This month marks 10 years since I first started my coaching business; next month marks 10 years since my first real-deal paid-client meeting.
Recently, a person reached out to me on LinkedIn. She’s currently in the coaching program I graduated from back in 2013 and she was curious how my practice had evolved over the years.
What a question! What a wonderful, expansive, multi-faceted question!
My practice as in my coaching business?
That has evolved like flowing water interacting with land; as I discovered who I was most excited to work with and in what areas of humaning, I continued to refine my business focus (or niche as fancy folks like to call it).
Where limitations of thinking led me to imagine a particularly narrow band of people who would be open to working with a weirdo like me (a loving description, by my way of thinking), lived experience showed me that a much broader array of people were curious about how someone who was outside of their norm might help them stir their pot and create more satisfying careers and fulfilling lives.
And while I believed that I had to focus on business coaching for the sake of marketing – and because I love the way our businesses or professional lives can be uniquely powerful places to express our values – I’ve learned that there, too, is a greater breadth of mortals seeking to understand and live their unique definition of A Life Well Lived.
My practice as in my coaching skills?
Oh, the hours of continuing ed on top of the thousands of hours of learning by doing (I crossed the 6,000 coaching hours mark just last week, on Wednesday, July 5th); the countless conversations with colleagues; the sessions where I was the client to brilliant coaches, part of me in the coaching and a part of me observing how they were coaching me and taking notes along the way…
I can see this evolution more starkly with those clients who have honored me by returning to our collaboration years after an initial round of coaching. With them, I witness the evolution of my practice in both their feedback and my felt sense of how I’m showing up in our collaboration more holistically and with more trust in their ability to use my curiosity, observations, and support as a springboard to their own wisdom and insights.
My practice as in the internal processes that allow for me to utilize those coaching skills?
Big huge evolution there. I was interested in learning, including learning about myself, before I became a coach; it was a key inclination in this being an ideal career path for me. Becoming a coach, though, took the leisurely-turning cycle of my learning and strapped a jet-pack to it. In the early years, this was almost discombobulating, the way learning kept happening, faster and faster with each client I coached and each time I was coached by a peer or mentor. I’ve long since gotten my sea legs, though, and this pace now feels natural, invigorating, gratitude-evoking. Without this, I’d still be grasping at solving problems for my clients instead of guiding them toward their own solutions – handing them fish instead of fishing rods, so to speak.
From the beginning, coaching felt to me like taking innate skills – whatever mystery has led to a lifelong experience of some people somehow seeing in me a sort of fun house mirror that shows their bigger life and badder self – and adding learned skills and intentionality and structure so sound that people who stand on it can dare, whatever daring means to them.
Before coaching, my longest-live occupation was four years as a personal chef, during which time I started to hate cooking. Once I gave up the business, I regained my love of the kitchen.
Ten years into coaching and not only have I lost no love with this magical profession, I feel more energized by it than ever, and more curious about how I can do even more to make it accessible to whoever is curious about how much more fully alive and invigorated and themselves they can be.
Philosophically, I’m not a believer that we have to find and follow our passion; I believe in following our curiosity.
Philosophically, I’m not a believer that we have to merge our identities and our professions, or even that it’s a good idea to do such a thing.
Philosophically, I believe work is just one sliver of where we can find/create meaning in our lives.
It just so happens that coaching is my passion; that being a coach is a significant part of my identity; and that the collaborations with my clients are a place of profound meaning for me.
I feel so very, very lucky.