I've been fortunate enough to have over 200 meaningful conversations with people from all walks of life. I feel so lucky that part of my job is to listen to people's stories and to spend some time trying to see the world through their eyes.
Every conversation so far has been different. Everyone is memorable. They’ve been with people with different ethnicities, ages, genders. Different careers, values, and goals. Different interests, social groups, family structures. Yet through all the difference, I’ve come to truly appreciate how in many ways we really all are very much the same.
I really wish I could have my clients sit on my side of the sofa (or screen) and see what I see. It turns out that humans, well…human. No matter who they are.
Here is what I want you you all to know.
It’s ok to talk “too much”
So many of my coaching conversations start with the other person speaking about what’s going on for them. As a coach, I’m here to listen.
At the 5-7 minute mark if I haven’t asked a question or there hasn’t been a pause, the other person will say “sorry for speaking”. Yet this is the very thing we all need to do (plus it helps me be a better coach when you show me how you’re framing things).
I know it can feel alien to have the spotlight on you and just share without someone trying to get their own points across. Your thoughts and feels can be voiced. There’s space for them.
It can even help if you “just ramble on”
We all feel we have to make sense. We have to “add value”. Sometimes just saying words out loud is enough for them to be of value. You doesn’t need to “make sense" to me (though as a side note, I don’t think anyone has ever not made sense when they’ve shared with me). It’s ok for it to be rambling. The journey of self-discovery and personal development is messy and isn't nice and linear. Even ChatGPT hasn't nailed making complete sense yet so there's no reason for me to think you will. Sometimes we have to say all the words out loud to know which ones we want to keep.
I have skills to help you view the same situation in a variety of ways but there isn’t a right answer.
I can’t tell you what is best for you. If you ask for me, I might share how I have done something in my own life and I can share the thoughts and feelings that I experience as we speak.
What I won’t do is tell you that you should choose a pay rise over a career change. I won’t tell you how to feel or think either. There are choices and I can broaden the ones you think you have available. I won't choose for you.
It’s not always possible to think your way out of a feeling, sometimes it’s easier to just feel it.
I have seen people time and time again “explain” the reason they’re feeling something. I’m especially guilty of adding a story to a specific feeling or emotion. I mean, I’m a coach, we can’t help it. BUT…sometimes there just needs to be a space to feel.
I’m not a therapist but negative emotions are ok to experience.
You’re right I’m not a therapist (yet) but that doesn’t mean that you can’t cry or get frustrated or feel confused. Some clients are very comfortable feeling their feelings in front of me, others seem to believe feelings and how they affect them in the world can only show-up in a designated “therapists” room. Emotions and not having it all together is part of being human.
You're worth as a human and what you "achieve" are two different things
We’re all sponges for the world around us. At some point in our life our brains (even if we try really hard to avoid it) will have confused our sense of worth with a specific level of output or production. Brains love to build patterns and sometimes they very much confuse cause and correlation. You’re worth more than your career or how much money you earn but I won’t judge you for thinking that might be the case. Even our most seemingly “irrational” insecurities or beliefs about our worth have some sort of internal logic to them. Yours no more or less than the next person.
Everyone I’ve met forgets they’ll grow through an experience. Everyone.
I’ve never had a session where a client hasn't drawn a conclusion about their chances of future success based only on what they know now. Every brain I’ve ever interacted with forgets at least once during a conversation that it’s owner might grow and learn more through a situation than it currently knows now.
Brains, when their owners feel insecure, nearly always forget their capacity to learn and adapt. It totally forgets you’re hardwired for survival and will learn and grow through your experience.
You’re not that weird.
You might feel like a loser for speaking with me or feel silly for crying but it's a pretty regular occurrence for me. I’m yet to see anything in all the hundreds of hours I’ve spent coaching that I think is actually bizarre. (p.s. I’m sat typing this eating a pot of guacamole with a teaspoon…arguably that’s bizarre).
“I bet you think I’m…” – actually I probably don’t.
I can tell you now before you even finish that phrase that I probably don’t. Having lived and travelled all over the world and having done some of my own inner work (though I’m far from the finished article), I have learnt to not judge people or see them as one thing. I don’t think binary labels or encouraging fixed identities helps anything.
Often when I ask clients what they think my opinion of themis and when they choose to share vulnerably and honestly, the thing they think I think couldn’t be further from my mind. Often, it’s the exact opposite.
No one has it together.
I have so much respect for you having the courage to work on yourself – not everyone does. At the same time, it’s ok to not be perfect. It’s ok to not get it right, to learn, to mess-up, to fail and then to do that again. I’ve never met the “perfect” coaching client – though perhaps that would be someone who had it even less together than you do? I don’t know.
What I do know is it’s ok that you’re not perfect all the time, though I really love it when you have excellent Wifi - it you can try and get that as perfect as possible for our online sessions!
You’re more brilliant, you have more skills and you have more qualities than you realise.
This is genuinely the one thing I wish I could implant into every single person I speak to about coaching. I see your potential. I see what you can add. And sometime I wish you were sitting in my position to see all the wonderful things that I could see. When you’re in the midst of a challenge, it hard to step back and see all the others times you’ve succeeded or dazzled. Or just really been excellent but I do see it and I’ll do my best to communicate that with you too.
So if you’re thinking about coaching, or if you are with a coach, take heart as you’re doing ok and you really are quite brilliant (and don’t worry about speaking too much).