A Coaching Power Tool Created by Kelly Ann Wilson
(Communication Coach, UNITED STATES)
TGIF – Thank G-d it’s Friday!
Wednesday – hump day – half way to the weekend, finally!
The weekend went too fast – tomorrow’s Monday again!
How many times have you felt this way?
I love to learn and I love people. Period. All kinds of learning and all kinds of people. Most importantly, I love to assist others in developing their talents and strengths. Well, I thought, certainly I’m a teacher. I spent many years learning (almost twelve post high school) and many more years teaching (approximately twenty years teaching elementary and middle school as well as university classes). Throughout those periods, I lived for Friday, despised Monday and plowed through Wednesday just waiting for the weekend. Twenty years of mediocrity. Although I worked so hard during my studies, it never mattered what day it was. Each day when I opened my eyes, I thought, “Hooray, another day to study Bandura, work on my research, collaborate with peers – man, it’s going to be a great day!”
And then something changed. Something stopped me dead in my tracks. I graduated with my doctoral degree, my father died unexpectedly, my mother-in-law whom I cared for in my home died, my father-in-law moved to assisted living, my son went away to college, and I settled for working as a middle school teacher again. All of this change occurred in a six month period. I know you are shaking head asking, what? Why?
My credentials changed, my life changed, but I had not. So eager was I to reenter the world of the living after the deaths and losses, that it mattered not what I busy doing, what mattered was that I was doing something. For five years, I trudged to the same middle school day after day. I loved the students and witnessing their growth. And every summer as I walked along the beach, I visualized the day I would step into the light, make motivational presentations, coach others to their highest aspirations and shine – me – in the spotlight. Every fall, I trudged back to my same classroom wondering why I had not been promoted and why I spent all my time waiting for the weekend. As a matter of fact, even weekends weren’t that great. I was stuck.
One dreary December day, the new teacher in the classroom next door to me, complained to the administration that I constantly tried to spirit away her students and their parents. After a severe reprimand, I spent the next four months trying to figure out how I had to change to be the employee they prized. Not feeling successful, in fact, not even feeling mediocre, and feeling very embarrassed, I contacted a friend in coaching and asked, “Can you help me find myself and regain my self-confidence?”
Every Wednesday for the next eight weeks, I faithfully attended my coaching sessions. Each night, I stayed up late drinking lots of coffee and working on homework assignments, searching for the spirited, successful, inquisitive, motivated, magnificent woman that I left behind along life’s path. I answered a series of really difficult powerful questions. And then it happened – suddenly – my perspective shifted.
Each time I shared my passion and wisdom with parents and students, my enthusiasm motivated them to value their strengths, take action, monitor the outcomes, adjust the action, and surge forward secure in their own strengths and owning their successes. My confidence and enthusiasm attracted others. It was contagious. They wanted to share the learning experience with me. I did not market to them; they came of their own desire. They wanted to work with me. Now, I had a difficult choice to make – leave the school and the people I loved, or leave the spirited, motivated magnificent woman I used to be to memory.
I left the school. The first few months were challenging for me as I was not sure what to do next. I started a real estate practice, went back to school for another degree and yet, these things were not providing the fulfillment I craved. And then I was asked to give two presentations to my temple congregation; the first, a two minute plea encouraging others to take action and the second an insightful interpretation of a challenging Torah portion. After the first plea, many sought me out to compliment my presentation style. During the second, I used a story-telling technique and near the beginning said, “Shh, listen carefully” in a hushed voice. After the “Shh”, the silence of the congregation indicated the high level of engagement of my audience. The air kisses from friends as I left the bimah and the thankful words of attendees warmed my heart. In that single “Shh” instance, I knew.
I knew before anyone said a word or made a gesture, that I had found all that had been lost. The feelings of accomplishment, connection, pride, happiness, spirit flooded my head and heart, and I instantly recognized that I was exactly where I needed to be and doing what I was put on earth to do.
I printed business cards for my new coaching and motivational strategist business, started sharing my story with others and made a firm commitment to myself to never look back as the lights of the past dimmed. The brilliant light of the future stirs me each morning. Once again, I open my eyes and say, “Good morning world, I’m awake and energized. Are you ready for me today? Let’s roll!”
I hope that as you listened to my story, you began to think about your story. Deep within our innermost world, we create a dialogue that we replay every day of our lives. Complacency replaces curiosity as our self-talk and self-perception change. We move from states of joy and passion into routine and maintenance. In a sense our dreams, the passions and energies that feed our souls, are replaced with to do lists and familiar patterns. Yesterday, today and tomorrow merge and each day mimics the last—with a few tragedies and triumphs randomly scattered along the way. Instead of captaining our ship, we abandon the bridge and walk the deck with all of the other passengers in a synchronized flow.
If you are shaking your head and recognizing this pattern in yourself, ask yourself a few of the following powerful questions.
- What am I doing when I feel most alive and energized?
- What are some of the indicators that let me know that I am ready for change?
- If success and money were guaranteed, what would I do?
- What do I do better than everyone else?
- What compliments do I hear from others?
- What would my life be like if I shed mediocrity and stepped into my personal magnificence?
- What obstacles lock me into routine?
Fear motivates and fear paralyzes. Fear prevents commitment. Fear limits actions. Fears confirm clients’ underlying beliefs. Fear, the tiny four letter word with fierce power and gnashing teeth, encircles hopes and dreams eventually overwhelming both. Imagine a candle, in the open air, fed with oxygen, the flame burns brightly. However, if we cover the candle with a glass jar, eliminating the oxygen fuel source, the candle dims and eventually the flame is extinguished. Not suddenly, but slowly without notice, as the oxygen dwindles, the flames disappears.
And so it is with dreams, fear extinguishes the entwined flames of passion, joy and purpose. Mediocrity seeps into the void left behind. Coaches’ personal sparks, their insightful and reflective questions, reignite the candle’s flame, but are insufficient to keep the flame aglow. The client remains the central source of all energy. As the client re-frames his or her perspective reflecting on the coach’s questions and his or her responses, new fuel sources of confidence, trust, truth and action feed the reignited flame. This time, mediocrity slips out as magnificence steps in.
Ask your client a few of the following questions to shift him or her from mediocrity to magnificence.
- On a scale of 1-10, where 1 represents good and 10 great, where are you now?
- What does great look like to you?
- What do you dream about?
- What are you doing to make your dreams come true?
- If I had a hundred candidates for your dream job, what would distinguish you from all of the others?
- What action can you take today as a first step on your journey from mediocrity to magnificence?
Steve Jobs said,
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.