What I love about coaching, the very thing that many new to the process don’t anticipate before the first session, is the empowering perspective that we each have the capacity to change our lives as we desire by taking full ownership of our choices and their outcomes. This is about taking 100% responsibility—no more time on the drama triangle. The growth edge to cross as we move toward taking accountability for the aspects of our circumstances that we want to be different is a game changer, and at heart informs my work as a coach.
The process of kicking off a coaching relationship with a new client in the first session is unique to every person, with one key exception. Coaching is far from formulaic, but there are key elements necessary to include in the first of twelve coaching calls that make up a six-month engagement, similar to what I offer in my Align Program. Some of those elements include designing mutual agreements, a values and strengths discovery, and time spent envisioning a desirable future that informs the goals of the coaching. There is so much more that comes through, but these are the key pieces that shape how we begin. The part I never ignore, and certainly don’t forget to underscore, is the fact that the individual, in this case, the client, is the agent of the desired change. It begins and ends with them, as it does with you.
My intention is that by the end of the first call that new clients feel empowered by the perspective that their success with coaching, and more importantly in life, depends on their willingness to become present.
Presence begets an awareness that allows one to operate consciously, making choices with eyes, heart, and mind wide open. Our ability to be present is our first step toward taking responsibility for our actions—all of them, from what we say or don’t say, and do or not do.
What I am eager to convey to those coming into a deeper awareness of their potential impact is that they have before them the opportunity to consciously own their authority to create the change they desire, and that is a moving discovery to make.
This powerful concept of combining presence and responsibility is the backbone of my approach to coaching. It’s both empowering and challenging for those new to it. In our work together, clients receive the support to step into the awareness and authority needed to manifest their most audacious goals.
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My new client enters our Zoom room with a smile that glows from within the pallid gray walls of the office he secured for our call. We chatted for a few minutes as we warmed to one another. He told me he had never been coached before and confessed he was not sure what to expect. He wore black-rimmed glasses with his hair swept to the side in a way that reminded me of my 11-year-old son who was two weeks from starting middle school.
If he was nervous, it didn’t show. He seemed curious, cocking his head like a cat watching a bouncing ball of fur on a string. I was looking forward to getting to know him—it was a familiar feeling, a kind of groundswell of enthusiasm I often feel on my first call with a new client. It’s the feeling of anticipating the whole journey that will come in the coaching relationship that lasts six months or more and knowing the privilege of being both witness and guide to transformational change.
I ask a version of a question I often begin with, as I tilt the conversation on its side to let in a new strain of light. “Why is now the right time for coaching in your life?”
I am poking at the edges of the question that I pass over for now, What do you want and could use support to manifest for yourself?
This is a proverbial can of worms, and I know it. I want the can open to the light. I want to see what he sees, to hear him describe it as if I am him. I want to step on the road he’s traveling and walk alongside him. It will take this first session together for him to realize that this is what coaching feels like—it’s a partnership built on mutual trust and open communication.
“I’m here because I’m new to management. I’m good at my job and have been promoted but it’s so different managing people.” His voice is green like spring grass, energetic and bright. He glances down below his screen for a moment, back up at me, and continues, “It’s hard. This is my first job out of college. It’s been four years now at this company, and I like it, but my boss is looking for me to ‘level up,’” he said as he curls his fingers into air quotes. “He recommended me for coaching.”
I notice he didn't make this initial choice for himself, but I sense he’s here for his own reasons, despite the vote of confidence of his supervisor.
I begin again, “Now that you are here, it’s a perfect time to ask yourself, What do I want?”
I let my words seep in and watched him tilt back in his chair before leaning toward the screen. “I want to feel more confident in my role as manager. I think my job could be . . . fun, especially the outside sales stuff, if I felt more comfortable being me. I want to feel I belong at the table making decisions. I also want to be the mentor I didn’t have when I started.”
Now we are getting somewhere, I thought, as I listened to my client connect with his own reasons for taking ownership of the transformation he wanted for himself. In his reflection he was able to zoom out from his life, as if he was standing on a balcony peering down in observation, noticing how his actions have informed his present and will inform his future.
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Coaching can be confronting. It takes courage to raise your hand and say, “Please help me help myself.” In order to create the change we seek, we must first take ownership of the part we play in creating the reality we are experiencing now.
But once we can embrace the truth of our lives—no matter how messy—we can begin to shape it, channeling our energy and attention to create for ourselves an intentional, conscious expression of who we are, what we value, and what we’re all about. This is how we live our leadership in the world.
You've got this. I've got you.
Join my ALIGN 6-month coaching program, an in-depth personal coaching program to guide you in the positive pursuit of your optimal vision for your life. With this package, you will be a Whole Body Yes! for work that highlights your deepest motivators for change. Within coaching sessions and between, you will dive deep to discover more of who you are at your best and what you most yearn to create in your life when you give yourself permission to dream big. Create a new path forward that feels true to you and offers a sense of freedom and fulfillment as you elevate your impact and amplify your voice to create an impact aligned with your values. Book a 30-minute strategy call to learn how coaching can support you in 2023.