First thing you should know about me is that I believe in Coaching. Secondly, I believe in it so thoroughly, I have a Coach. However, it strikes me as intriguing that rarely do I get asked, “So, do you have a coach?” Even if my partner-in-conversation asks this, never has that person asked me what I talk to my coach about or what I have learned in the process. Perhaps this is out of courtesy for the confidential nature of coaching…maybe I could be the one to inquire into that assumption…but it made me think about how I might respond. Really, if I carefully consider my journey of the past 20 months, or so, what have I learned? What have I learned from my Coach, with my Coach or, more importantly, what have I learned through my Coach. In true goal oriented style, I submit to you, a top 5 list of personal revelations through Coaching:
1. Daring, for me, is about not knowing: It is tough to approach a call time and suddenly realize I do not really know, with any clarity, what I need, what I want, what would be of the greatest use to me during this time. Try being a Coach AND a client of a Coach AND very goal oriented with this hanging over your head. That’s challenging. During my work with my current Coach I have been offered (and accepted) the permission to not know. This has opened up my mind to consider, “ok, if I don’t know what I want, how could I create that understanding, create that doorway towards knowing?”. That was a revelation for me and took me back to what I loved early in life: drama, theatre, playing. What if I played in this space and time and took out of it only what intrigues me? What benefit do I perceive from being able and willing to stand in that very uncomfortable space of not knowing? What did I learn…I learned that I DO know how to be daring. I know how to stand in an uncomfortable space longer than most. I know how to wait, listen, learn, adjust towards what comes from being willing and open to what emerges without forcing it or manufacturing it. And it has been through playing in this space of not knowing that I have become daring. I have created my own landscape as a fulltime Executive Coach and Presentation Coach, real-estate investor, published musician, etc, etc. I amaze me, and I now know how to continue to amaze me.
2. Trust the process: even my own! Yes, there have been times when I have fallen off the face of the earth and my Coach never judges me in these moments. She calls or sends me an email or text saying she is trusting my process and wondering where I am today, how I am moving with the universe and in what ways she can support me. This is incredibly helpful to my mindset that allows for little personal “oops” moments. You know, those moments when you realize that you are on MOUNTAIN standard time and your Coach is NOT…omg, did I blow my call time??? Breathe deeply, Kelly. It’s OK. Nothing is broken. Nobody has perished. Trust the process and get into the mindset of considering what is the best process for here, now and propelling into tomorrow.
3. Connection: I seek connections. I pride myself on connecting people. My favourite informal party-game (at least it’s a game in my head) is to converse with ANYONE in the room long enough to find our “6 Degrees of Separation”. In other words, I need to find the moment in time, the person, the place that connects us to one and other. Once I find that out, I am absolutely thrilled. (P.S. It always works!) Interestingly enough, this does not equate to wanting to connect deeply with tonnes of people. If I were to draw from 2.0 Strength Finder, I am not looking for friends, per se. I can get along with an amazingly broad array of people. I am seeking connections with them, to know how we fit together. The challenge here is how to maintain the deeper connections I want to foster with friends and family in my inner circle.
4. Receiving is a form of giving: In my work as a fulltime Executive Coach, I give, give, give, give. That makes me feel worthy, valued, good and is a wonderful place to live. But like anything in life, if overdone, this can become too much of a good thing. I ran into a wall, of sorts, when I began to feel like I wasn’t getting anything back. I felt like pieces were being taken off of me and that I was vanishing, in the process. Coaching fatigue? Perhaps. But I needed a solution, not an explanation of what I was feeling. I was finding that I had friends and family members who were seeking me out for my coaching skills, asking for coaching sessions that I did not want to give. I wanted them to just be my friends and family, not my clients! Where was I going to draw the line? Did I have to draw the line? Wasn’t I holding out on them if I DIDN’T coach them??? Increasingly, I had lost my centre of receiving these requests openly and with excitement. This thought was interfering with my work to increase my coaching contracts, connect with potential clients and build deep relationships with people who were important to me. The solution was eloquent and simple but required practice and homework. I needed to shift my perspective to think about the connection between giving and receiving. I needed to consider how I receive in life, what I was capable of receiving and be proactive in thinking about receiving, in life and work, as a form of giving back to the giver. I look at it like this: someone has given me a compliment. My express appreciation for that gift says something about the compliment (adds value or takes it away) AND the giver (adds value or takes it away!). And as for homework on this, I have a vision board in my bedroom on which I put a sticker and a brief note about what I have received in any one given day. This is practice for me that shapes my thinking and behaving.
5. My emotions lack voice: Connect to my desire to build connections and what it means to effectively give and receive, I discovered that my emotions don’t really have a voice for me. This blog, for example, was incredibly challenging to write. I am an Executive Coach, for heaven’s sake! Which is to say, I coach in business situations (mostly) and I coach for results. Hard qualifiable, quantifiable results. I am not interested in coaching matters of the heart (that would be a Life Coach and I am thankful they exist). To me, coaching is about goals, progress, movement, action, repeat. Speaking from the heart and making that real is outside of my comfort zone. And that’s okay. So, what does my heart say? Not much and not often. It simply doesn’t speak with words. It feels. I know when I feel good, bad, exhilarated or when things are confusing or life is slipping. I feel and sense these things but struggle to say them. So, don’t ask me to put it into words. What I can do is to share these emotions by way of metaphor, a song that captures my emotions, a poem. And then I practice explaining what it is about these pieces that encapsulates my emotional voice, so well. (NOTE: I only do this with, as Brené Brown says, the people who have earned the right to hear it. You might say, my website crowd has earned that right because I am clearly stepping out of my comfort zone to even say this much. Please, be gentle.)