Because Life always plays hardball. It doesn’t consider compassion. In fact, Life doesn’t consider much of anything–least of all, how we feel about what it does.

Life just “does Life”—playing for real, without no care for who gets hit with what, or how badly they get hurt. It just keeps demanding action, regardless of pain, anguish, loss, injury, damage, whatever.  In this way, it is like gravity, which I take as a metaphor for the Reality of Life. It does not care whether you are happy or sad when you go off the edge of the bridge.  As in Real Life Hardball, the outcome will always be the same, regardless of how you feel.


Compassion is an act of alignment and solidarity with others in mustering what it takes to face this often harsh reality. It is an attitude of respect, tolerance and non-judgmental understanding for whatever the person finds themselves doing, thinking or feeling at any point in their efforts to deal with life. It attributes earnestness and good will to those efforts, regardless of how they may appear to outside observers at various times.

As a Coach, compassion for clients and their efforts shows up as a proactive stance of faith in that person’s positive intent. And it manifests as a “hardball” form of respect that is not easy to find: ruthless rigor in demanding personal accountability for one’s every thought, action, word, and feeling.

So “Compassionate Hardball” is an uncompromising attitude in coaching others to help muster what it takes to become a Real Adult. And it is always tempered by respect and a vibrant sense of partnership in achieving the desired outcome.

This means relating to the client as the person committed to achieving their goals–not as that person’s “stuff” which always comes up on the way to achieving one’s goals. It means believing in the client regardless of the client’s attitude toward themselves. And it means empathy, understanding, and acceptance, along with an uncompromising demand for actions sufficient to achieve the desired outcomes.

In summary, Compassionate Hardball is perhaps best depicted by: “I get it. I get what happened, I get who did what, and I get how you legitimately feel about it–completely. And–by when will you get back to doing what you said you are committed to doing, and how can I support your doing that?”

Coaching Relationship as a Battery, not a Whip

This is not simply “hard-nosed” coaching. It is a relationship with clients which always recharges the client’s own battery when it runs too low to keep going on their own.

It is an interpersonal context of soothing acceptance and understanding which is ultimately our only balm for what life can do to us.  And it includes the respectful and rigorous demand for effective action that inspires confidence in ourselves when we have none. It is, in short, the best possible environment in which to truly (finally?) “grow up” in the best sense of that phrase.

I look forward to talking with you about how this approach can help you live more effectively and vitally than you might ever have imagined possible.  Please feel free to call me at 434-466-3850, or fill out and submit the provided contact form by clicking here.

Joseph Dane, PhD