The Gold Standard of Great Coaching

It’s true. Finding a coach who knows the craft and who “gets” you is key. But that’s not the main ingredient in a great coaching relationship.

This week I got a letter from one of my favorite clients. Like most of the spectacular human beings I work with, Jane seeks balance, satisfaction and contribution in her remaining decades on the planet. And for her, the focus includes her husband, their sailboat and some world travel. Now here’s the big hint about what I see as the Gold-Standard in a coaching relationship. Notice the number of times Jane uses the words I, my and me:

Hi Patty,
I want to share with you that I entered the next chapter of my life last week when I gave my resignation notice to my boss. I did it my way, with strength, courage, grace and conviction (and God’s help!). When I packed my lunch that morning, I had no idea that by 9:00 a.m. I would have resigned from the company for which I have worked for the last 13 years. So…thank you for the time that you spent working with me to prepare for that moment. I feel genuine, whole and liberated…My passion, courage and spirit of adventure were uncontained and clearly part of my being. My boss, who has the habit of firing people the day after they resign…told me to stay as long as I wished to do so.

So…to you, my gratitude runs deep. I’ll keep in touch as we careen toward casting off!

Did you see it? Jane is very clear about who is responsible for this tipping point in her life. The key to Jane’s delight is her powerful clarity about her own work and vision and courage. She’s worked hard and she (plus God) gets all the credit. And she demonstrated to me for the umpteenth time that when I pick clients who are this ready to work on their lives and on the key decisions of:
·         What they will leave behind,
·         What they will keep and
·         What they will create,

I get to experience the Gold Standard of Great Coaching every time.

I love my job.

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What’s so Good? . . .

About “Good Friday”? I guess it depends on what you mean by “Good”. It really is a very big word.

  • Since Good Friday is a Christian deal, (and I am one), today is when we think about forgiveness, relationship, having a spiritual way of dealing with our broken places. That’s good.
  • “Good” can be the word you speak softly in a moment of deep contentment. You almost exhale it.
  • “Good” can be an understatement. Also spoken softly. It’s what you say when you catch someone in a moment of unconscious competence, practiced excellence, disciplined character and attention to the right things, connecting and being best in the world (I’ve thought that when watching Bruce Springsteen in full-on rock).
  • “Good” can mean “kind and gentle” (Mr. Rogers of course).
  • “Good” can be a powerful and appropriate judgment about what’s right and fair when someone stands up to real evil in the world. (How about Aung San Suu Kyi?)

Whatever your tradition, see if you notice–and enjoy–some version of deep, even visceral Good this weekend. And let me know if I missed one.

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Every Four Years . . .

. . . it seems like I make a big change. Maybe it’s the embedded high-school-then-undergraduate habit. Maybe it’s temperament or attention span. I like to think of it as aspirational restlessness. Whatever, it’s just happened again. Right on schedule. Four years ago, I launched the SeattleCoach Professional Training Program. Since then, thirty-five spectacular people have finished eight months of training with me. Many of them continue to work inside companies like Microsoft and AT&T, and several are developing coaching practices. In addition to continued growth in their craft, I’ve seen a growing need for professional space to work and VOILÀ! (four years later almost to the minute!), the suite next door to mine on the Lake Union dock became available. Long story short, I’ve expanded, and the next-door “SeattleCoach Annex” will be shared by several of these wonderful coaches who are growing their practices. Sometimes change descends upon us. Sometimes we get to choose it. On this Leap Day, I challenge you to look to your horizon. Is there restlessness? Excitement? Are you “interested in big things, happy in small ways”? I’ll pray today for “eyes to see and ears to hear” for what might be out there for you. As I mentioned last time, if you are in that restless-but-scared starting point of big change, I’ve posted several of my favorite resources on the Free Stuff page of my website. You may especially appreciate the article at the top of the page, “Big Change”. Have some fun, come by and see our expanded space on the dock, and be in touch if you need a little extra challenge and support to take a leap.

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Nice Résumé Old-Timer

I remember my first résumé. I think it looked a little random, with lots of sweet-teenager factoids. I included my parent’s address and phone number and typed it on an extra-nice piece of paper. No typos, which took several careful attempts on the typewriter.

Luckily, my first employer read between the lines and saw an earnest, light-hearted, social kid. And at seventeen I became an assistant to four battle-hardened public health nurses who served the skid-row neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. After their long mornings of visiting and treating homeless men with tuberculosis, alcoholism and “venereal diseases,” I could hear them coming up the stairs to our ancient office. They’d drop their notes on my desk and growl, “Come on kid. Let’s go have lunch.” That’s where my education as a coach, mentor and counselor began, as I leaned over Formica table tops in the coffee shop downstairs to soak up their stories and their attention.

Fast-forward a few decades, and job-seekers, young and old have to figure out new ways to get noticed. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported, “No More Résumés, Say Some Firms. Instead, many companies are looking for links to your “Web presence” and for “short videos demonstrating (your) interest in the position.”

In other words, if you want to be noticed, you’ve got to have your key words and your sentence ready for the robotic hoppers than now narrow the field of interviewees.

Many of the people I coach are in the midst of a career transition. So after I remind them to breathe, I start challenging and supporting them to think about their key words, sentences, images and, yes, their Web presence. What will help them to communicate what they most want to do and whom they most want to serve?

If you are in that restless-but-scared starting point of a transition, this month I’ve posted several of my favorite resources on the new “free stuff” page of my website. So, come on kid. Have some fun and be in touch if you need a little extra challenge and support.

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Remaining alive

I confess to a little life-reflecting this morning. So far, this quote by Edith Wharton is the quote of the day. She probably wasn’t think about Christmas when she wrote it, but it fits.

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow: one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

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Some of My Favorite Pilgrims are Indians

A few years ago I was in London during Thanksgiving. Or as it’s known there, Thursday. Having planned ahead, my American friends and I were equipped with a large candle in the shape of a turkey. And we placed it in the center of the table at the Indian restaurant we picked for the big dinner.

Our waiter approached with a smile, and with that lovely, lyrical East Indian accent, looked at our candle and asked, “What is the peacock for?” “It’s not a peacock,” I think I sounded defensive, “It’s a turkey.” Unfazed, eyebrows still up, he continued, “What is the turkey for?”

We explained Thanksgiving to him and found an immediate ally who was clearly well-acquainted with the concept, and helped us to create an evening I’ll never forget.

Since that Thanksgiving, I have been delighted to cross paths with more and more East Indians, most of whom have come to my homeland as pilgrims. I respect that, like all pilgrims, “they are people journeying in a foreign land.” But what I love and am grateful for this Thanksgiving is that each one of these people makes me, and America, better.

What I see in people like Nick and Priya and Astha are some of the virtues and values I admire most: Bravery, sweet humor, ambition, balance, social intelligence, kindness and clarity. (I know there are probably annoying Indians, I just haven’t met any yet.)

In other words, having each one of these Indians in my life makes me a better pilgrim too. I loved the further definition of “pilgrim” I’ve placed below, and I hope it challenges and inspires you too this Thanksgiving Week.

        “To journey without being changed is to be a nomad.

        To change without journeying is to be a chameleon.

        To journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim.”

Mark Nepo

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Examining Your Adventure

I’m sure you’ve read this quote before: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates said that at his trial for heresy.

Friday is my birthday. In fact it’s a particular birthday. I first thought about this one as a kid, “Someday, when I’m really really old, my birthday will be 11-11-11. I wonder who I’ll be, what I’ll do, where, how and with whom?”

Maybe questions like that have prompted me to use my 11-11’s through the decades since to do a soft little review of things. In recent years, I’ve written a one-page exercise to reflect on—and now I offer it to the amazing clients and coaches I work with. (I tend to work with kindred spirits who are as as deeply interested in sculpting a great life as I am. You’ve probably landed on my mailing list because you’re like that too.)

This month I’m including my exercise for you use the next time you are inspired to do your own “soft little review of things.”

What I know is this. When you find a way of following the moving, growing target of your own “sweet spot”, life becomes an adventure. And you begin to experience your own sense of “calling” for your years on the planet.

And that’s a blessing.

Click on the boat to go to “Finding Your Vocare Intersection”
SeattleCoach Office

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