Last day of March. We’re officially nine days into spring, although with snow piles still hanging around us here in northern New Jersey, it doesn’t quite look like spring just yet. The featured picture here was taken a year ago yesterday on my way to my first coaching class in New York City. When I shared the memory on FaceBook yesterday I commented that it looked “springier.” Perhaps. But maybe it’s all in the perspective from which we chose to view the day.
If not a coach, I’ve at least been on this coaching journey now for a year. What have I achieved? Well, at the very least, I put into practice the fundamentals of accomplishing a goal — what we have been discussing this month. I decided in January 2016 that I wanted to be a professional coach; to do that, I wanted to be certified. I set a plan in motion from there. I took the needed classes; I completed the 25-week certification program; now I am completing the required coaching hours. But there’s so much more.
This journey has also been one of self-discovery. The core courses offered by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) took participants through a process of self-awareness not unlike the process through which coaches are to guide their clients. We learned about the things – our values – that were most important to us. And how to use that knowledge to guide the choices we make. We learned about those negative voices in our heads – Our Saboteur – and how to shut it down. We also learned how to call on a team of positive voices – cheerleaders, our “crew” – that can remind us of our most positive attributes which we can draw on to accomplish our goals and override the Saboteur. We explored our life’s purpose. What am I meant to be? What do I want? What does an extraordinary life look like to me? All of this helped me define who I wanted to be as coach. I also got some great coaching from my instructors, fellow coaches-in-training, and my mentor coach which has gotten me to the point I’m at now. A better coach. A better mom. A happier, more fulfilled human being.
The ultimate transformation for me, however, has been in the relationships I have created with my clients. And what standouts our here is “diversity.” In the beginning I begged someone to be a “practice client” and didn’t charge for my services. My confidence grew and I started to charge and expanded my client base, although still not far beyond my immediate network. It has only been recently that I have, through referrals and business networks, began working with people not previously known to me. These are people with experiences – professional, economic, religious, ethnic, geographic – that are much different than my own. And while our coaching relationship is evoking a transformation in their lives, I am learning – and transforming – too.
The basis of the coaching relationship is the belief that we are all naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. To honor that belief, is to honor an understanding that while we are all very different, there is nothing negative in those differences. Embracing my clients’ creativity, resourcefulness and wholeness, I can’t help but celebrate who they really are, and want for them to be nothing less than their authentic, true selves.
I grew up in a wealthy, suburban town, where “diversity” was defined by the differences between the Irish and Italians. We were all Christian and we were all while. My perspective was one of privilege. It wasn’t until I branched out – a private high school in another county, college in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Philadelphia, a career working for social service agencies – did I begin to open myself up to other perspectives. Changing perspectives is at the heart of transformation – changing how we view ourselves and others allows us to grow and evolve. When we do that, it becomes easier to see the day as “springy.”
Spring on 34th Street. New York City. March 2016.