So many moments, so little time! For the past twelve weeks, my colleagues and I at LifeTrek Coaching International have been writing about the kinds of moments that coaches look for, pray for, hope for, and work for as we engage with clients. We could probably keep going with even more moments, but it’s time to bring this series to a close. Want to read a quick summary of the twelve powerful moments we identified? This Provision will give you what you want, and a little bit more. Enjoy!
What’s the big deal about moments? Everything. Moments, those special times when we look at the ordinary and see the extraordinary, are what make life worth living. Sometimes they happen spontaneously, without any forethought, planning, or effort. Other times we work hard to make them happen. We open ourselves to the possibility and set the conditions for greatness.
That is a good description of why people come to coaching. They want someone to evoke greatness in their life and work. Coaches are greatness gardeners. The way we listen, ask questions, and offer reflections enables greatness to germinate, grow, and blossom. When those moments arrive, we make sure clients are ready for the harvest. Greatness is not an end in itself; it is to be savored and shared with the world.
One of the basic frameworks of coaching is that everyone can see and share greatness. Greatness is not the purview of a privileged few. It is not the stuff of celebrities, notables, and dignitaries. It is an equal opportunity employer. Anyone and everyone can transform ordinary moments into extraordinary ones, as long as we have the eyes to see and ears to hear what’s going on beneath the surface. Coaches enable clients to do that.
That truth was brought home to me this past week when a former client, who I had not heard from in quite some time, sent me an update with a brilliant, smiling picture of her holding up a trophy at the conclusion of a half marathon in which she won her age group. This was a client who, when we first started talking, had a hard time running a mile! In addition to the great running moment, she also reported that she had just completed her best year ever as a high school teacher and that one of her students had ended up testing in the top 20 in the nation in AP Chemistry. Talk about extraordinary moments! This was everything we had set out to work on together and even more.
Such are the moments of greatness that coaches live and die for with our clients. How do they happen? By stringing together a series of extraordinary moments, some positive and some not so positive, into a courageous, creative, and committed tapestry of self expression in service to the world. In case you missed our descriptions of what those moments look and feel like, I summarize them here by way of conclusion. As with all Provisions, they are also archived on our Website Clickto serve as a ready resource for inspiration and information on the trek of life.
1. Celebration Moments. It’s easy to celebrate when you have a trophy in your hand, enjoy the work you do, and see the fruit of your labors. But if we put off celebrating until everything comes together, we may never celebrate at all. That’s because celebration is not only how we feel when we arrive at our destination, it’s also fuel for the journey of getting to our destination. Long faces do not make for greatness. Coaches work with clients to celebrate what’s right with life, from week to week and month to month, regardless of what’s going on. And there’s always something to celebrate. We sometimes have to turn over a few rocks in the stream, but celebration moments are always there to find. Coaches build on the energy, joy, and possibility of those moments to build great things out of our clients’ inherent aspirations in life and work.
2. Mucked Up Moments. In contrast to my client’s trophy, my last attempt at an ultramarathon was a disaster. Talk about a mucked up moment! I spent hours in the rain and mud before being kicked off the course, for going too slow, at mile 28. That experience taught me a lot, about what I can and can’t control, for example, that I will use to my benefit in future attempts to conquer the 50-mile distance. It also taught me a lot about how to work with clients who are stuck in their own version of the muck. Watch your balance, find your rhythm, conserve your energy, seek comfort, express gratitude, hold conversation, and • as one reader pointed out later • pray! Such moments are a part of life, so get over the idea that life is somehow unfair when mucked up moments happen to you. Celebrate any way.
3. Laughter Moments. Laughter is in short supply in our world today, and yet it is an essential part of life and work. Those who do not laugh do not live. Understanding the integral nature of laughter, coaches laugh regularly with our clients during coaching sessions and assist our clients to laugh more on their own. The work we do may be very serious, both as to its importance and as to its intensity, but that does not mean we have to take ourselves seriously. By laughing at ourselves and the funny things we do, the load becomes lighter, the challenge becomes brighter, and our sense of community becomes tighter. Sometimes, in coaching, we encourage clients to laugh for no reason at all. Just do it and things will start looking up.
4. Breakthrough Moments. Whether you get there through laughter, hard work, or both, breakthroughs are especially satisfying. Having a breakthrough is, in fact, what brings many people to coaching. They have been struggling with some challenge or opportunity for months, or even years, without much progress or success. They want a breakthrough and they hope a coach will make that happen. Often we do. Through breakdowns and breakups we stay with clients until they break out of old patterns and break into new ones. Eventually, when breakthroughs come, clients mount greater summits than they had once thought possible. By setting aside the expectations of others and expressing the expectations of self, they open themselves to extraordinary possibility, fulfillment, and love.
5. Tear Jerk Moments. There’s no end to the reasons people cry. Celebrations, muck, laughter, and breakthroughs can, each in their own way, turn on the fountain. When coaching gets close to the bone, tears are sure to follow. Tears of despair, anger, love, hope, identification, joy, emptiness, fear, grief, loss, and pain are the stuff of life. We feel them in our bodies, our whole bodies, not just in our minds. Whether or not you cry easily and often, tears serve the purpose of getting our attention and cleansing the soul. They represent openings to the great unknown. They lead us forward with new terms and conditions for life. They make possible the transformational leap of going from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
6. Blink Moments. One reason that some people struggle to make progress toward their desired outcomes is that they overanalyze things from a primarily rational framework. “The facts, ma’am, just the facts,” may sound good on television, but it poorly serves both detectives and coaches. Until we learn to trust our gut sense of things, there may be no progress at all. Understanding this dynamic, coaches work with clients to think outside the box, to use their peripheral vision, and to ponder what their heart is telling them, sometimes in the blink of an eye. Such snap decisions may seem rash, but they often hold the key to success. They stem from and generate the “Aha!” of connecting the dots and seeing things as if for the first time. When we are open to new information, patterns, and process, we discover the courage, creativity, and commitment to make life whole.
7. Remember When Moments. Another way to think about the information used by coaches to move clients forward is in terms of story. Stories contain not only facts but feelings and fantasies about the past, present, and future. They represent the rich soil out of which greatness grows. That’s why coaches spend so much time looking for great stories. They may include elements of tragedy, but even tragic tales contain elements of triumph. When clients remember those stories, or those aspects of their stories, the knowledge of self and the motivation for change grow exponentially. By remembering when things were going great, or going better, or going at all, clients find themselves empowered to get going again, with new verve and often with dynamic new direction.
8. Spring Cleaning Moments. We received a lot of feedback on this Provision, because it talked about a common plague of the modern era: clutter. Assisting clients to clean out their clutter is a huge part of coaching, even when the clutter has nothing to do with closets. In the Provision we talked about six kinds of clutter: cluttered minds (too many thoughts), cluttered hearts (too many attachments), cluttered bodies (too many toxins), cluttered ground rules (too many norms), cluttered environments (too much stuff), and cluttered relationships (too much drama). Judging from the feedback, many people have trouble with more than one or even all six types of clutter at once. That’s because clutter is like a magnet: clutter attracts clutter until chaos reigns. But entropy is not the only force in the universe. There is also the human will to set things straight and clean things out. When that happens, the energy and exhilaration for life are both palpable and unstoppable.
9. Flow Moments. Cleaning things up is not enough to get in the zone of optimum performance. That takes a little more tweaking and a little more coaching. Here’s the formula: Optimum Performance takes minimizing Interference and maximizing Resources. Interference can come from many sources, both internal and external. We can take on a bigger challenge than our skills are ready for. We can be distracted by non-critical variables. We can suffer from low self-confidence and self-efficacy. We can try to control outcomes rather than the processes, mechanics, and conversations involved with getting to outcomes. The more the interference, the louder the noise, the more we shortchange our ability to succeed. Resources work the same way, only the other way around. The more the resources, the smaller the ego, the more we enhance our ability to succeed. When that happens, when Interference bottoms out while Resources top off, people experience moments of flow that become the stuff of legend, wonder, and joy.
10. Gold Medal Moments. There are times when we win the jackpot and strike it big with an unexpected windfall. As any gambler knows, however, those times are far and few between. Most often, gold medal moments follow upon the heals of small, carefully planned, incremental steps. That’s what enabled my former client to get that trophy at the finish line. It was one step, one mile, one hardship, and one day at a time. So what keeps people going along the way? It helps to have an inspiring vision, a strategic plan, and a confident spirit. Those are things we coaches work on with our clients. It’s not a secret formula, and it can certainly be done without assistance from a coach, but it helps to have a sounding board, a thinking partner, a champion, and a strategist in our corner. It also helps to have someone hold us accountable to the process of planning itself. Otherwise, the obvious may never get done and the gold medal may never be won.
11. Fan Club Moments. Coaches are not the only ones in clients’ corners. In fact, the job of a great coach is to assist clients to develop natural relationship networks within which they can be successful just by showing up and being themselves. Can you imagine the freedom that brings? So often, we live and work in relationship networks that ignore, criticize, or otherwise seek to conform and constrain our contribution. No wonder it’s hard for people to live into greatness! Instead of being surrounded by fans, we find ourselves surrounded by strangers, disinterested acquaintances, or outright doubters. Coaches work with clients to change that dynamic. We play the “fan club game,” as we make over clients to attract and organize the collaboration and support networks that will assist them to shine and to serve at their very best.
12. Destiny Moments. These moments take a leap of faith. Fulfilling one’s destiny starts with believing that one has a destiny: a specific, unique, and important purpose in the world. Too many people go through life with no sense of destiny. They get up in the morning, go through the motions, and fall asleep only to do it all over again tomorrow. It’s the same old, same old, while the world collapses under the weight of its own machinations and contrivances. I, for one, do not believe that for an instant and do not find that to be a good way to live. I believe that we each have special, important contributions to make and that our future, as well as the future of planet earth, are better off when we make them. So we spend a lot of time, as coaches, working with our clients on destiny discernment. As part of the process, we experiment with different possibilities and bolster our client’s courage to be not only great in the world but to be great for the world as well.
Taken together, those twelve moments are the stuff of coaching as well as the stuff of well-lived lives. I encourage you to be on the lookout for them in your own life and to surround yourself with people who can assist you to nurture them into the fullness of being.
Coaching Inquiries: How often do you experience coaching moments in your life? Would you like more of them? Who could assist you to bring them into being? How could you make it so? What’s happening in the present moment that you celebrate and build into greatness?
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.
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 Formor Email Bob..
As much as I appreciate your using Star Wars as a metaphor for your Provision on destiny moments Click, (Yeah, it’s true, I’m a Jedi fan) being a ‘rational’ person I have issues with the whole “higher power” and “creator” idea. What would “coaching” have to offer someone who does not harbor the delusion of spirituality? (Ed. Note: we would work with your sense of the universe in order to maximize your contribution. When that happens, everything else will follow.)
I was away when you mentioned the health problems of your son. I want you to know that we are indeed praying for his speedy recovery. I continue to enjoy your Provisions.
I have really appreciated reading about and learning how LifeTrek Coaching focuses on clients’ values and weaves them into your coaching work. I also have a really strong bias toward listening, so I appreciate that you give clients the space to talk and go at their own pace. Thanks!
Thanks for your mention of the Fan Club game Click. I hope you don’t mind if I refer to your Provision in my friend’s customer newsletter. (Ed. Note: We don’t mind at all, just be sure to include information on the source and how to reach us.)
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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