The assignment for my Co-Active Coaching Synergy Class last week was to write my (coaching) story. It needed to include relevant pieces of the past, the present journey and the future. It shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to tell.
So here it is from the future…it’s 2040. I’m 75 and presenting at the NYC Marathon Expo, this how I begin…
This the story of the Cause Coach.
I’m Mary Connolly. And yeah, I’m the Cause Coach.
I reinvented myself twice in my adult life. The first time was in the mid 90s when I transitioned from a career as a mediocre sales professional to a successful fundraiser. What was significant about that was it was then that I started running. I trained for my first race in 1996 and completed my first full marathon in 1997. And from there my career took off! It was not only through the focus and discipline that I developed in the marathon training, but the enormous empowerment I felt as a marathon finisher that made every project seem effortless, every idea doable. That’s where I got the inspiration for my first book which at the time was going to be 26.2 Miles to a Better Career.
But life got in the way. And things got stressful. Almost 20 years vanished. With 2013 came a sense of wanting to be something – or someone – new…again. I had just gotten through what I had thought was the most stressful time of my life: seven difficult years that saw tremendous hardship personally and professionally bookended by the loss of both my parents. By 2013 I wanted to live. I had a renewed focus on the book project when I met a literary agent interested in the project; but I struggled with exactly what I was going to say, and why I was the person to say it. What made me, out of the 10s of 1000s of marathon finishers a credible author?
Going into 2014 toxic stress still loomed large. Family stress. Job stress and just as I was thinking things couldn’t get any worse I was diagnosed with an invasive breast cancer. Successful lumpectomy. Caught early. Nothing spread. Four weeks of radiation and I’ve been cancer free ever since. A month after my surgery I lost my job. Six weeks after I completed radiation my husband hanged himself in our garage.
The book was beginning to write itself. Though the most unlikely and tragic circumstances I was the credible author. 2014 was the worse year of my life. But I ran. And running kept me sane. Running made me strong. Running saved my life.
People told me I was inspirational. The 15 months after my husband’s death was a time of mourning and self-discovery. My consulting business was the cause connection. I was working with emerging and transitioning non-profits, but I quickly understood that I didn’t want to do the hands on work, that I was more excited when I would guide my clients to do the work themselves. In an effort to transition from consultant to coach, I started my blog…and The Cause Coach was born. “Cause” then meaning a non-profit, charity – a worthy cause.
In early 2016, looking to establish more credibility as a coach, I found CTI (Coaches Training Institute) and began training as a Co-Active Coach. During the core training I expanded on my self-discovery and developed clarity around my life purpose. I also got some really good coaching from my classmates.
One challenged me to reconnect with the literary agent I had been working with on and off for 3 years. I did. We discussed a reframe of the book which led to a reframe of the blog. I redefined “cause” from a charity I was trying to help to being who I was…”the cause coach: giving rise to action.” That helped me see who I wanted to be as a coach…I finally answered the question: how can I use my passion for running, my RRCA coaching credential and CPCC (Certified Professional Co-active Coach) to provide a unique type of coaching that would empower people to be their personal best?
In 2017, I became certified as a co-active coach. And in 2018, I finished the book, yes, my best seller that you all know so well, “26.2 Miles to an Extraordinary Life.” At the age of 52, I had fully reinvented myself again.
Since then, I have coached 1000s of clients to do what I did; through their own self discovery they learned that they can survive and endure the most difficult of times and also find clarity in their life purpose – and many were coached to that first self-affirming powerful marathon finish.
And that’s why I’m here talking to you this morning at the NYC Marathon expo…