As a coach and doctoral student at the Wright Graduate University, I have done my fair share of coaching. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that coaches midwife change for people. We help individuals emerge and become not only who they want to be but who they never imagined they could be.
The Job of Coaching
It’s an honor to be that person for someone else, and a challenge because coaches don’t simply encourage change. If “a change” is all someone wants, she can cut her hair or switch jobs. That kind of change is easy. The challenge in coaching is to understand what someone really needs when she says she wants life to be different—and then stick with her as she kicks and fights through the change process. Ever known someone who said she wanted more from life… and then resisted doing exactly what it would take to get it? Boy, I do! And so do my coaches.
Coaching is, perhaps, the most transformative profession there is, for both the coach and the client.
Last week I met a lovely woman who works with people using art and intuition as coaching/healing tools. Her message was so beautiful I was tempted to sign up, too. And then I thought, “Wait a minute, you know better! If anyone knows how hard it is to create lasting change, it’s you. Snap out of it!” Everyone loved this woman because she made change look beautiful. Except it’s not. It’s gritty. It takes effort and it takes time.
Coaching for Change
Yet profound change is possible! I came to coaching years ago because my life didn’t feel good. Nothing big was wrong; in fact, I had an ideal existence of the suburban sort. Still, I felt as though something was missing, and I had a suspicion that whatever I didn’t like about my life started with me.
Where therapy would have accepted I had a problem and worked to diagnose it, my coach believes that I’m robust and capable. If I’m struggling, it’s not because I’m unwell; it’s because I’m stuck. And what gets people unstuck is learning new skills or gaining new perspectives. To oversimplify, you could say that therapy thinks more in terms of disease or disability and coaching thinks more in terms of development. So, in coaching, the job isn’t to “get better” the way it is in therapy. It’s to learn and grow.
How Coaching Helps Achieve Goals
I’m grateful that coaching got me “unstuck.” And then it did something more. Much coaching focuses on setting and achieving goals. However, I came to a place—Wright—where the coaching philosophy is different. At Wright, the emphasis is on “human emergence,” based on Wright Graduate University’s mission of fostering the realization of human potential. So, while we view achieving goals as positive, the real endgame is to become more of the person I really can be. That’s a step beyond “changing” and achieving goals. It means I’m shifting my whole perspective on life. It means I’m changing my relationship to myself, to others, and to the world.
How do you do that? That’s what I’m learning as a doctoral student at the Wright Graduate University, studying Transformational Leadership & Coaching. Most significant is realizing that I’m in a process of transformation even as I coach others in their transformation.
Is it challenging? Yes. Time-consuming? No question. Rewarding? Absolutely! This is midwifing the coolest kind of change there is–personal transformation.
As a human emergence coach at Wright, Karen Terry helps people create lives they are proud to lead using a unique, trans-disciplinary approach to fostering human potential based on the research of Dr. Bob and Dr. Judith Wright. Karen is currently conducting original research in depth coaching at Wright Graduate University that will lead to earning her Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in 2015. She is also an award-winning writer, television producer and creative team member, plus the published author of more than 150 articles in magazines, newspapers and corporate journals.
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