Today we interview a physician who has worked with a LifeTrek coach for three years. The process has become a continuing dynamic of discovering, dreaming, designing, and delivering through a series of life transitions. This is one client who continues to see coaching as critical to improving the quality of both his life and his work.
The origin of the expression “Physician, heal thyself” is probably lost in antiquity. Jesus quoted it as a well-known proverb, some 2,000 years ago, to mean that reputation rides on example. We cannot expect others to trust us with their lives if we fail to walk the walk when it comes to our own lives.
Long before the time of Jesus, both Hebrew and Greek cultures had recognized the poignant truth of this expression when it came to the medical profession. The health and wellness of our doctor impacts both our confidence and our expectations as patients.
Unfortunately, the medical community is suffering from the same overweight and obesity problems as everyone else. An informal survey conducted at an American Medical Association meeting two weeks ago revealed that only one third of the doctors were of normal weight or less. As a result, the AMA has handed out pedometers to encourage members to walk.
LifeTrek Coaching knows that sometimes pedometers just aren’t enough. It takes the attentive listening, artful inspiration, appreciative inquiry, and actionable planning of a personal coach to overcome long-standing patterns and high-pressure jobs. This is as true for physicians as for anyone else, and over the years, LifeTrek Coaching has worked with a number of medical professionals.
Recently I interviewed a physician who started to work with LifeTrek Coaching in May of 2001. His original goal for coaching was to work on losing weight and increasing his exercise level. Over time, he added other goals and found that coaching was a helpful forum for planning, reflection, and growth. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: How have you done at achieving your goals?
A: Not very well, when it comes to weight loss and exercise. I am still not where I want to be. But this is no reflection on LifeTrek Coaching. I’m the guy on the field, not you. Besides, we’ve ended up focusing on many other things as well: professional, personal, relationship, and life goals. It’s been a journey that, like life, has turned out to be more than we started with. And I continue to find our weekly conversations to be quite inspiring.
Q: So how would you describe the value of coaching?
A: Coaching allows you to hear your own voice. It’s not just a mirror, which is pure reflection. Coaching is more like art appreciation. We mutually step back and look at my life to observe, appreciate, and integrate what we see. It assists me to identify and reach the potential within myself that I might not see on my own.
It’s not unlike what happens in athletics. Sometimes the coach has to pull you out of the game in order to get your head back into the game. Sometimes, in the frenzy of the game, you lose sight of yourself. A lot of our life has an aspect of frenzy no matter how much we control it. It’s a cultural dynamic. Just-in-time inventory has become the symbol for what modern industries are about. We’re not going to build reserves. We have nothing on the shelf. Coaching enables me to question that dynamic.
Q: What shifts have you experienced as a result of coaching?
A: Coaching has gotten me to see more of myself, from the outside in. It makes me a little more introspective and analytical about the things I am doing. It forces me to Step back, Think, and Organize my thoughts before Proceeding in all realms • as father, husband, friend, and in my professional life too.
In my work as a physician, one element of what we do with families is coaching them through a stressful experience. I have always had good awareness of myself in the physician-patient relationship. But in many other areas my awareness has suffered. Physicians are generally not happy people. Our work schedule is crazy. High pressure. The systemic demands are grueling and often inconsiderate. Coaching has allowed me to step back and think about where I am in these systems, how I am feeling, and how I want to handle it best.
Q: What behavioral changes have you made as a result of coaching?
A: Well, I went running this morning! (Laughter) But honestly, I’m not sure how to answer that. It’s hard to measure the impact of coaching in behavioral terms. No one is standing around measuring my batting average in real life. You almost have to ask other people this question, the people who have to deal with me.
I have the feeling that I am less likely to go off in wrong directions, less likely to overreact to situations. More confident in the face of adversity. At one point, coaching helped me to get through a tough personal experience.
Q: How has coaching stretched you beyond your comfort zone?
A: That’s hard to say. By nature, I have never wanted to stay in a comfort zone for very long. A more prudent or cautious person would stay in a comfort zone for longer periods of time.
If anything, coaching has helped me to justify and understand my motives and emotions in continually pushing the edge. It’s easy for me to not be mindful, moving away from situations that become predictable and routine. But there is plenty of panic in that too. Coaching has helped me to navigate the change process.
Q: How could coaching have assisted you more?
A: In my school days, some of my athletic coaches really kicked my butt, and you’re not a butt kicker. I’m not sure whether that would be the most effective way to handle me now, however. Put downs and ridicule are demeaning. They may provide motivation but not inspiration.
I probably got the most athletic performance from the butt kickers. But the best life lessons, and learning to have fun while playing the game, came from the ones who worked with my “inner athlete.” Nothing is really wanting in terms of what I receive from LifeTrek coaching; but in terms of the weight loss I haven’t provided my own motivation for that.
Q: When is the best time to work with a coach?
A: Times when you are really down or in a critical transition are certainly times when coaching becomes extremely valuable. In a heavy emotional crisis, a psychiatrist might be as good. But when you just need to think about and to plan where your life is going, those are the times for a coach. When you’re in transition, here’s the prescription: “Take two coaches and call me in the morning.”
Q: So what would you say to our readers who are thinking about coaching?
A: Explore it. Try it. If you are reading Provisions, then you are already looking at life more deeply than just making a lot money or driving a bigger car. Reading Provisions suggests that there is something inside you that needs developing, even if you don’t know it.
It’s certainly worth at least a few months to see what can be developed through coaching. Before coaching I would have said that my life was together. But over time, I have learned that coaching magnifies and brings out things that otherwise you wouldn’t know are there • either within yourself or in how you relate to others. My life is better now because of LifeTrek coaching.
Coaching Inquiries: Have you ever thought of your life as a work of art? Would it help to have a partner with whom to appreciate that artwork? What’s to keep you from working with a coach in order to think about and plan where your life is going?
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.
Reviewing your efforts of producing your weekly Provisions for Living for so many years, for your 50,000 international subscribers, it brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for all the inspiration that you have given to us. I eagerly await your weekly letter. I look forward to the next issues that will explore some of your coaching individuals’ testimonies.
I look forward to reading your comments on the seven most important values for life path enhancement. I am widowed, retired, but always ready to learn from others. (Ed. Note: These are now archived and available on our Website Click).
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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