Stuckness is speaking for the things that support you in staying the same.
Growth is speaking for the things that support you in making changes.
Courage is choosing growth.
After working with a life coach for a while, I began to notice a disturbing pattern. Every week I’d have a head full of the problems I wanted to tackle during our session but, before I could launch into them, my coach would ask, "So when did you do well or do something different this week?" I’d answer, one thing would lead to another, and I’d hang up the phone without ever talking about my problems. I worried: How was I going to solve these problems if I never talked to my coach about them?
Something else was happening at the same time, though. I also noticed that when I got off the phone with my coach, I felt good. I felt like I had accomplished something in the previous week. Or that I had some hot prospects for growth and change in the next week. Or…sometimes I had a sense of both. And I began to ask myself, "Isn’t this what I’ve wanted, to have a feeling of accomplishments behind me, and possibilities for more in the future?" I considered the idea that talking about my "wins" might be more effective than talking about my "problems."
Recently I spoke to a client who had a serious issue around her teenage son. She spent some time telling me what was going on, including her frustration with the choices her son was making, difficulties in co-parenting with her ex-husband, and her abiding fear that she was a bad parent. She summed up by saying that she felt ignorant and helpless and she wanted to know what to do.
My response was to tell her what I had heard her say – speaking from my perspective as a coach. It turns out that inside the story of her fears and judgments was also a list of actions that she had taken. She had contacted her son’s school, spoken to her ex, and consulted an expert for parenting advice (yes, an actual expert). She even called her life coach to take care of herself amidst the upset.
My client expressed amazement as I finished recounting my understanding of the powerful actions she had already taken. Like my earlier self, she was expecting to deal with the problems. Instead, we talked about what she was doing well, and she realized she was already parenting quite competently. That realization freed her up to make more powerful and informed choices about how to proceed. She still didn’t know what the outcome would be, but her relationship to the circumstances shifted 180 degrees.
The method of life coaching is giving the client tools and skills to build a fantastic life. The process is providing a structure for the client to practice using those tools and skills. But the heart and soul of life coaching is that the coach speaks from a place of truly knowing that the client has the ability to create a joyful life.
Certainly, there are times when it is necessary to delve into a problem to change it. Yet, many times that tendency to delve keeps the feeling of "problem" alive, rather than helping to solve it. Examining the upset becomes another way of maintaining the status quo, a way of staying in our comfort zone.
A life coach helps you break the habit of having problems and build the habit of having that happy life you want. That’s why, where a friend would say, "Wow, that’s tough," a coach says, "What would happiness look like to you in this situation? Is that a step closer to success than the last time you faced this?" Of course, even with a life coach, changing our lives is still work, but having someone who is outside of our own tangled process gives us a reference point. Learning to distinguish the moment of choice when change can happen makes possible what previously seemed out of reach.