Background: I attended a women’s networking event sponsored by my alma mater, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. One of the alums gave a speech about her career, what she had learned over the years, and advice she had for us. It was a great speech, I wish I had a copy of it. One of the biggest take-aways was that she had worked with several coaches throughout her career. She likened it to working with a personal trainer, someone who could guide you and make sure you were on the right track. She said we could follow-up with her if we needed a referral. I did and targeted the top coach on her list. The coach didn’t have any availability, but I continued to email and ask if she had any openings. 7 months later, a spot opened up in her practice.
The difference between a coach and therapist seemed ambiguous to me initially, but the roles are distinct. A therapist is a health care professional who is specifically treating a condition like trauma or depression or marital discord; whereas a coach guides you to become your best self.
During the intake session, my coach learned more about me and a typical day. I mentioned that Dean picks me up from the ferry in the evening and we would ride home, commiserating about the stupid shit that had happened to us at work. She advised that instead of debriefing about the worst parts of our day, to ask each other, “What’s the best thing that happened today?” That little change made a huge difference in our lives. We stopped complaining and became more grateful.
Here’s a glimpse at one of our other coaching discussions.
Coach: Give me an example of when you’re frustrated or irritated.
Me: The Kaiser pharmacy drives me crazy. I get so pissed because the lines are so long.
Coach: But why does that matter?
Me: Because people aren’t doing their job. Why are they getting paid to sit around and not help when it’s busy and it’s obvious that the lines are so long. I mean, this is a hospital…not the post office!
Coach: Why does it upset you?
Me: I guess I just hate lazy people. I always have. It pisses me off.
Coach: What’s another lens you can use to see this situation?
Me: I can multi-task and do something else instead of getting upset.
Coach: How does that make you feel?
Me: I’ll probably multi-task, but then after a few minutes, I’ll just get annoyed again.
Coach: So what’s another lens?
Me: I don’t know. Maybe the people working at the pharmacy are doing the best that they can do?
Coach: Ok, what else?
Me: Who am I to put my expectations on other people?
Me: Maybe I’m supposed to be learning from this?
Coach: Hmmm, tell me more.
Me: Maybe I’m put in these situations as a way to learn more patience, instead of being pissed off all the time?
Coach: Hmmm. What do you call that lens?
Me: Enlightenment? I keep talking about these books I’ve read like The Power of Now and how that stuff is for people like Eckhart Tolle and the Dalai Lama, it’s not for normal people like me. But maybe these scenarios are exercises in learning.
Coach: And how does that make you feel?
Me: Wow, I’m a little startled. I feel good.
Coach: For the next 2 weeks, do you think you can practice this lens of enlightenment?
Me: Yeah, definitely, I’m going to do it.
What’s great about my coach is that she often doesn’t tell me anything. She mainly asks questions and helps me come to my own conclusions. It’s really fascinating. She’s a mom who previously worked at Google, so I feel like she totally gets me.
- Helps me focus on what matters.
- Very results-oriented on a personal level. I’ve seen better results with coaching than I have with therapy.
- Coaching encompasses all aspects of my life and pushes me to have a more balanced life.
- Very expensive, but worth it.
- The sessions can be challenging. It’s not a relaxing, feel-good hour.
- I have homework, which I guess could be a good thing too. But you can’t just show up for your session, you actually have to have done your homework. Here’s an example: Think about the various decades of your life. Identify the experience(s), situations(s), memories where you were totally in your element and absolutely loving what you were doing and who you were being in those situations. For each of those experiences/situations per decade that you come up with, ask yourself and write down: what was it you loved about it? Here’s another example with a deadline looming and kinda stressing me out: Find a regular babysitter and schedule date time with your husband.