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Ostrich Syndrome


and Techniques to Overcome it

Your Coachee prefers to avoid problems and difficult situations by pretending that they don’t exist, i.e. “sticking his/her head in the sand”.


Visualisation is a simple yet powerful technique during which your Coachee sits in a comfortable position, close his/her eyes and imagine — in as vivid detail as possible the outcome. 

Ask your Coachee to relax and close his/her eyes. "Imagine yourself in one year. How will you be because of this matter you are not facing? Implications on your family and friends? How will you feel? Now in 5 years.. [similar questions] .. now in 10 years [similar questions]. You see yourself in the mirror. What will you tell yourself?

GoMasterCoach app, including Tools and Programs

Limiting Beliefs

Your Coachee needs to identify common limiting beliefs that prevent him/her from living the life that he/she desires and reshapes them positively.

  1. Step 1: Ask your Coachee to imagine and write on a paper his/her life if money and time was no issue. Write as many details as possible.

  2. Step 2: ask your Coachee that are preventing him/her to reaching this dream life.

  3. Step 3: ask him/her write the childhood negative stories he/she tells himself/herself such as "my parents were poor", "my father was violent".

  4. Is there any overlap between Step 2 and 3. Analyse the answers.

GoMasterCoach app, including Limiting Beliefs

The 360

The 360 will help your Coachee acknowledge the difference between the perception of self and how others see the person. The 360 may help bridge that gap.

Think of 5 people whose opinion your Coachee respects and trusts. Ask them for a 360 feedback. For example: what are the coachee's key strengths, achievements, what they value the most about your coachee and one area of improvement. After that, ask the Coachee to fill out the Johari window:

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GoMasterCoach app, including 360

Common Symptoms

  • Avoiding problems and difficult situations by pretending that they don't exist

  • Denying, ignoring, or refusing to acknowledge awkward facts

  • Finding excuses not to handle the matter: For example, "I am too busy."

  • Feedback can be hard to internalize immediately and coachees with ostrich syndrome often go through four stages when receiving feedback. These stages of response to feedback is the SARA Model: Surprise, Anger / Anxiety, Rationalization, Acceptance

3 Techniques
to Help Overcome Ostrich Syndrome


  • The Impostor Syndrome: Becoming an Authentic Leader, by Harold Hillman, Chris Abernathy, et al

  • The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction: A Guide to Coping with the Grief, Stress and Anger that Trigger Addictive Behaviors (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook), by Rebecca E. Williams PhD and Julie S. Kraft MA

  • Coach's Casebook, by Kim Morgan

  • Compassion for All Creatures, by Janice Gray Kolb

  • Perfectionism: A Practical Guide to Managing "Never Good Enough", by Lisa Van Gemert

  • The Fulfillment of All Desire, by Ralph Martin

  • Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, by Tal Ben-Shahar

  • The Disease To Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome, by Harriet B. Braiker

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