Coaching Case Study By Juliana Kushner
(Holistic Health Coach, KOREA (Republic of South Korea)
A client is a young man in his early 30s working for a multinational corporation. He came to me for coaching during a period where he was preparing to apply to grad schools for an MBA in a foreign country but was having difficulty staying focused on his applications.
Seeing as the client was experiencing some resistance to finishing his applications, we spent the first session exploring what he was risking by allowing this path of graduate school MBA to open up for him. The client had tucked away in his subconscious a passion for artistic pursuits, that he had cultivated as a child into his teenage years. His initial turn toward so-called “academia” came at age 15 when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and he felt a sudden sense of responsibility to make a lucrative living to take over the job of the breadwinner in his family should things go badly with his mother’s health.
Now, many years later, his mother has recovered to full health but my client has remained focused on what he calls “dry” academia. He graduated from a prestigious university and is quickly climbing the ranks of the company for which he has been working since. Our first session brought up, however, that in addition to the corporate success he seeks from pursuing an MBA, part of his subconscious has been holding onto his love of drawing all these years and would like to be pursuing THAT instead.
The inner conflict regarding his MBA applications arose from the friction between the voice he tried to bury as a teenager that knew artistry was his true love, and another voice that had felt resentful toward academia this whole time for robbing him of his carefree past that said, “but if you quit academia now, then all my suffering will have been in vain.”
We ended the first session with this new-found awareness of these different voices, and the client’s commitment to staying in touch with them by writing in his diary until the next session to see how things shifted.
Throughout the next three sessions, the client was able to let go of his old attachments. To my surprise (I had initially perceived a shift toward art, away from academic pursuits), my client’s acknowledgment of his sense of deprivation regarding art was enough to dissolve the attachment of making it into a full-time job. He was able to find that in addition to his feelings of resentment toward “having to be” in academia, there were parts of academia and the corporate world that he enjoyed.
Not only did he find a certain amount of personal fulfillment in pursuing an MBA, but he also felt aligned with the values of his family members, who encourage him to strive for achievement and recognition in such a field. These points combined were enough to renew his commitment and excitement for his applications. My client happily reported to me that he no longer felt the need to procrastinate. I gently probed him as to where he now stood on his artistic passion and he answered that he felt aligned with the decision to pursue an MBA because he now had a vision of using his managerial skills to work at an artistic company (such as Disney or Pixar) where he would still be exposed to art even if he was not producing it himself.
As I hinted at above, this particular case study provided a good reminder to me that the coach must adopt a stance of not-knowing. Fortunately, I was able to maintain an uninvolved demeanor toward the client, but I must admit that I was tempted to form the assumption after the first session, that my client was better off in art rather than in academia/the corporate world.
Had I given in to the temptation of trying to lead the client where I thought his best interest lay, as opposed to letting him discover his own best interest, I am sure the coaching sessions would not have turned out as successful, and my client would have felt frustrated with me for having my agenda.
As it is, my 6-month check-in with this client after completion of our sessions has shown that he is happily accepted to a prestigious MBA program and set to enroll this coming fall semester should COVID-19 allow.