CLIMB- Own A Successful Future


A Coaching Model by Lindsey Sheets, Education Coach, UNITED STATES

When coaching younger students as they explore their next best steps, it’s important to remember this is their climb and their ladder. It will look different for each of them. Because the students (high school-aged, typically) I work with will have other people to consider, such as parents or guardians, they may not be alone on this ladder. As a coach, I must be aware of how much room they have on their ladder along with who is there already, who they want (and don’t want) there and who needs to be there. These can be very different answers depending on the student. 

While working with clients as they explore leaving their current career field and entering a new one, we must remember that their ladder may be leaning against a plethora of contingencies. Such as family obligation to bring home the same (or bigger) paycheck, society and family expectations, a fear of the unknown, and many other things. All these items can cause a client to not feel stable on their ladder. It’s important to examine these factors before jumping right into coaching and using this model specifically. People of all ages can benefit from learning to apply this model to their lives, as it will give them some solid suggestions on where to go next while helping them to remember they can always keep looking and moving up or they can stay where they are. They can even go back down a rung if need be. 

The great solution to all human problems is individual inner transformation. Vernon Howard

To apply this model, remember to start where the client is currently. It’s their first step and it’s their future to claim. With that being said, many clients come to us because they don’t know their first step. This is a great time to build that rapport and to help them to build that ladder and sort out what it’s leaned against. Some people’s ladders may be very solid and sturdy because they are coming to coaching with a very clear-cut idea of what they want and what their goal is. Others may not feel their ladder is sturdy at all because they don’t know what they need to get what they want. It may just seem like something or everything is off, and they just want support. Knowing where they are before starting is important and using this model can help them to visualize their reasons, goals, potential hurdles, and many other factors that can be represented by the ladder.

Moving through each piece may not happen in this exact order. They may want to focus on their motivators first, so they know “they have what it takes” to keep themselves actively engaged and going in coaching. This is not a problem at all! This model can be rearranged in almost any way the client needs. Even reaching the top of the ladder could be just the beginning of their building and they will continue to grow from there. 

Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision and change. Richard Branson 

Below I break down what piece of the acronym CLIMB stands for and what to do with it. 

Coaching Model CLIMB:

C- Claim your future

L- Learn about your needs

I- Intentions/Goals

M- Motivators

B- Becoming/Beyond/Building

Claim your future: when a client comes to coaching, they are trying to come to some form of resolution. They are looking for clarification and support. To be able to find that resolution, clarification, and support, one must take that first step and Claim their future.

Learn about your needs: next, one must know what it is they are wanting to gain from participating in coaching. They need to have a clear idea of what they would want to get out of the individual sessions and coaching overall. This is something they can come in with if they are self-reflective or aware. But also, could be sorted out while in the first few sessions. 

Intentions/Goals: Intentions for coaching need to be set and clear. The client will need to have goals that are in place before moving further up the ladder. These goals can shift and change, but there needs to be a target we are working towards. These intentions will be set within the first few sessions with support from the coach.

Motivators: Finding the motivation for these intentions and goals is an important step. Without motivation to keep moving up and towards that goal, the loss of interest or dedication can happen. Once the client has found what motivates them the most, the coach can help keep those in mind to keep the client motivated.

Becoming/Beyond/Building: this last step is an exciting one! This can look different for different clients. That’s why there are 3 options. Becoming the best version of themselves, going beyond what they thought possible, or starting to build a foundation to climb the next ladder. Each client may feel their “end goal” or “top of their ladder” is a bit different. That’s why there is no final, per se, but merely a stepping-off point for their next steps in coaching or their life overall. 

While I use it in my Student Empowerment Coaching in working on education and career transitions, the CLIMB model can be applied to any form of coaching and is designed to be individualized. Because each person’s goals are unique to them, the idea of a one-size-fits-all model isn’t very applicable. Because this can be used as a starting point, added on as a way to form structure in the middle or at the end as a way to explore the next or last steps, it can be made to fit any client and their unique needs and your coaching niche. As long as the metaphor is clear in the beginning, so the client knows where they want to go (what’s at the top of the ladder), what the ladder is leaned against (what they are bringing in with them) and that this ladder is not sedentary (that they can use this coaching many times and over and over) then they can expect great things from themselves as clients and you as a coach.


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