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“The Invisible Hand” of Personal Success

by Bill Petrarca

The economist Adam Smith, in his historic work The Wealth of Nations (1776), coined the term “the invisible hand” to describe the self-regulating nature of the marketplace. I can’t think of a better term to describe the role a personal coach can play in the success of an aspiring executive.

A recent coaching client in a large multi-national corporation was seeking guidance to improve his effectiveness not only in his current position, but to grow his communication skills to be a viable candidate for a corporate executive position.

Through months of confidential one-on-one coaching, goal-based development, interactive journaling and “asynchronous” coaching (outside of the corporate email system), this client experienced both a personal and professional transformation. Last month, he was offered the desired position.

The coach was indeed “the invisible hand” in this person’s career success, as is often the case. Paraphrasing another of Smith’s works, “the invisible hand” of coaching can be the most effective means for promoting happiness and success.

An Internet-based follow-up system helped the coach reinforce goals established in the one-on-one coaching sessions with journaling, asynchronous feedback, online resources and support “wizards.” Adam Smith, were he alive today, might have called it “the tool for the invisible hand.”


Bill Petrarca and his wife Jane Strathman are co-founders of Strathman Associates, Inc. (SAI). From more than 10 years of client experiences in individual and group coaching, SAI designed onCoach to help coaches reinforce learning and skill-building following workshops/sessions. Please contact bill@strathman.com about customizing onCoach for your clients.


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