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Ordinary People Taking Action
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This is a blog series following my executive coaching client, Christine, as we navigate her personal and career struggles. If you haven’t read Part 1, click here to start from the beginning. For Part 2, click here and for Part 3, click here.
As an executive coach, I build relationships with people – in many cases very deep relationships. Then, when the contract ends, we often part ways. It’s one of the hardest parts of my job, so I am always thrilled to get an update from former clients and honored to receive multiple updates. In the case of my relationship with Christine, a year would pass with no word from her and no resolution as to what happened with her family that caused the sobbing that morning.
When I coach people, the basis of my coaching focuses on what the individual needs in order to show up at their best. We discuss the concept of “triggers”, which are emotional responses to an event. Triggers can be positive or negative and are often referred to as either productive or counterproductive. We explore anticipated and unanticipated triggers, conscious and unconscious triggers, encouraging and discouraging triggers, and intentional and unintentional triggers.
The foundation of a lot of the work I do, especially coaching, is to help people show up as the best version of themselves. I believe that if I help the people I am working with shine, then they will help the people they work with shine. When we all shine, we all rise. We lift each other up so that we can all lift. It sounds cliché, but I believe it.
A year after that final morning with Christine, she called me, seemingly out of the blue. When I saw her name appear on the caller ID, I felt like a schoolgirl excited to see a good friend. Of course, I answered the call, and we talked for almost two hours. Christine told me about that morning, a year ago. She explained that before she’d left for work, her daughter became very upset. While she was just 6 years old at the time, she had words that would feel like flames of a hot fire.
Apparently, they were running late, and the morning had been full of anxiety and frustration. Christine’s daughter stated that she thought Christine was old and grumpy. She proceeded to tell her that she was a horrible mom because all she cared about was work and stupid presentations and being there for other people at work – missing time at home with her children. Her daughter went on to say that Christine loved her work people more than her own family and that she wished Christine would go to work and never, ever come home again.
This “unexpected” trigger stopped Christine in her tracks and made her aware that she needed to make an immediate change. She realized that she was pulled in too many directions. Not only was she told she didn’t care about people enough at work – her own family felt like she didn’t care enough about them. So, she left her job, which brings us to today, one year later. And what Christine learned over her time away from work, was that the reason she didn’t appear to care about other people was that she didn’t care about herself. She forgot that what needed the most love, what was the biggest priority, should be herself.
Christine called me today, after all this time, to say thank you for the gift that executive coaching provided to her. She also shared with me that she’d started with a new company – adding quickly that I shouldn’t worry, because she won’t get “out of alignment” again. So, she asked me to continue as her executive coach to ensure that she stays true to her purpose. To be a partner to help her ensure she doesn’t fall back into old habits. What an honor. Of course, I said yes. Yet, the yes came with an expectation. We agreed to focus on a new topic, a different topic that would stretch her in a new way to be at her best. She immediately said, "Oh, I know the topic I want to cover. When can you meet?"
This blog series is part of my goal this month to provide 31 days straight of tips, advice, and inspiration to my readers via our LinkedIn page. I hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration of Christine’s journey.
Author's note: Christine's name is not the clients' name. The name has been changed to protect the client identity and maintain confidentiality. Pieces of this story have been changed slightly while , keeping the majority of the story truthful, to remove any elements that would identify or expose the client.