I wish this email was addressed directly to you.
Because, when I write via MailChimp – especially something personal like this – I am still always writing to each individual who, at some point in time, decided to share their email with me… which some of you did just yesterday, and which some of you did over 15 years ago.
So, please know that, while I’m utilizing the efficiency that this technology provides, I am thinking of and writing to you.
Why am I thinking of and writing to you?
Well, 13 is my favorite number.
And there are 13 weeks before I turn 50. And within those 13 weeks, a 20-year era of my professional life will come to an end, and a new aspect of it will begin. While that is happening, on the personal side, I will be entering Act Three of the three-act, critically acclaimed dramedy that is my life.
This time of year, naturally puts me in a reflective mood, especially with so many imminent endings and beginnings swirling about. Last week, while sitting in our very comfy (but very giant and unsightly) overstuffed chair that I was juuuust about to ditch right before La Pandemica Global came to town, I had two thoughts:
“I’m glad we still have this chair right now because, damn, it’s comfy.”
“What if I gave myself the space to write 13 little letters in which I could share some of the things that I’ve learned so far in life and business with the hope that there would be a few Golden Nuggets here and there that might be of value to you?”
(If that second thought is not as appealing to you as it was to me, no worries… in Her wisdom, knowing that email would one day be “a thing,” the Good Lord blessed each of us with a delete key and I am all for you making the most of your blessings.)
This is letter one.
It is about knowing and coaching. And Alien. And clearing up a misconception.
Back when I was a newly married gal, close to exiting my twenties, this restless thought started pacing back and forth in my brain: “I don’t want my 30’s to be a repeat of my 20’s.”
I felt like I had made some solid steps setting up my post-collegiate life and accompanying acting career. I also felt I was ready to expand professionally. And I also felt like I didn’t know what was getting in my way of taking the actions I needed to take . I felt like I had come to the end of my own capabilities, hitting a wall that I didn’t know how to get around… I was just standing there banging my head against it. And I didn’t want to spend any of my 30’s stuck there.
I knew all of that.
But what I didn’t know was where or who to turn to (beyond my friends) for help. (Folks, Google had juuuuust come on the scene. We were all still living in little houses on the prairie.) The only kind of “help with your mind” that I knew of was therapy, but I intuited that that wasn’t exactly what I needed.
…I heard about a free seminar with a woman who called herself a “life coach.” My ears perked up at the sound of this new-to-me term, but my ego wouldn’t let me attend unless I convinced myself that “I’m just checking this thing out in case any of my organizing clients might need this kind of help.” I was being a bit too cool for school.
My “cool” lasted all of about 14 minutes into her talk. By the time she got to her metaphor about our thoughts being like the creature from the movie Alien, clamped onto our face and so close that we can’t conceive that we are separate from them (she said it better) I was like: “I love the movie Alien!” and “oh-my-god-this-thing-called-life-coaching-is-totally-what-I-need-right-now!!!”
I followed the magnificent Lauri Johnson out of the building to declare that I was eager to get started and was happy to have our first session right here in the parking lot. That’s not where we had our first session because Lauri was a civilized grown-up, but I worked with her for several months and have since had a session with her once a year (at least), usually right around my birthday. Our 2021 appointment will be our 20th year together. So far, she has witnessed the arc of my journey from age 29 to 49 and impacted my development in deep and lasting ways. I think my life would have unfolded much, much slower (and wonky-er) without her lovingly blunt guidance.
But my point is that I knew: At age 29, I knew I had the potential to expand even further… I knew there were some invisible-to-me obstacles in my path that I needed help to find and remove… and I knew this thing called “life coaching” was the medium and that Lauri was my messenger.
Which leads me to the misconception I mentioned earlier:
The misconception is that people hire a coach when they don’t know something, but that’s not usually true. Teachers (and Google) are who you turn to when you don’t know something. Teachers pour new knowledge into you – and the good ones teach you how to learn.
Coaches can certainly teach you things too, but their true expertise is pulling your own knowledge out of you – and the good ones help you get better at doing that for yourself.
Coaches are who you turn to when you know there’s more inside you that wants to be brought out into the world… or when you know you aren’t yet reaching for what’s available to you on the “top shelf”… or when you know you are repeating thoughts and/or behaviors that are likely blocking your progress.
Coaching sessions are where you are stretched beyond your own beliefs. Sessions provide a space where you can take all of the ideas, options, concerns, and questions that are swirling around in your mind… dump them out on a table… and have a trusted person with experience and expertise help you rearrange the pieces until they transform from a puzzle into a plan.
The hundreds of clients that I’ve worked with have all been smart, talented, capable people who knew they were close to breakthroughs that felt juuuust out of their reach. And, just as I did with Lauri, my clients invest in my services when they reach the point where the tension created by knowing that they are ready to shift in some way but not being able to do it by themselves becomes too uncomfortable to bear.
As a coach, I hold this Howard Thurman quote close to my heart…
“There is something in every one of you that waits, listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself… and if you cannot hear it, you will, all of your life, spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”
As a coach, I live to help you tune into your song and free yourself from those strings.
I am stealing time from my slumber to write these letters, so I’m going to head off to bed. Next week, if you are still with me, I will tell you about the scariest, narrowest bridge I ever had to cross.