Laughter is a healing balm. In the best of times, laughter keeps us humble and fresh. In the worst of times, laughter gives us energy and hope. In all times, laughter serves as both a lubricant and a glue: it lowers the friction of the daily grind and it makes connections between people. Understanding these dynamics, coaches use humor to forward our client’s attitude, actions, and ambitions. Perhaps, after reading our stories, you can learn how to better make laughter work for you.
Kate: I have found in coaching and in life, that one of the most powerful of human expressions is laughter. Not only does it allow us to express, share, lighten our being, and energize us; it promotes bonding. And, bonding provides the glue of strong relationships and memorable experience.
As I think about the relationships forged with my coaching clients, I have to smile about all the enjoyable moments spent laughing with them. We all need more humor and relaxation in our lives, and the times spent laughing are as poignant as any other. It is then that we release ourselves, letting go of some of the formality and urgency, and escaping to what may be a more •down to earth• experience.
My coaching relationships are always more real and connected when clients are sharing funny stories about their experience, jokes that are pertinent to our discussion, or releasing emotion through an amusing anecdote. And, I enjoy lightening the moment with a remark or story to take some seriousness out of the situation, giving the client some room to relax.
I want to say thank you to all the wonderful people in my life who have shared humor and their personal •funnies• with me. I think those are some of the greatest gifts we give, and my days and spirit have been lifted knowing these characters. Much of the work we do together will be more powerful when we let ourselves go a little and keep a grounded perspective by welcoming laughter.
Megan: I had a client who set as one of her initial goals to get her sense of humor back. Several years earlier she has taken on a leadership role in an area of importance to her organization and had worked diligently to fulfill the very high expectations she had set for herself in meeting the serious responsibilities of the position. About the time we began our coaching relationship, she had begun to realize the toll that all of that seriousness had taken in both her personal and professional relationships. She recalled with some sadness that in her former position she was known to be a fun-loving and funny person. Her husband and daughter also had made comments that they missed that more light-hearted version of who she had been.
About six months into our coaching relationship, this client began the call in an exuberant mood. “It is finally all coming together!” she reported enthusiastically. “People are finally beginning to see how all of these initiatives fit together. Other people are stepping into leadership roles. All this hard work is finally paying off!” Then she told a funny story of an incident that had occurred at a recent training she had led. “Hey, look at that!” I said, “You’re really getting your sense of humor back!” And we laughed together.
Erika: I am especially pleased that one of my clients has rediscovered his joy.
It had been a rough few years, as he struggled through ending a marriage and and the realization that he lost sight of his sense of self. He was deflated, stoic and pessimistic. In fact, when we first began working together, everything was viewed as “serious business.” There seemed to be no room in his life for play or dreaming. Even hobbies and relationships looked more like corporate agreements than desires and passions.
Through our conversations, and his own reflection, this year was transformational. My client began to see the bigger picture (what I often call the Big Life Agenda), rather than focusing on the daily “muck.” When he became compelled toward and energized by a larger goal, a vision for who he is meant to be, the small bumps in the road were no longer perceived as life-denying road blocks.
We had several coaching conversations about Values that contributed to his rediscovery of self. Understanding his Values reminded him of and gave clarity to what makes him happy. Aligning his everyday decisions, even the smallest of them, with those values enabled him to not only take steps toward his larger vision but also to become happier in the moment.
This week, my client shared with me that he found himself laughing out loud at the thought of how happy he is at this point in his life. He is actively pursing an outrageous dream, embarking on a brave adventure, and is making purpose-driven choices each day. I think this client will be laughing for a long time, and I’ll be laughing with him.
Christina: Laughter can be healing, bonding, and serve as a wonderful relief for stress. When is the last time you laughed so hard that you felt it in your belly? How often do you laugh at yourself? Because you•re human, the sooner you acknowledge the unintended silly things you do and say, the healthier and happier you•ll be.
Anyone who knows me well knows that laughter is a big piece of my life. I look for ways to make people laugh and to also find humor in things about myself. In fact, the most bonding and relationship building roles I play in my family is that of a comedian and Jim Carey type actor. My relationships with my children, parents, husband, and siblings are built in large part on the laughter we share.
A very special coaching client comes to mind as I reflect upon this week’s moment. Unfortunately, my coaching client was fired from her high-paying management-level position where she worked for a fashion retail corporation. She called me for some spot coaching moments after she was released from her position. Her first words to me were: •Christina, I just got fired.• That was followed by a long period of silence where the tears began to flow as she sobbed.
Obviously she was feeling some intensely powerful emotions. After sharing with her that I was there to support her and assuring her that she could turn those lemons into lemonade, I asked her to tell me what emotion the tears represented. I asked because I was mindful of the disconnect between how sad she was feeling about being fired when, for months, we•d been talking about how much she hated her job and about how she could build a better career future.
Suddenly she stopped crying and said, •Well I’m not crying because I’m sad. How could I be sad? I just got exactly what I’ve wanted for over a year.• She then busted out in laughter so loud that I had to hold the phone a bit away from my ear. She laughed so hard that I began to laugh because she was really enjoying and finding immense humor in her situation. She confessed that she could not remember the last time she•d laughed that hard.
Our coaching session triggered laughter that became a vehicle of release. Additionally, that laughter represented her feelings of freedom, ownership of her life, and control over her future. That laughter, on the spot, enabled my client to pick up the pieces and to move forward as I knew she could.
Mike: I once worked with a client who wanted to get back into shape. After she had designed a clear and exciting goal, we began to look at the current situation to see what could help or hinder her. We began designing a supportive environment in the home and immediately found that her home was regularly filled with home-cooked food prepared by family who often came to visit. My client’s cultural heritage was very family oriented and food played a big part when they visited each other.
I asked her, if she ever gave out leftovers for visitors take home. She said that she couldn’t do that as it would offend them. She explained how they all put a lot of love and time into preparing the various foods. The very thought of offending them made her very uncomfortable. No matter how hard she tried to compromise on the idea of sending some leftovers to take home, she could never do that. So those piles of leftovers were staying in her refrigerator until they were eaten.
Trying to understand this beautiful gift that her family gave, I asked her what the best part of this was for her when she did it. Was it putting love and time into the cooking and taking it to her family’s homes, or was it seeing them eat the food? My client explained that the best part for her was putting her time and love in to prepare the food. As long as they ate some of it she was happy, but it was mostly the gift of making and taking the food to their homes.
I asked her if she expected them to eat all of the leftover food. She said no. I asked if she would be upset if they couldn’t eat all of it before it had to be thrown or given away. And she began to laugh. She laughed loud and long, trying to speak in between but not able to until she had stopped laughing. When she stopped laughing, she explained how she had become aware that her feelings of guilt had caused her to behave this way, when in reality it was not expected or realistic for her anymore. She laughed a few more times after that while we designed an environment that she was comfortable with and that supported her weight loss.
Bob: At the beginning of a coaching relationship, clients typically want to get down to business. They have their goals and objectives, and they want their coach to help them achieve their desired outcomes. Here, too, laughter is important. But it often plays less of a role in those first few months.
To sustain a coaching relationship over time, however, laughter is absolutely crucial. Coaches and clients who laugh together, stay together. It’s the secret to breaking forth more truth and light. There’s no better medicine than laughter.
Coaching Inquiries: How much laughter is in your life? Would you do well to increase your laughter quota? How could you bring yourself to laugh even when you do not feel like laughing? Who and what makes you laugh? What’s the connection for you between laughter and life?
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..
Sorry to read about your “mucked up moment” at the Bull Run Run Click. While I appreciate your reflections on the experience I was a bit surprised that your spirituality and faith were not mentioned. Perhaps it felt more like a glaring omission since I received the Provision on Easter but your decision not to report on your prayer, your openness to God’s wondrous creation (quite a balance to experience “muck”) is a loss for me. I hope you have not made a choice to exclude God’s role in your Provisions. (Ed. Note: There was nothing intentional in the oversight. Thanks for noticing the omission. Focusing on the Spirit is certainly another shift to make when we find ourselves stuck in the muck.)
A DNF (Did Not Finish) is hard to handle. I had one, but I learned a lesson from it. Go, walk, bleed, shiver, or crawl, but finish in however many hours it takes. There are people who finish marathons in 6+ hours and are extremely proud. In the end, they are all winners. (Ed. Note: In this case, we were kicked off the course and were not allowed to continue. That said, determination does make a difference in running as in life.) • Top
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
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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