Solution Focused Coaching Part 2 – The Miracle Question

Hi, welcome to another video in this series on Solution Focused Coaching. In this video, I discuss the miracle question and why I think you can and should simplify it in the coaching context.

The miracle question is often misunderstood and misused by SF coaches, that’s because there’s an assumption that this is a “MUST DO” part of any solution-focused coaching process and talk of miracles with some clients and in certain contexts, like executive coaching or in the corporate world, aren’t necessarily appropriate.

After all, most execs and corporations I’ve worked with or for don’t believe in miracles, they believe in specific targets and measurable outcomes. So before I go on, here’s an example of the miracle question in its purest form.

“Suppose that tonight, while you sleep that a miracle happens and your best hopes are realised. Now because you’re asleep when you wake up text the next morning you’ve got no idea that the miracle occurred. What’s the first thing that you’ll notice that is different about your life, that tells you that the miracle happened”.

Well, that’s the miracle question, but as the saying goes “if you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” and the miracle question is really just a means to an end, with that end being a clear understanding and description of a preferred future or hoped-for outcome.

Now the key thing to note here, is that the miracle question is a first step in getting the client to creatively and specifically imagine what their future will look like without the problem getting in the way.

Don’t forget clients can often only see what’s wrong and can easily get swamped by the problem and the miracle question is designed to help them see an unrealized future for the first time and how they will be living and engaging with people and their environment in that new future. This opens up not only their thinking but the possibilities and pathways towards it and importantly does this in a way that is developed by the client, not the coach.

That said the way the coach helps the client explore that preferred future is not just about the miracle question, but rather the following discussion post the question, where we ensure the preferred future is framed positively i.e. what they want rather what they don’t want and where we ask a series of follow up questions that are used to create enough of a detailed picture to elicit a level of solutions focused thinking that helps them take steps forward toward that future.

So yes, the miracle question is an important principle in SFC, but it’s not the only question you can use to get the coaching outcome of eliciting a description of a positive, problem-free, preferred future.

The purist might criticise this approach, but for me, throughout my career, I’ve always tried to keep things simple, so if the client doesn’t need the question I don’t use it and even if I do I don’t use the word miracle, either way, I ask something like “suppose you wake up tomorrow and the problem no longer existed, what would you notice that was different about your life or your job.

Anyway, that’s probably enough on the miracle question, if you’d like to see more in this series on SFC please subscribe and hit the notification bell and if you have any questions please use comments or make contact via links in the description below.