There’s something compelling about reflecting on your work and what you’re creating with your life. You probably know the answers you always give at cocktail parties or events by heart, but if you dig deeper into the nature of your work, you may find things about it you don’t understand. In being with those questions, you may discover something totally new about your work and life that creates more wisdom and love.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my work.
- What is it precisely that I offer people?
- Why do people pay me what they do?
- What is it they leave with when we’re complete?
After a couple of months of going inward and being with my grief, my transition, and my life, I’m finally ready to take on new clients, and as I do, I’ve been given this chance to reconnect with my work from a new place.
So I wanted to share with you a few things about my work that I still don’t totally understand. I hope you see yourself in some of this, and if not, maybe it will inspire you to see your own work in a new way.
1) I work on people’s closest relationships, and it changes things.
Since my very first days as a coach, I’ve worked on my client’s closest relationships. I remember coaching a very successful CEO in his relationship with his son. We talked about the standard he held for his son, how it affected his time with him, and how much heartbreak there was between them.
He hadn’t hired me to coach him on this relationship; it just came up. More recently, I worked with a client on her relationship with her ex during a challenging divorce. With another client, her relationship with her son as he was going through some immense challenges in school.
I’ve never sold myself as a relationship coach, and shifting close relationships is rarely part of the context of the work I plan out with my clients, but it always shows up.
The pain we feel when there is a rift in a close relationship is intense. It impacts everything. In some ways, I get why it shows up in coaching, and yet I’m blown away by how much it shifts things.
The CEO signed a multimillion-dollar deal and changed his relationship with his business partner. The woman started filling her group program after several had failed to launch. The mother stood up to a client of hers that wasn’t really showing up in the way she had hoped.
I’ve never connected the dots. I’ve never tried to explain why this impacts that. And yet when I work with clients on their close relationships, things change for them, in ways that always surprise me.
2) I tend to ignore results
Some coaches hyper-focus on results. They want their clients to be out tracking, getting in the numbers, making to-do lists, organizing their time. And it’s not that this stuff doesn’t matter. I do this stuff all the time, but generally, as a coach, I ignore the results. I ask about them I support my clients to pay attention, I worry about them sometimes, but I mostly ignore them.
I’m not really a results coach, I’m more of a spiritual coach, a coach that looks for wisdom in the moment rather than the trend line.
And yet, results get created. I work with clients to find the places they feel disempowered or incomplete. With a client recently, it had to do with the way they showed up to meetings with their teams, their willingness to ask for help and see themselves as a leader. For another, it was trying to have a conversation with their husband about moving to a new town. For another, it was the fact that they got so pissed off at the president.
You wouldn’t think any of these things would matter to results. There’s no strategy, no tactics, and I LOVE strategy and tactics, but that didn’t matter.
My clients often see results, results that surprise me, but to be honest, I can’t track the direct cause and effect. I don’t push a lever here, and money comes out there. I am with people in their hearts, I work to be with their greatness, I love them, and help them connect more deeply with what life is all about. This precious life we all have.
3) The worse I become as a coach, the better my coaching is
I used to think I was really hot stuff as a coach. I made six figures in 18 months I used to brag (and maybe I sometimes still do). But more and more, I’ve been humbled as a coach. I’ve had bad sessions, client relationships have gone sideways, I’ve shown up in the world as a bit of a mess, heartbroken, and not totally sure what direction to go.
And yet, my coaching is more vibrant than ever. I experience intimacy with my clients I never have. I’ve even worked with people that, in the past, would have driven me crazy. Over and over, I find I have no idea what I’m doing as a coach.
I have theories and styles of work and things I like to do with people. My work is full of ontology and zen and family systems theory. And yet it’s also full of nothing. As I’ve become more intimate with my sweet suffering, I find I’m with my client more in theirs.
We find solutions, we create insight, but I don’t know if I’m any good as a coach. Other people say so, and I’m not going to argue with them. And yet, I feel less confident in a way and more reliable.
Coaching is a mystery to me. You get on a call with people. You listen, you distinguish, you try to see the way they’re bound in knots, but you can’t really see that much more than them. And somehow it works. The more I become enthralled with the mystery of it, the more it seems to work out.
I keep working at it, I keep trying to learn more about it, and it keeps escaping me. But I also enjoy it more than I ever have before.
To be honest, I’m not sure what the point of this post is as I finish it. Part of me hopes you’ll read it and be curious. If you are, I’d love to have a conversation with you. Maybe there’s something for us to work on, perhaps not. But I know there’s only one way to find out.
Right now, I really want to work with 3 coaches. 3 Coaches who want to double their business and deepen in their work. I have no idea how I’ll find them. I keep thinking I should probably build a funnel or something.
But I know they’ll come, I know my work will continue, I know it will surprise me. And more than anything, I hope that as you read this, you begin to wonder about your work. Not in the places you understand, but in the places you don’t.
When we can be with the mystery of our work, we can be with the mystery of ourselves. And it’s in the mystery that wonder seems to have no end.
Whatever you do, thanks for doing it. It comes from love, even if there’s a bit of fear, jealousy, and grasping mixed in. On some level, you work because you love and for that, I’m very grateful.