Posted by: wellness training services | January 7, 2013

Life’s Journey

LIFE’S JOURNEY – at the beginning of a new year, we often take time to focus on what we want in our lives and what we want to change.  I wish you every success in 2013. 

The true measure of your journey through the adult years is not your age…. The true measure of your life is where you are in relation to becoming a complete person.” ~F. M. Hudson and P. D.  McLean, Life Launch: A Passionate Guide to the Rest of Your Life.

Frederic M. Hudson, founder of the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, in the Handbook of Coaching states: “A coach links inner purpose to outer work … with persons, groups and organizations. A coach trains, mentors and networks. A coach motivates…seeks depth results…explores new directions… invests in the future… guides new scenarios… forms a link between today’s action and tomorrow’s results.”

Our journey as a coach, then, is to assist others in finding their answers.  As a coach, we are required to know where we stand in order to ensure that our boundaries are identified and honoured. As a coach, we are required to assist our clients in assessing where they are on their journey and how we can facilitate them in moving forward. As a coach, we are required to help our clients set goals and target some sort of destination so that they can be motivated to change. As a coach, we are required to draw on the use of some strategies, tools, questions, and assignments with our client so that they can find the resources within to achieve their outcomes. As a coach, we are required to be respectful of the profession, of our self as a coach, and to ensure that our ethics and integrity are always intact.

That is our profession as a coach and that is our personal journey in life. In the life coaching course, participants are asked to do monthly reflections on a coaching theme.  The 8th Reflection assignment in the Wholistic Life Coach Certification Course deals with boundaries and reinforces the idea that each of us must find our own answers throughout life.

Grace, one of our coaching participants, sent me her 8th Monthly Reflection and I asked if she would be OK to share some of it as a blog.  She agreed. Here are some of her insights.  Grace says:

MY STRENGTHS:

For the most part I would say I have a pretty good feel for my role as a coach.  My job is to help others get clear on what they want and then help them decide what steps to take to get there while offering support and encouragement to further their clarity as we break their big goal down into smaller bites that are achievable. As a coach, usually I am able to keep my personal boundaries. Usually I am aware when my own personal ‘stuff’ appears or when my own judgements on how the world goes around shows up and I am able to keep these out of their process. Also when the client seems to wish me to give them their answers I refrain from handing out advice. I will sometimes paint “possible scenarios” as exercises in mental creativity for them to try, for example, “What would you think about…..X.” 

I think I am a good listener. My ability to actually listen and pick up on certain words, phrases or inflections that are clues to what people are keeping from themselves has really improved. These give me clues toward helping them separate the junk from the gems. I am often able to probe a bit and help them recognize important issues or gain clarity. I think I have always been sensitive to energies and had learned as a child to pay more attention to ‘the field’ than the words, which has led to some miscommunications and frustrations in the past. Sometimes the adults around me were like “Too Much Information” and I’d shut off. Coaching has really helped me actually listen and hear what people are saying. I have also acquired the skill of rephrasing and asking questions to clarify. Now in conversations when people get side-tracked and can’t remember what they were meaning to say I am often the one who remembers what they had started out saying.

MY WEAKNESS:

My weakest point is that my tool-bag isn’t as full as I’d like it to be.  I still feel strapped for guiding questions.  There are occasions where “I don’t know” drives me totally to a standstill.  Sometimes I feel like I’m scrambling. There are often long pauses where I have to think. I am also still learning boundaries and sometimes I’m not really quite sure about boundaries in a given coaching session. When coaching, I ensure my boundaries are identified and honoured by periodically checking in with myself and my body during the session. Am I getting too drawn into this person’s drama? Am I wanting them to reach their goal more than they do? Am I still asking questions or elaborating on ‘How It Is’? Mostly I have to stay in tune with my body.  If I start feeling uncomfortable, something’s wrong.

WHAT COACHING IS:

Coaching is definitely a partnership. Once the client presents his goal, or the goal is defined, we are both interested in achieving this goal. If the goal is achieved we both feel successful. However, my success does not hinge on their motivation or desire. Not achieving the goal doesn’t necessarily mean I failed as a coach, since the client can bring an entire past history with him to the table, including personal and emotional issues. They come for help with their goal because they have experienced a STOP in that direction; something they don’t seem able to go around or get through. In achieving their goal, they will have to advance past that STOP issue until they find their success. Then, I feel they have achieved at least two goals. One, the initial idea they focused on because it was something they wanted and also the surmounting of the odds, misgivings and self-defeating energy that kept them stuck in the first place.

ESSENTIAL TO COACHING:

Trust is essential in a coaching relationship. The client must be able to bring their innermost feelings to the front and be able to share honest feelings and reactions with the coach or the process is null and void. By asking questions and having them do their own evaluation, they will come up with places they would like to see improvement. I look for places where they have already had a lot of growth, pointing out actions which brought them successes. Also, I look for attitude in relation to the subject they speak of. Where do they put themselves down? Is there repetition of a particular theme? How do they think of themselves regarding past success? How do they speak of others, especially ‘the big people’ people who are successful or in authority? Coming from a non-judgemental place I can help them explore their desires without limits. I point out the Critic’s voice and show it to be a safeguard, not an enemy. We explore until they come up with something that ignites them inside. Sometimes it is small, but without the flame of desire, a true DECIDE point (as I call them) will not be created and a sustainable goal not established.

I also try to get a sense of my client’s natural preferences. i.e., are they morning people, multi-taskers, big action people, or quiet and hang in the background type of people. Some can visualize and some can’t. Some need physical, tangible methods. For instance one of my clients wanted coaching to get his financial life in order. One of the things we came up with, for an exercise, was to divvy up his payday funds into jars labeled for various expenses so that he could get an actual, physical sense of where he was spending his money and how much he had. Sometimes, of course, working the goal means breaking out of the norm, but many challenges are more easily resolved by going with what’s natural for that person.

I help my clients set goals and focus down onto a target by asking open ended probes. Together we sound out what the ideal is. We test it to see if it is realistic, achievable. We explore what ‘already being there’ looks like, feels like. What will be better then compared to now. We keep focusing on the positive outcome. I also get them to create ‘mini goals’ each session outlining the steps they will take between sessions that will get them closer to their main goal. When we review these at the next session and discuss the success/stoppage of achieving the mini-goal we often uncover deeper clues into their resistance to accomplishing the goal they say they want.  Sometimes through this process, the goals change, as unbeknownst to them, what they are really after isn’t what they thought. This is all information for them and the whole process becomes a tool and experience they can apply forever in their lives long after the coaching finishes.

The best strategy I have found so far is the mini-goal; breaking down the large overall goal into smaller bite-sized pieces. These mini goals are intended to be achieved in the time-span between appointments — usually one week.

Sometimes the steps don’t get accomplished, and we delve into the ‘why’s’ that it was avoided, missed, or we explore whatever happened.  We notice where progress was made, and make notes on what worked well so we can possibly follow the essence of it into other areas of the goal.

I also make use of other brain de-cluttering tools to help clients sort and sift through the chaos in their minds to get clear on what exactly they are after.  Sometimes the ‘real’ goal is lurking — hidden underneath the goal they start out with.  These tools are usually gone over in the session but left for the client to do as ‘homework’.

WHAT THE CLIENT NEEDS TO HAVE IN ORDER TO CHANGE:

In achieving their goal, clients have to have a true desire to actually arrive at Point B. They have to be willing to make the effort and be committed to themselves. They have to be willing to look into the shadow areas that hide the reasons they are holding themselves back. They all have the ability and the resources within to create what they want. One of the important things I begin with is to instill in them that they are NOT VICTIMS of life. They are powerful creators! They have the power to make changes. I don’t focus much on the ‘do better’ idea because the Bitch-With-The-Stick (as my coaching partner and I refer to that self-depreciating creature within us all) is always there to beat us up. During the coaching experience we will also have a run-in with that Not-Good-Enough creature in us. I try to help clients deal with these Gruesome Twosomes [Bitch-With-The-Stick and Not-Good-Enough Creature] so they will be empowered and more confident. I realize that to completely deal with these aspects will take years of work, but by exposing them, their triggers, effects and intended purpose (which is not negative, believe it or not. They are just trying to keep us up to standard, and keep us safe) will help clients recognise and embrace even those parts of themselves so that they are not stopped by them. Looking into the shadows and getting the client to think about where their blocks are coming from, helps them to use that energy more positively.

I am finding that most clients aren’t really dealing with “I want X in two weeks”.  During the course of the coaching process, they will come up against the block from getting “X” and discover that the block is also what’s holding them back from a whole lot of other things as well.

I try to remain neutral in all aspects and keep an awareness that what one person says and another person hears can be two different things. Oftentimes what the client is dealing with is also something I get stuck on, so I am aware and careful not to join in any pity-parties nor pitch in with similar grievances I may have on the same topic.  Their coaching session is for their journey only.

 

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