3. Why do I coach?
I had everything I was supposed to want: A wonderful husband, a beautiful baby, a great job, a big house, vacations in Europe, Bali, Australia. Insurance that covered 100% of the delivery and a nice, private room, as well as anything that could have gone wrong during those grand vacations.
Oddly, though- I felt unfulfilled and in a life that didn't feel like mine. None of it felt like mine, save the baby and the occasional tingle I still felt underneath the smooth, pink line the incision from the Cesarean left. That felt like mine. I moved through that life like a stage assistant would, marking spots on the set where things were supposed to happen once the cameras would roll. There was one problem. I was supposed to be the lead, and I was supposed to direct. Someone had told me that they had hired a replacement director and hired a new lead. Instead of fighting, I conceded. Anyway, in being wildly miscast, I felt physically out of place. And I was. I wasn't in my life. Much like an uninhabited house, a life without a person living in it, won't survive. And eventually, that life broke down. I hadn't been proactive about moving into my life. So it collapsed on me. It saved me from having to organize a demolition, but there were consequences.
Post-tumult, I re-examined everything. I purged. Things, clothes, books, papers, sugar, alcohol, friends. I eliminated what I didn't need, and tentatively explored being open to what might belong in my life. I moved. I found work. I moved again. I was invited to lead a company 14 hours away. I moved again. I consulted said company. I moved again. I accepted an offer from a company that offered everything that a newly single parent could have wanted- though, against my better intuition.
After a year, not listening to that intuition came and bit me in the ass. I was tired. I realized that while the job did offer good things on paper- they still were not things that I actually wanted. They were things that I was supposed to want. Perhaps a last vestige of my life with my parents, or with my ex-husband. In that job, I accepted a lot of things that I would have never tolerated otherwise, convincing myself, this was indeed what I wanted. And there was a price to pay. Many parts of my life had moved on, but other parts? They stuck.
Had I not found what I want? What I really wanted?
I knew that I'd learned to listen better. But I realized I didn't know how to really listen to what I wanted, without pushing them aside for the things I thought I should want- all of the things on the conventionally successful path. The thing I always dread seeing in the grocery store- busy mothers shusshing their children- it's what I was doing to myself. What did I want and what did that look like? I didn't know any other way to get closer to that than to complain- an process of elimination, but without any hard actions attached.
I'd been blind to it, until a friend had pointed out to me:
"Stop complaining about your job and do something. You would make a great therapist for creatives. A great coach."
Then, I knew. I'd been coaching the whole time.
I realized I'd been coaching clients across sectors as a kind of midwife, helping them to birth their vision and dreams. I did it as art director with designers. I did it as management for shareholders. I did it as a mentor to colleagues. I'd been doing it since the beginning (of my career). The odd pieces to my journey were suddenly coming together. This is why my friends introduced me to their friends as their coach. This is why my corporate clients were asking whether I gave one on one sessions. I hadn't been switching jobs, I'd been coaching across disciplines. Art directing, shaping businesses, consulting- they were shells for coaching, as if I didn't want anyone to know that's what I was really doing. I suddenly saw that my passion straddles industries, it can sit in many different roles, and it weaves in and out of my personal and professional lives. This made sense. Coaching doesn't live in one space. Because life doesn't get lived in one space.
I drew from my experience with yoga- I hired someone I could do the work with, someone with whom I could learn. I hired a coach. I discovered first hand what it feels like to see something clearly that had been next to me all along. I discovered the richness of what I had inside of me. I discovered an untapped language and a way of seeing the world. I discovered that I had the answers.
As when anything seismic happens to my inner world, I wanted to share it with everyone- as yoga did. And as with yoga, I decided to become trained. I trained not so much to become a coach, but to continue holding space for people to become who they already are- unhindered and unapologetic. Taking from one of my old, ingrained values, I went for the top- I decided to train at one of the most well respected institutions that offered the golden standard in the industry- the ICF model and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The Program integrates a large Personal Development component in addition to coaching training, which resonates with my personal path. I am now certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and am ICF-trained.
I've come to know coaching as a place we meet to design and build the life, the results, the relationships you want. This is the place where we work together to shed old patterns, create newness and good. This is the place where your fulfillment becomes your contribution to the world. I know this, because my coach has met me here, in this place.
In the process of coaching and being coached, I slowly came to see what I had thought of as failures- a divorce, uninspired job changes - were opportunities for rich learning. I now see them as intimate case studies in accessing my whole self. They were cases in transforming challenging experiences into something meaningful.
This, for me, is Coaching- the place we midwife whole and creative selves together, so that we lead and live fully, wherever we go.
midwife \ˈmid-ˌwīf\ 1.to assist in the birth of (a baby). 2.to produce or aid in producing (something new)