Armed with frustration, anxiety, determination, my notes, hopefully more than half my brain, I selected two different types of personal coaches. The first, is a personal coach an acquaintance recommended as having been particularly helpful in her own search for self improvement. I have been receiving her newsletters for a time and thought – it’s time to check this out. The second was a result of an intensive search of online resources, lists, and directories followed up by personal phone calls in which I assessed each professional that made my short list. She is a career coach; academically, and through her own work experience with a couple of human resources professional designations behind her name.
Before going any further, I thought it might help some readers to know a bit more about my search. 1- you can’t always do it alone. The first most important step was the conclusion that external help could greatly benefit my situation. 2 – coaching is not reserved for “other people only”. Often, we tend to fend for ourselves, and think that because the letters “C.E.O.” are not tagged after our names, we have no right to access these valuable resources. WRONG. 3 – you still need to prepare and organize your thoughts. The second thing to do is to have a shortlist of your problem. Identify your personal “pain”, what is making you unhappy? What do you want to change? What is your current situation? You can’t just shop up and say “ I need help” – help with what ? 4- Ask questions. Prepare a few questions that you want to ask them. And, don’t forget to ask about their rates and if they offer a reduced-rate trial session to get to know their work. Read their websites, free online books if they wrote them, and take note of any credentials of recommendations. Take notes during your phone calls. Shortlist and make your selection. Proceed to a first, trial meeting.
Coach number one : The personal approach
Our first contender is the personal coach coming from a neurolinguistic background. Her strengths appear to be working on a personal level, finding your blockages and helping you work through them to reach your desired goal.
Of course on the day of our appointment I was retained at the office a little longer than desired. I bolted out of there as soon as possible and ran through the subway, grabbed busses and ran down the street to finally reach her office with some delay just over an hour after setting foot in the subway. Out of breath and a little anxious because I just hate arriving anywhere late, I was plunked down on a nice, comfy, eat-you-up sofa and our chat began. After a few minutes of re-visiting what my purpose was she asked me what was stopping me. Well… finding what direction to look in - which is why I am here… Okay.. “Do you have any fears about looking for another position?” Well of course I have fears. Who does not? So – it was decided that we would be working on my fears first. On that note she proceeded to throw me into a guided visualization of sorts that I believed was meant for relaxing the body and mind. First, I was told to imagine two rods moving from my head, through my body, and right down to my feet. And to tell her when the rods arrived at my feet. We then added more rods. Vertical, right down from my head to my feet. With each addition, she asked me how that made me feel. Well – how would you feel with a rod or two , then five jammed through your body from head to toe? Stiff? Straight? Constrained? However, I believed the right answers to be, warm, light, relax, composed. Good. Now, lets add more small rods protruding from these vertical rods. Soon, I felt like a great big prickly ball sitting on a sofa. We then proceed to repeat, as if a mantra a sentence along the lines of “even if I have a lot ( a lot less/about half/ a little, etc..) I accept myself and love myself as I am” with my hand across my body as if in a salute.
By this time, several thoughts did enter my mind. I remembered having survived a time when I had 5$ to do a week’s groceries, and most importantly I thought that I have all the meditation, visualization, relaxation techniques at my disposal through my private spiritual practice. I also thought that I am able to deliver a guided visualization much more successfully. Perhaps I should hang out my shingle and charge 125$ plus tax an hour.
My hour and half up, I declined a second hour, which I had the option to take immediately, and off I went to be cleansed by the rain coming down the city like a great big cold, wet blanket.
Coach number two: The career approach
After Monday came Tuesday and my second appointment of the week. I had higher hopes for this one. Speaking to the coach on the phone, my 6th sense was tingling and I heard her speak the answers I had anticipating hearing at each question I posed. And, bonus, she has more than one location to hold meetings, one being a mere two city blocks from my office. Logistically, anyways, things were already looking up.
Of course, I arrived to this meeting on time, and perhaps even a little early. Our meeting opened with another exchange of who’s, what’s, how’s and why’s we were speaking that day. I presented my case again in a diplomatic, professional, and direct manner. She presented her human resources credentials, and spoke about her talent and skill mapping, personal capacity analysis and evaluation that are eventually translated to actual job titles. If needed, she follows this up with job search methods and interview coaching. We decided that this was acceptable and proceeded.
We continued by performing what I would term the equivalent of a company’s environmental and S.W.O.T. analysis, but at a personal level. During this process, more of my issues with my current position and environment surfaced and soon I wondered why I didn’t think of bringing Kleenex. Luckily, she had a small supply. Essentially, we created a road map from which to work from. Where we are now, what we have, and where can we go.
We have entered the concrete world of human resources and talent mapping.
At this point you might think that coach number two is at the head of the pack, and you would be correct.
A piece of our analysis is missing, however, to go forward. The next step is to complete a detailed analysis of me, putting aside any work experience or desired work outcome. For this, we turn to a proven industry tool : the rainbow profile. Okay, that is not the correct term for the tool, but since it will assign me a primary and secondary colour profile, and the French name does refer to the rainbow, it is a fitting description.
Profiling tools however, do come at a price. The full assessment, including the coach’s time for set-up, evaluation, interpretation, presentation and discussion is not sold for a song. However, as this forms the basis of the rest of the work, it is, I feel, important to complete. I will not be purchasing a new wide-angle lens for my camera just yet.
Yup: I have decided to put my money on coach number two. So then, for future purposes, let’s give her a name, fictitious of course. I will call coach number two “Hope”.
At the end of our meeting, we agreed on a date for our second meeting, and on the fact that I would complete the rainbow evaluation to begin our work.
Patience and perseverance will have to participate in this equation. The professional career coaching process does not provide an instant answer: like a fine wine, it must be cultivated and each step in the process must be completed before moving to the next. I have homework, and thinking, and questions… all eventually leading to a point where the information learned and skills targeted are translated to job titles. Three to six months can be foreseen for such a process.
Luckily for me, I was safely strapped into an airplane seat up in the air somewhere between two major Canadian cities (on my way to a business meeting at my head office, taking notes for this blog) when I calculated approximately what the final tab would be on this coaching experience. I proceeded to scratch “Cuban vacation” off my list of things to do this spring.
But, a different adventure awaits me.
Prologue : Since laying the ground work for this coaching adventure and for moving out of a presently negative environment towards greener pastures, new events gifted my colleagues and I with a new hope for positive change in our ranks, and culture. Now, if only I can survive the current performance evaluation – a herculean task given the players and environment of the past year – I may yet have some hope. After all, I do have some great colleagues and we have, in a way, formed a tight little family. I would be sorry to leave them behind. Take note – this does not put the kibosh on my coaching adventure. While the source of my pain may change, there is no guarantee that the light at the end of that tunnel will burn bright by the time we reach it.
So – let the adventure begin!!
Until next time, be yourself, and be well.