Mid-week Live Coaching: Hans
On this week’s mid-week episode, tune in as Adam Quiney interviews High Performance Consultant Hans Phillips about the humans (ourselves) in the coaching profession, what they see, what they are challenged by, and so on and so forth. Hans talks about how he got his start in coaching, what he learned are the essentials if you want to be a great coach, and speaks his mind on the current push to certify coaches. Finally, Hans and Adam talk about authenticity, leadership, and being generous in today’s world. This conversation is a must-listen if you want to get into coaching or simply want tips on self-improvement. Don’t miss out!
Listen to the Episode Here:
Mid-week Live Coaching: Hans
On this week’s mid-week episode, tune in as Adam interviews Hans Phillips about the humans (ourselves) in the coaching profession, what they see, what they are challenged by, and so and so forth.
We haven’t had a midweek episode for a while because it has been a while since we have had guests on. We are coming back into the new year with our first guest, which is a man that I owe a great deal of gratitude, love and appreciation to. I actually don’t owe him any of that but I choose to pay him those respects. I’m using more debt repayment remuneration metaphors and words. Our guest is named Hans Philips.
Hans has been in this line of work for I don’t even know how long, probably at least a couple of decades. He is an ontological coach and leader and is doing profound work in the world. Our conversation is intended to give insight into the humanity of the coaching profession, especially ours and into leadership. What do we as humans doing with this work experience? What do we encounter? Where do we see we have gone wrong? What do we see might support others not because they should follow the advice given by us but rather, soon as we can learn from what other people have learned? We go all over the map on this conversation. We talk about starting out how that was. We talked about some of the things we see missing in the coaching and the leadership professions. We talked about distinctions like missing and wrong or any of this stuff.
This is a great interview. I hope you enjoy it. I don’t think we have done much in the way of interviews, in part because that’s common. Many podcasts do interviews. If you would like more of these conversations, where it’s more of an interview style, send me an email to Podcast@AdamQuiney.com or PR@AdamQuiney.com. Either one of those will work. Let us know, it’s helpful so I could get a sense of like, “This is resonating for people. They want more of this.” I hope you enjoy this conversation. Let’s get to it.
I’m going to this the idea we have talked about this already but I’ve got some questions I want to ask. My intention is we have this big and organic conversation. We speak as humans in the coaching work and the coaching profession. Before we get into any questions though, can you share maybe a little bit about how you even found your way into this line of work? I don’t think we wake up and are like, “I’m here to be an ontological leader and coach.”
My father was in Corporate America. He was responsible for Prudential Insurance Company’s West Coast operations. I’ve got to watch him mentor, grow and lead people. I could tell that he was making a powerful difference because when people would meet me and say, “Are you Dick Philips’ son? Your dad was amazing.” He was a coach before coaching was a thing in business and life. He simply demanded people’s best from them and worked with them so he got it.
Did he have training in that? Had he done some work to support that or was it innate?
It’s innate. He had been in Corporate America straight out of Duke University. He saw the workings and he was a smart, dynamic guy. It all fell together for him. He was talented at what he did. For him to get a team to be talented as well and make it scalable, that was an obvious next step. I watched him do that but I also watched him pay a high price for it. He had six different addictions by my count. He died when I was 25. He was 50.
I was clear early on, “I don’t want to be in Corporate America. What do I want to do?” I went to three different colleges and universities. I didn’t graduate from any of them. I went out into the world and realized I’m an entrepreneur. I didn’t want to get an MBA. I wanted to do practical stuff. I was hands-on. My wife, when I was about 27, had been doing a lot of ontological, phenomenological and metaphysical work. I had been studying Psychology and Emotional Intelligence for ten years. A little confronting to meet somebody who’s like, “You can’t see this but it’s real.” I was like any man, “If I can’t see it, it’s not real.”
You are like any human in some regards.
After about three years of resistance, I’ve got what she was talking about and jumped in. I realized, if I’m this resistant and have this much awakening, this much insight, imagine if people were willing. She started a business. I helped her in that business. We hired some coaches and consultants. Some of them were so-so, some of them are good and some of them are great. I realized I actually want to work in this field. I did an apprenticeship with a person for two years, Tex Johnston out of Salinas, California. In my first year, I’ve got 24 customers. In my second year, I’ve got 33. I started training in my second year, which was pretty sophomore but I was young, passionate and unsuccessful. That’s how I began. I made some mistakes along the way. My conservative count is 30,000 client hours in 30 years. Lots of experience.
In that first year, you had 24 customers. I imagine a lot of people would hear that and be like, “How do I do that?” What do you attribute that to, that you came out of the gate swinging that way?
A couple of things, I forgot myself. I focused on being of service. I was super excited about what was possible for people. I did that again and again. I would sit down with anybody who would talk to me. Anybody who showed up, I would listen. I would give them actions to take. I would coach them on what I heard. I would be excited about what was next for them. I’m here to tell you, there have been times in my career where I wish I was that young guy because I would be going through a month or two with no prospects, no sales and like, “Where is that guy’s enthusiasm?”
It carried the day because it was much fun and engaged my intellect completely. It was the first thing that I had ever done that required every fiber of my being to do it well. That was a blast. The chaos of my childhood taught me to be patient. It taught me to look and listen. I’m smart. Coaching people about the things that are in their way mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially and relationally or whatever was like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s easy and fun. I’ve got paid an extraordinary rate right out of the box. That was not hard to do. By the way, 33 customers are too many. I was working 70 hours a week in that second year. I was still excited. I was experiencing the inner drugstore of adrenaline and cortisol. I’m like, “If some are good, more is better.”
Why would I ever want to pull back from this? This is using all of who I am and all of that stuff.
I’ve got a permanent eye infection. I have one eye that’s permanently dilated for the rest of my life. It’s romantic lighting where I can’t see anything. It’s a signal to me that more is not the direction that people ought to be going to be satisfied, have fun, be powerful. I then went the other direction and played the game of, “Can I compact my schedule? Can I actually not expand everything over 5 or 6 days? If I can compact it how many days can I compact in two?” I discovered that I could compact my business into three days. I worked 3 days a week for 10 years. That was a blast. I’ve got it. I’m working that fourth day.
Let me interject a question with the lens you are speaking to a little bit, which when I first started but not to the same extent you did, I created a lot of clients. I was willing to hustle, in part because I was scared of the prospect of not being able to make this work and having to go and practice law. Also, seeing like, “Once I go down that path, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get off of it.” From those early days, there are a lot of me showing up from my shadows to create particular results. I’m curious if there are any parts of that in those early years where you were like doing stuff where it served a purpose but it was also not necessarily from your deepest and most open heart?
I would say no because the coaching that I do is grounded in well-being, integrity and emotional intelligence. I couldn’t bullshit my way through a sale. I had to actually be living it. This is interesting to me because if coaching companies or coach training companies had to put the average number of customers that their graduates have, most of them will go out of business. If you are coming from a disintegrated place, using ego or dynamic personality, force, strategy or whatever, you can make sales but it won’t lead to who you truly are. You won’t have a sense of peace, calm and wholeness.
From the beginning, because this required every fiber of my being, it also required a balance that I hadn’t played with in my life before. The grind, the hustle is bullshit. It doesn’t work in sports. It doesn’t work in any performance where you overtrain and then go try out, do your best. In business, this is accepted. I live next to Silicon Valley. It’s not only accepted but it’s also expected to do 80, 90, 100-hour-weeks and for what? If I’m going to coach people on having a great life, I better have a great life myself. For a lot of coaches, they couldn’t endure a customer hanging out with them for a day or two, and then they were hiring them. They wouldn’t be able to be who they were presenting themselves as they have all these places that they were like, “Don’t look over here. Ignore that.” That was fun for me.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. You came out of the gate. It sounds pretty clear you were like, “I’ve got to model something here.” In my experience and yours might be different, in which case, I invite you to share your experience but a lot of people in the coaching profession are not doing that. I’m curious where you see if you see it and if so, where you see that, what is it that you had or that allowed you to embody this, rather than know it intellectually, that is missing from what a lot of people are getting when they start into this profession?
There are two things. One is that the barrier to entry is low. Any Tom, Dick, and Harry who likes people can be like, “I’m going to be a coach.” You then go find a program. It’s a weekend program for 6 months or 9 to 12 months.
Even those people that don’t like people.
The barrier to entry is low. For me, I’ve got trained in being an ontological coach, the essential nature of human beings and our relationship to reality, which can be designed, created and enjoyed. Anything that I’m doing that’s not that, as a coach, I’ve got to have my eye on that. I should be managing and minimizing that. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be handled but I better be in process with it, to bring myself, not even fully present but I am a human being. I am as present as I can be. I’m in the practice of being a coach. I have my eye on all the things that are in my life that would keep me from being present.
By bringing that, there’s a natural connection that doesn’t happen from, “I know how to coach. I’m doing coaching.” I can keep it together for an hour. I will then have you think that I know what I’m talking about. I am going to go have a cigarette. I’m going to go drink. I’m going to go self-sabotage. I’m going to go back into my poopy little apartment. It doesn’t look anything like the Starbucks that I’m coaching you from or whatever.
It’s not a judgment. You don’t have to have a perfect life. You want to puncture the inauthenticity of how you think you should look. You were talking about it shows before. How you think you should look. How you think you should be. How you think you should present yourself. The internet is rampant with people who have great camera value. They’ve got an awesome background, the hair and makeup are flawless and they are pitching a good game but they are not living what they coach. That’s why most coaches have 3, 5, 7 customers. That’s as many as they are going to get because they will not reinvent themselves.
That’s what I noticed, Adam, is that I’ve got to my seventh customer and I hit this imaginary wall. This ceiling of like, “What is this?” All I was doing was moving laterally underneath that ceiling. It was like, “This is the time to reinvent myself.” Client number 7, client number 13 and client number 17 were reinventions. I’m like every human being. I like to change. I grumpily reinvented myself. Once I’ve got client number seventeen with that reinvention, I have been able to attract customers, prefer only high-quality work for the rest of my career. I tapped into a natural and infinite source of people. It has been fun.
The description I have for this, as a coach, is we need to be a work in progress. Meaning we don’t have it all solved. It’s not all finished. It’s not all figured out, polished and shiny. Progressing in our work means it’s great that like, “I’m up against my frustration with politics or whatever but ten years down the road, I don’t want to be in the same conversation.” By then, I’m authentic about it but I’m not actually taking on anything to move beyond that to whatever’s next for me. Any thoughts on that?
If you are not signed up for a lifetime of learning, then you shouldn’t be a coach. I’m coaching people. They are paying me to experiment in my life, to have a great life, be ahead of them and coach them on closing that gap that they have in their life between where they are and who they could be. The challenge is that, can I constantly live in that gap? I’m neither here nor there. Somebody asked me, “If you can go back to any day in your life, which one would you choose?”
I looked at him and like, “Are you nuts? I choose this one.” This is the best day of my life. I’m the most evolved, healed and present. Not all days are great. Can I tell you some horror stories? 2020 sucked. A few years ago, it sucked more. There were some big challenges. The challenges are from my future. The challenge is because of the life I created, not because of where I came from and the dysfunction that happened to me in the past.
I love that phrase you use like, “The challenges are from my future.” Can you say a little bit more? I know what you mean but maybe you can elaborate on that.
Through 25 years of my life, all of my problems were from my past. There was a predictable way that they showed up. There was a predictable way that I dealt with them. It was a predictable outcome. Once I’ve got clear on, “I can actually be my real true and beautiful self. I can create a future and then go for it.” This planet, this universe, is not going to give me what I want because I say I want it. It will give me what I want if I move through the challenges on the way to get it. It will give me anything I want. He does look around and anything that you say that you want, if another human being has it, you can have it, too. The only question is, “Are you willing to move through those challenges to get there?”
A funny thing for me is that the problems from the past and the challenges from the future are fundamentally different experiences for me. I’m inspired to deal with the challenges from the future. I’m bored and done with the problems from the past. That has been my challenge in therapy, group work, and doing the work to heal that stuff. I have a minimum of problems from the past and that my challenges are clearly about the future that I have invented. I then take great care of myself. I’m in great shape mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually to meet those challenges.
That sounds super empowered. You have been in this work for a long time. You’ve got a lot of work behind you. I imagine you didn’t show up fully minted. What did you find challenging? What did you struggle with in those early days when you maybe knew all of this stuff but still working to integrate and bring it onboard? What were your challenges?
Not having a balancing system of greatness like, “You are great or you suck.” I used to fly into San Diego to lead the coach training. I would walk into a hotel room about 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM and I would turn the TV on. That TV would stay on and I would watch it until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. I would then go lead a twelve-hour-day arrogant, egotistical and not in service. There was a roomful of strangers and I was going to teach them all how to do coaching while it’s too much for me. I’m going to sabotage in advance that if it goes well, it’s an accident that I don’t have to be responsible for if it goes poorly. I did it on only four hours of sleep.
You are hedging, almost.
I did that with food, with money, with my wife and with sleep. I had lots of ways to make sure that I can always let the air out, always reduce the power of possibility. Over time, as I took better care of myself, as I raised my EQ, as I healed that past stuff, as I dwelled more and more in transformation, my need to balance and to self-sabotage got less and less. To the point where I turned 60, I’m reliable to show up, not to self-sabotage and to get support. If I get a tickle of self-sabotage, I say, “I’m reliable.” That’s come from major breakdowns, a few years ago, where the whole thing was on the line, my family, my house. Can I apply everything I know and show up in the face of this huge breakdown?
There are two questions I want to ask. The first one, maybe we can make this one fairly quick. I know my arrogance and egotism can often show up. I can flip through Facebook and be like, “You are fucking wrong. You are a dummy. That’s stupid.” I’m not going to say all of it because I know that’s not appropriate but still brews. That toxic brew is still bubbling away. What’s a way that your arrogance or egotism shows up for you?
Thinking that I can help people who are in their wounds and committed to being stuck in their humanity, a low-level conversation. It’s like, “I’ve got this.” No, they are as committed as you are to transforming them, to stay on transforming, to shifting them. They are super committed and for me to spend time, bring my mastery to someone who dug in their heels and I’m like, “I dare you.” That’s my ego at work. Thinking that I have much figured out. I literally know two things after 60 years. One is this whole thing is natural. Everything about this can be natural. The more natural it is, the more I can let go and enjoy my experience of the naturalness of life, business and people, nature, and God or whatever you believe in. That’s true and that’s correct.
What do you mean by natural? I know what you mean but maybe you can elaborate on that.
If you plant something and you provide it with what it needs, it grows. You are going to apply that same thing in business. I can show you naturally what you are not doing in your business. What you are unnaturally doing in your business, it’s keeping the tomato from growing. We have this arrogance as human beings like, “I don’t need to water that. I can look at it and it will grow.” No, it actually needs water, strangely. The water might be your well-being, your integrity, supporting your team or acknowledging your team. There are lots of ways to water things. The second thing is all about relationships, relationships with yourself, with others and with whatever this thing is because we have such a hard time being in a full relationship with ourselves and with others. Such a hard time allowing ourselves to be in relationship to all that is. Those two things are occupying all of my life.
You described it a bit of it being natural. There was a time in my life when I was all about the life hacks, the productivity boosters, the tricks and the secret shortcuts. The more I learn or unlearn, the more I have this belief that there’s a natural progression of things. If someone is like, “I want to move faster,” that the game is to let go of all the stuff we are trying to do to move faster because we will progress naturally. We don’t have to do much. It becomes effortless if we can let go of the effort.
I would call out Michael Singer’s book, The Surrender Experiment. A few years ago, I read that book and it transformed my life. I’m literally surrendering my way to success. It’s effortless. It’s not that there isn’t stuff to do. I’m not pushing, pulling, poking, prodding, trying or making much.
One of the things I loved about his book was how much it was clear throughout that he was still committed in his life. He wasn’t going to surrender by living on a couch for the next 60 years. He was up to stuff. To your point, he allowed it to grow as it grew. That’s quite profound. You mentioned breakdowns. In our line of work, we are aligned that breakthroughs are often preceded by breakdowns. You are knocking down the walls of the condo to build a mansion. There will be a time when you don’t have the protection of the walls of the condo. The stuff you have relied on is no longer there. What I notice is upon hearing that people often then are like, “Great. I’ve got to find brick walls and run at them. That’s what I’ve got to do.” What are your thoughts as far as that’s concerned? What do you notice? Anything that you want to share along those lines?
It’s funny, our need to control is rampant. I asked people, “Is this universe finite or infinite?” A couple of astrophysicists are like, “It’s actually finite.” To our human experience, this is an infinite universe. Our attempts to control the infinite universe are completely futile. They were going to give us a psychological experience and an emotional experience. We can live into that futile emotional and psychological experience and call that life. You are going to have challenges. You don’t have to look for challenges and run through them.
You hang in there. You are going to take action and there will be a challenge that pops up. Anything that shows up is a force in my world. I don’t have a commitment to force and making stuff happen. I used to, “I could make stuff happen. I have made sales. I have made people buy from me. They didn’t want to but I made the buy from me.” It was unpleasant for them. It was unpleasant for me. I made money and then they went away. My coach, Tex Johnston, back in the day said, “Use this as a litmus test for life. Is it fun? Is it satisfying? Is it powerful? If it’s not, don’t do it.” It can’t always be true but if I see that if I’m going to move through this, what then is going to happen is fun, satisfaction and power, I would do it again and again. I’m no longer willing to suffer, settle, survive, resist, avoid, deny as my fundamental experience of life.
I’m going to talk about myself, I can be good at creating the metaphor of us. It’s like a beautiful atrium. The bird has flown into the atrium and it’s got high glass ceilings and trees that bear fruit and not a lot of predators. It’s lovely. I see the sun go up and go down. I get to sing my song. Sometimes, humans eat crackers and I eat the food. I’m well-fed yet, there’s something that is clipped in my wings. There’s a degree to which that’s always safe and not soaring in the sky as I might truly desire. When we are talking about not forcing anything, there can be a tension there where I’m not forcing anything in that atrium. Do you understand what I mean by this metaphor before I ask the question?
I’m with you so far.
Do you ever run into people that are like building castles inside that atrium but it’s not calling them forward into much in their life? In those situations, what do you do with them?
They are seeking safety. My question with them is, “Were you raised in an unsafe world and you live in an unsafe world? You are seeking safety.” Human beings want safety. For most people, the opposite of safety in danger. For me as a coach, the opposite of safety is the adventure of life. It’s okay. If you don’t want to engage in the inventor of life and you want to make a safe life, it’s totally fine. I’m going to point out to them the emotional, mental, physical, financial and relational cost to that or I’m going to ask them to do that for themselves. As long as they choose it, we are good. I’m all about choice. I’m about love, being and choice. I could care less which choice you make. I’m totally committed to you seeing what choice that you have.
There is in our power is you being unattached to however I choose. You are giving me the option. At the heart of a lot of coaching is putting people at choice, letting them choose in their lives. The only part I would add to that is, to make a choice, we need to see the choice we are making. If it lies below the surface or we are unaware of it. It’s hard for us to truly choose. I have plenty of strong opinions. I’m often asking myself, “What am I committed to in life? What am I committed to at this moment? What is the impact I’m committed to having? Does it serve that commitment to put these opinions into space?” I imagine you have some strong opinions, too. How do you express or work? What do you do with that part of yourself?
I’ve got a morning ritual. My morning ritual is I say who I am, who I’m not and commit to managing and minimizing that. I say what I’m up to, what my purpose is, what my gift is and what I’m in service for. I then get myself, my heart, my mind and my body ready to bring myself to being with people. When I come to people, my job is to be as clean of a conduit as possible for what wants to come through me. It’s almost like I disappear when things go well. There’s a conversation that’s being had with the person. There are some days that it goes better than others.
Mostly, I trust the relationship. I trust whatever brought us together. I trust their process. I then keep myself clean, present and committed. I honor whatever I say and what they say. I don’t do a lot of assessing. Occasionally I will say, “Here are some advice. I’m not going to coach you. This is my advice in this situation or I’m an expert in this area. Let me put on my expert hat and tell you what I know.” Mostly, I’m in honoring the conversation that wants to happen.
I was with a young woman and she said the F word three times because it hit her right on the head what she needed to hear. It’s hard for her to hear it. I’m not being mean. I’m only saying what I’m listening to and reflecting to her. My favorite example here is, somebody called me up in the middle of the night and said, “I’m in my garage. My wife threw me out of the house. We’ve got a two-year-old child. She’s upset. What do I do?” I was coaching him and we did about half an hour.
Something came in asking about hot, nasty. I have never asked anybody about hot, nasty before. I don’t put those two words together. I ignored it. It then came in about ten minutes later asking about Hot and Nasty and I ignored it again. For the third time, I’m like, “What about Hot and Nasty? What if Hot and Nasty shows up?” He knew exactly what I was talking about. He said, “If Hot and Nasty shows up, I’m going to ask her to respect the boundaries of my marriage. Let me work out when I work out. Please leave me alone. If it doesn’t work out, we can go out but please leave me alone.”
I didn’t think anything of it. We’ve got done. He moved on with his day. Literally, 24 hours later, I get a message on my machine. “Hot and Nasty showed up. She was hot. She was nasty. I’m glad we had that conversation because I was able to say, ‘Please honor my marriage, even though it’s in a breakdown, please leave me alone. Please go away.’” I was like, “There it is.” My job is, I say the thing. The other thing here is that I used to think I was good at giving people actions to take. I used to edit for, “What’s the best one? Where are the three great ones?”
Early on in my career, somebody said, “The action item you gave me completely changed my life.” I was like, “Super cool. Which one of my brilliant top three actions?” Move that up to the top of the list. What they said was, “I don’t know exactly what it was but to me what showed up is, that thing where you told me to reorganize my sock drawer transformed my life.” I was like, “Reorganize your sock drawer with a throwaway? What about those other brilliant ones?” I realized that my job is to write down the actions. Their job is to pick and choose. My job is to not edit. I don’t know what action they should take. Just reflect on the actions and trust their process to inform them, remove me and be a conduit.
One of the things I love about that story, the hot and nasty story, first of all, is the title of it, Hot and Nasty version 1.0. The other thing I love about it is that you won’t find in a list of 100 best powerful whatever coaching questions, ask your client about a hot and nasty. It’s not even a takeaway. You will need scaffolding to start. The being of that was it’s almost like the clearing that is coaching, the conversation is coaching happening as you, rather than by you, you are not forcing. You are not like, “What’s the right thing?” It’s just coming. You were almost in a little bit of resistance to it. The first like, “Hot and nasty, that might not be my stuff.” When you trusted it, magic happened.
I want to point out here that the great thing about coaching as a career is that you don’t have to be smarter than your customer. You have to be more present. Most people aren’t working on being present. As a coach, you are getting paid to work on being present, integrate the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and all that stuff. Integrate, that’s your job every day, all day. You are coaching people. If you listen to your coaching of them, you are getting great actions to take. Your whole thing is to have a great life and knit yourself together.
The super-smart people who are going to talk you into or out of something like a client, you are like, “I get that. Here’s the cost of that. Here’s me being present and you not being present. Maybe try this one.” You don’t have to be smarter than them, which is great. If you can trust their process when it’s going up and down because coaches have no problem trusting the process of things that are going well when things go poorly when the breakdowns happen, they want to revert to, “I know, I’m smart. I have this training. Here’s a tool. Here’s the process. I need to finish this.” Follow them down, they will come back up.
I often say that when people come to me, as they probably come to you and were like, “Is this a good profession? I like this.” What I tell them, which are many long lines with what you said is, the profession of being a coach is like having and living an amazing life, which sounds great. That requires a fair bit of work. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the way of it. It’s like living this incredible life and then bolted on the side is a lucrative profession should you choose to have it be lucrative. We shift those, though. We are like, “I’ve got to have a lucrative profession, I can have this amazing life.” We put all our attention there and we get marketing. It doesn’t work because people see that this is your priority. They don’t get the experience of a person living an amazing life lit up by what’s possible.
The entire process, the good, the bad and the ugly. Do the ugly and it’s on the way to great.
What do you do with your opinions? You disappear yourself so that the conversation of being coached can happen. What about outside of any given coaching conversation? When there’s not a container when you are being Hans at the ice cream store and someone does something you have an opinion about? When social media does the social media thing whatever it is, what happens then? What does that look like?
I have learned to be careful. I had customers that I’m surgical with my tongue as like, “That’s good because I know much.” I have spent decades and thousands of hours with human beings. I can say a thing. If they don’t want it if they are not showing up to hear it if they didn’t ask me about it, what’s the point of me saying the thing? I call it cocktail coaching. I try to do it as little as possible. People say juicy things and you were like, “There’s a coaching opportunity,” but they are not paying you. They didn’t ask you. I will be quiet a lot and I let it go by because they do not commit to anything other than having a conversation.
Sometimes they were like, “You are a coach? I’ve got this thing.” I’m like, “If I was a proctologist, would you be walking me to the bathroom right now to show it to me? Why don’t we talk next week? Here’s my card. Here’s my contact information.” It’s tempting to make a difference right then but because it’s free because they asked you and you did it, it doesn’t value the profession. I’m a human being. I have an opinion. I’m happy to share what’s going on with me or what my opinion is.
I’m not pretending the coaching that I do with the people who pay me, who talk to me or a prospect. I’m not confusing that conversation with any conversation I have out in the world, even the friends who say, “Can I get some coaching from you?” I’m like, “Yes, you can. There’s going to be one time we are going to talk once, and I’m going to give you actions to take and then you are on your own.” I’m not going to engage in a coaching relationship with a friend because I want to stay their friend. I want to be their friend. I’ve got to say some stuff to some of my clients that are not friendly. It’s pretty straightforward.
I’m committed to getting beyond my own righteousness. It’s a game I’m always laughing at. We are all overcome like, “I’m right.” I will start to see it. I will then start to bring that to my coach. I will start to notice, “What is that about?” I will distinguish it and start to move beyond it, and then it starts to slip away.
Do you mean the people who don’t park right on my street?
Those on your street, specifically. Thank you for sending me the photos of them. I’ve got a million places like that, of course. One of the things I noticed can happen is I will be in conversations with my core, my oldest friends. We will talk about things like politics or whatever is going on in the world. I will be hesitant to put my righteous judgment of the former administration into space, even though it’s there. What I’m trying to do is distinguish, “That’s my righteousness. What can I actually see for myself here? What might be something beyond being right about this?”
Sometimes my friends will be like, “Adam, it would be nice to get this.” They are wanting that righteousness. They are wanting like, “What do you feel, Adam? What’s the real truth? What’s your fucking angry opinion about this?” I noticed I’m always in between. They talk about the middle path. If I’m going all the way to the right side of the path, I’m screaming and spitting righteousness. If I go into the left side of the path, I’m bypassing and I’m not honoring what is real for me. What do you see for yourself in that? Do you ever have a particular version of that for yourself?
I learned many years ago that money, sex, religion and politics are hot buttons for people. I want to hang out with people. I want to be present with people. If you want to have a conversation about one of those things, I will engage a little. As soon as you stop being present, as soon as you start being your opinion, I’m not having fun anymore. I don’t dwell a lot in the right, wrong, good, bad, pretty and ugly. I was going to my coach, Tex, one day and getting some coaching. I saw this guy. He was dumpster diving. He came up with a half-eaten piece of pizza. He had the most joyful look on his face. He took a bite of it. It was sad. My coach laughed at me said, “Hans, it’s a possible way of being. That was a great moment for him. You missed it. You are over here stressing it.”
Everything is a possible way of being. I hang out with people who want to be present, who are passionate and who like to laugh. I’m about the future. I’m about now. My opinion about money, sex, politics, religion and your opinion, butting heads, it’s not that much fun for me. Does it happen on occasion? Sure but I managed my life that I’m not engaged in those contentious conversations. People who want to be angry, people who want to be righteous, God bless them.
There are many people out there doing many different types of work. They are human, passionate and angry, sad, hurt, or whatever. This whole thing is working together. I’m doing my part. I’m not going to be anybody I’m not. I’m doing my work in my office and doing my part to bring love, being and joy to the world. If you are against that, knock yourself out. We will see who wins. Love versus fear. Let’s rock and roll.
Let’s take a bit of a shift. I’m going to use the word wrong. You and I both know that that word can be a bit sticky but we will use it for this. Where do you see the coaching profession, broadly speaking, going wrong?
I like to use the word missing. What’s missing in coaching is the honor of a career. Coaches are a punchline. You look on TV, situation comedies and commercials, we are a punch line. Years ago, I stopped calling myself a coach. When I had enough expertise, I now call myself a consultant. I’m an Executive Consultant. Consulting has been around since the ‘50s. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry and it has people’s respect. It has honor. Coaching is a lot less, though. We are back to the low barrier to entry.
Anybody who wants to be a life coach is a life coach. Anytime I’m having a conversation with someone and they are finding out who I am and what I do, they say, “Like a life coach.” “Yeah, kind of like that.” It involves life. It involves coaching. I don’t want to be a punchline. Coaching has been around for a while. There are lots of places that are trying to do a great job. There’s higher education that’s training people to be coaches. There’s good stuff happening.
I had a smart guy once. He hired me to train him. He did a bunch of research first and he said coaching is like MLM. I don’t know how you feel about that business model. It’s not my favorite. It’s not something I’m signing up for. For him to say that to me, I was like, “What do you mean?” I knew he was smart. He said, “You become a coach and in a training, and then you become a coach in that training and your job is to get other people to come into the training. You are then going to coach them. It’s like this multi-level marketing thing.” I was like, “You are right. It is like that.” I know of coaches in their whole book of clients is coaches.
Typically, coaches are struggling or at least often.
There are a lack of business training, sales training and marketing training. Also, those homogenized certifications, I don’t think they do the coaching profession any favors. They were trying to get people to not hurt other people, which is great. I can’t pass the certifications. I’m way too direct, intuitive and dynamic. I’m not ABC, 123 cookie cutter, which is what they require for you to get certified. By the way, pretty much the only people who care about certifications are other coaches like real estate agents. They’ve got a bunch of letters after the name, you don’t know what they mean but other real estate agents do. It’s evolving. There are great places that provide great training. The bottom line for me is that I want to see way more transparency in the people who are leading the training. How are they doing? What is going on behind the scenes? How many customers do they have? What do their numbers look like last year? What are they doing for marketing? It’s way more transparency. It’s because there’s a Wizard of Oz. Ignore the person behind the screen, behind the curtain.
One of the things that I was struck as I looked back, even before I had gotten into coaching, with a lot more righteousness and arrogance than I would look at it with now. The story I had was like, “The morons keep getting in.” What I meant by that was like, “I will get my professional project management, certification, my PMP. I will break the bar exam. I will go through legal training. The morons are still here. What is going on?” You can hear there are a ton of my stuff in that. The part that I can extract from that and hold without making it right or wrong, any of that is like a certification or some bar will not solve a lack of being. We can’t create a test that captures being and that is the heart of coaching. Have you done the work over here? Are you in your work?
I caution us because there are many different types of coaching and being is not a requirement in all the different types of coaching. I talked to a guy one time and he’s making great money. He’s doing facilitative coaching and he’s working with executives. He’s taking them from A to B and transformation is not happening because nobody wants transformation in the conversation.
I would respond to that by saying, “If we were to try to create a certification to capture people like the one you are talking to, it would not be sufficient in and of itself to say, ‘This guy is going to be like the guy Hans talked to.’” What I’m clumsily saying is that trying to wrap a fence around something using only a certification, in my experience, never fully gets us there. It’s always going to miss the mark to some extent.
I don’t know if you remember the movie Blazing Saddles.
It’s on my list of movies to watch. It’s Mel Brooks. It’s a classic.
There’s a group of cowboys riding through the desert and they come upon a toll station in the middle of the desert. It’s a random toll station. Somebody has got to go back to town to get nickels. My stepdad says beware of arbitrary groups setting themselves up to certify people. Do I want high-quality people? Absolutely. Do I want people to try and people who care to get involved? Absolutely, because my customers are not your customers and not their customers. If you care, if you get involved and if you get trained, you are going to meet people who you are supposed to get trained by and work with perhaps, they hire you. There’s this natural thing that happens. A lot more transparency, a lot more authenticity.
Andrew asks a great question, which is, “Do you blend coaching with consulting or do you use the term executive consultant, and then primarily coach people?”
Coaching is a tool that I use and I’m an expert in human beings. I’m an expert in sustainable high performance. I am a consultant. Coaching is one of the tools that I use, as well as training, mentoring and teaching.
Miles says that, “Blazing Saddles does amazing. You’re in good company here.” We talked about what’s missing in the coaching profession. What would you say is missing? This is a broad one but what’s one of the main things you see as missing in the leadership profession or the conversation about leadership? However, you want to answer that.
I would say it’s authenticity. In business, what’s being traded for money is oftentimes against values out of integrity and not healthy. A lot of times, leaders, it’s an ego feed. They are smart, powerful and dynamic. They are like, “I don’t have to follow all the rules. My marriage sucks but I’m a great leader. Watch me lead over here.” I want authentic leaders. I want leaders who are willing to show me their bumps, scrapes and bruises. I want them to tell me about the lousy week that they had. My people told me a few years ago, “The more authentic you are, the more you share yourself, the easier it is to follow you.” I was like, “Great. I will share more of myself.”
I can’t throw out on them completely. I can’t give them all the gory details but I can give them a flavor that lets them know, “Hans is a human being. Hans is working on that. He’s like me.” That was the challenge early on. It was an hour a week. It can be awesome. I look great. I sound great. People were impressed. They extrapolated that over the rest of my life. That’s not how the rest of my life necessarily was going. I tell people, “I’m having a rough week, a rough time or I’m authentic as a leader in my community of colleagues.”
For the twenty or so customers that I have, I’m going to be authentic. I’m going to let them know if things aren’t going great, not to put the focus on me. If I’m going to teach people about being and they noticed that I’m not being, I better say something about that. Otherwise, they are like, “He’s saying that but he’s not honestly doing that.” Leaders who don’t overwork, leaders who have their priorities straight, who put their family before their work. People who are exploring, learning and sharing. People who are doing the same thing over and over again. There’s nothing wrong with that but if you are smart enough to figure out how to do that, then there’s more to know, learn and teach.
Are you familiar with Steve Chandler?
I am not.
You must. You would love his writing. Steve is, in general, a coach. He’s quite well-known. The book I love by him is called Wealth Warrior, although the guy writes books constantly. He tells this story where he was doing a series, like a speaking series with someone else on money, your relationship to money. At some point, this person turned to him and he said, “Steve, I live in fear that these people are going to discover all of the places where my money is not right. They are going to find out where I have had bankruptcies. They are going to find out where I’m squirreling away money under my mattress. They are going to find all this stuff out. You don’t seem to have that fear. What’s the deal? Why aren’t you concerned about that?”
Steve is droll and low energy but hilarious and brilliant in a droll way. He pauses. He was like, “It’s because I know I’m a failure. It’s not like I suck at life but I don’t pretend. I was an alcoholic. I was bankrupt twice in a row. I have been left behind by my wife. I have had all this stuff and I share it with them. In doing that, I don’t have anything I have to hide.” That story for me began a little bit of what you are describing, like the realization, “That’s the solution to imposter syndrome.” If we own that truth, you can’t be an imposter. It’s impossible. That goes that you have to be with other stuff that shows that people might react to the truth you share. The imposter syndrome part melts away completely.
You and I both are people that were there’s my experience of you, love to give away our work to create distinctions, tools and this stuff. We then share it with the world, not hold on to it. There are plenty of other people where that’s not the way that it goes. It’s clutch-y, “This is the tool, the secret the trick, the thing I’ve got.” A woman named Sherifa had asked me, “How do you give away all of your work and not worry about not getting clients, not getting stuff like that? How does that work? How do you deal with that?” I’m curious what your thoughts on that are.
I ask people, “Is it a stingy universe or an abundant one?” If they say it’s stingy I’m like, “Have you ever been to the desert? There are a lot of sand there.” That’s an abundant universe, which means that if I’m controlling, if I’m holding on to it, if I’m the bottleneck for what’s coming through me and it’s like, “You get it but you don’t get it.” You only get it if you get it. I’m now living a stingy life, which is going to be a particular experience of life. As opposed to if I’m abundant with it, I then get to receive abundance.
I had an office with a studio that I was sharing with my wife. She had a self-esteem program for teenagers. I had all of my worksheets spread out. It was probably a 30×20 foot room. The floor was covered. I was going to reorganize everything. Tex walked in. He laughed out loud. I’m on my knees and I look up. I was like, “What’s funny?” He said, “You think it’s the information, don’t you?” I was like, “It’s not?” I was insecure enough. I was new enough like, “I better have my information right.” He said, “Literally, Hans, you could read people the yellow pages and they would get it because of who you are being.” That, to me, is great. If I get a distinction, I want to share it with as many people as possible that the difference that I’m here to make on the planet gets spread to as many people as possible. It’s not about me. My goal is that there’s a tipping point and I’m alive to see it where we go from fear to love as a fundamental place to come from.
I love that Tex asked that question. I also love that you started your answer by saying that you ask people if it’s an abundant universe or a stingy universe because that’s the heart of it. First of all, have you gone through Landmark? Have you done any of their work? They are bottom-line like, “Here’s the truth, the big reveal. Life is empty and meaningless.” That fact is empty and meaningless. You are not allowed to take it and then be like, “It’s meaningless that it’s meaningless.”
From that starting point, then we get to create all of it. It’s like, “I get to create if the universe is abundant or scarce.” From that place, if the universe is abundant, why wouldn’t I want to share this stuff out into the world? What possible reason I could create them but from an abundance, that makes sense. Of course, we would share that. The other thing that your answer reminded me of was I remember this point as a child where my dad was arguing with me. Maybe with my mom. We like to argue, more like debates in my family. I became a lawyer briefly.
He was saying, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” I was like, “What about if I go to the grocery store and they are giving out free samples?” He’s like, “That’s not a free lunch because they’ve got their jingle or their thing in your mind.” It took a long time for me to start to see how baked in that story had become and who I was, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” which the consequences of that belief were I could never give someone a free lunch. I couldn’t give them anything because I knew that it was attached to something and I could never receive a free lunch. People would want to support or offer me something and I was always on guard for what’s going to happen. What’s the price to be paid for this?
Walking around outside, is that the relationship you have with nature? It’s like, “That’s beautiful. I owe you.”
I imagine your people are brilliant, a lot like my people are brilliant. If I ask that question and leave it there, of course, there are more. The first place often goes, “Here’s why it’s different.” You and I know that it probably isn’t different. Do you encounter that in your people?
Yes. Everybody is building a case for something. Everybody is building stories and excuses about why it is the way it is and why they are going to protect that. They are willing to move a little bit but they don’t want to have it all go away. Even though they say, “It would be great if I didn’t have to deal with this.” My job is to gently introduce them to the possibility that maybe it’s not that way. Maybe it could be another way. What’s this costing you? What are the payoffs for this? What would that cost you? There are consequences either way. Most of the people that I work with have had a rough enough go that they want the next thing to be without consequence. I don’t know how to do that. There’s going to be a consequence and my job is to prepare them so that they can deal with those consequences and have that thing that has been elusive up until this point.
The thing that came to mind as you were sharing that about consequences and stuff is how a lot of people often want an experience of trust. The way that trust has been constructed is like, “I could trust myself if I knew that I would never make a mistake because then I could do whatever.” I often find what leaves people to be able to trust themselves is discovering that they can be with whatever shows up regardless of any mistake they make. There’s no mess I can’t clean up. We both have a background in recovery. It teaches you as you go through an immense process you learn, “I was holding this on myself for twenty years and I cleaned it up.” You start to discover this ability to trust yourself that was wrapped up in, “I can never make a mistake again.” Do you encounter that either in yourself and the world at large?
For sure. I would point to doing the emotional, EQ work, physical work, mental work and spiritual work. Doing all of those things so that you’ve got a deep wellspring in your foundation. It makes those situations easier to deal with. Focus on getting your foundation together. A lot of coaches are super smart. They’ve got the shaky foundations. Now that they are effective in their thoughts, the effect of their feelings, body and relationship with nature or not, or God or not, that doesn’t sound fun at all. Working on the foundation as you are working on getting clients or as you are working with clients because you want to be rock solid.
The visual I give people is we are seeing whatever height you are above the ground that you want to imagine that there are 18 feet of solid core concrete below the ground so that people can bounce against you and it doesn’t knock you over it. Even if you are not their coach, they are bouncing against you are going off in the next direction in a powerful way as opposed to knocking them down, “Which way do I go? I don’t know.” Be that stand, that commitment and that strength. Some people will say yes. Some people will say no. Some people say later but you need to be clear who you are and what you are here for.
The other pole to getting knocked down because you don’t have that foundation would be that when people come to bounce against you, you push back against them. You are like, “I don’t have the trust in my foundation. I don’t have that. I’m going to fall over. I have to come back at them.” That would be the flip side to it.
I met that guy at the gym.
You are committed to going to the gym, are you? You show ab photos and stuff like that now and then. The photos no one asked for, you often tag them.
My community calls it Hans porn. I’m a big one for asking elderly people for their advice. One of the things that I’ve gotten from the guys who are 70, 80, 90 years old at the gym is, “Move it or lose it. Show up, move the body, get fit and maintain that fitness. You can do that for the rest of your life.” I was like, “I’m not living like I’m going to get there. Let’s get started.”
What’s your favorite exercise in the gym and your least favorite?
I don’t like going to the gym.
I love the results. It was a breakthrough for me years ago to get more committed to fitness than flavor. I was committed to flavor for most of my life.
Carb, salty, sugary. I’ve got more committed to fitness than flavor. I love the results and I’m willing to move through the discomfort of going to the gym to get the results. My childhood was violent. Encountering resistance and discomfort has brought up that stone for years. I’m years in the gym now. It’s a lifestyle. I use that foundation to skateboard, bicycle, boogie board, to be agile, fit and feel confident. I’m using that thing. I’m committed. My mood and psychology are managed and because of Coronavirus, it’s outside in the parking garage, it’s 33 degrees and we are working out, I will be with three other guys and three other gals who are working out. It takes commitment to get there and do it. It’s the source of my success. It’s the source of my enjoyment. It’s one of the sources of my being. I’m now committed to how fit I can get. I’m not comparing myself to anybody at the gym. I’m not comparing myself before. How fit can the 60-year-old Hans get? That part is fun.
I don’t know what the giclee word would be. Ontologically, I find what happens when I go to the gym or lift weights in my own house is I build my muscle and being uncomfortable. Being with physical discomfort and not needing to change it, shift it, avoid it or make excuses, which in and of itself is a gift. Full stop, to be with physical discomfort. What would you gift to new coaches or leaders? What’s the thing you would want to share or offer to them? I often get caught when I am asking this question so I would love to give it to you and see what you have to say.
Based on your commitment to become a coach, there are people that you are supposed to work with. They are out there. You can speed up the process of getting that conversation by focusing on your well-being, your integrity, recovery work or healing stuff from the past, doing transformational work, get a deeply spiritual or natural relationship and put that stuff in place as you are having conversations and as you are sharing what you do. Count on that this universe, which likes evolution, is going to use you to evolve some people and bummer for you. You are going to have to evolve to do that. That’s the game. Know that they are out there.
Imagine these points of light coming to you. They are traveling to you based on what you said. It gives me chills talking about this. You are a being who’s intent on having other beings be present. Be in action. Be with challenges. There are people out there that you are supposed to talk to, treat you like crap, belittle you, transform because of you, take a major action that they have been putting off their entire life because of you. All of that stuff is present. Get your self-esteem from someplace other than clients because you are going to have good days and bad days. Keep going. You can have a book of clients who pay you to have an extraordinary life. You will have to evolve along the way but again, that’s the game.
I would love to acknowledge you to finish up. Hans, I would love it if you would acknowledge me. Would you like to be acknowledged first or would you like to acknowledge me first?
I would like to acknowledge you first. You are unabashedly you. You inhabit yourself and your world. You shamelessly share that with us. It puts you right in the crosshairs of people who want to judge, wants to assess. You keep doing it again and again. Thank you. It’s an invitation for us to be unabashedly us. You set a great example of that over and over again. Thanks for being you.
Thank you, Hans. I would love to acknowledge you for your brilliance. What I love about you is that you can bring your brilliance from your head. You can have a heady conversation but also how much of it exists in your heart. Spiritually, I’m present to your capacity to let go of needing to know how any of this works out. To allow us to truly trust in a divine unfolding of everything that is in front of us. To be on this journey, to flow with it, to invite other people into that same space.
You do so with little judgment. I rarely have ever had an experience of you holding me or anyone else that’s wrong or like they should do something else. What I’m present to in that is all of the work. That’s not necessarily what we are taught by the world. It’s who we start as but then we are taught something different. I honor you for not just being beautiful as a spirit and as a soul. Also, a man committed to modeling his work and living an amazing life. Thanks for living an incredible life.
Thank you. It is my honor and my pleasure.
If you are someone that people are supposed to use your words, to connect with, to learn about to work with or any of that stuff, where do people follow and find more about you and all of that stuff?
My website is Ontoco.com. There’s a form section at the bottom so you can see the work. If you want to have a conversation, you can schedule with Ontoco.GenBook.com. On that GenBook site are 75 or so testimonials from unsolicited people that will give you a flavor of who I am and what I do. I love human beings. If you are up to something, I love to talk to you. If you are stuck, I would love to talk to you. I kick ass and take names. If you are looking for a middle-of-the-road conversation, I am not the guy.
You have a mailing list of which I am on. One of the few and one of the things I love about it is you send out a ton of an abundance of tools, stuff that you find useful. One of the things you have modeled that has been beautiful for me is you celebrate people. You celebrate your coach. These shoes are made by our friend, Nathan Minahan. I found my way to Nathan, who’s become a great friend and put me in touch with some other people through Hans, through his list. You said, “This guy is up to amazing stuff. He’s super cool. Reach out to him.” I was like, “That guy is well dressed. I need to talk to him.” Sign up for Hans’s list. It’s cool what you do. I love who you are for the world. I’m grateful that we’ve got to have this conversation.
Hans, thanks for being a part of the conversation. Thank you, everyone, for your questions and what you brought. One of the things I noticed about a lot of the people showing up in our conversations is they are committed to what Hans has described here, which is living an amazing life and not trying to get people or make them pay them or anything like that but to live this beautiful and pure life. That’s such a gift to me and everyone. As you model it, it shows us that it’s possible.
- Hans Philips
- The Surrender Experiment
- Steve Chandler
- Wealth Warrior
About Hans Phillips
For over 25 years, I have provided consulting, training and coaching for achievement-oriented clients worldwide. I support people to discover permanent solutions to long-term challenges. With a focus on sustainable high performance, my goal is to transform your mindset, your actions and your results.
The consulting I do is rooted in Ontology & Phenomenology. In simpler terms, it’s the pursuit and the achievement of an effortless state of being. This is something that has slipped away from many high functioning and successful entrepreneurs and business people. The culture of achievement has all but stamped out this most critical of human experiences. Introducing more being into your life will prove to be one of the greatest investments you will ever make.
I also specialize in helping my clients create new avenues of communication and authenticity as well as creating new velocity in their projects. Using proven processes, methods, and best practices from consulting, leadership training and executive coaching, my clients get high levels of satisfaction, enthusiasm, focus, and effectiveness.