A Research Paper By Marc Blais, Leadership Coach, CANADA
My Personal Journey on Expression of True Self Through Coaching
When You Know Yourself, you are Empowered. When you Accept Yourself, you are Invincible. Tina Lifford
Being true to yourself is an act of courage, and what transpires can be a gift for you and the people around you. The creation of a trusting relationship with a coach provides an opportunity to explore who you really are. While I can attest to my own experience of partnering with a coach, my curiosity was to get an insightful perspective on this topic from a professional coach.
My personal journey of stepping into a safe space with a coach began after an experience of being released from the workforce(aka laid-off) and walking into the unknown unemployment. Me, I had never experienced this in my career, and now, with a family to support, I was both confused and lost.
I had a belief that employment stability was a bi-product of a commitment to be a high-performance contributor and to always be focused on the company’s financial success. This belief was the result of me putting my heart and soul into the work I did. This was completely shattered with a pink slip.
Through coaching, I recognized for myself that I do matter. I’m not defined by a job title, a salary, or how society labels me. Coaching allowed me to love and respect myself with the empowerment to live life joyfully. I can recognize now that I have a soulful purpose to be of service to others as the person I am.
Coaching for me was a spiritual rebirth in stimulating my soul for the alignment of my true self. I now accept life for what it is, to be in the flow instead of resisting. I am better able to be whole with life.
Expressing Your True Self Through Coaching
I was privileged and honored to have the opportunity to interview Joy Smathers, a passionate coach. You name the industry and Joy have coached someone in it: technology, finance, entrepreneurship, health, real estate, women, moms…
She is a well-seasoned coach, a guru, that speaks with such incredible energy around the work she does with her clients. Her role in partnering with a client is transformational, as they blossom from the core person they are meant to be.
My interview with Joy on the expression of the true self through coaching was truly uplifting. Joy spoke with such high energy and incredible knowledge on this topic, including the sharing of content from the book that she is currently writing.
The following seven subsections are the streamlined translation of an invigorating conversation, full of rich content, with Joy (in her words):
A Journey to Coaching – It’s Personal
The idea of coaching, the desire to be of service to others in the form of coaching or speaking was when I was 16, as I went through some really hard times. And coming out of that experience, I kind of made a vow that I wanted to serve others. I wanted to help empower, build confidence, help people overcome really damaging things (trauma), and show them that it was possible. But back then I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t see a pathway there.
What a lot of people didn’t know about me, even from a very young age, my greatest desire was peace and happiness within, no matter the storm outside of myself. It was in 2007 that I hired my first coach, and that was the first time ever for me that I was able to put into action what I intellectually learned through all the different types of personal development. The first time in my life that I was able to create actionable steps toward the life that I really wanted. Coaching for me was transformational and brought back that dream of becoming a coach of helping others.
I made the jump when my son was born and went back to school for life and leadership coaching. Everything was focused on evidence-based coaching because I wanted the credibility behind my name, especially coming from the corporate sector. I wanted it to be something that could be recognized.
Being the Davinci of Your Life
You start to learn that the stories of your life and experiences of your life do not define who you are. You get the ability to stand on your stories that have created who you’ve become. Coming out the other side, you can see how every experience was perfect for you and becoming who you are in this moment. Everything that happens in life doesn’t happen to you, but it’s for you. And when you come to that place, you’re able to express extreme gratitude for everything that has been.
Within the first couple of sessions with clients, when talking about coaching and what it is, it’s the opportunity to be DaVinci and be painting on the canvas of life, just as you would like it. Everything that was passed no longer matters. And now you have a new paintbrush and a new canvas, and you can paint whatever you want. So it becomes an exciting journey with anticipation and excitement.
True Self – Who We Are at the Core
A definition of true self starts with knowing what you are not. It is most powerful when you realize that the roles that you play, the education you have, what you own, and how much money you have, are only labels (I’m a mother, I’m a daughter, I’m a sister). Those are just roles that don’t define who you are. Becoming your true self is when you realize that all those different labels do not determine your value or your worth as a human being. When you find that deep inner knowing that you are beautiful and valuable just as you are outside of the entirety of your external environment. Since we have an interpretation, a perception through our human mind and emotions, a lot of the time people often associate true self with that aspect of fulfillment and happiness. This can also be defined as the alignment of your true self to identify the core of who you are.
It’s your moral compass, those very core, very deep values that one holds and that you intentionally create your life around and aligned with those core values. Our happiness is often looked at in two ways, our happiness is determined by the amount of alignment that we have to our core values or the perception. Often there is a perception of those external needs that we think is our happiness and the amount that we have in our lives will equal our happiness when really it’s everything that comes into our lives and comes into our awareness. What we do, how we act whenever we feel off in our feelings, in our body, and our emotions. That means that our emotions are the navigational compass, telling us that our alignment is off from the core values of who we truly are.
True Self–Discovery Through Coaching
Coaching works in very similar ways to therapy, using some of the same tools, concepts, and models to uncover beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. But not to understand them, but to change them, that meets the future vision of what we most want to create.
Take that now into what is the relationship between coaching and becoming your true self is through coaching that you get to have that conversation. Where you get to have someone say, this is what I just heard in this statement. Having someone reflect back then like a mirror, someone gets to then answer the question.
Coaching is a very large explorative process that a coach takes someone through to help people reflect in a new way and come to new perceptions that they can then decide. Then they get to take small actionable steps that create change. They can adopt a new belief. Sometimes that new belief becomes a mantra that then changes their thoughts. And coaching can help someone reframe those constant negative thoughts and reframe them to a positive that’s believable for them. That is a small step forward in the right direction until things become a new habit.
All we have to do is help someone within their own resources, help them identify that trigger so that they can create this new manager and take these new steps, and over a period of time, that creates the new habit. So overall, that’s what we’re uncovering step by step. I always use the analogy of an onion because we’re slowly peeling layers away of kind of what I call the fault self and having those very deep questions for someone to reflect on. And so that gathers momentum, they’re ready to charge forward. It’s more like a flower slowly blooming, like a lotus flower.
The True Core Is Love – Uncovering the True Identity
The aspect of being able to create a deep awareness of yourself, then your environment and others, and being able to deprogram yourself from the external world so that you can hear the inner within. And part of my book, it’s kind of like a great mixture between coaching and spirituality. At the end of the day, as we peel the layers of our social conditioning to get to the core of who we really are we can see the true core of who we are in love. And in love, then we are also a part of the divine or God or infinite crater or universal source. And it’s only once we get rid of all the noise and all the crap that we can see, that we can feel, and that we know. My book is really digging in a very deep way of peeling the layers of our societal conditioning so that someone can see the trueness of who they are.
My process is to realize a client’s true self. The first step is always identifying, helping them uncover the ideal, the best version of whoever they are. It’s a long and organic process, but the very first step is creating an ideal, a brighter picture, and having it really clear for them before you can really do anything. Because if you don’t have that, you really have nothing. And once you’ve created a clear picture and you’re able to get them out of stuck thinking, using positive reframing in different ways get into that better place.
Next is always what’s stopping them. Often what you’re going to hear is a lot of stories, but what’s underlying, you’re going to uncover, that there is a fear. What stops us from being who we really are is fear. I’ve been able to put fear into four fundamental categories:
- fear of dreaming
- fear of conflict
- fear of failure/success
- fear that I’m not enough
These four fundamental fears at the end of the day stop people in their tracks from getting to who they are. This is where you develop your very fine-tune, your third level listening because they’re not going to tell you that. You’re going to have to repeat what you’re hearing but also say what they’re not saying and what you’re picking upon.
The driver behind it all is because as human beings we’re neurologically wired for connection, we do not want to be ostracized from our tribe, from our community. We want to be loved and accepted. And so basically, these underlying fears are our protection mechanisms to keep us safe from the potential of being hurt.
So if I was just to say it very succinctly, the process is identifying the vision, identifying the real importance of why that’s important and what becomes possible their values is always a very core discussion. And then getting to the core of what is stopping them, uncovering that fear, and that not-enoughness. And then helping them identify the need for self-love and acceptance first so that they can slowly step through those fears because they know within themselves that they are valuable, that they are worthy, that they are enough because they’ve been able to instead of going out in the world for love and acceptance, they’re able to give that to themselves. The more that we have that internal affection and self-efficacy for ourselves, we are better able to help others or lead them to their own realizations as well.
In my work, the biggest drivers in some shape or form are always the desire to help, the desire to serve others. When clients can align their strengths and their talents in a way that they can see are making a difference, that provides meaning and purpose for their own lives. It’s a game-changer. The common theme is that they’ve been able to see how their lives can impact and serve others in a positive way.
Rebirth Through Coaching – Light the Fire
The beauty of coaching and the fulfillment for me is to see how they have completely blossomed into a whole new person. They often tell me how much they’ve learned. They start sharing with family, and coworkers. I’ve had many clients say it has awakened them to a whole new life. And that’s how impactful it can be. I can’t count how many times I’ve come to tears because this is why I do what I do, it has shifted them so much and made such a difference in their lives.
The love and the relationships within their lives have improved so much that it’s truly awe-inspiring. And so then you get to see, not necessarily firsthand, but the ripples when someone comes to the table full of love and a greater sense of joy. The impact that it has ripples outwards because I hear of it, even though I don’t see it per se, I know it’s happening and it’s a great thing.
It’s very humbling and it’s very fulfilling. It literally starts a fire and it spreads in a very simple way, the rebirth because fire is a symbol of rebirth.
Self-Discovery Through Coaching – A Way of Life
I honestly believe that if everyone could go through coaching, a form of coaching, in the sense of personal development, it gets us closer to being who we really are. What if it is a part of our education system, that the latter parts of higher education, where we go through this aspect of scouring who we truly are, so we can take our innate talents and skills and serve the world in a greater way. Just think of who we would become as a society, as a human family. It’s kind of a beautiful thought.
Discovery of Expression of True-Self
The awakening of true self can be realized when partnering with a professional coach. There is a sense of empowerment to communicate honesty, be free of judgment, and find the answers for yourself. Coaching has the possibility of living life by being brave and showing up fearless and alive with life. Through a partnership of coaching, a person is set on a journey of discovery of who they are at their core (loving).
- Can you share a bit about yourself?
- What’s your definition of the true self?
- What’s the relationship between true self and coaching?
- What triggered you to go down the path of professional coaching?
- Is there a tie to true self as part of what you’re writing about?
- When you think of the true core of oneself as love, can you walk me through your coaching technique that uncovers people’s true identity?
- What is your process of coaching your clients to realize their true selves?
- What are some meaningful goals that have allowed people to realize this strength and willpower to be themselves?
- What’s the ripple effect of the people around them when they show up this way?
- What is the range of people that you’ve coached from industries or, as you put it, levels?
- With this mass range of coaching folks from all walks of life, is there a common element that you see?
- On this topic of expression of the true self through coaching, do you have any closing remarks?