Career Coaching: The Reverse Flea Circus

July 24, 2013

When lawyers approach us about coaching, we are often asked to explain how the coaching process works.  What is coaching?  How does coaching help to create a more efficient project manager, communicator, leader, business developer, or time manager?  How can coaching help you to reach your career and/or personal goals?  One way to think about coaching is a “flea circus” in reverse.  Remember the flea circus?  Once a popular form of entertainment in the 19th-century (come on, no more strange than some of our modern day entertainment options!), fleas were trained to jump only as high as the lid of a cigar box, though in reality they could jump to more than 200 times their own height.  The “circus” was lifting the lid to watch them bounce around as if there were a piece of glass over the box.  Habituated to jump within a limited range of their actual potential, the fleas forgot just how much higher they could jump.  After years of conditioning and developing habits in the ways we think, act, and approach life and work, we are not much different from these fleas!

Coaching help us to investigate the factors that may be limiting us from reaching our fullest potential, unravel unproductive beliefs and habits, and replace them with new, more productive ones.  To achieve optimal effectiveness in any domain, whether it’s overall productivity, time management, communication skills, effective relationships, career success, or good health, we often need help to see things differently, create a new vision, develop greater awareness of what may be holding us back, and implement more effective tools and strategies.  Even if we are aware of how much higher we could be jumping, our unproductive habits, and the things we “should” be doing differently, it takes dedicated focus over time to integrate new practices and sustain them over time.  By providing the space for reflection, goal setting and action steps, and offering the accountability needed for overcoming resistance and creating sustainable change, coaching helps cement new habits more quickly—and makes that high jump achievable. Find out if your law school, firm, or organization offers coaching.  If so, take advantage of it!  Coaching can help you to reach your goals more quickly and provide a helpful sounding board for making career decisions.  If you want to find a coach on your own, visit  Don’t be a flea… you can always jump higher