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Man sees the sign

and runs to buy a ticket


Put up a "TICKETS" sign,

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Not answering my question

I will ask a client, "What actions are you going to take that could move you toward the results that you want here?"

More often than not, they don't answer my question. Instead, they respond by telling me other results they will need to get in order to get the final result. Their answer does not reduce to detailing what they will do that is totally in their control to do. This is why they usually have a lot of difficulties: 

  • They're not getting crystal clear about what consistent actions they need to take and how much time they will devote to those actions each day in order to have a good chance that they'll get the results they want within a projected time period.

  • They're putting "results first" in their mind; consequently, when they do take actions and they don't immediately get the desired results, they'll easily get frustrated, discouraged, and even give up.

  • They don't take the time and thought to ensure that they're likely to enjoy the process of taking those actions, even when the desired results don't show up as quickly as they would like or anticipate.

What is an action?

An action is something that you have complete control over doing (or not doing), under normal and predicable background conditions.

Example: you can pick up the phone and dial Jim's number.

Special note:


I use the word action and process somewhat interchangeably. Each action could be considered a process. And a set of sequential actions could also be designated as a single process. Regardless, whether an action or a process, they are assumed to be within one's control to do (that is, it can be guaranteed), regardless of whether or not the intended result eventuates.

What is a result?

In this context, a result is some desired outcome that the actions taken are intended to influence (and may even be required) in order to get the desired outcome, but which may or may not happen. 

Example: Jim may or may not answer the phone. In order to have the result of Jim answering the phone, you are required to dial his number (take the action over which you have complete control). Yet, the desired outcome of Jim answering his phone is something which may or may not happen. 

Why is it so important to distinguish actions and results?

Some types of results (which I'm not talking about here) are guaranteed after taking the action. Example: if you take the action to pour yourself a glass of water, then you will have the guaranteed outcome of having a full glass of water. Simple and predictable. But if you limit your life to taking actions only where the results are predictable, in the big picture, you'll have a boring life and miss out on many great outcomes you could have had if you were willing to take actions where the results were not guaranteed each time.

The desired outcome of each set of actions cannot be guaranteed.

Yet, repeated again and again, getting one or more desired outcomes becomes almost predictable

This is very easy to understand with flipping a coin. If a you flip a coin once, you just have a 50% chance it will come up heads. If that is the desired outcome, it's not predictable. However, if you flip a coin ten times, the chances of it coming up heads at least once is 99.9%. Therefore, you could say it's very close to predictable to get your desired outcome at least once after flipping the coin ten times.

This principle applies to so many important choices in our lives

  • If you apply for one job, you may or may not get it. Not very predictable. But, as you apply for more and more jobs (and learning along the way to increase the percentage of possibility for each job applied for), then the chances of you not getting a job become very small to non-existent.

  • If you ask one friend to do you a favor, they may or may not say "yes." If you keep asking different friends for the favor, each time freshly and eagerly, it becomes more and more predictable that a friend will do that favor for you.

  • If you search for an answer to an important question just once and for a few minutes, you might not find it. But, if you keep the question in mind, looking for different ways to get the answer, the chances of you getting the answer become increasingly likely.

Some valued results depend upon two or more staged action sets

It works like a multi-staged rocket (although the desired end result can require many more stages than a rocket might have).

  • Only if the stage 1 action set is successful in creating intermediate result 1, do we go onto the stage 2 action set (for a given end result).

  • Only if the stage 2 action set is successful in creating intermediate result 2, do we go onto the stage 3 action set.

  • And so on, until a given intermediate stage does not create its intended intermediate result or the end result is created, whichever comes first.

Each stage of action sets is design to have the best possible chance of eventuating the intermediate result intended for that stage. Yet, there will always be some percentage of risk that the result will not occur. Each stage is bracketed as a stage because, within the set actions, the actions and any results that occur within that set of actions, can be guaranteed to happen; there is essentially no risk involved. After each stage is completed, then the intended result will happen or not. If it happens, the next stage is initiated. If it doesn't happen, then the specific end target is abandoned for that set of stages.

Here's a (real life) example of staged action sets designed for a specific end result

The specific end result (which may or may not occur for a given staged action set) is for me to have a new paying life-coaching client.

Here are the staged action sets that I have designed. I proceed through each of these action steps, until one intermediate result doesn't happen or until I get the new client, whichever comes first. Of course, I can initiate as many of these staged action steps as needed or desired.

  1. Stage 1 action set (intermediate result 1 intended: get an introduction and have them accept and schedule a gift coaching session with me),

    • Action 1: make a list/refer to a list of current clients, former clients, friends whom I could contact to request an introduction of someone who might be open to accepting a gift coaching session from me.

    • Action 2: initiate contact through emails, calls, texts to people on this list until I am able to speak with one of them on the phone and make my request for an introduction, until I get at least one introduction.

    • Action 3: texting and calling this introduction (until I am either unable to reach the introduction and give up or I reach them by phone and offer them the gift coaching session).

    • Note: for any given introduction, I will be able to reach them and they will accept the gift coaching session about 80% of the time. In other works, I am able to obtain intermediate result 1 about 80% of the time.

  2. Stage 2 action set (intermediate result 2 intended: the prospect keeps the appointment with me and participates in the gift coaching session).

    • Action 1: I send an email immediately after the phone call to confirming the gift session just set; I send a text to remind them to check their email.​

    • Action 2: A "Welcome Packet," very impressively designed, is shipped express to them from China (they are usually in the USA). This is done within one day after the session has been set. The purpose of the packet is to show my commitment and to help them prepare to get the most value from their session.

    • Action 3: An email is sent to the prospect which includes the tracking number and the address shipped to, telling them to expect the packet within seven days. A text message is sent to remind them to check their email.

    • Action 4: In one week I will send a text message to confirm that they got the package. If not, I will followup to ensure they get the package.

    • Action 5: One day before the session, I will text them to confirm the session the following day. I will re-text them, if necessary. I set it up so that it's their responsibility to call me through my USA telephone number.

    • Note: over 95% of the prospects end up keeping the gift session appointment with me. Before I was consistent and rigorous in this process I had more than a 30% no show ratio. Overall, my success percentage for obtaining intermediate result 2 is between 95-97%.

  3. Stage 3 action set (end result intended: the prospect engages with me in examining whether or not it's in their best interest to become my client, either saying "yes" or "no").

    • Action 1: Taking a partnership attitude, I do everything I can do in the gift coaching session to make a life-changing impact on the issue they present. I often schedule a continuation of the gift session to ensure the most powerful impact.​

    • Action 2: After the gift coaching session, I invite further partnership (that often takes up to 40 minutes) in helping them get in touch with the life-changing difference a six-month partnership with me could make for them.

    • Action 3: I show them ways that they can easily reduce the risks and costs of working with me, so that the benefits occur as larger and the costs occur as smaller.

    • Action 4: I work with them as partners to address any concerns, misunderstandings, or issues so that they can make the best choice for themselves about whether or not to work further with me.

    • Action 5: I kept re-scheduling continuation sessions until I get either a clear "no" or a clear "yes." I never leave it as a "maybe."

    • Note: about 20% of the prospects (who have gotten past intermediate result 2) become my paying client (the biggest issue is affordability; there can also be an issue of timing; and they still may not feel that enough value would be there for them). My overall success rate for obtaining the end result of the stage 3 action set is about 20%.

Focusing on the process and the staged action sets

I started my life-coaching career in April, 1987. Having created, tested, refined, and develop this process since then (a lot at the beginning, but less and less as my career progressed), I've had little trouble getting and servicing all the clients that I wanted to have. Just by repeating again and again the above staged action sets, starting with a new prospect each time. When a prospect did not develop into a client (as you can see from my track record, happened much more often than not), it was fine. I trusted the process. I made sure I enjoyed the process. This meant that I got paid (in pleasure and satisfaction) for every prospect that I provided a gift session to, even when they did not become my client. Also, I was always aware that the more "noes" I got meant that I got more "yeses." I had to get the "noes" to pay for the "yeses."

Distinguish actions and process from the results

Keep the results in mind, while prioritizing the consistency and enjoyability of the process. The results will almost effortlessly fall out of that.

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