Case Study: 5
A Day In The Life of a Client
Part 1: Why choose coaching? And why Jules?
Going in to my first meeting with Julie, I had some preconceived notions of what coaching would be for me. After leaving a 15 year career in software consulting and moving to retail operations, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wasn’t feeling appreciated, challenged, or in an organization that I valued. I decided I needed a guide to help me reach the next stage of my work life. My big questions were “Will the coach think I’m worthy of their time? Have I accomplished enough in my work life to deserve the attention and time of great coach?” Those questions alone were to be some of my most significant hurdles.
In my previous life as a consultant, I thought my job neither translated well on paper nor did it sound very impressive. The various coaches I’d read about online, seemed to be in one of two categories: someone to help with a resume, linked-in, and how to network; the other being someone to help leaders in their field make strides. As a consultant, I was an individual contributor. In retail operations, I am a low level manager, and I don’t even represent that job as a “real” job to my friends who are doctors, lawyers, architects, diplomats, engineers, and scientists. Though I may need help with a resume, linked-in, etc, I do not see myself as an employable leader. A volunteer leader maybe, but someone who could come to the table and be respected as a leader with my work experience. I wanted a coach to help me figure out how to get to where I am - under-self-appreciated and under-challenged - to a fulfilling position where I could be or at least become the leader that I am, but am afraid to admit to someone with more authority than I. Before meeting Julie, I was fearful that she was going to be the someone to help leaders, whose services did not apply to me. She made me see my faulty logic very quickly.
I know I’m the number one thing in my way of career progression, establishment, achievement, which is why I was looking for/wanted a coach. From day one with Julie, I walked away having identified basic obstacles hindering me from reaching my potential. She did not tell me these things but guided me to my own visualization and discovery. Julie helped me to define concrete activities to begin my journey of overcoming long-standing negative narratives about myself and my abilities, and I left the first session having a much greater sense of my worth as a thinker and contributor.
I learned so much in the first session, but the centering exercise was the most surprising to me. From the five minute breath & body focused exercise, I was able to define some rudimentary causes for my chronic inertia. That very day I started addressing and overcoming those forces holding me back.
I am a planner and a list maker. After talking with Julie and in doing my homework activity (20 minutes at the start of my day not sitting down), I found that lists can sometimes discourage my progress. Since my first session, I have been more productive at work and in my personal life with limited utility of lists. I am re-orienting what I put on a list: what will get done versus everything that needs to be done. Not forgetting or ignoring the everything, but re-prioritizing/re-organizing my mental approach so as not to get overwhelmed and discouraged before I even start.
Jules is a great fit for me because her approach is very wholistic, and I am being challenged to dig deep to figure out what has me stalled. I initially imagined something more clinical, more subjective. This isn’t that at all. Since starting this process, I feel more aware of they why. Why do I have the habits I do? Do these habits bring me satisfaction, stimulation, relaxation? Why or why not? At this point, the constant analysis is a little tiring, but I’m learning and challenging these things daily. And I’ve avoided change for a very long time it seems.
At this point, I’m most curious about the journey with Julie. I’m certain that with her guidance I can find the best place for me and how to to get there, but the planner in me wants to see the road map of the next three months. However, I know that part of the process is putting one foot in front of the other, overcoming as of yet unknown obstacles, and finding where I will take myself. I will plot my own map as I go along. I’m so excited to have her help.
*One very long standing narrative is that I’m not a good writer, and so I avoid it at all costs. Agreeing to write this case study is part of challenging that narrative.
Part 2: Case Study - One case of coaching with Jules
This was my first full session, and so many things came out of it. We were refining my initial goals, and I haven’t had anyone in my work life refer to me as a leader. To me, a leader is someone with tremendous responsibility and for me to call someone a leader, is to confer on them high esteem for their leadership. I left the session with a greater sense of other people’s perception of me as a leader in the same esteem I hold leaders.
After an offhand comment regarding an award I turned down, Julie pointed out that I had a habit of doing that, which I found surprising. I have since been finding more examples in my past demonstrating my unhealthy(?) relationship with receiving awards and recognition. I have more work to do there.
This session further clarified that Julie is a great coaching fit for me because her approach is very holistic, and I am being challenged to dig deep to figure out what has me stalled. I initially imagined something more clinical, more subjective. This isn’t that at all. Since starting this process, I feel more aware of the why. Why do I have the habits I do? Do these habits bring me satisfaction, stimulation, relaxation? Why or why not? At this point, the constant analysis is a little mentally exhausting, but I’m learning and challenging the motivation behind my habits daily. And I’ve avoided change for a very long time it seems.
This session we reviewed my results of the ELI Assessment, which at first glance did not make me feel good about myself (I am currently operate in a 4,1 cycle). After reflection, I understood and appreciated it for what it was - a tool to see where I am and where I want to be. It showed that I am capable of what I think I am, even though when taking the test, that wasn’t the impression I had of myself. I am hopeful that I can break out of my cycle and begin operating more creatively and sustainably.
This session illuminated one of the ways I regularly end up doing what is wanted of me rather than what I want for me. I have a hard time saying no to people and with that I give much of my energy away. I realized that by saying yes all the time, not only am I not serving my own interests, I am ultimately not helping the asker because I’m creating a dependent relationship. I think this has been holding me up across several facets of my life for much of my life.
I am constantly surprised by how easily these revelations come when I’m talking with Julie. Changed habits don’t come quite as easily, but the process of talking with Julie and the way she gets me to figure it out seems kinda like wizardry.
Identifying various obstacles/habits that are hindering me from my career goals is a significant part of moving forward. Having and practicing the tools to overcome those habits is giving me more confidence and room for myself each day. However, I am wondering about and, more specifically, not confident in my ability to sustain change. I suppose I’m ultimately concerned about sustainability.
This session was especially good because I was thrown off balance by the loss of my pet, whom I’d had for 17 years. Julie truly provides a safe environment for vulnerability. And with her, I was able to see the gifts my pet has given me not only in life, but in his death as well. Gifts I need right now as I go through this process in particular: time in general, but time for reflection and growth specifically. Though I’d have him back in a heartbeat, I am gifted with the space to explore what is next for me. His death also gave me the opportunity to put out in the world what he meant to me in written form. The return I received from my community because of that furthered internalized the significance of writing things down.
I had no idea what to expect from the immersion day/visioning except that I was going to be in a different environment to clarify or reframe my thinking/narrative/direction. My biggest take away was from the time kayaking. In moving the kayak forward, I was reminded of my rowing days and the nature of moving yourself forward through the water. How effortless and powerful at the same time it can feel. How when you use the momentum to your advantage, it is easier to keep moving forward, and it is FUN! I was also reminded of why I moved to this town as opposed to others, and it was to have more opportunities to get outside, out of my head, and into my body. I have not done that much at all in the 10 years I’ve lived here.
The visioning process was not easy. The job related things weren’t too hard to envision, which makes the idea of moving forward with networking/job hunting a lot less daunting. I still need to connect the dots with a game plan, but before I didn’t really know what I was aiming for. Now it seems less insurmountable, easier to articulate. The more interpersonal things - family, relationships - that is much harder. Since that day, I have made some strides with my mother, but I may have also come to the realization that I just need to participate more with my family and not depend on them to do the reaching out (connected).
I thought I was coming along swimmingly with everything. I was successfully approaching work with a different mindset and finding satisfaction where I was previously frustrated. Then everything seemed to change. I just thought with the managerial changes at work, I was just feeling a heavier load. That may have been part of it, but what Julie pointed out (which was a bit obvious), with the loss of my cat - my only roommate and comfort for the last 11 years, I was still in a time of grieving. I was beating myself up for not performing and trying to find solutions to get out of a Level 1 recovery mode, but I needed the recovery mode. I needed to allow myself the time to feel the feelings and sit in the moments when I needed to recover. I am an introvert and to re-energize, I need down time. I watch tv and relax. Prior to this session, I wasn’t even really relaxing when I was watching tv. I was beating myself up because I wasn’t doing something else more productive. After this session, I felt good when I was relaxing. I wasn’t worried about what wasn’t getting done at home. It will get done. Right then, I was working on something else. Me.
Sometimes I realize the value of a session in the moment. This time, the value was in the afterward, in the follow-up, and the value was more so in the accumulation of all the sessions, which is the entire purpose of this endeavor. Have I just leveled up?
Over Memorial Day weekend, I vacationed with long time friends, most of whom have high level professional careers: diplomats, doctors, tenured professors, executives, engineers. When I’ve visited with this group in the past, I tended to not want to talk about myself, and separate myself more than a little bit. I saw myself as not having much of a life, a go-nowhere, uninteresting career (when I had one), or now a job that didn’t measure up to theirs or to my potential. I didn’t want to talk about it, and I didn’t want to hear their successes because it made me feel worse about myself. This year was different.
I walked in with more confidence in who I am, what I can do, what I want, and what I’m worth. I was able to share what’s going on in my life without shame and talk about what is going on in their lives with more curiosity and happiness for them. I felt connected. And from their comments, they noticed.
In discussing the week prior to this session and the insights gained, we really laid out the fact that I have achieved a good deal of my goals than I would have guessed going into this. I knew I had a few large hurdles to overcome before I got the ultimate goal of a desirable job, but self-esteem and feeling connected to a community are big concepts. In talking it out, I was kind of shocked. To know something is one thing. I know I’m smart and capable. To feel confident in that intelligence and drop the shame of where I am and how I’m getting to the next step is a completely different headspace.
6/12/19 - Final session of 3-month immersion agreement
This last session started a little oddly because I had just come to a lot of conclusions in the previous session about how much progress I’d made on reaching my goals so I wasn’t sure where this was going to go, but never doubt the power of Julie to provide clarity and forward momentum.
I had four goals from the beginning:
(1) I want to be positioned to get a job I like, in which feel valued, can strongly contribute to, and be proud of, and also pays well.
(2) Rock solid self esteem and confidence in my experience and abilities.
(3) Feel connected vs. othered.
(4) Want to be more genuine in the moment when I experience discomfort!
The first goal always seemed too big, but the latter three in the list are not insignificant things in life either. In looking back on the whole of these three months with Julie, the number one goal of a job was not my first goal. I had to develop the last three first to be in that position. However, the #1 was flashing brightly at the top of the list, and deflated me a little bit every time I looked at it. I realize now that each session has been a stepping stone, and my goals have been as well. I didn’t actually think about what needed to come first as I went through this process (which is how my analytical mind tries to work most of the time), what came is what came. Upon reflection, achieving my goals was more like
My friends have all commented on how different I seem since I started this journey. Particularly in the areas of confidence and connectedness. I know that is in part because I do feel more genuine, and with Julie’s help, have been able to see my worth through the lens of others.
I am still working on my goals - maintaining authenticity and connectivity, and stepping up with confidence. I’m not quite 100% positioned to get that job, but I am a heck of a lot closer, and I know it will happen. I am extremely pleased with my journey so far, and look forward to it continuing.