Coaching & The 3 Realities

Dear Coach,

In a previous post you refer to the “three realities.” I’d like to know more about them and how you use them in your coaching work.



Dear Marybeth,

Let me tell you a little secret about coaching. It’s like being a magician, but instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, we’re pulling realities out of perceptions. And let me tell you, it’s more challenging than it sounds.

You see, in my line of work, I deal with three kinds of realities: (1) what you think you’re doing or saying, (2) what you’re actually doing or saying, and (3) how others perceive what you’re doing or saying.

When I work with a client, these three realities don’t quite line up. I’ll watch a client lead a meeting, then ask them afterward what they think they said or did. More often than not, their perception doesn’t match up with reality. There’s also the gap between what actually happened and how others perceived it. You might think you came across as confident and assertive. But others? They might have seen you as arrogant and dismissive.

But here’s where the magic happens. When a client accepts these three realities, they become coachable. Suddenly, we can start working on strategies to align these realities. We work on actions and behaviors that can make what you think you’re doing, what you’re actually doing, and how others perceive you, all fall into line.

And voila! That’s when the magic really happens. That’s when you realize that you’re not just pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but transforming yourself into the person you want to be.

Best regards, 


Jathan Janove is a Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Master Coach and Practice Leader. You can learn more about him here. If you have a question you’d like him to address, please email us at


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