A Coaching Model By Marine Erasmus, Purpose Coach, AUSTRALIA
Purple Goods Is Inspired by the Story of a Greek Woman
I am inspired by the story of a Greek woman called Lydia of Thyatira. She was a reputable businesswoman from the 1st century AD, trading in purple dyes and cloths. It is told that she owned a home of her own (unlike most women in those times) and was able to care well for those in her household. She is also believed to have been kind and hospitable; her trade in purple goods enabled her to provide food and lodging for those in need. Amidst her professional interests and obligations, she purposefully and diligently prioritized her own emotional and spiritual well-being, as well as that of the people closest to her. Her business success did not only benefit herself but also served a larger purpose in the community.
What’s remarkable about Lydia’s life is how she found meaning in her occupation because it created the means and opportunities she needed to fulfill other life goals and values. It is understood that she came from a family of traders and likely followed in her father’s footsteps by trading in rare purple dyes and cloths characteristic of that region. Lydia became a successful businesswoman but did not keep her fortunes to herself. She provided board and lodging to the traveling disciples of Jesus and was one of the founding members of the church of Philippi. She took time to attend church services, care for its members and share her resources with others.
Motivated by the testimony of Lydia’s life, my coaching model aims to help women find purpose in their lives and careers again. Reasons differ from one individual to the next, but often women come to a point in their lives when they question the meaning of their day-to-day being or look for a career change of sorts. By using the Purple Goods coaching model, I walk alongside women to redefine the vision for their lives and craft a strategy uniquely suited to their situations.
Within that group of usually middle-aged women, I have a particular focus on women working in the health care sector. Having worked as a consulting health economist for 10 years, I know the sector well and spent a lot of time understanding the emotional and physical demands of healthcare professionals. From my experience, especially women working in health care frequently feel torn between serving people in need and taking care of themselves and their families. This view often translates to various limiting beliefs. For example, they have been trained to do only that one specific job and cannot do anything else; or they feel guilty for no longer finding joy and meaning in it. I have also found teachers go through similar struggles, as well as mothers returning to the workplace after taking off a couple of years to care for young children. Notwithstanding their specific occupation, my coaching model aims to help women discover that they have a unique combination of skills and talents that can form the foundation for building an intentional, meaningful life.
Purple Goods Explanation & Visual
After spending hours with a designer dreaming up my business logo, I could not imagine using anything else to describe my coaching model. Purple Goods is a model based on appreciative inquiry techniques, incorporating the aspects of Lydia’s story which I believe are relevant to my clients and the coaching process. The changing colors symbolize the client’s shift, with the coach supporting her to reach her dreams.
The ICA module on Appreciative Inquiry states that “appreciative inquiry utilizes a cycle of 4 processes, which focus on what it calls:
- DISCOVER The identification of organizational processes that work well.
- DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
- DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
- DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.”
Similarly, but specifically focused on the individual client, my model follows four steps over a series of coaching sessions. The number of sessions required for each stage differs from client to client, depending on their own pace and needs.
- What does she have already?
Firstly, I invite the client to consider what she already has to her availability. This usually includes a type of strengths inventory, often utilizing relevant personality and strengths assessments. We also consider existing skills and qualifications, as well as work and life experience. Clients are often surprised at this step, realizing that they have more than they thought. The aim is to focus on the positive – what are they good at, what do they have which they can build on or start with.
- What is her vision or purpose?
Next, we move on to consider what the client wants to get out of her career, the ‘season’ she’s in, existing circumstances, etc. What makes her tick and gets her excited? How do her life values inform her vision and purpose? This is an exciting phase of coaching for the client as she discovers what’s important to her and makes her come alive.
- Connecting what she has with her stated purpose.
In these sessions, I help the client explore the common threads and connections between her gifts and talents(from step 1) and her newly discovered purpose or life goals. The client begins to see how she can use her existing strengths to bring new meaning to her life.
- How can she move forward from where she’s at?
The last phase of my coaching model assists the client in developing an action plan to get from where she is, to where she wants to be. She begins to fill in some of the details necessary to color in the big picture from the previous sessions. We identify possible gaps or areas for growth, perhaps new skills she’d like to add to her existing strengths inventory.
Purple Goods Purpose-Driven Progress
I believe that, just like Lydia of Thyatira, every woman can excel in her career and personal life when using her unique combination of personality traits, skills, talents, and circumstances, to bring out the best in herself and those around her. It is not about living a perfect life, but an intentional one. My goal as a coach is to support my clients in making purpose-driven progress, both professionally and personally.
International Coach Academy, FT03 – Appreciative Inquiry.
Lockyer, H., 1988. Lydia – Lockyer’s All the Women of the Bible – Bible Gateway
Maxwell, J. Intentional Living. Hachette UK.
Mowczko, M. Lydia. Fixing Her Eyes.
This account is based on Acts 16:12-15, 40 (The Bible). Further details were informed by additional theological resources listed in the reference section of this paper.