“Every human has four endowments – self-awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom…The power to choose, to respond, to change.” –Stephen Covey
I have a coach. When I tell this to people I occasionally notice the subtle stepping back as if I just told them I had a contagious skin disease. I can see the wheels inside their minds turning with questions like “if she needs a coach, how can she coach me?” I believe that everyone should have a coach! It’s an amazing journey into self-awareness unlike one that you can experience anywhere else. It’s a gift to be supported by a skillful coach. And, coaching can have life-changing outcomes.
In the 8 years that I have been working with my coach, my life has changed dramatically. And, if someone like me, who’s spent her whole career working in the field of adult development can benefit from having a coach, I’m betting you can too!
About ten years ago, I realized I was in a funk. I was looking for deeper meaning and purpose in my career. I’d had a great career and worked with many wonderful people along the way. On paper, my career experiences created curiosity and interest. However, I no longer felt fulfilled and I was even getting disillusioned about the way I was being asked to apply my areas of expertise at work. Also, I was hitting road blocks in some of my relationships and my knee-jerk reaction to disengage when there was conflict was creating more problems than it was solving.
I had been thinking about hiring a coach but it became a massive decision for me. There are so many coaches. How would I decide? How would I know if the person would be able to relate to me? What if she didn’t like me? What if she judged me?
I started reading about coaching and casually talking to people I knew who were either coaches or who had worked with a coach, asking them questions about their experiences. I started paying attention to the people who had “Coach” on their business profile to see what they were about.
In the end, I met my coach by surprise (or not – you know the ancient proverb “when the student is ready, the teacher appears”). She was one of the facilitators at a weekend workshop I attended. I immediately liked her! She was kind, gently direct, intuitive, compassionate but no nonsense. I watched her working with our group and marveled at how skillfully she was able to relate with people in the group.
After the workshop, I called her to ask if she was taking on new clients. I shared with her that the workshop brought up a few memories for me that I wanted to process (tip of the iceberg it turned out!) and to see if there was any connection to the funk I was in.
At first, I took baby steps. I didn’t let my guard down with anyone and I was nervous about being judged. But I also knew that if I wanted to figure out what was going with this funk, that I was going to have to take a risk and let someone in.
That was eight years ago and I can tell you that my life has changed dramatically over the past 8 years. She walked beside me through several major transitions including losing a job that I loved, the passing of my mom, and the empty nesting of my children. We have gone on tremendous journeys that have allowed me to explore who I am at deeper levels than I knew I had. She has always held up a mirror that reflected back to me my best self – to which I respond so positively. But more than anything, she sees and loves who I am underneath all my protective layers and shenanigans.
It took me a while to realize I wasn’t going to “get fixed” because in my coach’s eyes, I wasn’t broken. I was on a journey of self-awareness, to discover my best self – and that, I have learned, is the journey of our lives. In my coach, I have a guide who knows the terrain because she has also done her own work. She knows my edges and she keeps me in the delicate balance between too much tension and not enough tension for me to grow.
I have been a coach most of my life but my transition to being a professional coach began around the same time that I met my coach. I now know that I will always have a coach. To be a coach, I must always stay on my own learning edge and do my own work so that I don’t project onto my clients.
I believe that everyone can benefit by working with a coach! Someone who sees the best in them, who supports them to realize their dreams and goals without expectations. Our lives are so fast-moving that having the benefit of a guide who knows how to bring you to your growth edge and hold you there is not something you are likely to experience with a friend or a boss.
Today, I specialize in coaching with women who want to be fully authentic. Women who want to come to their own learning edge by owning their dreams, recognizing the ways they sabotage themselves or limit their potential, to know their stories and to be on their own heroines journey of deepening self-awareness. Together we remove the layers of "shoulds", "expectations" and "protection" and embrace all that it means to be a powerful woman at work and home.
At WomenConnected.net, we are dedicated to the empowerment of women so that they may unleash their voices and make a profound impact in the world.
We offer a variety of individual and group coaching programs. Learn more at womenconnected.net.
Terri Altschul, PCC is a certified coach, facilitator, writer, program designer, wife, mom, and founder of WomenConnected.net.