Deathly Hallows Quest Successful; Mowing Accomplished; On with My Mission!

July 27, 2007

I stood in line for about 20 minutes at a grocery store to get the new Harry Potter book last Friday midnight, and people were on their cell phones with friends in lines at Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart hearing about much longer waits. It only set my mowing back one day—I was done by 10:30 pm on Saturday, slept late on Sunday, and got back on track mowing. Distractions resolved (and horcruxes revealed), I focus again on my new business.

I’ve discovered something important during coaching homework assignments with a couple of classmates. For the lasts three weeks, our class has specifically been asked to focus our practice sessions with classmates on our progress at setting up a coaching practice.

I was working with Dee, a classmate, when I realized that I wanted to pick one thing, individual coaching, from my many ideas for a possible business and focus on it. However, my next session with Dee I realized I was resisting and starting to feel “trapped” by the idea of having a set number of coaching clients and coaching sessions each week. Dee helped me understand that I want a more open structure so I can give clients more time when they need it and less when that’s enough, without parsing the minutes. Her coaching prompted me to think in terms of how much time I wanted to set aside for a coaching practice, and how much of that time would be for things like a group call for community support, time for additional brief follow-up calls and e-mail, and managing an online forum.

So I thought I was making some headway when I started talking with Sarah. The assignment for her as my coach was to help move me forward in setting short-term goals. I wound up completely lost again.

I keep returning to a different kind of vision for the service I want to provide. It’s not a straightforward coaching practice, where someone can buy a certain amount of my time for a set fee (4 sessions a month for 30 minutes each). It’s a broader view that provides information and comfortably paced conversation (maybe virtually, such as through e-mail and forums) for people who are starting to look at ways to bring personal growth and meaningful community into their own lives. It’s a view that includes providing information through books or training sessions. It’s a view that includes individual and group coaching for people who are ready to commit some time and effort to planning and implementing changes. And it’s a view of an ongoing community for people who have been through some targeted changes but still want company and connection as they continue to grow and learn things at a slower pace.

Here’s where it gets pretty silly, and humbling to admit. I set a goal to build my individual coaching practice and then felt like that would trap me—because it seemed like I would be abandoning all my other plans. Pretty goofy, isn’t it? But that’s the way reactions tend to be when they’re preconscious, or unconscious. They aren’t logical. They just point to our deeper values in a protective way.

Talking with Sarah, I realized two things: 1) I don’t have to choose one thing to commit to right now, to the exclusion of others, so I can give time and energy to adding coaching clients without “forsaking” my other plans; and 2) focusing on one thing felt like leaving behind the other things, like I was choosing “either/or.” It wasn’t rational and it wasn’t correct, but it was what my unconscious mind was thinking. And that was holding me back from committing to it.

As long as I remember to give some time each week to considering and planning those other goals, I feel free to focus time and energy on adding coaching clients. I’ve also realized that I’ll still have the freedom to plan my time, even if I have a few coaching clients. If I discover something about the idea of teaching or building a support community that grabs my attention and calls for my time, I can transition more time to it by not adding new coaching clients. As a client reaches his or her goals and moves on, I can allot that time to developing the other ideas. I can keep adding time to working on the other goals instead of adding new coaching clients for as long as I need to, eventually focusing all my time if I decide to. And I can add more coaching clients again after I develop those other ideas.

Thank you, Dee, for helping me realize I don’t have to format my practice in a traditional way. Dee told me, “Ironically, if you want to get out of the box, just build your own. And paint it however you want to.” She helped me embrace a vision that will serve more people at different levels of need.

And thank you, Sarah, for helping me see that my resistance to a traditionally formatted coaching practice comes from my sense that I don’t want my service to be narrowly defined and time-limited. I want ongoing and recurring interactions with people at different stages of change. I want to be able to follow them through focused episodes of bigger change, and also through the slow, deliberative, thoughtful transformations of spirit that occur when dynamic communities of people welcome and nurture each other.

May You Know the Joys of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey

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