Hi there! I plan to write many posts on this blog site. To start off, I thought I’d prepare a little “Getting to Know Me” post for those of you new to me and to coaching and facilitation business in the form of some answers to six questions. The responses to these questions get at the essence of my drive and purpose to be a life and career coach and what makes me “tick”. As we enter into a new year of 2018, I hope it gives you a sense of what I can do and, also what YOU can do. May you never stop dreaming and becoming.
1) What made you fall in love with coaching? And how did you know it was the right path for you to follow?
During my first coach training class, I spent 2-3 days at work practicing “presence”. This meant putting aside my own internal chatter and worries, focusing 100% on my colleagues, tuning into them and responding to them. Of course we all do this from time to time, but I had never intentionally practiced this. I felt alive! I felt at one with my colleagues in a way I never had, and able to respond to them with more care and with ideas I never would have otherwise. Our conversations became more creative and true collaborations and went in directions they would not have, had I been going along my business as usual.
This is a central tenet of coaching, to practice true presence with your clients. I have found that it enriching when I practice it not only at work or with my coaching clients, but in my personal life with my husband and children. People feel appreciated and safer to be honest and creative when one is practicing full presence with them.
At the time, I was interested in learning about other world religions besides my own as a Catholic. I was reading books about Buddhism. I learned about the concept of a “Bodhisattva”. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a bodhisattva as “a being that compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in order to save others and is worshipped as a deity in Mahayana Buddhism”.
Setting aside the being worshiped as a deity part, there was something about this description that was really appealing to me. The idea of holding the door open and guiding others to their “nirvana” while withholding for myself, somehow seemed just right.
I became inspired by the writings of Pamela Wise, a coach who bases her practice on Buddhist teachings. She describes a Bodhisattva as those who “…vow to remain in the world for the benefit and mutual awakening of all beings, everywhere. Instead of pursuing the peace of personal enlightenment, they willingly roll up their sleeves and dive into the fray.”
I was driving one day and talking to a friend on the phone about this and the following thought struck me clearly in that moment. My life purpose was to help others find their life purpose. It was that simple, and that complex. In that moment, coaching became a calling for me and a key way to achieve this purpose.
2) So far in your career what has been the thing that you are most proud of and why?
I’m very proud of my choice and success to define my career in organizational development and coaching. To do it, I had to complete a second master’s degree in organizational development and a graduate certificate in evidence-based coaching while working full time, having and raising two babies. As if that wasn’t hard enough on its own, I had people from different parts of my life telling me to focus on my family and my job. I already had a master’s degree, why did I need another? They didn’t understand that I had a vision for where I wanted to go with my career and with my life. My day job, which was deeply dissatisfying, wasn’t going to get me there. During my most difficult, stressful days, my babies, my husband, my fellow students and the wonderful things I was learning through my classes were really the only things that gave me the grounding and peace to get through my work day and have hope for a better future.
With the second master’s degree and certificate, I was able to switch employers and careers, become a coach and start this business. I am proud that I was able to persevere despite the obstacles to make this happen.
3) Describe your coaching style in 3 words. Unconditional positive regard.
4) What do you feel sets you apart from other coaches?
As a young adult I had people in tell me that I didn’t have what it took to achieve what I wanted to achieve. These people were my supervisors or people higher up in organizations that I worked in at the time. Obviously, I found their words very discouraging and somewhat soul-crushing as a young professional trying to find her way.
Enter my personal narrative as a daughter of immigrants. I watched my parents overcome obstacles time and again in their careers and lives. Learning a new language, getting professional training, leaving behind beloved friends and family in search of a better life, and acculturating to a new country while raising a family are all incredibly difficult things to do. Their example taught me not to let temporary roadblocks, including whatever other people told me about my ability, get in my way.
I bring this perspective with me into my coaching, even if I don’t ever express it as a part of the coaching session. It drives the questions I ask and the hope and faith I have in my clients. It drives me to hold them accountable, challenge them and do the deep, inner work that is sometimes needed so they can achieve the greatness that lies within them.
5) When you retire from coaching what do you hope you are remembered by?
I hope I am remembered by many clients and a community of coaches as a loving, caring, giving, and wise person who was privileged enough to accompany them as they found their life purpose. From my own religious background of Catholicism, the concept of “accompaniment” rings true here. I hope to be remembered as a true witness to others’ growth, journeys and development.
6) Tell us a little something about yourself that would surprise us!
Most people that know me well already know this, but for those who don’t, I enjoy singing as a second soprano for Supreme Chord, a DC-based a cappella group that performs a variety of contemporary pop and rock music. I’ve always enjoyed musical performance and have written a few original songs. In a second or third life I would love to be a full-time professional musician. I love giving people moments of joy and meaning through music.