Provision #379: Coaching as Talking Mirror

Laser Provision

LifeTrek clients come from all around the world to reach their dreams, design their environments, and expand their horizons. In fact, cross-cultural conversations can be the most eye-opening of them all. We are introduced to new ways of seeing, working, and being. That was certainly the hope of today’s featured client, when he called us from Ireland for assistance with a new business startup.

LifeTrek Provision

Do you ever wonder what’s “International” about LifeTrek Coaching International? After all, our staff were all born and raised in the United States with limited skills in languages other than English. This limitation notwithstanding, we are “International” in at least five senses.

1. We have international instincts. There is no place in coaching for provincial viewpoints. Just because we are heading into autumn in the Northern Hemisphere does not make us unmindful of those who are heading into spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Just because we use the English measuring system does not make us unmindful of those who use the Metric measuring system. And just because our country has important national interests does not make us unmindful of other countries’ important national interests. We are all connected and worthy of consideration, respect, and opportunity.

2. We have international readers. It never ceases to amaze me that every few weeks another reader will drop us a note, adding another country to the subscribe list. We are now up to 144 countries • more countries than participated in the recent Olympics. Now that’s international!

3. We have international technology. Some of our readers use online translators to review the current issue of Provisions in their own language each week. To see how this works, go to a site like, select your language, put in the URL for our current issue (, and click on “FREE Translation.” In no time, you will be reading a computer-generated version of our Provision in your language of choice.

4. We have international colleagues. Whether through live-events, bridge-line-calls, or one-on-one coaching, we maintain active connections with coaches around the world. For more than two years, my own coach was from Australia and I have had the pleasure of connecting with (and even running with) her in person on more than one occasion.

5. We have international clients. Of course that starts with client inquiries, of which there is a constant stream. Lately, for example, we have been receiving many requests from Nig•ria. Sometimes that turns into Chat Room or Instant Message coaching, including the use of Multilingual Messaging software. But most of the inquiries that actually turn into telephone coaching clients end up coming from the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Puerto Rico.

To give you a feel for our international clients and their experience of long-distance, cross-cultural coaching, we are going to interview two of them, this week and next. Today’s featured client, with an entrepreneurial dream that has designs on the US market, hails from Ireland.

Q: How did you learn about LifeTrek Coaching and what did you want to work on when you contacted us for coaching?

A: In the summer of 2002, I started reading your material on my Palm Pilot through AvantGo. Because I was in the very early stages of a challenging business startup, and because you marketed yourself as being interested in coaching entrepreneurs, and because you were at least sophisticated enough in technology to be on AvantGo, I gave you a call to learn what you had to offer.

It became clear from our very first conversation that you brought a broad perspective to coaching. We did not focus narrowly on the nuts and bolts of my business startup. We focused on me, as a person, in that startup. And I quickly identified the need to develop a more positive attitude in life and work. I knew that without an attitude adjustment, I was going to end up totally stressed by the business startup together with my other responsibilities and commitments.

Q: So were you able to be successful without being stressed out?

A: Absolutely. When I contacted you for coaching, I was wearing many hats and juggling many balls. I was designing my new business venture, working as a consultant, and caring for my wife and young children. The business venture was my ticket to financial and personal freedom • it was that important • and the ticket price was my development of more positive habits, systems, and attitudes.

Shortly after we finished working together, I contacted a potential investor who has really put the wind under the wings of my new business. He ended up making a substantial investment that has enabled me to quit my job as a consultant and focus on the new business venture, full time. The product has evolved, since we last talked, with a growing customer base, especially in the US.

I would never have attracted that venture capital without the positive habits, systems, and attitudes we worked on together. Frustration, clutter, and delay are just not part of my life. So, yes, I have increased my success and decreased my stress.

Q: What are your challenges now? And how did coaching assist you to meet those challenges?

A: I went full time with this opportunity in January of this year. It won’t be until next year that we start hiring any staff, other than me. So I work in an organization of one. That has made me totally responsible for setting up our structure and organization, let alone my work schedule, daily habits, and personal attitude.

We talked about all those things in our coaching. I remember, for example, how we set up a filing system that worked for me, with physical, digital, and email files all working in tandem, with standardized naming conventions. Now it’s time to revisit that, as the company has grown, but our work set me on the right path.

More than the systems, coaching also impacted my attitude. To go from being a consultant to an entrepreneur is a big leap. It requires courage, creativity, and self-discipline. As a self-employed entrepreneur, I have to set my own goals and work processes. I also have to face the loneliness of working by myself much of the time. Coaching enabled me to appreciate and to successfully meet those challenges.

Q: Why did you seek a coach in the US? Was that by design?

A: It was by design, although I think there were some limitations to our never being able to meet in the person. I knew that a lot of life coaching, and the self-improvement movement in general, originated in the US. I also knew, of course, that my geographical target market was in the US. So I reasoned that a US coach would give me some important perspectives.

And it did work that way, up to a point. You were able to make some connections for me that I was not familiar with, and you certainly brought a different perspective. So, in my case, having a coach from a different culture was helpful.

Q: Can you say more about the shifts you had to make to be successful?

A: As a consultant, I always had to pay attention to the human dynamics of a project. But now, in my position as CEO of a new business venture, I have to be careful not to be lazy in my leadership. To move this forward, I have to have an absolute belief in what I am doing. And I have to surround myself with great people, many of whom know more than me. They are dynamic, strong-willed, opinionated, and experienced.

That inevitably results in some pretty spirited conversations. My challenge has been to manage the conversations, to keep them moving. I walk a tightrope between being a tyrant and being a pushover. I am constantly paying attention to what decisions are mine and what can be shared.

It comes down to focus. I cannot afford to abdicate responsibility or to procrastinate. I also cannot afford to have a negative attitude or fuzzy goals. It’s been a shift for me to lift that up and take that on, each and every day.

Q: What about your personal life? Are you working more or less now that you are a full-time entrepreneur?

A: That may be the biggest shift of all. I have developed clear boundaries around my work life. Before we had children, my wife and I were both workaholics. Traveling. Working crazy hours. There were no boundaries; the world said, “Jump!” and we jumped.

Once we had children, that had to change. But that was a decision rather than an accident. Many people have children and keep right on being workaholics. That was not we wanted. So when it came to designing my new company and work schedule, I paid a lot of attention to my hours, weekends, and holidays. Even though I could work all the time, I choose not to.

This is one area where coaches can really make a contribution. By asking questions about core values, and just giving clients the permission to set boundaries, coaches can assist people to design better, more fulfilling, and more sustainable lives. In the end, however, children do even more to force the issue. I believe that adults without children do not develop in the same way as adults with children. They are a gift which helps to keep our world sane.

Q: That is a profound thought. Do you have any recommendations for our readers who may be thinking about coaching?

A: Coaching is about change. If you don’t want to change, then don’t hire a coach. It would be a waste of time and money. And it would be very frustrating.

But if you are ready to make a change, whether it’s a career change, starting a business, or anything else, then working with the right coach can make a huge difference. Of course the chemistry has to be right (and if it’s not, you should move on and find another coach). Once you start working well together, things really happen fast.

Having a coach is almost like having a talking mirror, like the kind in children’s fairytales. You look in the mirror and see yourself, but the mirror talks back. The coach really tells you very little that you don’t already know about yourself and the challenges you face. But to see yourself through someone else’s eyes, warts and all, is a very humbling, challenging, and forwarding experience. It gets to the guts of who you are and enables you to move on.

Coaching Inquiries: When was the last time that you looked in a mirror? Did it talk back to you? What did it say? Are there dreams waiting to be born? Are there systems waiting to be invented? Are there children waiting to be enjoyed? How could coaching assist you to move forward?

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.

Wow!! I just read your “Passion” poem Click and it fits my life to a T!! Eight years ago, my husband, who I loved more than life itself, walked out and disappeared, never to look back. Needless to say, I was devastated. I am disabled, had just given birth to a special needs child with many, many problems, and suffered my own serious health problems requiring emergency surgery. I felt life was being very cruel to me at the time.

I finally realized these were God’s trials for my life to teach me endurance, strength, courage, patience, and a stronger faith. Two years ago, I woke up one morning, hearing the birds singing outside my window, and said, “I WANT TO LIVE!!” This poem is exactly how I feel. I’m ready to move forward with my life, and possibly engage in another relationship, although I will be more selective in choosing a partner than I was in the past. Thank you for such an inspirational outlook on life!!

Thanks for your last two Provisions on relationship coaching. Praise God for good marriages and learning how to do the requisite work. 

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
LifeTrek Coaching International
121 Will Scarlet Lane
Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043

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