Yesterday was a happy/sad day for myself and one of my beloved coaching clients. After 5+ years of working together, she has matured to the point of “owning” her talents and strengths and truly knowing what they are and how to use them for herself.
I could not be more proud. A long term coaching engagement creates a relationship that not many of us get to experience. The courage to totally trust your mentor and coach while getting to totally trust yourself and what is most important to you is an experience we all deserve.
We met at a conference for women leaders. I was a keynote speaker and presented a half day program on Negotiating For Women. When you are invited to something like this as an expert, you are allowed to be immersed in all the presentations and sit with the attendees to experience what they experience.
And there she was. Sitting at a group table; arm slung over the chair; leaning back listening and unaware that she was being observed. My first thought was, I want to meet this gal. In just her sitting, she exuded power, talent, confidence and complete interest in the content being presented. Let me add that she was dressed to perfection and probably wearing a size 4. Makeup so well done and her hair/bangs just ever so slightly waved to the side. She was (and still is) the picture of someone you want to know and someone you want to know more about.
So I got out my business card during the break and went to meet her. When I told her what I observed and how I knew I wanted to meet her and hear her story, she actually got tears in her eyes. She told me…”I’ve not felt confident and/or powerful in a long, long time”. Once we both got back to our homes after the conference, we talked for a long time and starting our coaching journey that next week.
When I start a new coaching engagement, I have them take an assessment to determine talents and strengths; an intake written in their own words so we can review; schedule an in-person VIP in either city or mine (Nashville) and schedule our weekly coaching calls. The first couple of weeks are busy determining what is most important and what we want to work on. The in-person VIP helps determine what is working, what is not working, what needs to change and what is next. It is an exciting time and revealing in the most concrete ways.
Some examples of what I found out about her in our first conversations:
- Senior Executive – with her company for 20 years+
- Has 300+ post it notes in her office on three (3) very large monitors on an L shaped desk
- Her team adores her – and keep getting promoted out of her team
- She travels almost weekly and the clients love her
- Her office is a dumping ground for manuals and papers she is too busy to clean up
- She is solicited by other leaders in her industry for her opinion – because she is trusted and well liked
- Her time management skills were never developed to fit her needs and how she works
- She meets deadlines at all costs and most of the costs were to her health and scheduling
- Most feedback she received from colleagues and her executive team felt like criticism
- She is articulate, industry deep in knowledge and flawless in supporting other people
What happens, so clearly, in coaching is that you, as the client/coachee, find out how really smart and valued you are. Stuff you forgot. Information about you did not support because the vulnerability of them giving you “critical” feedback made it true that you could not possibly be the contributor you ached to be. You get to the point where everyone feels like the enemy and every next meeting/word/project will be negative. It might even be hard to get up in the morning to face that crummy person you know you have become.
A side note here: no Olympic athlete ever got to the games without a coach. When you are performing your talents and strengths, you seldom get to see what your coach sees. The rhythm and grace of your performance. When you don’t win each contest, you become negative. Your coach finds you and tells you what really happened so you can support you…the talents that are really there, not covered up in your negative self talk.
And so the journey began.
Where do you start?
Well we did the in-person VIP in her town on a weekend and cleaned up the office filling 3 LARGE trash buckets on wheels: tossed some really not needed things; REMOVED all of the post it notes from her monitors (and refrigerator) and cleaned out her shelves and credenza. We dusted. We saved things. Her world got turned upside down. We walked down the halls to the offices she admired to see how they were set up and then back to hers to see what it felt like with the changes.
She has/had the courage to work on and be coached on:
- Accountability and scheduling issues
- Being reminded about post it notes
- Saving electronically documents most important to her
- How to communicate when afraid of criticism
- Learn how to get the opinion of others
- Be in rapport even when the other communicator is a “poop head”
- Learn how to write a great, easy to read, and responded to email
- Ask questions of others to find out what is most important
- Become AWARE of her constant negative self talk and to change the self talk to self care
- Prepare for retirement
- Evaluate that which is valued and that which is not
- Trust herself
- Find joy and value in her travel hobbies
- Fall in love with herself; her husband (again); her portfolio and her daily life
She had to produce weekly videos to learn how she occurred to the world when speaking. We then reviewed them and coached the next steps in communicating.
She eliminated the phrase “I should have” from her language, to what is it that would be valuable and I “could” have done, said, written, promoted, discussed.
She developed semiannual lists of what is most important to her and then picked several to actually do.
She learned how she reacted to life and how she could learn to respond to life and choose what she loved and ELIMINATE the stuff that annoyed the crap out of her…her choice.
She learned how to know that she deserved to be smart; thin; prosperous and funny. (Her coach is not thin…working on it though).
Coaching is repetition of what is working and what is not working. You need the what is working. You don’t need the not working. You sometimes do not know the difference until you are asked to take a look at both of these in your life.
You can be done with coaching when you understand you deserve to be happy and prosperous and safe and loved…by you and others.
Is it perfect then? Almost, but the reason for coaching is that you find out what you need and want and then you take care of that by your daily habits of supporting you.
When we met, she not have the time to coach; the money to coach and was not sure she deserved to have the life she admired in others.
She does now!!
I asked this beloved coachee/mentee of mine if she would add her experience of coaching to my coaching testimonial page on my website. She told me “it is going to sound like a love letter”. And I told her that she needs to share with others so they can know that they also have the right to be well, happy, prosperous, funny, delighted, healthy, wealthy and coached.
Why did I share all of this with you? Because in our chaotic world you need to understand that there is still (and you can create more) value in finding your true, remarkable, amazingly talented self in all that is covered up by you.
And to all my clients over the years and now, thank you for trusting me to help you find that remarkable person in you and allow you to enjoy that remarkable person yourself.
To Our Success,
P.S. Do let me hear from you. Coaching together will be terrific. You deserve it. Email me and let’s get started.