Recipe for Authenticity - Stirring My Pot
When it became clear that a cubicle would not be featured in the next phase of my life, I set out to discover what would. After my whole epiphany at the traffic light moment, I began to research what will bring me real joy in both my personal and professional life.
To accomplish this, I went back to a place very familiar, comfortable, where everyone knows my name (no not Cheers – I may have just revealed my age..) And that place is my FAVOURITE coffee shop. A coffee shop where I had accomplished some tremendous achievements of my life. I wrote nearly every paper for my MBA, worked on lectures for my business classes, and graded thousands of papers (that part is not so fun!)
So I picked up my favourite drink, which, oddly enough, is not a coffee drink. A large, non-fat, no foam, Chai Latte. I spent some time with some old familiar faces and sat down to begin my new adventure. My goal was to discover what the heck I was going to do next, now that I was not imprisoned within a cubicle. So amongst the various exercises I knew to do, I broke out the results of an assessment I had taken 10 years prior, called the Strong Interest Inventory.
According to the results, a writer, teacher, and minister were among the occupations I could pursue. The bottom line, for me, was that I wanted to find something that’s authentic to me.
Mapping Out My Journey
After some soul-searching and making use of the Department of Labor research materials, my path was clear. I decided the pathway that allowed me to put forth my passion, my experiences, and the people I wanted to work with. I discovered my new journey. The next stage of this journey would be to open up my own Life Coach Business. I set out to discover what one has to do to become a Life Coach. So I went online and started doing some research.
I almost changed my mind when I found an article that basically said raise your hand and proclaim that you’re a life coach. Well, that was not for me, especially coming from higher education. So I did what I would tell my students: Don’t give up so easily. I dug deeper. Between digging on the internet and meeting a couple of people who worked as Life Coaches, I discovered the International Coaching Federation – pay dirt!! To make a long story short, I enrolled in the Coach Training Academy. I earned my certificate and used my scholarly knowledge from my MBA to set up my own coaching business, Warrior2Life Coaching.
Before I hung out my shingle, I needed to figure out my niche. Everyone I spoke with, veteran coaches, my mentors from the school, all of them said: “you need to find a niche.”
Gathering My Resources
My next step – trying to figure this niche thing out. My mentor from the Coach Training Academy asked me: “what is your niche going to be?” I thought to myself – a niche? I don’t need a niche. I’m a great listener; I’ve read Men are From Mars, and Women are From Venus – twice! And I’m a great problem solver; after all, I survived my kids being teenagers. When people see how awesome I am, they will fill up my waiting list!
So after the first six months of not putting the slightest dent into Tony Robbins’ bottom line, I began to realize – ‘hey I may need a niche’! After speaking with many, many coaches, re-reading the school materials, and respeaking to other coaches, I discovered that yes, it is indeed necessary to have a niche.
The most influential piece of advice I found for choosing a niche was to base it on my experiences. Which niche would I feel confident in, and able to portray that confidence in my communications? For me, that was Career Development. The majority of my career had been in the higher education teaching business in some form or another. So, for me, it was not a question of if I could help someone through a career transition, I knew I could.
The biggest shift for me was to go from having complete control and authority over the student’s pathway, to being a coach who only facilitates my client’s own clarity and direction. I will be honest, that has not always been easy. I was used to saying, “no-no – if you are going to be successful in this, you must travel down this path.” Now I am sitting on my hands asking, “which direction do you feel will bring you to success”?
Traveling The Journey
My time as a career transition coach has been a great life experience. I made peace with not being the instructor/administrator and embraced coaching. Although I needed to let go of my previous position of authority, it does not mean I should give up the history of what brought me to this point. What do I mean by this? Good Question! What I mean is – as I sit here writing this, I have the ability to stand up and begin lecturing for the next 3 hours (just as my kids when they ask the wrong question at the wrong time – although now that they are adults, they just roll their eyes at me). Instead, I still have that knowledge, but it is inside me and guides me as I work with my clients. Another thing I learned is, although I went through some excellent training, and learned the formalities of what it means to be a coach, and how to conduct a coaching session, it is my other attributes that make my coaching special. Namely, coaching encouraged me to embrace my intuition and let it guide me in navigating through life authentically.
Arriving at My Authentic Self
As an empath, nothing could make me happier than being a coach. My world has gone from “what does the data say?”, to “what am I observing/hearing/seeing AND feeling (what does my gut tell me)?” What I find fascinating is that the more I trust this aspect of myself, the stronger I become as a coach. As an academic, this feels counter-intuitive, but my experiences thus far show me that I am on the right path.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is still the real-world aspect of being a coach. Things like websites, sales funnels, writing a signature program, networking, invoicing, and scheduling are all a necessary part of running my business. BUT satisfying these requirements lends me the opportunity to work with my clients as I do, and that makes me one happy entrepreneur.
One note, as I conclude this, is the lesson I have learned during this endeavor to develop healthy boundaries. One of my mentors taught me that the Universe gives back that which we put out. So I am putting out that I am here on this earth to coach people who have reached a decision point in their lives to discover and reach their true life calling. However, be careful what you ask for, because you may just get it. The other night. I went on a first date, and she spent the ENTIRE night sharing ALL her life challenges. I left the date feeling exhausted, now it has been a while since I have been on a date, but I do not remember feeling emotionally spent as I was. It was at this moment that I remembered that It is ok for me to have boundaries. I realized that just because I am a life coach does not mean I have to be willing to coach 24/7.