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Provision #368: Coaching as Purposeful Change
by Erika Jackson

by Bob Tschannen-Moran

Laser Provision

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 actor.

LifeTrek Provision

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 parent proud.

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 walking shoes.

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 came on!

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 nothing.

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 relationship?

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 successful coaching!

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 old?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers' Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor's Note: The LifeTrek Readers' Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


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.

Erika Jackson (Erika@LifeTrekCoaching.com)
LifeTrek Coaching International
Columbus, OH
U.S.A.

Telephone: 614-565-9953
Fax: 208-977-7793

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