Alright, I will.” “Good, Harry.” Isabella knew that some clients wanted; no NEEDED to be pushed a bit before they actually started to push themselves. “So now Harry – what did you want to expose to me?”


Harry smiled and took out the dice from his pocket and placed them on the coffee table between them. Then he opened his laptop case and took out the printed note and laid it next to the dice. “These items were found in the apartment of a woman who was found drowned somewhere else.”


“It looks like a suicide note.” Isabella had read quite a few detective stories at the family country cottage when she was younger. The talk of “the suicide note” was often there. “Perhaps, but the lady was murdered.” Harry had also read a few Agatha Christie books too and the murders often took place in upper class environment. Isabella took the hint. “OK, Harry. What can you tell me about the content of the note? What does it tell you?” Isabella almost bit her tongue for asking more than one question at a time, one of the deadly sins a coach could commit. But she was so caught up in this mystery moment she almost forgot being Harry’s coach.


Harry took a deep breath. “Looks a bit poetic. Could be a quote. Or perhaps the murderer is a writer or a letter man. I don’t mean Letterman. Or it is just something he has found in the flat and decided to play with.” “How do you know that it has something to do with the death of that woman?” “I just know it. It was placed oddly to be seen in the apartment and it says something about dying I think. What do you think?” Suddenly the roles were inverted. Isabella read the note and nodded. “Definitely about death. Have you Googled it?” Harry was taken by the simplicity offered by the suggestion. “Actually no.” Isabella turned to her laptop she usually kept by her side at meetings just in case she needed to look up some recruiter or something else for her clients or rather showing her clients how to do that for themselves. She entered the sentences from the note into Google and pressed the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. And there it was. It was a David Bowie quote from a song called “The Drowned Girl”. Harry was almost stunned. Death by water. “What does this tell you Harry?” Isabella chocked him back to reality again.


“Good question.” Harry paused and touched his chin as he often did when trying to think hard. “The water must be important here. He has gone very far to emphasize water.” Are you sure it is a male killer?” “Pretty sure. It would take someone strong at least to rig the woman over the pond to her death. Or someone with some technical know-how.” Isabella smiled but noted that Harry was very much a man, with all the concepts of what he thought was manly firmly built into his fabric. He assumed that a woman could not have technical skills or be strong for that matter. He should know better, but Isabella decided to let it go for now. “And how about the dice?” “They were placed on a table. Both sixes showing.” “Meaning?” Harry had wondered a bit about that too. In fact Johanna worked at Aftonbladet with the gambling pages. The dice could have a connection to that. In addition, the acid and rope construction actually made room for the chance of somebody rescuing her if she had been lucky. “The victim is connected to gambling so the murderer could be a frustrated gambler or some kind of nut obsessed with gambling ideas.” “Who do you think did it Harry – a nut or a normal person?”


The eternal discussion of murder and normality showed up again. Could a “normal” person really commit murder? Isn’t murder in itself an abnormity demanding that you are a nut to be able to commit one? The law had an opinion of course. Anyone can commit murder, but some murders are surely committed by crazy people.

Regular murderers were sent to prison and the mental cases should be sent to a mental institution. Of course reality seldom was as a crystal clear cut as that. Some completely normal criminals, if a normal criminal is possible, try to explain their deeds by insanity hoping to avoid prison. Harry decided to be a diplomat. “Hard to tell. I guess that we can rule out manslaughter anyway. This was extremely well planned.”


Isabella felt honored to be let in backstage of a police investigation. She guessed that this was extremely unusual. Harry – do you think that how that dice were placed has significance?” Another beginner’s error by a coach – asking questions that could be answered with a yes or a no. Those should be avoided as they sometimes lead to stopping the conversation and development. Sometime they could be used of course – especially if a clear standpoint is needed from your client. This was not such a moment.

“I get two possibilities right now: One is that sixes are considered lucky and that after rolling double sixes you are allowed to roll again. The other thing is that in Swedish the word for “six” and the word for “sex” is the same one. And yes, I found another thought now! If six is up – one is down!” Harry suddenly realized that all criminal investigators should have a coach opening up the imagination doors for them. Harry and Isabella both knew of course how dice were numbered.  If you add the opposite sides they should add up to seven making the total 21.


Isabella glanced at her watch seeing their time running out fast. One last question maximum left before Isabella’s next client would arrive. “Harry?” “Yes?” ”I have to tell you that I am glad that we made this an unusual coaching session and that you let me get a glimpse of your daily life. I would very much like to continue to see more of what makes Harry tick and explore it further if that is OK with you. How do you want to proceed from here?” Harry knew that this was completely non-police procedure but he felt that it somehow worked having Isabella to confide in. He decided to continue with her as a “secret criminal speaking partner”. He would of course never mention this to anyone. Not even his wife. Harry would have a “detective coach” and Isabella would have a “detective coachee”.  “I guess that this is interesting for me so I hope that we can continue speaking of this in our next session.” “OK, Harry. You know the rules and that I have made you promise something to do right?” Harry remembered that he should get a Twitter account and nodded. “Good. Then we will meet same time next week then.” Harry and Isabella went through the normal ritual of the small hug and a small wave before Harry went back to work.

Outside Isabella’s place a blackbird was singing, threatening his rivals with violence and flirting for possible sex with the ladies using the same song. Perhaps this murder also has several sides to it. Just like blackbird songs or dice. Harry decided to think some more about that.


Isabella also had some thinking to do. “Was this really coaching?” “Could she really coach on police work?” “Was this kind of session really in line with their coaching agreement?” And those questions were only for starters. The agreement was to deal with Harry’s personal and professional development. Isabella decided to use a wide interpretation of that to include helping Harry to do his job better which must include solving this crime too. And to solve a crime you need knowledge on human behavior, life experience, imagination and curiosity. Isabella had plenty of that. In addition, she usually described coaching as “detective work into human experience”. Isabella had already in fact used the word “detective in her Twitter account @coachdetective so in a sense, and a bit prophetically, she was already there. She was not only a coach coaching a detective – she was from now on also a Coaching Detective!

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 11 – London Water and Stockholm Fire! By Coaching Detective

Isabella awoke with a bang. Workers outside had started to open up the street like you would a can of tomatoes but much louder. She dashed up, realised that she had just time for a shower, breakfast and then run for the Victoria Plaza to make it to the AC conference on time. Or so she thought. The shower was the first show stopper. No matter how she tried she could not make it produce hot water. She simply had to wash her hair in cold water. “The English are always talking about taking a cold shower, now I know why!” Apart from the water being cold the room itself had been pretty cold too. In March it is pretty harsh outside, but inside should be something else. At least in theory. In Sweden everyone accepts the idea of an existing winter and actually make heating works and insulates the buildings. In the UK and elsewhere in Europe this is apparently not the case. She remembered back when she was still a rookie coach that her mentors always nagged her about using the GROW model when coaching. The R in the model stood for Reality. “I wonder how the coaches here can handle GROW when they have no link to reality regarding their housing.” Isabella sighed and did what she had to do to get ready for breakfast. Then the next little snag promptly arrived. The breakfast was not ready yet so she had to wait for an additional ten minutes to get her tea, toast and huge amounts of marmalade. And then optional sausages fried or scrambled eggs and other not extremely healthy alternatives. You can add as many Jamie Olivers, Gordon Ramsays, Nigella Lawsons as you wish but you still cannot delete the fish and chips traditions from England. Isabella quickly devoured a toast and dashed out. She quickly went along Elisabeth Street, turned left into Eccleston Square and continued onto Gillingham Street. When she reached Wilton Road she saw Victoria Plaza on the left – finally. She had only seven minutes to spare, an ocean of seconds. Now everything was Hunky Dory as the saying goes. Her father used to play a Bowie album called that, she remembered. The time of the LP Albums seemed long time ago now. But her snag day was not really over yet. There was no Isabella Strand on the participant lists anywhere. Isabella knew she had paid and she could prove it too. She brought out the receipt she had received after paying” I have paid!” A very helpful AC lady by the name of Katherine assisted her and said “You are fine my dear, it must have been something wrong in our data sheets now, we don’t really have an designated administrator so we try to manage things on our own apart from everything else we do. Don’t worry. The main thing is that you are here.” That felt reassuring of course, but Isabella hoped that the speakers and the workshops had not also been lost in some misplaced excel sheet. But it was true – the important thing was that she was here. Isabella intended to enjoy every second of the conference.

Back in Stockholm a murderer had not lost any time either. Knowing this was one important day, timing could not have been better. All stages of the first part of the plan had fitted into each other perfectly. The only remainder of the last two days work fitted nicely into an Adidas shoebox recently containing a pair of Adistar Salvation 2. Today our murderer was wearing them. They were light and perfect for a fast running experience. Amazing that shoes made for running were called sneakers. Of course sneaking was more appropriate for the activity these last two days. First there was the contact making. No problem there. Then the process of getting in and out with the necessary stuff. Like clockwork. The visit to Råcksta and the funeral chapel there also went well as did the copying of the keys to the place. The actual business there took some studying but OK. Now the first stage was complete. Not a second was lost.

Isabella surely tried to get into as many workshops as possible, but of course she was only one person and several workshops were on simultaneously. But Isabella, being an excellent coach, knew how to set goals and how to make decisions for herself. She was tempted to attend both the workshop on cat & dog behaviour and the workshop on horse coaching but decided to focus on the Key Notes and workshops on Global issues and Creative tools. Global for business and Creative for pleasure.
She settled for a seat close to the aisle in the middle to get maximum vision of the thing happening on the stage. Isabella couldn’t believe her eyes when that helpful lady from a few minutes ago happened to be none other than the present chairwoman at the Association for Coaching! And she was holding the Welcoming Address for the whole event! So once again Isabella learned that you should always be kind to everyone – suddenly they will come back into your life and sometimes faster than you know. Isabella laughed at herself as she usually gave her friends that piece of advice even though she was told by her coaching teachers never to give advice. The real world is somewhat different from the coaching theory though. People actually need some advice now and then and on occasion that advice could make all the difference. “But it is not always easy to live by what you preach eh?” Isabella was again humbled by her own lack of perfection.
The first keynote speaker was about to enter the stage. It was supposed to be someone called Julio Olalla and he should talk on something called “A ‘Good Life’ vs a ‘Better Life’. The talk could have started better though. Onto the stage came a fairly old guy, had tremendous difficulties with the microphones and stuff so Isabella thought “This is terrible, how will the rest of the conference be? What have I paid for?” But he finally got the hang of how to be heard and could start. the AC Conference in March 2010

And Julio was old yes, but Julio really had something to say and captured Isabella to the core of her heart as much so she said to herself “I want him every Monday morning to raise my spirits!” And Julio was of course talking about meaning and sustainability. Isabella reflected on the emerging longing for meaning that she had experienced from almost every client lately and in magazines and literature too. “We have to help people find meaning in their lives.”  When Isabella read about Julio in her conference material she found that he was by some regarded as the father of the coaching profession. And she had not heard of him before at all! A reflexion on that appeared and Isabella made a note: “The fact that you have not heard about an important matter does not make that non-existent. You can never study too much. Perhaps you always study too little and make too little research? Can we trust what we read?” Trust is what coaches build their entire business on so Isabella felt that she really had to make sure she was updated, informed and could make sure that her clients could feel that she was too.

The murderer was also good at the trust game. Without that it was impossible to get close enough in order to make the kill. And meaning was also a key factor. But only the exact kind of meaning that would accomplish the desired results of course. And it did. So far. A smile appeared and swiftly vanished. This was the first step.

Back in London Isabella was ready for her first workshop. Again another perspective but also somewhat the same. The speaker was Philippe Rosinski, an expert on coaching and cultures. So cultures was new, but again sustainability and meaning re-appeared. And there was the idea that a coach and coaching has to be multi-disciplinary. At last someone that stands up and says what Isabella had contemplated for some time. Standard coaching alone cannot do it all. Coaches have to bring in other knowledge and experience in order to really help people. “You cannot take anyone further than you have gone yourself.” Philippe also said “Spirituality is an increased awareness of a connection with self, others, nature, with the immanent and transcendent “divine”.”  “Well”, Isabella thought, “If I try to market “the divine” to my clients back in Stockholm they will think I’ve gone mad! Or will they?” The AC Conference in London March 2010

If you look a hundred years back in history everyone knew where they belonged and they all thought there was a God. Today most people have doubts on themselves, their abilities or if there exist something more than what they see. Isabella was lost for a moment in her own thoughts when she realised the workshop just had ended. Finally a coffee break! Isabella stumbled out of the session and found her way out to the coffee tables and all the other coaches that ran about hunting for cookies and a coffee buddy. She squeezed herself in , found a cup and a biscuit and then pointed herself to one of the round tables standing by. “Can I have a corner?” She realized that round tables did not even have corners but what the hell….THe AC Conference in London March 2010

Isabella was in luck and happened to stand by quite nice coaches eager to communicate and do some networking. The compulsory exchange of business cards actually seemed to be honest this time and that Isabella just might hear from some of them later. Not just a show. She also overheard several conversations on a number of subjects during that coffee break without actually take part in those discussions. Being an observer and a listener had its merits. But when she dared to open her mouth to try her best English skills her tongue felt like on crutches but everyone seemed to understand her anyway so she kept on trying. A coaching conference was the perfect place to try in as people at such an event were interested in other people and not only interested in their own businesses. So she could take a chance or two here. And really – the coaches took her under their wings. Isabella talked a lot with a nice man called William whose heart was into sustainability and also shared her feelings of that we rush too much and that we should slow down to actually achieve more. “We have never had so many ways to communicate and we have never felt more alone.” Isabella agreed and replied “And we have never had access to so much information and we have never felt more confused.” They both smiled and sipped on their coffee. Isabella felt she had found her first friend in the UK.

The murderer in Stockholm was not out to get friends but was enjoying the first steps with a coffee in a café close to Hötorget. The metal chairs made the occasional noise on the wooden floor,  a glass of water was placed on the table beside the plate with a Swedish cinnamon bun. It was a moment of stillness, but if you had looked close enough the spark of a strange fire in the murderer’s eyes would have made you worried. You would of course not know that it was a killer you saw sitting there. No other signs of that would show. Who is a murderer and who is not is never apparent, not even to close relatives or colleagues. Even your closest friend or sister can be a killer if the situation is right! So next time you see someone in a café he or she can be capable of not just taking a bite of the cinnamon bun. The killer did just that and finished the coffee. Time to get home to plan the next step.

“What is your next step?” Isabella had a moment before getting to the next workshop and had just overheard this question and could not help smiling. All coaches she knew over-used that question to the point of being almost ridiculous. And some of them tried it even before the client had a chance of even being close to setting a target. Many clients have not a clue. They do not know where they want to go or where they start from. “Imagine for a while that you visit your train company’s website to get a ticket. It is quite impossible to get one if you cannot state from where and to where.” Coaching has the same dilemma. So many times the coaching process starts with trying to find out these things, sometimes even to find out who the client is. Some clients do have an unrealistic image of themselves. Isabella had recently encountered many clients like that when she was job coaching. The recession in combination to a general lack of self esteem creates all sorts of problems. Some problems even crossed the border into the therapeutic area. She had one client that she had to send to a therapist she collaborates with just three weeks before. It turned out that woman had been sexually abused most of her youth, from the age of eight to fourteen at least. She had very blurry memories but was filled with shame and hatred. Isabella tried to treat her well and even accompanied the client to her therapist friend and said that she could call her at any moment if she needed to. “It is always too late to have a happy childhood.”  Isabella almost cried there and then at the conference when that memory hit her. But she was there to enjoy herself and to learn new things. “Inspiration” was another word that was applicable. Isabella looked in the schedule to see what was up next. The subject was “The Secret of Transformative Change” and seemed to be about creating a coaching culture in companies. Isabella had always thought that coaching might be an effective tool to use in relation to companies so she looked forward to this one.

As she suspected the benefits of a coaching culture were overwhelming. Words like “Empowered”, “Increased Productivity”, “Innovation” and “Staff Retention” swept across the PowerPoint Presentation and Isabella took notes like crazy.

After that display of fast note taking she felt ready for lunch. And apparently so did everyone else too. Isabella had a plan for her lunch. She wanted to find something special for her son so she went out into the street and ran towards Victoria station. That task was harder then she expected so she was too late for the next keynote speaker. When she met people who ha attended they all said that the guy had been both humble, business oriented and to the point. Isabella reflected ”This is also what life is about, to make hard choices for the right reasons and live with the fact that the choices you make might lead to some missed opportunities.” For her, her son had top priority. No keynote in the world could ever change that. Even if Dalai Lama himself called her on her mobile and wanted to have lunch she would forget David. She would never forget. “Never!” Some things are really written on stone in your mind or heart or where ever it is written. Good things and bad.

Isabella was very curious to see what the next workshop was about. It was called “Creativity in Coaching Supervision” and should contain something on metaphors and imagery which was perfectly up her alley. Or so she thought. When she entered the room a table was filled with images and someone shouted “pick your favourite!” Isabella walked about a bit to see what images were available and finally decided on a picture depicting a part of a Klimt painting. Klimt was Isabella’s favourite painter. There was always an erotic, sensual element in his paintings and always a very elegant feeling to them too. Isabella would have wanted to meet Klimt and be his model if she dared. Nudity was both tempting and scary and Isabella had almost always been a bit shy. But underneath she was definitely more daring than she was willing to admit even to herself. At night and sometimes in her daydreams she was a brave woman and took the initiative to sex as many times as she did quite the opposite. She smiled at the thought. There she was in the middle of a crowd and thought about sex. She hoped that she would not blush. Normally she could keep her cool. She noted that the room was arranged for a group session and decided to take a seat between a woman and a man in the closest circle of chairs. The first task was to explain to the person next to you why you had chosen the pic you brought to the group. Isabella had already guessed this and was a bit prepared. She talked on Klimt, creativity and communication as her key subjects. She realized of course that her choice reflected both a bit of who she was but also a bit of what she longed to be. “The I am and the I want to be are like two twin sisters arguing on who is most important of the two.” But the images made it a lot easier to get to know your neighbour without the usual “ I am the title X and work for the company Y”. The conversations naturally was more on character traits, likes and hobbies. “Quite refreshing, actually.” Isabella felt comfortable with using images as she liked photography and art and could even handle a camera fairly well. He ex-husband had introduced her to painting and sketching too, but she could not master that yet. Alison, the workshop host, now handed out the next task. The idea was to work in triads with one “coach”, one “client” and one “observer”. Isabella chose to be the “client”. She should have a client case to discuss. Isabella should choose an image that best represent her client and then return to the group to be coached.

Isabella knew what client to choose. She had many thoughts on her client Camilla and her personality. Of course she should never reveal the real identity of her client. The coaching ethics were clear on that. Isabella stood by the table with all the images for a few seconds. Then she decided – “A Hedgehog is perfect.”  The AC Conference London March 2010

Isabella would never dare to confront Camilla with the image of a hedgehog, would she? Perhaps that would bring out new stuff. Isabella’s workshop “coach” asked her “Tell me about your client from the image you have chosen.” Isabella was silent for a second and then she said “She is very cute, vulnerable and a bit disorganised. At the same time she can defend herself sharply and can be hard to reach.” Isabella amazed herself by being quite able to describe Camilla in “hedgehogian” terms. In fact she could describe her more accurate as a hedgehog than as a person. “If Camilla only knew!” Before choosing theh workshop she had read “Working with metaphor and picture cards … may often surprise us with their apparent initial lack of connection to the presenting issue, but by way of association and storytelling, new interpretations and therefore solutions may arise.” And yes – Isabella would certainly take this experience with her back home to Stockholm.

Isabella had decided on one last thing to attend before going back to her hotel to call David to say good night. She wanted to listen to Jonathan Passmore to get links to research on coaching. “It is always good to tap into the scientific world.”

And as you might expect coaching does seem to work, even if you ask science. Jonathan said that initial studies did not find any strong connection between coaching and progress but more recent studies clearly shows that coaching works. He provided quite a few studies and Isabella took careful notes. She had always hoped that she could support her case better with science on her side too. She could be happy now.

After this there was also a “networking event” between seven and God knows when with a number of really important speakers. The names Isabella found most interesting were Tim Macartney with visions on sustainability and Susie Howe’s on children. Isabella planned to look them up in detail later, but now the most important vision was to sustain her relation to her own child. As always – a mother first priority is her child! She could easily kill to save David…

Anybody could actually kill if the circumstances were optimal. Optimal in relation to killing was perhaps not the best choice of words but anyway. Given the facts from World War II, The Vietnam War and Jim Jones in 1978 anything can happen. As we speak on this Thursday night in March 2010 killing is not unrealistic for some now spread on a bed in Stockholm. And more thoughts along the inevitable thread are to come later. Right now it is time for a few hours of hopefully dreamless sleep. Some dreams are best unseen.

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 3 – The Die is Cast in Iron Square! Story by Coaching Detective

Isabella was in the “office” early. She wasn’t happy with calling it an office so she had many thoughts on calling the place many different things. “Studio” was one, “atelier” was another. Neither of them was perfect. She tried “practice” and “clinic” too but none of them covered the fact that the coaching relationship as she saw it was a combination of informality, intimacy and privacy. The idea was to have an “at home” feeling – both for the client and the coach. Isabella decided to call it “My Place”. She could then simply say “I have a place in the Old Town, we can meet there!” And the clients could feel like they were invited to the “home of ISIS”. When you feel comfortable at your coach you can free your mind from your daily struggles and start to see ahead and what you and your coach can accomplish together. Isabella was making the efforts necessary to make her first ISIS client for the day at ease. She made coffee, bought some milk and cookies and some oranges to put in a bowl. And to top it she had bought a bouquet of fresh flowers. All was set.

She remembered that her son had found two toy animals on the sidewalk when they were walking to school that morning, a dinosaur and a tiger. “I wonder if my new client is a tiger or a dinosaur.” She smiled at herself for even thinking this. One lady had seen her carrying them on her way to the Old Town and Isabella had defended herself saying “Oh, they are not mine!” The lady had replied “It would have been more fun if they had been yours!” Isabella realized that the lady had been right. We should allow ourselves to play much more. Isabella had been so good at that before, but the divorce had drained her playfulness for a while. Today was a brilliant day for getting herself back!
There was a little noise coming from the waiting room so she went to greet Camilla, her new client, arriving perfectly on time. Camilla was a woman in her forties, informally dressed in jeans and a blue leather jacket. Isabella offered her a cup of coffee or tea and she chose tea. Her choice of tea was vanilla flavoured and that seemed to suit her. While Isabella was doing her best to make Camilla comfortable to start off their coaching session in a good way another person in a small flat in another part of town was making an effort to appear as normal as possible and to blend in perfectly. To be seen regularly at normal hours was the ideal way of not being seen at all.
Back in the Old Town the coaching had started. Isabella told Camilla everything about the absolute confidentiality, the ethics surrounding coaching and everything she would need to know to feel safe with Isabella. “So what do you want to be coached on?” Camilla hesitated for a second. And then another. Then she said “I am not satisfied with my marriage.” Isabella lost her breath for a moment and thought “I get the clients I deserve.” Isabella asked Camilla “What is it really about?” A classic coaching question. “It’s about infidelities and different sex and freedom needs. And the infidelity is also with a man!” Isabella’s mind was working over-time. “So Camilla’s husband had betrayed her with a man? And the reason being his higher sex drive and need for freedom? That would surely be a hard issue to resolve. “OK Camilla, what do you want us to focus on today?” Camilla replied that she would like to find a way to repair the relationship.”What does your husband feel?” “Not husband – wife!” Isabella suddenly realized that her image of the problem was totally off target. Camilla had a wife – not a husband. Isabella wondered if the rest was wrong too and began to ask some more questions to remove the uncertainty. “Is it she or you who has been deceitful?” Camilla responded slowly “It is me. I seem not to be able to keep to one person or even keep to one sex.” Isabella learnt the hard way that everything might not be as it seems at first glance but totally different. In this case it was clear that Camilla was nothing but “vanilla”. Isabella wondered if it was even more to this than has met the eye yet but hesitated a second before continuing. This was a complexity beyond most of her coaching experience so far. But she knew that this client really needed help so she continued the session. A bit more than an hour later the session ended with Camilla making the appointment for their next session. Seems like Camilla had felt the presence and trust necessary to continue. Isabella had learnt new things too. Never take anything for granted!

just this colour! found at http://www.shopnastygal.com

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!