This morning a coaching client I’ll call “Able” had a wonderful insight.

Able is an amazing fellow. He routinely does leadership things that I have read about but have never even attempted. He’s not perfect but he’s an inspiration to me.

Even though many of his skills are astounding and beyond my capacity, he derives value from our coaching time. As his coach, I’m his thinking partner, not his mentor, counselor, or therapist. He receives value because he knows that I have his best interest at heart, and my only objective is to help him become better at his craft and or possibly a better husband.

“Thinking partner” is a useful frame to understand our relationship. My role is to expand his options, help him reconsider his assumptions, and explore his patterns. To the extent I serve well, it’s because the questions he answers help him perceive reality from a different perspective or consider alternatives that weren’t obvious before.

All my clients are subject matter experts in their arena. It’s a rare situation where I know as much about the topic under discussion as my client does. Only a small minority of my coaching clients are real estate agents seeking greater excellence.

Able works for an international nonprofit organization, which you’ve probably heard of. They are a conglomerate of people who aspire to do good around the world. Thousands of people volunteer to help with their vision of a better reality on every continent.

Able’s Insight

Able tossed out a new idea that he first expressed as “broken expectations and spoken expectations.” Initially, I only had a vague guess about what he meant. By the end of our session, he had articulated an insight that was helpful to him, is powerful for me, and may benefit you.

As a leader, Able is responsible for building others up. The organization has a noble goal. They invite and challenge mortals to serve others. Superman and Wonder Woman don’t work with Able. Instead, well-intentioned, yet flawed people are involved at every level and in every position in his organization.

Guess what? Sometimes there is miscommunication. Occasionally people work at cross purposes. From time to time there are conscious or unconscious conflicts. Every once in a while, somebody gets their feelings hurt.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? It sounds a lot like my world.

Able’s Insight and My World

My day job is serving highly effective millionaires who seek outstanding results in a very competitive environment. 90% of the San Diego households can’t even get into the game that my clients aim to win. My brokerage clients are not always the smartest in the room or the richest in the room. They don’t always have the strongest will in the room. But many times, they do.

The brokerage clients are not better people, but they have honed skills that helped them become millionaires. Wealth matters immensely to them. If these high achievers lacked huge aspirations, they couldn’t be serious contenders for wealth building via income property.

So, what do a bunch of do-gooders in Able’s nonprofit, have in common with a gaggle of wealthy high achievers?

We are all human. Everybody encounters disappointments.

As Able and I explored his challenge and developed his insight, something of value became clear to both of us. To illustrate here’s the situation of a fictional person I’ll call “Kim.”

Suppose Kim is disappointed that the boss didn’t pick up on Kim’s frustration or anguish. That is not necessarily the boss’s defect. If Kim has not articulated frustration or anguish, the boss has no way of knowing about it.

Alternatively, if one of my wealthy clients expresses their frustration about the difficulty of accomplishing their goal, it’s my responsibility to attend to that concern, acknowledge the frustration, provide perspective, and help the client understand what, if anything, is within their power. Sometimes the game is played with rules the client does not like and cannot change.

Able’s insight was that if something bothers you but you don’t let people who might help you know about your bruised expectation, then your expectation is broken and it is your fault. Alternately, when a person speaks of their unfulfilled expectation to somebody who might help resolve it, there is a greater chance for some kind of reconciliation.

Not all expectations are reasonable. When the topic is open for dialogue then the disappointed person and their teammate, loved one, or leader can help them address it in an emotionally intelligent way.

Does the difference between spoken expectations and broken expectations make sense? When you have unfulfilled expectations, you must share your thoughts with others if you want them to help you. Then, as thinking partners, you can seek solutions or adjust expectations.


If Able’s insight is valid, so what? Now what?”

How might Able’s insight be of value to you and the people you lead and or the people you care about?


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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