Coaching Case Study By Rachel Ong
(Life Coach, SINGAPORE)
Introducing the Client & the Problem
My client Thomas (not his real name) had been heavily involved in the Singapore training industry for a few years after spending nearly 2 decades as a corporate high-flier. He had a keen interest in taking courses and was a certified trainer, amongst possessing other certificates. Currently unemployed, he spent his time as a freelance trainer for the life-saving industry, training military and medical personnel in first aid procedures. However, he was now 48 years old and he felt that strenuous life-saving training was no longer a sustainable option for him due to the inevitable decline in his physical ability and stamina as he aged. He had thus been actively applying for training roles and exploring alternative options.
Thomas came to our coaching session with the intention of clarifying an overall direction to head in, as well as deciding between 3 job opportunities he currently had.
Setting the Foundation
Before embarking on our coaching conversation, I made sure that Thomas was aware that coaching was not mentoring, consulting or therapy. I explained to him that coaching was a partnership with the aim of crafting a more fulfilling personal and professional life, by bringing him from where he was now to where he wanted to go.
Co-Creating the Relationship
I assured Thomas that this session was a confidential space to explore whatever he might want to talk about or work on.
During the session, I maintained comfortable eye contact with Thomas and provided plenty of verbal and physical affirmation (e.g. nodding, “mm hmm”, “yup”) to assure him that I was present and listening actively. I employed summarizing and re-phrasing of his words at appropriate instances during our conversation to let him know that he was being heard and to ensure that we were on the same page. I used powerful questioning to stimulate Thomas’ reflection and encourage him to explore deeper.
The coaching approach I used for Thomas was 1) Broaden; 2) Refine; and 3) Re-evaluate:
Broaden: Instead of tackling the 3 job opportunities head-on as presented by Thomas, I chose to broaden the scope of our conversation to explore Thomas’ 5-year plan for his career and ideal life, his passion and the change he wanted to effect in the world, his priorities, and lastly, his factors for evaluating his job opportunities (in that order). My aim was to encourage Thomas to reflect on what he truly wanted for his life and get in touch with his inner guidance.
Refine:Through our conversation, Thomas re-affirmed that his calling lay in training and improving the standard of trainers in the training industry. He spoke passionately about the problems in the training industry and how a good trainer should be. In order to accomplish his personal mission of training effective trainers, he decided that he first had to accumulate more training hours as well as more experience in various fields by becoming a trainer in an accredited training organisation.
Thomas also came to the realisation that his family was the top priority for him in his current stage of life. He spoke with regret of how his corporate life had rendered him unable to spend enough time with his eldest daughter, resulting in a lack of closeness in their relationship. He did not want to make the same mistake with his younger child. He also realised that he ought to spend more time with his parents as they weren’t getting any younger. Lastly, Thomas ascertained that his deciding factors for evaluating job opportunities were: impact on health and family, degree of potential enjoyment and exposure to different fields, and opportunity to work towards his long term goals. He realised that financial gain was no longer as important to him as giving back to the next generation.
Re-evaluate: After Thomas had achieved a clear idea of his purpose and the role that his career would play in his life, I circled the conversation back to the 3 opportunities that he currently had. He now concluded that one opportunity involving becoming a Chief Information Officer in a large company, while once highly attractive due to its challenging nature and high salary, was now incompatible with his priority of placing family first. That job would require him to travel frequently and thus take him away from his family, as well as be physically challenging. He thus decided to reject that offer. On the other hand, he discovered that another opportunity involving becoming a trainer in an established training organisation would fulfill most, if not all, of his requirements for an ideal job, and also enable him to improve his training skills and propel him towards his long-term goals.He thus achieved his intention for our coaching session.
Results & Reflections
Instead of evaluating his 3 current options based on their surface value, Thomas was able to evaluate them on a deeper level, based on how compatible they were with his vision of a purposeful and fulfilling life. He realised that certain options that were initially attractive were no longer compatible as they clashed with his priorities, and that even if his most ideal option did not pan out, he now knew which direction he needed to head in. His passion and dedication would undoubtedly make him attractive to potential employers. Through deeper reflection, key priorities which he had previously forgotten now came back to the forefront, and he was deeply moved by this realization. Thomas left our session with renewed vigour, focus and sense of direction.
When clients come to us seeking direction, it is a good opportunity to explore their values, passions and priorities on a deeper level. Oftentimes these clients feel lost because they have lost touch with these important aspects of life and self. Even if they have some sense of what they want to do, a coach can really help to sharpen their focus and help the client prioritize what he/she wants in life, just like how adjusting a camera lens brings a blurry picture into sharp detail. When the client is more in tune with themselves, they may make more informed decisions that bring long term fulfillment and benefit. They learn to avoid options that seem attractive on the surface but may instead prove detrimental in the long run. Truly, using our values, priorities and life vision as a compass in charting our path is essential in achieving more fulfillment and joy in our lives.