The Identify Phase of the I.AM Method of Coaching


When people problem solve, they often jump right past what I believe to be the most important phase—actually identifying the issue.

My favorite example is that of the doctor during the diagnosis phase of treating a patient. I once had a doctor tell me that well over half of his patients essentially diagnose themselves by giving good descriptions of their symptoms.

The same is true in coaching situations. When clients lay out their issues in an honest and open manner, it’s not usually that difficult to properly identify them. But, it’s best for the person being coached to do the identifying. Read on. . .

Whether you are working with a coach or on your own, here are some pointers to help you in the identification phase:

  • Articulate the issue as you see it. Say it. Type it. Share it with a trusted confidant. Actually writing it out or discussing it will help you to better understand the issue.
  • After you have articulated your issue, be tough on yourself. Are you being completely honest and self-aware in the identification of your issue or are you glossing over it and not delving into it?
  • Once you are fairly certain about the identity of your issue, “try on” some solutions. If you implement them and the problem is solved, does that get you where you want to be or are you solving something that isn’t really your main issue?

Identify—It’s Not Always As Easy As You Think

When I owned the American Odyssey Relay, I hired a coach to help me with marketing. Our numbers were flat year over year, and I was frustrated. So, we set out to identify the issue. We reached a point where I was certain the issue was either we weren’t reaching the right people or we were reaching the right people, but we had the wrong message. After banging my head against the proverbial wall for a few days, I had my “aha” moment. I pulled over in my car and called my coach. “Joey,” I screamed into the phone, “we need a new logo!” Joey laughed and said, “Very good, I thought it would take you several more sessions to get there.”

My logo experience taught me two things:

  1. It’s harder to identify the real issue than we think; and
  2. It’s way more powerful to reach an “aha” moment yourself than to have someone tell you what you should do, though the latter is certainly easier.

Are you having an “Identify” issue? Give us a call. We can help guide you through the process. And, stay tuned for the Attack phase of the I.AM method next.