My Road to Coaching

A client recently asked me about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of my becoming a coach.  In thinking about the ‘road’ I took to becoming a coach, it occurred to me that the story and what I learned along the way might be of value to others.

There really are two separate stories tied up in my career path: the one about the  Money road and the one about the  Coaching road, which eventually connected.  At this point, I’m going to focus on the Coaching one — Who knows, maybe later I’ll write about the Money one!

Allow me to wax philosophically a bit here.  There is the distinction that Micheal Meade makes between Fate and Destiny.  Fate being the family, culture and circumstances we are born into.  Our fate is what leads to whole families of Doctors, or Teachers, and such.  Destiny is more about our innate unique personality.  The talents our family never really seems to understand.  For me the fate piece was the  Money road that had me become a CFO, while the destiny piece was much more the fuel for me embracing coaching—following a natural talent to a new place.

Certainly anyone can become a Personal Coach, Life Coach, Health Coach, Business Coach… whatever kind of coach they want to be.  And I think that the seed of being a gifted and effective ‘coach’ is something we inherently have.  It certainly was that way for me.  As early as Junior High (Middle School) I found people coming to me with problems.  They wanted someone to talk to, someone who would listen, support them, give some suggestions, and not judge them.  I seemed to fit that bill.  It wasn’t something I actively sought, it just happened.  And it kept happening.  Of course, like most things, it was a double-edged sword.  I found that they often wanted my support, but less often asked me to hang out with their crowd.  C’est la vie.

Frankly this thing of being a safe and trusted ‘ear’ stayed with me throughout the years.

And then in the early ’90s there was this incredible opportunity I had.  I got involved with YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists).  YRUU was a youth led program for teens ranging  from Middle School through High School.  Many churches had a Youth Group with supported by several Adult Advisors. There were also District and National events and conferences led by youth with adult support.  It was a fascinating and delightful thing that unfortunately has gone by the wayside.

Through most of the ’90s I was heavily involved with YRUU on all levels: local, district, national… and I even wrote the “Youth Advisor Handbook” (available in various reprints on Amazon and even Ebay). The point was to really encourage the youth to run things themselves.  The advisor role was to support, listen, and create an atmosphere that allowed the youth to actually come up with their own solutions.    The youth never ceased to impress me.  They were often wiser than the adults.  Certainly it took patience to let them lead—I learned to count to 10, and then do it again, and again!  Giving them the opportunity to fix the problem on their own gave them practical experience.  And that is a fundamental tenet of the concept of coaching… that the client at some level actually knows—and has the capacity to solve—their problem.

This was a perfect place for me.  The only frustration was dealing with the adults and parents who wanted to jump in and control things.  They had a hard time truly trusting that the youth could make good decisions.

At this point there was no such thing as Personal Coaching, and no way to make a living doing this (it was all volunteer work).  However, around this same time along came Thomas Leonard. He was an EST employee in the ’80s and founded Coach U and the ICF (International Coach Federation) in 1995.  He spearheaded the radical idea that people could seek help and support for their lives without needing “therapy”—that we all had the capacity to do better.

When I heard about coaching in the late ’90s , I was naturally intrigued and went to a presentation.  It sounded great, and at that time looked like a hobby.  How was anyone going to make a living doing this?

By late 2000 I was hooked by the idea and started training with CTI (Coaches Training Institute).  This is what I was meant to do, what I’ve always done: untangled the knot, dug deeper, asked the questions.  Now I had a platform and credentials for doing it.  Fortunately for me the Money road had given me a bunch of business skills to help build my practice.  It all came together for me.

There is something truly magical about finding the work that truly makes your heart sing.  As you read this you’ll notice there were hints all along the way, coaching and untangling things comes naturally to me.  It’s why I’ve been at this now for almost 20 years… it’s frankly the ONLY career I’ve ever had that never bores me!

Look back on your road and see where the clues are… is there something calling you to a different path?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like some support in sussing out your ‘destiny’ give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

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