I know the power of having a coach. It’s not what you might think.
My coaches didn’t give me a tool that changed my life, or the ultimate blueprint for building a business.
As a trusted, neutral third party, they offered me something much more valuable:
They reminded me I wasn’t crazy.
(Or, maybe that it was OK to be the way I am.)
When our vision places us in a minority of individuals willing to dream big, there’s nothing more powerful than having a guide who can offer a perspective that is both detached and objective.
It’s natural to feel a sense of isolation as we decondition ourselves from the mountain of expectations and beliefs that have been placed on us. We can easily begin questioning if we’re the ones suffering from disillusionment.
“Am I setting healthy boundaries or am I really just being selfish?”
“Is my dream career and lifestyle really possible or do I need to be more practical?”
“How is my partner not understanding where I’m coming from?”
Our parents, friends, co-workers, and partners are great pillars of support. The problem is, when our decisions go against the status quo, our once-great pillars of support may have an incentive for us NOT to change.
On the other hand, a professional coach is trained to disregard their opinions and judgments about what we should or shouldn’t do. They aren’t afraid to tell us things that may be difficult to hear. They can also help us figure out what works for us, versus solely sharing what worked for them.
There are several areas in my life where the gift of a guide has helped me cultivate the most important outcome of any transformation: trust in myself.
Trusting my career choices
Creating a purposeful, fulfilling career requires us to shed massive amounts of conditioning. Most people haven’t developed the trust in themselves to take bold risks, so when we share ideas and plans that will stretch us, we’re often met with resistance instead of reassurance. How can others uplift what they have not yet cultivated in themselves?
When I was considering leaving my full-time job to go on sabbatical and figure out my path to becoming a life coach, I had plenty of people question that decision. Some were worried about the risks. Others thought it was inspiring, but they couldn’t fully conceal their mix of confusion and doubt.
Through partnering with my coach, I was getting consistent feedback on whether my choices were aligned with what I truly desired. I wasn’t told they were right/wrong or correct/incorrect. Instead, I was mirrored in a way that helped me build trust in myself and conviction in my vision. I was faced with the ultimate question over and over:
What do I really want?
Just having someone ask – and actually listen – was a powerful gift that allowed me to surface any and all doubt. Ironically, having the freedom to express our uncertainty is critical to growing our convictions over time.
Validation is motivating. I remember sitting in the parking lot at my corporate job on the phone with my coach. I was feeling exhausted from trying to give my best in my current role and dedicating a significant amount of time to my professional coaching program. My tank was on empty, and I didn’t know what would give. I was ready to hear how my thoughts were getting in the way.
To my surprise, and relief, there was no question. He told me he understood. In that moment, a wave of acceptance lifted me just high enough to see the shoreline and refuel my commitment to leaving the corporate world.
Trusting myself in relationships
Sometimes the person we’re in conflict with is the same person we rely on for support, affirmation, and advice.
It’s easy to talk to our partner about anything when we have an open and honest relationship. But what about when we’re sorting out our issues with them?
When I was struggling with figuring out when and where to set boundaries, it wasn’t working to try and sort these things out with my partner. The dynamic that was holding us back was embedded in our conversation. I wanted autonomy, and my partner wanted to feel included. How was I to know when to stay firm on what I needed and when to compromise for the well-being of the relationship?
Having a coach who empowered me to get my own needs met while offering objective feedback was crucial in helping me sort through the assumptions and judgments I was holding onto. Getting clear on who I wanted to be in the relationship, regardless of the circumstance, enabled me to approach our conflict with clarity, confidence, and compassion.
Trusting my desires
The only way to realize our full potential is by understanding on a very deep level who we are and what we want.
Understanding ourselves requires us to spend a significant amount of time exploring our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It means taking space from others in order to untangle our authentic desires from the conditioning of every person in our life. However, it doesn’t mean we have to go live on a remote island or leave our relationship.
One of the best ways to examine our personal truth is by exploring them with someone who has zero stake in what we choose to do. A coach is more empowering simply because their only interest is in helping clients create their own blueprint for a fulfilling life.
My own journey has forced me to examine what it means to be selfish. I had to learn the difference between withdrawing as avoidance and withdrawing as a sincere act of self-care.
I’ve also faced the identity crisis that coincides with abandoning the structure of a 9-5 job. Society tells us that in order to be successful and responsible we’re supposed to work hard.
Without a coach, I would’ve wasted energy thinking about what I should be doing instead of allowing my unique journey to unfold.
Only we can know if our decisions that go against societal norms are in service to our greatest becoming. The bigger the impact we want to have, the greater the need to be selfish in the best sense of the word. Over time, protecting our energy allows us to come from a place of abundance and contribute more than we ever could have if we disregarded our true desires.
As Joseph Campbell states,
“People today, we’re not going on a journey to save the world, but to save ourselves. In saving ourselves, you save the world. You do. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”
Trusting to transform
The ultimate goal of coaching is to facilitate personal transformation, and this evolution happens by way of being authentic. Paradoxically, no one can tell us how to be authentic – it requires our own process of contemplation and experimentation.
A professional coach is specially equipped to offer the space and structure to discover what authenticity means to us. Each coaching session is a mirror, but not just any 2D mirror. This one provides a clear view from all angles; physical, mental, and emotional.
The deeper we understand ourselves, the deeper we can trust ourselves. This is the most important outcome of coaching, because, with that, transformation is inevitable.
Huge thanks to Megan Gilardi for her feedback on this piece.
Photo by Petr Slováček on Unsplash