First, some truth from me to you: there was a time when I regularly asked myself “why life coaching?” Because, honestly, I cringed at the term. Despite my passion for the profession, I tap-danced all around that particular phrase when describing what I feel privileged to do. It was funny, really. Life coaching just felt cliché somehow.
But then one intense day, a very special lady in my life, my elderly mother, unexpectedly ended all that. She got down to the essence of things the way moms do, saying, “Why beat around the bush? You’re a life coach.”
Great big wave of her little hand. Great big emphasis on life while—more truth here—at the end of her own. So, instead of feeling annoyed by her opinion, it was instant goose-bump city for me. Then I surprised myself with a wave of energy that I used to re-frame the work that I love.
So what is life coaching, really?
A few weeks ago I happened onto an insightful article about coaching. The author provided short definitions for different types. But her take on life coaching felt narrow to me. She described it as being about personal change, with niches within it like youth, addiction, and divorce.
Of course that’s all good. Just not quite integrative enough in my book. Instead, I see life coaching as a powerful context in which to support the growth and goals of committed clients. It’s a much broader context than just the “personal”, whatever that actually means.
For me, life coaching is an opportunity to develop the whole person who we each are, toward maximum effectiveness and fulfillment. Here’s more of what I mean:
In thanking veterans, the truth is that such quiet greatness, such discipline, such sacrifice, in lives during and beyond years of service, defy words that can do any justice to them. With that truth acknowledged, I can also acknowledge my own eternal gratitude. My eternal admiration and awe. Though I do understand the discomfort many veterans feel receiving it.
So how beautiful that, as I walked in from the parking lot of my neighborhood grocery store yesterday, wondering what the group of guys wearing chef’s aprons at the table outside were selling, I was thrilled to find they were doing a food drive for student veterans at a nearby college. The goal was to stock an on-campus pantry so no one goes hungry during finals. Such a small way to help. Yet so wonderful.
I took their list into the store, found my way around to fill a basket of items for them, and noticed several other obviously energized folks doing the same. The cashier seemed uplifted, too. Later, in my regular FaceTime call with my 84-year-old father, I shared my unexpected elation. We both shed some tears.
What’s more, in thanking veterans today, my gratitude extends to whole families and communities in which such unsung service is a way of life. Thank you. May peace be with you. And best wishes for all the beauty and goodness you and yours deserve in this life—and beyond.
My dears, I feel like reflecting on how grief and growth may—as I’m discovering—meet in our lives. So I’ll hit you right up front with what feels deeply personal to me.
Since my mother had some awful surgery just before Hurricane Michael pounded my parents’ house and town, then she declined and died three months later, I’ve been immersing myself in research on dying, death, and “life after.” If you know me, you know this is very different for me.
Though I do have a memory of myself sprawled on my pink bedspread, 13 years old, writing a piece on the logic of the immortal soul. No one had assigned it to me, and no one was waiting to read it. But it was important to me, because eternal life was a clear and vibrant truth to me. But that was then.
Ah, happiness. It’s one of life’s holy grails, right? The truth is that we often seek happiness like distant treasure we’re determined to find. Someday, somewhere, off in the hazy future, where the grass is greener, all our wishes and dreams will be fulfilled. Then we’ll “be happy.”
But what do we really need to be happy?
When my oldest son went off to college, I realized that my dream for him was the capacity for happiness. Indeed, as I was letting go of my first little guy who had grown into a fine young man, nothing else I could want for him even came close.
So what thoughts do you have as you consider these questions:
On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your capacity for happiness, without conditions?
What will it take to move that needle?
What, exactly, makes you happy?
How can you live your life to fit that truth?
What’s first, the chicken, or the egg?
Consider what really comes first, my dears: happiness, or the conditions we think we need to meet to have it. And a bit more truth-telling from me will take us deeper.