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be hopeful, be strong, be brave, be curious

written by Kathryn Britton 6 July 2024

Kathryn Britton, MAPP '06, is a former software engineer and executive coach. She is now a writing coach and editor with a focus on helping people write books, blogs, and articles that contribute to the greater good (Theano Coaching LLC). She has been facilitating writing workshops since 2013. Her own books include Sit Write Share on how to get writing done well, Smarts and Stamina on using positive psychology principles to build strong health habits, and Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. Full bio. Her Sit Write Share website has resources for writers. Kathryn's articles are here.



A Book Review

Are you wondering what to do next, how to get unstuck, how to get out of a slump?  Are you unsure how to take the next best step in a meaningful life? Perhaps Ruth Pearce’s new book, be hopeful, be strong, be brave, be curious, will help you find the way forward. 

It can also do something else.  It can help you figure out whether you are ready to hire a coach to help you make progress.

Ruth S. Pearce

The author, Ruth Pearce, has been coached and is a coach herself.  Like many of us, she has tried various pathways to find the career that fits. After trying out being a lawyer and then a project manager, she found that coaching lights her up.  But not just coaching, she also writes. Follow her on LinkedIn, where she publishes frequent articles. Now she has produced a book with an eye on helping people explore their own options and take their own best next steps.

What the Book Offers

The book is set up so that it could be a self-coaching manual, with reflection questions in almost every chapter to help you think more deeply about where you are right now and where you want to grow.

Client and coach as thought partners

But it also acknowledges that you may make more progress talking things through with a thought partner who has no stake in the game other than helping you find your own unique path to the future. As I’ve found in my own experience as a coach, people generally hear the best answers coming out of their own mouths, but without the coach asking curious questions, they might never think to speak to themselves that way.  It’s fun to watch people be surprised by what they hear themselves saying!  If you do choose to look for a coach, Ruth includes some questions to ask your potential coaches to help you find a good match.

Use this book, then, to make progress on your own journey, to learn how a coach might help you, and if you choose to hire a coach, to know what to expect.

How The Book is Organized

The book starts by exploring who you are now.  Taking stock of assets and sticking points is something it’s worth doing periodically.  Know what you’ve got going for you.

The second section has a chapter for each of the slogans in the title.  Each explores what is known about the topic and addresses ways to become more hopeful, strong, brave, and curious.  There’s some theory in each chapter.  Thus, Pearce’s suggestions are not based entirely on her own experience, but her own experience shines through.  A chapter on co-creation explores how a coach can assist as you reach for each of these desirable qualities.

The final section is about transformation and setting intentions.  Think of it as the next steps toward making your desired changes. The steps might be small, but they may be transformative.

Most chapters include:

  • Concepts – for example, the chapter on hope describes work by Snyder and Lopez on hope components, as well as a discussion about how to cultivate hope
  • Case studies drawn from two sample coaching clients.  The same two clients recur in sections throughout the rest of the book, so you really get to know them.
  • Ways to apply the topics to self, such as 3 different ways to explore personal strengths and 15 questions to cultivate bravery.
  • Stories from the author’s experience, both as an evolving human and as a coach
  • Reflection questions that can be used for self-coaching.  Some of these questions reminded me of Solution-Focused Coaching:  Where are you right now?  What would it take to be 5% more what you want to be?
  • Notes about further resources.

What I liked

I liked the open-endedness.  Coaching is presented as desirable, but the book could be useful to someone who has no interest or money to invest in coaching

Coach and Client

On the other hand, it made clear the value of coaching in a way that was somewhat new to me.  You might ask yourself why not just talk your concerns over with your parents, spouse, boss, or friends. Here’s what Ruth says about that:  “If they care about us, they care about what we choose to do … because they have a vested interest and generally want to influence us.”  There are advantages to having a conversation partner who has no personal opinions about what you should do.  Does that sound like your parents, spouse, or even your friends?

“We need someone with whom to talk things through.  We need someone to reality check our assumptions and beliefs, and often we need someone to help us keep on our chosen path, especially when the terrain gets bumpy.”  P. 54

The way she drew stories from the same two coaching clients throughout the book pulls the curtain back on the growth that happens in coaching over time, as the conversations weaves around and coaching topics change.

Finally, the tone and voice made me feel that I’d really like to get to know the author.

Buy this book if you are looking for a guide to becoming a more hopeful, stronger, braver, and more curious version of yourself.

Reference

Pearce, Ruth (2024). be hopeful, be strong, be brave, be curious. Wiley.

Photo Credits

Client and Coach Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

Coach and Client Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

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