Provision #373: Coaching as Trusted Friend

Laser Provision

Sometimes, even when we have it all, there can still be a restlessness deep down inside. That’s what today’s featured client, a medical doctor, was feeling when he first contacted LifeTrek for coaching. He had all the pieces; he just wasn’t able to put them together. But in five short months he was able to do that. He became more mindful in the present moment, even as he became more intentional about preparing for the future.

LifeTrek Provision

Life coaching is to coaching what General Practice is to medicine: we do a little bit of everything. And, with good reason. Everything is connected to everything else. There’s no way, for example, to be a mess at home and great at work or vice-versa. So we often use tools and resources to get clients to look at the whole picture in order to improve those areas that need buffing up.

One of those resources, originally developed by Thomas Leonard, is called the Clean Sweep Program. It surveys four big areas of life (Physical Environment, Health & Wellness, Career & Money, and Relationships) and often surfaces a wide variety of issues and coaching conversations.

Another resource, called the Wheel of Life Exercise, assists people to work on life balance issues by considering eight areas of life: Career, Money, Health, Friends & Family, Romance / Significant Other, Personal Growth, Fun & Recreation, and Physical Environment.

We also use a variety of professional assessments available through Target Training International., such as the DISC and PIAV. These assessments generate comprehensive reports that reveal much about a client’s interests, attitudes, values, and behavioral styles.

These programs, exercises, and assessments can be useful both at the outset and at various points in the coaching process. They certainly flag issues that today’s featured client, a medical doctor, had in mind when he contacted LifeTrek coaching. On one level, this client had it all: a successful practice, a wonderful family, financial security, a wonderful home, and a healthy body. What more could a person want? How about peace of mind. It wasn’t long before that too was in the offing.

Q: How did you learn about LifeTrek Coaching and why did you first contact us for coaching?

A: I started reading your weekly newsletter, LifeTrek Provisions, through AvantGo on my handheld device in early 2003. When you wrote your series on managing the financial aspects of things, I knew I had to call. I was thinking about my home, financial obligations, retirement, and what I was going to do for the next 10 years until retiring. It wasn’t about needing more money; it was about having a plan to get where I wanted to go.

From reading your series, I thought you could assist me with developing that. I wanted to be more settled in my mind that I was on the right track. I also wanted to get closer to your perspective on life, because you have a way of distilling a lot of different complicated concepts into a manageable format. It’s a total Gestalt approach; not just pieces and fragments.

Q: How long did we work together?

A: I think it was five months but, of course, my journey is not complete. I still think of you as my coach, even though we are no longer talking on a weekly basis. I view coaching as a resource to go to from time to time, as needed. This is not a flat tire we’re fixing here. This is an ongoing maintenance program for an ongoing journey.

Q: How did your goals for coaching evolve over time?

A: When we first started to work together, my focus was primarily financial. I was worried about the business. Overhead. Employees. Patients. The usual stresses of being a physician in private practice. I was also worried about my retirement plans. They were not very clear or focused. Then, in the intake process, I took the DISC assessment and it was very informative for me.

I saw how I was so heavily weighted towards financial concerns and being overly consumed with productivity that my family and interpersonal relationships were suffering. Things were way out of balance. So the process made me realize where I was out of whack and admit to myself that I wanted to work on getting my personal and family life more together, not just my financial affairs.

Q: Did that happen? Is your whole life together now, after just five months of coaching?

A: (Laughter) Not completely, of course. But I certainly have more insight into all aspects of my life, and I certainly handle them better. Coaching assisted me to clarify the issues that I needed to work on. What I was top heavy on. The homework assignments, the reading assignments, the skills we worked on, were all great. They were right on target and just what “the doctor” needed.

They made me step back and see how my upbringing and my parents and siblings were impacting my life today, both directly and indirectly. Making that connection was helpful in getting perspective and doing some things differently. I’m not pre-determined. I can choose whom and how I want to be in the world. It was a very liberating process.

Q: What internal shifts did you have to make in order to get to that point?

A: I had to become more reflective and aware of myself, in the day-to-day, moment-to-moment living of life. I still practice many of the techniques we worked on together in our coaching sessions • the STOP tool, deep breathing, and other stress reduction techniques. This represents a huge shift for me. I now have several tools in my repertoire that I did not have before.

Before coaching I felt like a mouse on a wheel, going round and round, and not getting anywhere. I knew I didn’t want to keep running in this way forever. The coaching process helped me to solidify many aspects of my life into a comprehensive vision. It was incredibly important work.

Q: What behavioral changes did you make through coaching?

A: I still keep that wind chime we talked about in my Jaguar! When I drive, now, I turn the radio off and pay attention to the stillness and quiet. The wind chime is right next to me on the seat. Sometimes, when I get to a stoplight, I may pick it up and ring it. It’s a call to mindfulness and living the life I want to live.

When you first had me go out and get the wind chime, I would oftentimes go to a nearby park, ring the chime, and read something totally unrelated to medicine. When I went to purchase that chime, my whole family went with. My kids thought it was a little bit crazy. My wife just stood there watching me in disbelief. However, it became the sign of who I was becoming.

On a larger scale, I have also purchased two pieces of retirement property that I would not have bought without the work we did. Our work gave me the perspective to know what I want for the next phase of life and to enjoy the process of getting there. Right now, as we speak, I am taking two weeks off with my wife and kids; that’s a huge change. People are marveling because I never used to do things like this. I always worked too much. Now I’m different.

Q: So coaching really stretched you to grow?

A: Yes, it was certainly uncomfortable at first to talk about these things, even with a coach. I don’t talk about these things with anyone! It was sort of like coming out of the closet. People just don’t go around talking with other people about their anxieties, or their finances, or their marriage • at least not in my circles.

So it stretched me to open all that up with someone. But I learned quickly that I could ventilate with you better than I could with my closest friends and even my wife sometimes. You just listen. You’re a sounding board and you’re good at synthesizing, distilling, and repackaging concepts to help facilitate one’s insight. You invite people into a nonjudgmental space.

That helped me to get comfortable with thinking long range. Lots of people are focused only on the press of today. I wanted to focus on the press of the future. I also wanted to learn how to enjoy my life more along the way. Coaching assisted me to realize there is no destination; life is a journey and there will always be new frontiers. So being fully mindful in the present moment, even as we prepare for tomorrow, is the real work of life. That is what coaching helped me to deal with.

Q: You mentioned that you still think of me as your coach. When do you imagine you might call on me again?

A: Whenever I am going through a transition or contemplating a big decision, I would call you up for coaching. The exit strategy for my practice, deciding on my retirement, dealing with the timetable (sooner rather than later), working through things with my kids or my wife, and who knows what else is out there lurking, these are all great coaching projects.

Q: Do you have recommendations for our readers who may be thinking about coaching?

A: There’s absolutely no down side to coaching. So go for it. Even it’s just for one month. You can spend more money on a baseball game with the family than on a month of coaching, and the ramifications of coaching are far more profound than whether your team wins or loses that particular day.

Coaching is like having a trusted friend, someone you can count on to be there. You are a well-read and learned person with fantastic ideas that you openly share with others. I can’t thank you enough for that. You accept people just the way they are, right where you are, and move on from there with a nonjudgmental witnessing awareness. Who wouldn’t want that? What more could a person ask for?

Coaching Inquiries: Do you have a trusted friend? Who do you rely upon for learning and growth? Do you have peace of mind about the future? Do you live fully in the present moment? How could you call yourself to mindfulness on a moment-by-moment basis?

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 Formor Email Bob.

I was interested in Erika’s suggestion of designating a screens free day. I think it can also be helpful for both children and adults to create a screens free zone for 30 minutes before going to bed for higher quality sleep. 

Greetings from India. You have really created and piled up some extraordinary things for human beings. Since you keep on building and maintaining, there are no words to describe. One day I will personally meet you in person or will ask you to visit my country. Thanks.

Wasn’t the posting of last week’s Provision a bit early? Keep smiling. (Ed. Note: Yes. I am in Alaska on vacation, and so it was sent out on Alaska time rather than Eastern time. Hope you enjoyed the early surprise!) 

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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