The origins of Continue & Begin™ Fast Coaching go back to the 1990s. I developed an early version of Continue & Begin™ when lecturing mature students in management studies.

One-to-one tutorials were enlightening. I found to my surprise that even the most self-assured, assertive and apparently confident managers harboured anxieties and self-doubt about personal performance and capability. I discovered few of my students were skilled at celebrating their successes.

For many, their critical inner voice was hard at work undermining their achievements and skills, suggesting frailties hidden from others, and re-running internal videos and audio tapes of things they wish they’d said and done at work and things they wished they hadn’t said and done. ‘What other people think’ was a thread through much of their internal processing. Many of my students were outstanding at personal criticism. I clearly remember during coursework assessment giving one manager a ‘Distinction for Self Flagellation’.

Trust began to build between tutor and student. Managers’ personal ‘masks’ fell away and the real person emerged. Tutorials became honest and hidden anxieties surfaced. “What if I fail?” and “I can’t do this” were phrases I heard often.

I encountered managers who were clearly under enormous personal pressure, in responsible management roles during difficult economic times. Many students had the additional burden of organisations which dwelled on ‘improvement needs’ with minimal recognition of continuing successful performance. The financial well-being of their family unit depended on success at work. It was a potent mix – strain at work, money worries, balancing home life, child care, and relationships – and now a professional development management course!

I determined to embark on a programme of ego-strengthening. The origins of my strategy lay in therapeutic work I was studying at the time. I began each tutorial with Enforced Celebration. I asked each student to highlight their professional and personal development achievements since our last tutorial and to make a note of these successes. I was ruthless in demanding adherence to ‘celebration’. The effect was dramatic. Students’ physiology changed, their facial expressions, posture, breathing patterns, minor motor movements, skin tone and language patterns, all changed as they began to acknowledge their achievements and recognise how talented they were.

For some, we considered “What would happen if?” and an early version of Can’t to Can™ evolved. For others, we explored what eventually became known as their Structure of Well-Done-Ness™.

Confidence was manifest! Students began to think of professional development based on a platform of personal confidence. Grades improved. We won Awards! We were onto something…