Coaching Case Study By Delores McWilliam
(Christian Life Coach, CANADA)
Ann was a lady I was introduced to by a friend at a social gathering. My friend, Glenda introduced Ann as a wonderful long-time friend. Glenda knew her as a lady willing to give of her time and talents to help most anyone. Prior to my meeting Ann at the party, Glenda had shared that Ann was nearing graduation as a life coach and was already doing an excellent job helping to create deep, sustainable change in the lives of women. What she hadn’t mentioned was Ann’s effervescent personality. Truly she has a terrific character and is someone that you would like to enjoy a leisurely conversation over a steaming latte.
How it happened that Ann and I ended up at the same table talking “shop” is still a mystery to me. But, it is that conversation that triggered an interest in each other’s coaching niches. And so ensued a coaching relationship and friendship.
Ann (not her real name), confided that she was so close to launching her career as a coach yet there was an underlying fear and almost self-sabotaging thought process hindering her forward momentum. This really posed a problem for her since she had desired to graduate within two months and without the release of these “barriers to success” she felt she wouldn’t meet her deadline and that she would ultimately be a “less-than-her-best” coach.
It wasn’t always a problem for her. In fact when she began the program of study, she pursued it with great zest. She’d managed to work through the classes swiftly yet still being engaged and mindful of the process. In fact, she would state that her own journey through these classes provided great personal insight into herself. “This has been a great source of self-discovery for myself”, she told me.
The problem arose as she was getting closer to her self-declared date of graduation. She had done much of what was needed to launch her business including website and logo creation as well as beginning to finalize her required graduation assignments. But still as she continued to move forward a fear mindset and self-sabotaging behavior seemed to be growing. It seemed the worst thing about this problem was that her forward momentum was slowing. Where Ann had happily moved with enthusiasm through her classes, she was now finding it hard to get the motivation to finish all the assignments and study for the exam.
She had been coached before on this issue, but as she again confided, she was less than fully truthful to her previous coaches stating, “I really feel foolish talking about this with fellow coaches.” I felt that the most important thing I could do in that moment was to continue creating an atmosphere of intimate trust. She had shared with me openly and stated that she didn’t want to stay in the dark about this issue any longer. I let her pour out her thoughts and tears – simply listening and acknowledging where she was at.
Since Ann herself was a coach, she knew the process and desired to set a goal of exposing what was behind the feelings of fear and self-sabotage. We then determined that the markers would be simple: a new timeline established toward graduation and a set of affirmations to squash the negative self-talk she had been using to unknowingly thwart her forward progression.
As we journeyed together, Ann realized that the fear she was experiencing was due to the public presentation of herself through her website and other media. She shared that to clearly portray what she does as a coach, she would have to display her personality, opinion and intelligence. By doing so, the fear of rejection or insult was a very real possibility. She was scared that people would judge her and quite frankly not “like” her once they got to know what was really in her head. Through a series of questions, core value and gifting exercises, we were able to examine how she has lived her life to this point. She came to the realization that she is the same person (in person) as she is in her media platform. Although Ann has not had a loud voice or opinion in the presence of others, she still has the same voice, integrity and character. Ann emphatically stated, “As an adult, I’ve always had the same belief system, integrity, morals and values. Why didn’t I see this before? If these things mean so much to me, surely they can ride the tide of someone’s negative opinion! I know who I am and what I stand for – their opinions are only opinions!”
Ann’s self-awareness process was fascinating and her voice energy and physical demeanor was instantly lifted. It was a delight to see and hear. Several additional things came up for her during this process including her personal eating habits. As though she’d had an epiphany, she realized that she was emotionally eating when these thoughts had previously come up. It was as though she could gently medicate with food the uncomfortable feelings of possible rejection. This was her self-sabotaging awareness.
Once the light was shone on these issues, she desired to combat future negative self-talk and thoughts with positive affirmations. Together, we were able to establish five statements of “TRUTH” that she has since typed up and posted in her office to bring her comfort, acknowledgement and strength.
She had asked for a weekly check-in for support on this issue. During this time, she reviewed her timeline for her assignments and exams and has again regained the momentum toward graduation. Her effervescent personality seems to have been unleashed and she is quite excited for the prospect of launching her new coaching business. It truly was a wonderful experience to coach Ann.
Through this process these are a few of the things I have learned:
- In the case of personal coaching, establishing one’s core values is extremely important. If we know what we value and the order in which we value those things, it is far easier to establish boundaries around what we are willing or not willing to do. Further to this, if we know these values, what the outside world thinks of us does not need to “color” our perception of what we know to be right and true.
- Sometimes the greatest thing that you can do for someone is to just listen.
- Fears lie to us! I’ve heard it said that most of what we fear never comes to fruition. Letting a fear take root and then being left unchecked, can grow into a self-defeating behavior that totally is not who we really are.
- There is no guarantee that the client is one hundred percent truthful with you as their coach. Since this client admitted to being less than truthful with past coaches, it reminded me to consider adding into my written agreement that the expectation is complete truthfulness in order for the best outcome from coaching.
If I were to do this coaching experience over again, I would like to explore more possible scenarios surrounding the negative judgements or opinions of others. For example, having a negative comment or run of comments on Facebook can be quite detrimental to the original post as well as the author. I would have liked to explore what could be done to combat this including deleting posts and taking authority of your own social property.
At the end of the day for Ann, she walked away lifted and joyful. She stated that she was about to move purposefully toward graduation and into her new career. I experienced the delight in helping her get to the place of self-discovery and meaningful purpose – a win-win!