Research Paper By Carolynn Stoddard
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
Leasa came upon her coaching journey while searching for more meaning in her life, and looking for a new way to use her personable communication skills. She has been a schoolteacher for 9 years, and felt extremely drained, detached, and very cumbersome in her daily life. Leasa loved working with people and helping families through difficult times, and seeing the change she helped make in her students’ lives. But there was something missing.
Leasa was outgoing with her colleagues, but also felt she could offer more to her meetings than just the everyday “water cooler” talk. She knew that there was more she could offer the world, something inner driving force inside her made her feel that being a teacher was rewarding in some sense, but not what she was meant to be doing. It was what she felt she secure in.
The hardest part came upon her, the search for what she was supposed to be doing? She felt secure in her job, having done it for almost ten years, for knowing the system, and knowing the routine. But she desired so much more, and felt if she held onto it longer, that she would end up just throwing 30 years to a job she was dissatisfied with.
Lease started her journey for her life purpose going through countless career tests, personality tests, and interest inventories. All of the outcomes were the same, such as working with people, counseling, teaching, training, etc… The thought of counseling really interested her the most, however having a family to take care of, and already having done so much schooling, she couldn’t bare the thought of even more academia. She investigated counseling, therapy, and school counseling. None of these truly felt like a good fit with her. She did come upon several websites promoting life coaching. This definitely sparked her curiosity, as she naturally gravitated to doing this with her friends, family and colleagues.
Leasa’s inner critic was telling her that it wasn’t wise to quit her day job, and that she was almost invested in retirement. She had a steady income and it was a very strenuous decision. She decided to take it slowly, and see which coaching programs would work out the best for her lifestyle, and work-life balance. Leasa finally chose one, and after discussing this decision and costs with her husband, decided to continue forward with it.
She fell in love! Lease fell in love with the program, what she was learning, and practicing really resonated with her. She really enjoyed learning even further about what she had done so naturally on her own. She was nervous at first with her classes, and speaking out, as she was slightly more introverted, however her decisions to become more involved and to participate more had only fueled her desire to be invested.
Leasa kept on working while she was going through the program. She felt she could really balance both, because of the times that the classes were. She started feeling stressed again when it came time for her to really show her stuff by coaching practices, and also with the assessments. She felt that she was back in grad school juggling, family, work, and papers.
Leasa became much more confident in her coaching skills, but it wasn’t until she also had to be a client, that she really learned a lot about who she was, how she communicated, and how she achieved her own goals. She was struggling with some issues with her husband, not to the point where maybe they needed counseling, however at times she thought that.
Lease felt confident in picking up life coaching because she felt her background had really lent itself to fostering those skills. “Coaches have a very strong drive to help the world – they really, really care about it, and their clients.” “I really want to make people’s lives happier and positively impact the world.” This became such a gratifying cycle making a positive impact on Leasa, her friends, and family, colleagues, and students.
The main problems Leasa faced were how to find her niche and how to start her own business. She had never done that before. What she didn’t have, was any strong marketing and entrepreneurial skills, so she thought. This turned out to not be so, as she learned through her own peer coaching that she already marketed herself to her students, the parents, and administration for years. She didn’t however know how to package that. “It’s easy to say what subject or grade you teach, coaching is far more abundant with different ways of life.”
Just as she thought she was on the right path, and on a roll, Leasa got frustrated and depressed about her perceived lack of coaching skills, when in reality it was the marketing and business skills she had been missing. Fortunately, her schooling and certification program offered business classes which helped her ask the questions she needed answered, in order to move forward. She figured out pretty early on in her business development that she had to stay focused and goal-driven herself to keep the momentum up that she had started.
From marketing, money, websites, cards, or should she do workshops? All of these tasks were very far from her normal routine or lesson planning, and structured schedules. She was used to working her butt off on schooling, so now she had to learn how to develop it herself, and turn that outcome on herself. Luckily for her also, her husband was business savy, but not in the website marketing side of things. She took up the advice of several of her coaching friends and looked into getting a blog started. From here, she also started to spread the word out to her friends and family members. The most exciting part and hardest has been trying to think of a business name. She’s still teetering on a couple of ideas. Some of the ones she first thought were already taken, or she said she ran into things that sounded good only temporarily.
One of the biggest hurdles that Leasa had to overcome was narrowing down her field, her niche, her expertise. “I want to help everyone!” This concept she had left her next experiences of finding clients more difficult. She really narrowed in on working with families and adolescence. Her experience as a teacher naturally led her to know how to communicate with these families the best. She learned that if there were something that another professional would have be better serving that she already knew of some friends who would be good resources for that. It was interesting she said at first to describe coaching to new clients, so that they knew that it wasn’t a counselor, or therapist, or someone to diagnose their child, but someone who could really move them to new goals in their lives.
I didn’t need to have life coach training to see that being at teacher wasn’t really Leasa’s life-calling, even if she didn’t fully know it herself. Her body language and voice when talked about teaching weren’t congruent with somebody that was excited about what the future held for her. She was exhausted from the students, the overload of work, and the administration burdens. Teaching to her was a storm that came upon you really fast, you had to do everything you could to survive, and just like that it would pass until the next one. She was saying the rights things with the words, but the body language and voice tone were screaming something else. As we talked more it soon became apparent the real reason she wanted to be a life-coach, and that was she genuinely loved to help people. Whenever we talked about helping others and in particular what I did for a living, her entire demeanor changed. She became more animated, bubbly and really excited. When she discussed teaching, she was rather dull, and looked at it with an exhausted type of energy.
Leasa’s first idea with what she should do was to truly get specific about who she wanted to work with and what problems she could solve with them. She also learned that she needed to drop the coaching jargon, and make it more approachable to those who didn’t have the sense of what coaching was, or communicating in this way. Lease created started to spread the word out through social media, and created a specific package for 6 sessions, and this way she was able to gauge where that would take her, and what she would need to tweak. She mainly struggled to get those regular clients. It’s been hard for her too, because there are certain clients she can’t serve legally, because it would be an ethical conflict of interest as a teacher. She did not quit her day job. After some time she realized that underneath it all, she does love the kids. She decided to invest a little more time into teaching, and perhaps changeup which grade or subject she wanted to teach. She admits, that having that security of a salary is much nicer than not. She simply can’t afford to abandon her teaching ship quiet yet. Leasa still remains a teacher, however has built up over the past two years about a half-dozen regular clients, or clients who help promote her. She is yet in a place; she says to leave her job. Finding the time to market, work with clients, be a mom and wife, and have the full-time job as a teacher, unfortunately has slowed what could have been even more potential growth.
She is very happy in with the clients she serves, however this wasn’t what she wished for at the beginning of her journey. Leasa knew that it could be 3 or more years until she started really getting a handle with clients, packaging, and so forth. But having to balance that with an uncompromising job, made it quite difficult. Her family is still very important, and Leasa remains active on some social media, but has since realized that doing a blog, “Sadly, took too much of my time.” “I always thought during breaks that I’d be able to work on this more, and unfortunately if it’s not one thing, it’s another that keeps me from moving forward.” Leasa continued to say that she was thankful for the clients she has helped, but wished that it would have become more consistent with her goals of making this her sole income. She kept on discussing her feelings of doubt, however she doesn’t want to give up on it completely, in fact, she wants to be able to look at the future with a fresher look. Lease realized if she is always taking action in one way or another toward her life-coaching goals, that she would in fact be able to reach that someday. As she has coached many of her clients, she needs that coaching herself from time to time, to remind her to stay goal-focused, and not get got caught up in negative self-talk. One important piece of advice that Leasa heard was, “Before you give it up, make sure you give it your all.” That resonated with her, and although time is really hard for her to balance she is still trying.
Understanding how to have the life-work balance is really important to Leasa now. She has learned that in order for her to have real success in her own business she’ll have to put in just as much effort into it, as she would everything else she does. If not maybe more, at school clients come to her easily, outside in her coaching business she’s struggled to find those consistent clients. She will continue on, and has said that she isn’t ready to give up on her coaching idea, but would really like to schedule out more quality time to devote to herself and her business. Leasa is really positive about her future coaching business. She’s excited about her future clients, and can’t wait to see where life will take her.