Thrive on Challenges and Flexibility

Coaching Principle 5

By Dr Peter Chee and Dr Jack Canfield

Great coaches thrive on challenges and flexibility. Obstacles should be seen as opportunities for improvement, not only for coaches, but for the coachees too. The coaching conversation is an opportune time to challenge the coachee to stretch and grow so they reach for higher achievements.

It is important that coaches challenge their coachees as just plain sailing along the journey is never good for a coaching relationship. If the journey contains no challenges, there would be no growth and development. Coachees who received challenging assignments gain more as they are strengthen in the process of overcoming adversity to attain their goals.

When coaches pose an obstacle sincerely to a coachee, they are indicating the coachee is capable of achieving more. This is not to say the coachee has to accept the challenge. It’s still their choice, and they might take on the hurdle only partially or come up with another challenge. Of course, they might also fully accept the challenge. Whichever way they decide, they are likely to end up better off with the challenge than without.

Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make us strong

– Norman Vincent Peale

In our many coaching conversations over the years, there are always people who desire to have more time to accomplish things. Sam is one of them. A high-flying manager in a digital advertising agency, she handles many client accounts from various industries and does her best to ensure these are optimized properly.

One of her goals in life was to earn an MBA. She felt doing so could be a good step for career development. However, she felt overwhelmed by her work and would destress by loading up on social activities after office hours.

As the coaching conversation progressed, Sam realized that her social life was taking out a huge chunk of her time. Time she could use to work on her MBA instead. We then challenged her to carve out 20 hours a week to study. Feeling that was too drastic, she settled on 10 hours to begin with. Being flexible coaches, we agreed.

Nonetheless, we continued to drive her towards the goal by gradually increasing the hours set aside to study. The challenge grew to 12 hours, then 14, then 16, all the way to 20 hours a week. At every step, we followed up with her regularly and held her accountable to her commitments.

Despite a slow start, Sam managed to finish her MBA in 18 months instead of 24 months as she powered through the semesters. She was so proud of her success that she took us out for a Michelin-starred meal to celebrate, and to thank us for believing in her. Her story shows that challenging people in the right way can reap the right results.

Great coaches understand that coaching is not a quick fix. Coaching is the process of helping people find their own solutions and challenging them to win in the face of adversity. The bigger the problem and the bigger the goal, the bigger the gain will be when it is conquered.

The beauty of coaching is that when people face high aspirations and tough obstacles, they can learn how to develop themselves to become more masterful. As a coach, you need to be courageous. You will constantly believe in people’s greatness and rise to the challenge of any given situation facing the person you are coaching. When faced with challenges and the need to be flexible, you tackle it with faith, confidence, and enthusiasm and work persistently to win. When you are able to thrive on challenges and flexibility, you will be well on your path to coaching greatness.



  1. HOW can you remind yourself to see obstacles as opportunities for improvement and growth?
  2. WHAT can you do to have a flexible mindset in searching for solutions?
  3. WHAT resources can you tap on to cultivate mental agility and resilience?
  4. WHAT can you do to challenge people for them to drive towards results sustainably?
  5. WHAT can you do to ensure people do not feel overwhelmed by the coaching assignments?


September 2021 marks the inception of the Global Center for Coaching Excellence (GCCE). This is one of ITD World’s flagship initiatives to empower leaders for coaching and mentoring greatness globally. As an award-winning multinational corporation, ITD World is fully committed to enable the world’s best leadership development solutions to leading global organizations.

The GCCE synergizes the most cutting-edge and impactful coaching and mentoring solutions, programs, and resources in one place. The mandate is to impart the highest standard of professionally curated coaching, mentoring, and leadership wisdom for people who aspire to be outstanding coaching leaders, and profoundly impact the lives of many.

World #1 Strategic Innovation Coach and World #3 Coaching Guru Dr Peter Chee

Coaching for Breakthrough Success combines time-tested principles of exemplary coaches with the latest disruptive techniques used by the world’s top performing leaders, this step-by-step playbook shows you how to nurture—in yourself and others—the three essential requirements of coaching excellence