The Hidden History of Coaching


“I used to say that without Carl Rogers and Werner Erhard coaching would not exist.  Then I wrote The Hidden History of Coaching……”Leni Wildflower.

This immensely readable book fills a serious gap in our understanding of the origins of coaching. It is unique in tracking not just the tangled roots of contemporary coaching practice, but also in giving insights into the founders and developers of these earlier approaches to human development – quirky individuals and brilliant theorists, many with flaws and foibles and heroic personal stories. Fascinating in themselves, these narratives contribute to a richer understanding of our shared principles.

The Hidden History includes:

  • The emergence, out of the darkness of the Great Depression, of Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Alcoholics Anonymous and the self-improvement movements of the early 20th
  • The strange tale of Jack Rosenberg who dropped out of his life to reinvent himself as Werner Erhard and take the self-help movement by the scruff of the neck.
  • Fascinating personal glimpses of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Erik Erikson and Eric Berne, Fritz Perls and Wilhelm Reich, and of how their lives shaped their thinking–and subsequently ours.
  • The evolution of psychometrics from the IQ number crunchers to the celebration of human complexity.
  • The impact on the individual of the social environment, from dark insights into obedience and groupthink, to what lies behind the soothing smiles of flight attendants.

Each chapter begins with a passage of reflection from a working coach, related to the content of the chapter, and ends with some implications for coaching. But the real richness is to be found in the stories. We all need stories to make sense of our lives. I hope these ones will give you food for thought – and a bit of inspiration too.