Provision #368: Coaching as Purposeful Change
by Erika Jackson
by Bob Tschannen-Moran
Today's client story reminds us that coaching conversations create an
environment where one's "wildest" dreams are respected, sacred, and treated as
absolute possibilities. Our client came to LifeTrek with a focus on corporate
business goals as Vice President in a growing sales organization. Through the
coaching process, his life's work and purpose were rediscovered. Today, his
spirit is filled each time he has the opportunity to work as a stage and screen
Most clients enter a coaching relationship with goals in mind. In the beginning,
these goals are presented by the client to the coach as Appropriate, Logical,
Amiable, Respectable and Measurable (A.L.A.R.M.) objectives that would make any
Goals such as: "Achieve a golf index under 10" or "Take two vacations each year"
are perfectly good goals, but tell us little about the spirit of the client.
For a coach, goals such as these trigger an alarm that indicates a disconnection
from a client's heart's desires. Our role is to assist the client in the
discovery of, or rediscovery of, the client's Bigger Life Agenda. For some, the
discovery of the Big Agenda is filled with intensity, passion, and drive. For
others, they know they've found "it" because life feels complete, like nothing
is missing. The choices are as comforting as putting on a favorite pair of
This week we feature the story of a current LifeTrek client who contacted
LifeTrek in the summer of 2002 after having a mediocre experience with a
business coach. Our client, the Vice President in a growing sales organization, sought to
organize his work and business life through the accomplishment of a few A.L.A.R.M.ing goals.
Within the first 2 months of the coaching relationship it became evident that
the goals he brought to coaching were disconnected from his bigger vision for life. Though "successful" by modern and monetary standards, he was not feeling
compelled toward the objectives, nor was he experiencing fulfillment in the
balance of his life.
When the coaching conversation shifted to times when he experienced joy,
however, he reconnected with his high school experiences of stage acting. That's
when the curtain opened and the lights
Today, our client refers to his VP position as his "part-time job." Claiming
acting as his career, he has been picked up by an agent and has landed his first paying
role. When he says, "I am an actor" he knows it is spoken from his soul and
there are no boundaries for the spirit within him.
Q: So how did you first learn about LifeTrek Coaching and what prompted you
to contact us for coaching?
A: I used AvantGo through my Palm Pilot and found LifeTrek Provisions in the "Lifestyles"
section. The concept of coaching was appealing and I enjoyed the first few
Provisions that I read. I had already been through a business
coaching session that I was fairly disappointed with. It was very specifically
business-focused and results driven. I was looking for a more holistic approach.
I needed that. I don't have a problem with focus but was going through a
frustrating and difficult period in my business life. I am very accustomed to
succeeding and I wasn't, at least not at the level I wanted to.
Q: How did your goals evolve through your work with a LifeTrek Coach?
A: Clearly, I am on a whole different path than I was. An early goal was to get
back into exceptional shape and while I'm not in the best shape of my life, I am
tremendously closer than when we started. I have become more relaxed and at ease
with who I am becoming. When you begin a process like this, you are mentally
unable to stretch beyond what you already know. You can't ultimately know where
you want to be. You don't know what you don't know. So through the process of
conversation and discovery, you find the REAL goals. Those are the Life Changing
goals, the ones that, when achieved, your life will be different.
My original goals wouldn't have changed my life at all. They were "straw dogs,"
ways to take steps toward something different without having to take a risk.
Q: What impact has the experience of coaching had on your life?
A: It has helped me rediscover my purpose. It has helped me reconnect to the
things that are important • through the visualization of my future self, the
writing of my mission statement, and the discovery of my Top Ten values. That was the
beginning of the discovery process. I still refer to those today. Every time I
come back to the mission statement, it still feels inspiring. It reminds me that
if I get off track I can go back. It jars me awake.
Q: What shifts have you experienced during the coaching process?
A: I don't know if I made any of them purposefully. It was all in the context of
action. Rather than contemplate why, what, or how, I just DID. Don't agonize,
just do it. Just jump in the river, it will take you there. The biggest change
is that I've been more open to the experience. I used to be more reluctant about
jumping in the wrong river. Now, I just jump in.
Q: What behavioral changes have you made as a result of coaching?
A: Even during periods of forced inactivity (such as when I had a back injury) I
only considered it a little bump. I'm eating better, exercising regularly. Those
two combined elements have had a tremendous impact on my energy to do things.
I've always thought the Greeks had it right • a sound mind and body, you can't
have one without the other. And I've been in good shape for much of my life.
Bob's writings about his experiences and life style changes were not just
inspirational, they were cajoling. You just have to take it one step at a time.
Q: How have you been stretched by the coaching relationship?
A: That question is almost a joke. Today, I'm a paid actor! Two years ago, I
wouldn't even have realized that was the path for me.
It's still risky and dangerous. We tend to set up around ourselves mechanisms
that are designed to keep us where we are. It's not intentional but we keep
people in our lives that are in a similar state. Then, those people don't want
to see us take risks because they don't want to go there either. Coaching helps you
to get through those moments when life tries to keep you where you are.
If you didn't push me, you wouldn't still be my coach.
Q: How could coaching have assisted you or continue to assist you more?
A: Wow, I'm not sure that it could have. It's one of those rare combinations of
the right person, appearing at right time, when I was ready for it. I believe
that when you are ready, the master will appear. Erika was an incredibly
insightful listener. She heard what I was saying BETWEEN the words and helped me
to realize it as well.
Q: What recommendations do you have for someone who is considering working
with a Coach?
A: Jump in. Just jump in. The only sure way to remain as you are is to do
I live by intuition so there was no formal preparation for me in choosing a
coach. I went with my gut and the connection we had. Take our first coaching
conversation, for example. I sent an email requesting a contact for coaching,
Erika was the one that responded and from the first conversation I knew there
would be the right fit.
Q: What metaphor or analogy would you use to describe the coaching
A: Coaching is being able to look at yourself from outside of yourself. I love
golf, and I think of life coaching in the same way I think of golf coaching. You
go to a golf coach because, when you are in the middle of your swing, you can't
see what you're doing wrong. The Coach puts you in the right position. Life
coaching is dynamic like that. The Coach sees the hiccups in the swing and helps
put you in the right position to make the swing. It is then up to you to execute
it. And you're going to miss as many as you hit in the beginning.
I think the key issue is that change is scary. Many people change accidentally.
When you come to a coach you are seeking to change on purpose. That act of will
by itself is what makes it scary. In addition that change may not be in the
direction you thought • in fact, I think that is the most likely result of
There is a great golf book called The Mental Keys by Michael Anthony that I
love. One of the key premises of the book is that fear only exists in the
future. Fear is RESULT driven. You are only afraid of the possible result • good
or bad. But when you focus on the present, on the process, there is no fear.
Like engaging in a golf swing, if you focus on the process instead of the result,
your swing will improve and so will the result.
Coaching Inquiries: Are your goals A.L.A.R.M.ing or compelling and inspiring?
What is your life's Big Agenda? What did you love to do when you were 10 years
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As a runner, I thought you would enjoy this quote from Todd Caschette: "Every
morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up, knowing it must run faster than the
fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up,
knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. So it
doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you'd
better be running." • Top
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
LifeTrek Coaching International