Coaching Case Study By Dawn Gosling
(Spiritual Coach, THAILAND)
If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present. Lao Tzu
Age: Early 40’s
Number of sessions: Discovery plus five 60 minute sessions
Background and Challenge
At the beginning of the discovery session Ben was very clear he just wanted to create an action plan for a new business he was planning to launch and be held accountable for his actions.
However, throughout the discovery session he kept coming back to two main themes:
- Being unhappy in his current job
- Being unhappy with his living circumstances (he’d recently moved in with his sister to help care for their aging mother)
When probing a little further Ben shared that he’d had bouts of depression for many years and was frightened of being “caught out” i.e. people realizing he was faking it.
In the past Ben had seen a therapist for the depression and felt he had tools to manage the condition. He also shared that he suffered from sleep apnoea and was seeking medical treatment for the condition.
At the end of the session Ben’s key take away was his goal. Coming into the session he thought his goal for the coaching was to launch the new venture. By the end of the discovery session he’d reframed this. He made happiness his goal and saw launching the new venture as one of the way’s he’d achieve happiness.
- Creating a safe space
- Being Present
- Powerful Questions
- Role Playing
Coaching Process and Models
The first coaching session started with the wheel of life assessment tool to give Ben an idea of area’s in his life that were already working well and the areas which might need more focus and energy.
The eight key areas Ben identified were:
- Current career
- New venture
- Fun and recreation
- Significant other
- Emotional well-being
- Physical environment
Ben found it useful to see that there were already areas of his life that he was happy with (significant other, family and fun). In the discovery session Ben mentioned being unhappy with his living arrangement (physical environment) however when looking at all the areas of his life he now saw how this enabled him to have money to invest in his new venture. The area that Ben was most unhappy with was his current career and the area he was most excited about was still the new venture.
We also looked at the enneagram and discovered that Ben is an Achiever. Ben identified with being driven relentlessly to succeed and had an underlying feeling of inadequacy.
At the end of the first session we focused on the overarching coaching agreement for the remaining sessions. Ben wanted to increase his overall feeling of happiness (which at the first session he scored as 4/10) and launch his new venture as a stepping stone to leaving the job which is hated.
In the remaining sessions, we used GROW as a framework. At the beginning of each session we’d check in on Ben’s overall feeling of happiness and set a goal for that session.
Bens medium term goal was to leave his job as a chef and launch a food delivery company. To bring the goal to life I asked Ben to visualise what his life would look like once he was running this business full time. He used words such as independent, in control, happy, being of service. He saw himself working more “normal” hours rather than the very long split shifts he was currently working. He spoke about having more time for family and this sense of being seen as a success.
I was keen to understand more about how Ben was feeling now and especially what was behind the need to “be seen as a success”. We also discussed the reality of the new venture (competition, investment, audience) and how close Ben was to launching the business.
Ben decided to focus an entire session to reviewing options. Going into the session Ben had an all or nothing mindset (staying in his current job or resigning and working in the new business). It was clear this was putting him under enormous pressure to succeed (financially). Through a series of probing questions Ben came up with a new option of launching the business as a “side hustle” and reducing his current job to a part time post.
After being clear on the “side hustle” approach Ben was able to create clear action steps and a timeline for launching the business. The timeline included having a difficult conversation with his current boss on reducing hours to part time. As this was a conversation Ben was nervous about having we used role-playing in part of a session so Ben was able to build his confidence.
Results of the coaching sessions
- At the end of the last session Ben ranked his overall happiness as an eight (up from a four).
- When revisiting the wheel of life all areas of the wheel had improved – even areas we hadn’t touched on in the session. Probably the best shift was Ben attitude to his current career.
- He had reduced is hours to part time and was spending 20 hours a week building his new venture.
Top three things I learnt from this experience
- Not to get caught up in the story – even if I can relate to what the client is sharing.
- To be careful when sharing observations – make sure they don’t sound like suggestions.
- That being heard is a gift – so focus on powerful listening not thinking of the next powerful question!