When I consider the reasons I have dedicated so many years of my life to studying, teaching, training, and talking about coaching what it comes down to is this, I believe that having another human being focused on our success is one of the most valuable commodities there is in this world. Coaching exists in many forms, formal and informal, paid and unpaid, personal, executive, internal or private, focused or whole-person. There is one thing that they all have in common and that is the sense of support one feels when one is in the hands of a good coach.
I recently went to a new gym for the first time after two years of living in a new place and knowing I needed to add weight training into my life again. While I’ve spent thousands of hours in gyms all over the world, this time when I looked around this strange gym, it all seemed like too much and I just didn’t know where to start. Feeling lost I went to the treadmill to walk hoping no one noticed the tears that were falling down my face. I have my own treadmill at home so the irony of walking on a treadmill at the gym I’d been paying for each month and not going to was not lost on me. As I walked and dabbed at my tears that wouldn’t quit coming, I realized that I needed some help. Once I admitted that to myself, the name of a young friend, Christine Schulter (summa.fit) who is a fitness coach came to mind. I reached out to her by text right then as I was walking, and she responded with “You’ve got this! And I’ve got you!” I felt immediate relief knowing I was no longer alone. I knew that together we could narrow the scope of overwhelm I was feeling and get me started on a path that would lead to greater success than I could have on my own.
Since then, I have been amazed at the numerous benefits I am realizing from coaching that are not directly related. I find I look forward to seeing my coach and knowing that she is focused on helping me determine my goals and how I am going to accomplish them. She offers me immediate feedback on my form and execution. She offers encouragement and support and I am somehow able to work so much harder for her than I am on my own. I have noticed that when I am working out by myself, my brain goes into avoidance and argument mode and starts bargaining with me about how I don’t really need to do three sets or an entire workout, etc. For whatever reason when I am with my coach or doing a workout as part of our plan, my motivation is so much higher, my brain gets quiet and does not argue with me the entire time like it does when I am left to my own devices. My coach seems to know just how hard to push me and how much encouragement I need. Part of what makes coaching work are the elements of trust and accountability, both of which help enable us to accomplish goals we may not on our own.
I also notice the confidence and enthusiasm and boost to my spirits I feel in all other areas of my life. Granted, I know that physical exercise has an amazing benefit to mind, body, and spirit but I think it is more than that. I think that having a coach in one area of my life, makes me feel supported enough that I have more confidence in other areas of my life as well. My mood is more positive, my confidence is greater, my desire to excel and to push myself in areas that once felt hard and overwhelming is stronger. Feeling so supported I am also able to relax and enjoy life more. I imagine I am looking better already although honestly, this may be just in my mind as so much of how we see ourselves is subjective. Strangely, how I look has taken a backseat to how fantastic I feel.
As I have been contemplating this wonderful coaching experience I am enjoying, I am reminded of another time when I had the benefit of working with a coach. He is a great horse trainer named Jim Hicks. He happened to have an opening and while I was a novice compared to his usual clients he agreed to work with me. I will never forget the incredible feeling of moving around his beautiful arena on my black Azteca mare Lucia. As he spoke softly to me through the headphones I wore in my ears I was able to make slight adjustments to my hands, my breath, my seat, and even my mind. Sometimes he had only to remind me to relax and breathe and smile instead of working so hard. He could somehow tell whether I was breathing or holding my breath. It was one of the most incredible experiences in my life to have the privilege of being coached by him. My horse would respond so well to the tiniest of adjustments I would make with his coaching. Having this experience come to mind I wrote him a thank-you note telling him that experience is one I will never forget.
I have gotten similar notes and letters from those I have had the honor of coaching. What a beautiful thing to be able to focus on the success of another human being and see them reach their full potential by creating an opportunity in which they can see and experience themselves through new eyes. I had a client once say to me, “I just love how I look through your eyes.”
I have the great privilege of teaching in The Integrative Wellness Coaching Program at Saybrook University which embraces a holistic philosophy that emphasizes the whole person. I am continually inspired by the incredible students who are working so hard to better themselves while they work to change the world. Addressing the mind, body, and spirit allows for improvements in health and happiness and fulfillment. Through coaching, we are better able to reach our highest potential and make a significant difference in our sphere of influence sending those ripples out into the world to make it a better place for all.
“It’s not just what we do, but who we are that determines our effectiveness in coaching and in life” (Silverio, et al., cited in Moore & Tschannen-Moran, 2010, p. 168).
I have found that as coaches, we can see potential as if it is already occurring and those we coach can see that reflected back to them and it gives them the courage to keep going when it feels too difficult to manage on their own. This is the incredible power of coaching. “You’ve got this! And I’ve got you!”
Dr. Beth is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker(LCSW), a Master Personal and Executive Coach (MPEC), has the National Board of Health & Wellness Coaches certification (NB-HWC) and has a Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine. She teaches Evidenced-Based Coaching for Saybrook University (https://www.saybrook.edu/integrative-wellness-coaching/). You can learn more about her and her work at https://thrivewithdrbeth.com/