Case Study: 2

A Day In The Life of a Client (3months)

Louise E.: Small Business Owner, Design

Louise E.: Small Business Owner, Design


Part 1: Introduction - Why choose coaching? And why Jules?

All about Jules!

Following my remarkable consultation -- during it, even -- it was crystal clear to me that Jules provides an invaluable service. Through her thoughtful, purposeful dialogue with clients, she enables the processing of life-evolving work to take place. These elements struck me as part of her recipe for success: time (a critical dimension for change); exploration through a variety of methods and perspectives; and the setting of intention and definitions of success from the get-go.

But the special sauce, I think, is really Jules herself. She has a bright aura of brightness, caring, genuineness. She is capable, dependable, joyful, and unbelievably perceptive. She is infectiously enthusiastic, authentic, and optimistic. And, let the record show: no one can pull off a pant-suit quite like Jules!

Jules offers a free (not-to-be-missed) consultation. Book this transformative meeting when you’re ready to edge a full step closer to actualizing your best-self and future. In my initial meeting with Jules she framed what coaching is, put excellent boundaries on what it was not, and helped me to understand what I could expect from the process.

Coaching is not inexpensive. That said, what is the cost of remaining stuck? In all 3 of the interviews I conducted with Jules’s former clients, I posed the question: is coaching worth it’s cost? Without hesitation, each of them said yes, absolutely, without a doubt. There are few no-regret investments you can make, but coaching is one of them. Consider what you pay others to tend to the material life you maintain around you, and then ask yourself how it would feel to invest in your very well-being?

All about Me!

Get ready - I’m calling it exactly how I see it at this unique moment in time. Two forces bring me to coaching: inertia and momentum. For me, both are in flux.

The first force is inertia. The principle that an object in motion stays in motion until acted on by an equal or opposite force. Like many, my early life involved a steady course of ticking off boxes: accomplishments, celebrations, milestones, rights of passage. As a very young woman, many of these were goals that were personally important but were overwhelmingly informed by my personal, inherited culture. For me, that current of inertia of moving from one “to do” to the next granted me a full, fortunate life. I am grateful for every element that has come into my world via that flow. In a typical approach to middle age, that unbridled, nearly-blind, accomplishment-driven momentum begins to wane, and it has for me. Furthermore, as the momentum of early life ebbs, I am developing a new sensitivity to a bigger picture that’s emanating from my core. And I can tell you that this next big thing carries a lot of momentum.

Coinciding with this is an ability to hear myself again. Acquiescing to the demands of small children, managing a household, marriage, and a service-oriented workplace, inadvertently led to a quieting my own voice, and a constant questioning of whether my needs could fit into the context of others’ needs and desires. I became confined to a constant hesitation and over consideration.

I come to coaching with the intent to hear myself loudly, for the purpose of defining my notion of success and tackling perceived barriers to achieving it. Perceived barriers are subtle, internal, difficult to articulate, and, for me, quite loud.

I have begun to recognize patterns of skills that give me energy emerging in the paid work I do, and in the best and most satisfying parts of unpaid contributions I make in my life. Let’s call this the start of a new passion that needs fostering. A momentum that needs building because -- it’s going to take me places and I can feel it!

Part 2: A Coaching Case Study - Beginning, Middle, End

There I was, pawing around Jules’ website wondering “What is coaching? Can it help me? How can it help me? Will it scratch my itch?”

So, like you, if you’re here reading this case study we can back up to the basic assumption that you, too, have that itch. For me, it was like this: I was ready to grow, but unsure of where to start, what direction I wanted to grow in. I had a general feeling of stuckness, of being tethered in place by uncertainty about how to begin, and there was a strong whiff of fear mixed in there.

Jules became a known entity to me through her amazing powers of organization, positivity, and effective management. Only later did I approach her about coaching. She and I spoke at length during a consultation over the phone as she shared what coaching is and what it isn’t. Also, take note that Jules also has great references. I called each one she provided to me and came away from those conversations impressed and convinced of the power of her coaching work.

Step 1 - Launch! Where are we going?

Flushing out what brought me to coaching and what I hoped to gain was the topic of my first face-to-face meeting with Jules. Some of what brought me to coaching I shared above.  To it I’ll add that I was not filling fulfilled and not sure exactly why or how to fix it, which was frustrating. I had a sense of myself as very capable, and yet stuck. A designer by training but not currently working that muscle, I knew that artistic, style, design side of me needed a place to shine and be exercised. I also knew that I didn’t want to give up the balance I’d struck between health, family, work, et al.

My goals did not come out of my brain crystal clear at first! I needed help with that. Jules asked specific questions about what I wanted and didn’t want for my life, helped link related ideas (major ah-ha moments were had here!), and dug into the “why” of my thoughts which often led to a more evolved, stronger goal that better captured my desired outcomes. My goals ended up fitting into these categories: career path, visualization/setting intention, and internal work (hello and goodbye inner critic).

It’s not too early to mention here the power of Centering. Centering is an exercise that Jules verbally leads clients through at the commencement of each session. It’s akin to a guided meditation. You emerge present, focussed, and honed. The extraneous thoughts that you carry into the room have a chance to be set aside. Thoughts and issues that are not serving you in the moment go away, and you get to the meat. The power of centering cannot be overstated.  

Step 2 - The Assessment. Let’s see where we are starting from.

Jules set me up with an extensive online leadership assessment that I did on my own time, and then she met with me to interpret the results and expand on its many facets and definition. The assessment returned results about my mindset, the kinds of energies that go with that, and how these things may differ when I’m under stress. Everyone’s mindset comes with upsides and downsides. Jules explained these boons and pitfalls--parts of my mindset to harness and parts to be cautious of. Examples of these components were just EVERYWHERE in my life - it was so revealing and clear to me how my mindset was at work in my behavior and choices.

There is a lot to learn, and it was totally fascinating and edifying. Knowing my current mindsets, both my ‘normal operation’ and my ‘stress mindset’ helped explain my starting point/current state, and what the pros and cons of each mindset are. It was invaluable to learn about the full array of mindset, to know that we may pop in and out of some (though we have our anchor mindsets where we usually are). It is powerful to also become aware of the best aspects to extract from each mindset, and also the pitfalls.  

It was personally valuable because it gave me a bird’s eye view of how I operate. Major “ah-ha” moments were had! For example, I learned that I over-cope. I am often resilient past the point where all parties are being served. Everyone ends up suffering since, eventually, I have to recuperate and the process of course correcting is that much more painful for everyone if I’ve been taking on things for others that then must now expect them to do/be responsible for.

Another example? A helper by nature, I often step in to help when it’s not asked for. Oops! I learned that it’s important not to rush in to rescue, there is value in people having to push through for themselves, that there’s some value in the suffering. I’ve got to say that this informs my professional life, but also my parenting!

The information and results of coaching don’t happen in compartments or in a vacuum. It’s holistic - there’s really no other way to change one’s life in an authentic way.

I left this session readily able to see how this mindset plays out in my life. It throws a lot of things in to incredible focus and gives me a perspective on my functioning that I did not have a handle on before now.

Session 3 - Name it. Setting goals and knowing when you’ve arrived.

At this session, our main accomplishment was to revisit and harness the long-winded brainstorming list I’d made about my goals and hoped-for coaching outcomes. Themes and threads were identified and transformed into and organized, succinct list.

In addition to this goal summary, Jules walked me through an exercise to identify what I felt defines success for each goal, making them measurable so I’d know when I accomplished each. Genius!

Lastly, we took to the sidewalk for some walk-and-talk about where I thought I was starting out with each goal, on a scale of 1-10. It was incredibly helpful to make outcomes crystal clear and to think about where I was starting from (and what my destination was going to look like so I’d know what I got there). Making qualitative things quantitative enables progress to be measured.

Session 4 - Getting Ready to Visualize

Before I get to the visualizing part, I have to speak to an issue that was rearing its ugly head at the start of this session I came to the table for this session anxious about my goals. Because I had not achieved them yet. Jules talked me off the ledge, reminding me we’d only just set them. I was so excited about my goals! I wanted them to manifest as complete ASAP. But that’s just not how change happens. Also, I’d been out of town for a few weeks and therefore some time had passed without any action items or headway. Jules coached me to recognize that there was work ahead,  “knowing” wasn’t yet possible and, in the meantime, to focus on what brought peace.

Now and then, getting through some mental roadblock or personal issue is required before you get to the meat of a session. Jules is great about acknowledging that all parts of life are intertwined. Anxiousness allayed, I was ready to prepare for the next step: visioning.

I was assigned to: think about my past work/experiences, glean my accomplishments “the thread” and wonder if a story revealed itself, and to always remember the fun, joy, and creativity!

This session was valuable because it re-inserted me into the idea of process again, and gave me some tangible action items. Each session offers a moment to name what “to do” items you want to do, and Jules asks you to say why you’d like to take them on - how they relate to your goals. This is a powerful framework. It means the work isn’t just busy, it propels you.

Session 5 - Close your eyes and open your heart. It’s time for your Visioning Session!

This was a visioning session. Imagine a potter’s wheel. This session felt like I took the lump of prepped clay I’d been working on (removing air bubbles, centering on the wheel, adding a little water to smooth and slick...metaphors for mindframe work, little leaps, goal setting) and started to give it, my future life, a shape. It started to become something I could see, touch, and feel. Jules asked me to talk about my life in the present tense (I am vs I will), but as if I were speaking from a year into the future. Why is this important? Because in doing so, rather than feeling self-conscious about wanting something I wasn’t sure I could have or even ought to want, I was confidently occupying the life of my dreams.

At the end, Jules asked me how I was feeling. I felt vulnerable, a little naked. That I’d just told a closely held secret and was afraid that now other people could see it, judge it. Boy was I glad I got that out of the way! Because, on the other side of that vulnerability bridge I had just crossed was a genuine sense that the universe wants me to live my ideal vision.

Also, that I experienced a sense of vulerability in the visioning session enforced in me that it held truth for me. By soliciting your stream of consciousness, you’re not planning what you’ll say, or over-thinking it, and taking elements of control out of the equation. This yields a vision of a future that is fearless, fabulous, authentic and from your core.

After the visioning session all I wanted was more! What other details I can add to my vision? Now that I can live and see in my future state, I’d like to inform my present self more about it. It was so exciting -- I thought to myself “I wish I could binge watch my future!” I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

Session 6 - Where do we go from here?

In this session, Jules worked with me to come to terms with, and tease out, some insecurity I held around assigning value to my talent. This insecurity was essentially causing me to drag my feet on making some leaps.

Then we set up some framework for taking leaps:

Take risks around what excites me, ask for help, starting to just do it and see what happens, identify what excites you - who is the community that seems to be doing what you want to do, start with little leaps and then take bigger ones.

And lastly we talked about wins. The take away from this conversation was a pivotal one for me. Jules reminded me that we all need to be sure we give ourselves points for living the life we want. For example, balance across aspects of my life such as health, family, career are important. So if I opt to stop work on my portfolio, say, in order to go pick up my daughter so we can go to the playground, this is an opportunity to celebrate the flexibility and opportunity to be with my family (rather than a moment to feel guilty about not giving more time to the portfolio). It’s a little mental shift, on the face of it, but it is a mindset game-changer and one of the pathways of thinking that has impacted me the most.

At this session we flushed out a significant mental hindrance I was harboring. Key here was the chipping-away, arriving at realizations that took place over several sessions that ultimately brought me to this session where I could see things clearly, these patterns of thinking and acting. I carried a mis-placed modesty/humility and sense of being a burden, of wanting to stay out of the way and not inconvenience. Shine and show are frequently what the day calls for - how else are gifts to be given? Being meek or unsure about having something to bring to the table for collaboration is now replaced, in my heart and mind, with seeing mutual opportunities for growth and symbiotic serendipity to take place. It was a complete 180. It turned my “red light” into a “green light”.

Today’s session surprised me because, for the first time, I held this as “body knowledge” as Jules called it. I realized the importance and value of giving things time to ripen and mature to this stage, because “head knowledge” is easy and fast - as fast as one can read information of a page, it goes into your head. But for it to travel to your heart and course through you body takes time, takes trials, leaps, testing, prep forms, bravery, and centering exercises :).

Final session: Reflection. It’s a walk in the park!

A Reflection form is completed in advance of the Reflection Session. It’s a lot like you might think! It’s a chance to reiterate your goals (and allow them to evolve if new insights have taken place since they’ve been written - this will definitely happen with some of your goals). Then, you rate your level of achievement of each goal, name what your “proof” is, and what helped you make the progress. At this juncture, new goals can also be introduced.

You also respond, as part of this form, to questions: How are you different? Where do you think you would have been if you hadn’t decided to engage in coaching? Don’t be surprised if you well up a little here - you get to see and share a shiny new version of you and celebrate the investment you’ve made in yourself.

My final session, when it arrived on that beautiful sunny day at Seward Park, was a chance to dig into these reflections with Jules. I appreciated the deep discussion we had about my shift away from fear-based decisions. Though the work of coaching, I am braver. Through the work of coaching I am better able to dream for the future and savor my present. I no longer let the anticipation of problems stop me from pursuing my ideas or to abandon them due to the judgement of my own inner critic. Rather, I move towards what I want with a serenity and trust. Truly, less goes wrong than you might think. Secondly, the hiccups are, at worst, solvable, and, quite often, grand new opportunities that ultimately serve as enhancements.