This past weekend I assisted the leadership team at a CTI coach training course. It was extraordinary to witness the growth of these individuals from my vantage point – that of someone who has gone through the intense process to become a certified coach. They had so many questions about what was coming next for them; should they go directly into certification, should they do CTI’s Leadership course, should they do both, what was certification like?
I found myself initially having an urge to jump in and tell a story about my experience and quickly squashed this desire. Why? In the space of less than a few seconds, thoughts of: “Ooooo… too much information, will the leaders think I’m out of line, will the trainees think I’m crazy, if I share my story of failure will they think less of me as a coach, am I showing too much of myself, am I talking too much, am I taking up too much space, will I get emotional, etc.” When I realized I was in the saboteur trap, I said to myself “Hell, NO. Not this time.” When I know what I have to say is important I get all sorts of visceral messages in my body. My body buzzes, my vision gets super narrowly focused, my fingers and toes start to tingle. I know I must not ignore these messages. What I have to say matters. I matter.
So away I went into my story. I told them my experience of being in supervision….whoa, I feel the sweat building as I type this
Warning: vulnerability may surface…..
I’d had 3 supervisions where I scored pretty well, so I felt great. Then on my 4th supervision, I scored 2/10. TWO! I was crushed. I filled my head with all sorts of lies like: I suck, I’ll never get this, I’m a fraud, I’m bringing no value to my clients, this is so hard, how can I ever face another practice client again, what will my coach think of me. And then I remembered….I had an in-person session with my coach in an hour. Off I trudged, barely holding back my tears as I knocked on her door. Once in, I fell apart. However, she did not give up on me, nor did she allow me to give up or cave in on myself. She made me coach her twice. I could barely breathe, never mind clear my mind enough to formulate any type of powerful question. She was the client AND she ended up mostly having to coach herself! It was humbling. She kept saying I was making it harder that it was, that it was easy! Fine for her to say…she’d been coaching for 15 years. I left her home mad and wanting to give up. All this money and time wasted on something that would never come to be, because I sucked.
The next morning I awoke with terror at the realization that I would be seeing a client that day. For hours, questions swam all around my head: What does it mean that I’m making the session about me? What does it mean to really get curious? How do I get out of my head and get “over there” with my client? And then the phone rang. And my life changed. My client showed up naturally creative, resourceful and whole. In fact she ALWAYS showed up that way….I just didn’t see it because I was in my own way. I saw her beauty. I saw her intense desire for her life. I saw her humanity. I saw HER. Plain and simple. It was easy. The questions flowed. I experienced intense heart connection and longing for my client like never before. I didn’t want the session to end, but it came to beautiful closure as she acknowledged who she is becoming in this process of discovery. It was in that moment that I truly believed that “I am a coach”.
During the telling of my story to the trainees, at times I felt like time was standing still as they listened intently to me, other times there were waves of recognition in the room (“oh ya, I’ve felt that too”), or sighs of “ok, I know what to expect now” and “despite it all, I will be ok”, and “if she can do it, so can I”. And there may have even been some “holy crap…she felt that?” And there was likely fear showing up in some. Through my story it was like I had given them permission to feel it all, expect the waves and know that regardless it was all going to go for them exactly as it is supposed to. At the end, one of the trainees thanked me for showing up so courageously in that moment and sharing my story of pain and overcoming the fear.
It is in these moments that I am reminded why it is so important to not temper ourselves, to tell our stories, and say NO to our saboteurs that would have us be silent. I know I am changed when I let down my guard. I know I have the ability to impact others when I show vulnerability. This world is SO wanting us to stop with the façade and show up REAL.
My coach taught me how to be undaunted in my belief in my clients, but mostly to believe in myself. She modeled beautifully what it means to be fiercely compassionate. And I began to know what it means to be resilient and to grow from the pain of failure. What is failure anyway?
Failure is a necessary stepping stone to building our dreams.
So here’s your homework: Catch yourself making mistakes. It means you’re growing.