Quizzical stares, shrugs, rolling of eyes, or just plain old confusion seem to be in no short supply.
Part of the reason stems from a cultural mis-understanding of what coaching is, and part of it is an uncomfortability with one on one relationships that go beyond the surficial (i.e. the weather and sports conversations.)
First, let me help clarify what I define coaching as, and then I want to tell you the story of why coaching has been so important to my life (and why I have dedicated my life to coaching others).
Coaching is helping the client to discover, implement and attain THEIR priorities in life. The key is “THEIR”. Coaching does not tell anyone what they have to do. Coaches work with the individual to make their lives move in the direction that the client wants.
In the process, of course, you run into things that are holding the client back and it tends to get very personal. Our society has built walls to having authentic deep discussions and this bleeds over into a hesitancy to be coached. Frankly, it’s a crappy deal that we’ve bought into. Hiding behind a veneer of “success”, while crying inside for help and encouragement.
And that brings me to my story: I was living a lie.
I’d become a people pleaser, trying to win favor by being the perfect person for the role. Employee, Student, Church Leader, I was whatever people wanted….except me.
No one ever asked me what I wanted, and I learned to be what they wanted to gain value. Somewhere in there, John got lost and a shell version of him was created that looked successful to the outside world, but was crumbling within.
My self esteem suffered badly because of this, and the last 10 years have been an emotional train wreck.
It all came to a head in 2011 in the form of stress related health issues, a lack of happiness (that may have bordered on depression to be honest), and lots of oversleeping and overeating.
I’m a voracious reader and picked up a copy of Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy, and discovered coaching.
Knowing that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, I decided to give coaching a shot. I signed up to be coached and was assigned a great guy named Dennis Blevins. Dennis shares my personality type and is 20 years my senior (he’s been there done that). I promised myself that I’d be real and let it roll.
One and a half years later and I’m still coming out from under my people pleasing and poor self image. Dennis has been working with me, alternating as encourager and butt kicker as needed. He’s modeled what it means to lead through example. It’s given me hope that who I am is not a mistake and I can contribute if I live my life.
Bottom line, coaching has helped me to change my life to be what I wanted. I’ve got a long way to go, but in the process, I’ve re-discovered something I lost over 20 years ago…a desire to help other people be who they were created to be.
Coaching has helped me, and now I’m going to help others who have similar journeys. It’s why we started a company in the middle of a recession! People need hope, and coaching is a hugely effective vehicle.
I may be crazy, but I’m following my dreams. I haven’t arrived, but I’m getting there and I hope you do too.
If you’re on the fence, give coaching a try. You just might end up living the life you’ve always dreamed of…