April 19, 2014


Thomas Piketty, author of
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Until 2010, I did not know much about the consequences of economic inequality. Then I came across the book The Spirit Level in which the authors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett presented their research results which showed that high levels of inequality in societies is harmful for everyone within them. Their research showed that (1) the more developed a country is, the less important further economic growth is for certain objectively measurable outcomes, like life expectancy (see graph), (2) in a study of 23 of the richest countries there was a strong relationship between health and social problems and the level of income inequality (see graph), (3) in a study of the 50 American States this same relationship was found (see graph).

April 8, 2014

Mini-Survey Progress-Focused Techniques

I have developed the progress-focused approach together with Gwenda Schlundt Bodien. The approach is rooted in (1) the solution-focused approach, (2) social psychology, (3) our own experiences and inventions.

Do you know the progress-focused approach and are you interested in it? Then I would like to ask you to participate in a mini-survey on the use of progress-focused techniques! It will take you only a few minutes. I will publish the results on this website.

Go to the mini-survey.

April 6, 2014

Progress-Focused Directing

Progress-focused directing is a technique which we developed around 2005. It can sometimes be quite useful for managers, teachers, and parents. It can be used in situations in which individuals have to conform to certain rules or have to accomplish goals. The approach is intended to help individuals understand what the rule or goal is and why it is important and to activate them to start finding their own ways to make progress in the desired direction.

When do you use it? This type of providing direction fulfills two kinds of functions: (1) clarifying expectations, (2) setting limits. Clarifying expectations is an important part of managing, teaching and raising kids. Anyone who is part of a social system (a society, an organization, a school, a family) has to adapt to and to some degree conform to certain expectations in order to function and develop well and to make a valuable contribution.

April 4, 2014

Working-with parenting

Alfie Kohn is an author who I have mentioned many times. He wrote several thought-provoking and well-reasoned books such as No Contest and Punished by Rewards (both of which I warmly recommend).

In his new book The Myth of the Spoiled Child, Kohn attacks some popular ideas about children and parenting, such as that parents are too permissive nowadays, and that many parents are overprotective and overly intrusive into the lives of their children (which is called overparenting).

March 29, 2014

John Legend and Jimi Hendrix

Yesterday, I came across what I think are two pretty wise remarks by John Legend and Jimi Hendrix. First, the remark by John Legend who was asked by a student in a TV show how he defined success and happiness:
“To me success is doing what you love to do and finding joy in what you do every day. And I think people can find joy in lots of things. You don’t have to become famous for it. You don’t even have to become really rich from it. I think success means that you wake up every day with a love for what you do. And I think for me success also means the ability and the inclination to give back as well. So it is not enough to get things for yourself but to help other people as well. That is part of the definition of success for me.”
This quote reminds me a lot of this post: Not every goal is good for you. Choose wisely what you wish for.

Another quote is by Jimi Hendrix (from the Dick Cavett show, 1969):
 “I don’t really live on compliments. As a matter of fact it has a way of distracting me.”  
This quote reminds me both of the work by Carol Dweck and her colleagues on downsides of certain types of compliments (see this post) and of this post: Motivating novices through positive feedback and experts through negative feedback.

March 28, 2014

The tilt intervention for working with involuntary clients

In coaching, supporting the autonomy of clients is extra important with involuntary clients. Involuntary clients are clients who's own idea it wasn't to go to a coach but who were sent by someone else. Although these clients may at first be reserved or uncooperative it is usually possible to reach a good cooperation with them rather fast. The key to doing that is to recognize their perspective and to acknowledge and accentuate their autonomy.