How to Throw Someone In the Deep End of the Pool

Coddling is degrading because it tells people they’re incompetent. Pampering devalues strength.

Over-protection is rejection.


Stretch yourself if you want to grow.

It’s not a stretch assignment if it doesn’t keep you up at night.

Define the deep end:

Ultimately, the person being “pushed in” is “jumping in”.

The person being stretched defines the deep end. You might press them by saying, “I think you can go deeper.” 

Anyone who doesn’t jump in on their own isn’t ready for a stretch.

Define success:

What will it look like if the person in the deep end succeeds?

6 questions to define success.

  1. What will be true if the stretch assignment works?
  2. How will the person in the deep end measure progress?
  3. What will be different about the person being stretched?
  4. What new results indicate success? How will you measure results?
  5. How will relationships and connections be stronger?
  6. What new skills will be present and active?


Over-help defeats growth.

Skillful help means the person in the deep end is on their own AND not on their own at the same time.

  1. Skillful help is NOT helping just enough.
  2. Skillful help doesn’t do things FOR people.
  3. Skillful help does things WITH people.
  4. Skillful help is support while they splash.
  5. Skillful help is coaching.

If you want to insult someone’s potential, pull them out of the deep end before they’ve given their best. In the end, if you’re always pulling someone out of the deep end, the stretch assignments are poorly designed.

Help is supporting people while they splash, not protecting them from the water.

Help is throwing a nose plug, not a life preserver.

What concerns you about pushing people in the deep end of the pool?

How might leaders push people in the deep end of the pool?