Have you ever had a situation where you set a goal for yourself and almost reached it, but suddenly, all the circumstances turned against you? Have you ever felt like the whole world is conspiring against you from reaching your goal?
How do we manage to keep calm and quickly adjust to the unexpected after we prepared and did everything in our power (or so we thought) to predict all the potential risks and obstacles? In this blog, I share my journey of becoming a coach, facing unexpected challenges during the final exam and pivoting on the spot in order to accomplish what had to be accomplished.
HOW I BECAME A COACH
For years, I heard a close friend of mine telling me about her profession as a Coach. For a long time, I couldn't understand what she was talking about, but I chalked it up to a lack of understanding of her working in the IT field. With that said, her stories were always very interesting and informative. At some point, I acquired some meaning of the word "coach", and I began to understand this profession and its benefits. However, I continued to look at my friend as if she were Superwoman. Taking on a huge responsibility of assisting in problem solving and constantly dealing with people’s frustrations seemed like an impossible undertaking for me personally.
As often happens in life though, when it is meant to be, even if you don’t proactively do something, circumstances lead you to where you are meant to end up.
Listening to my friend and getting familiar with the role of coaching went on for years, until a series of events happened in my life that led me in the most bizarre way to studies of...TA-DA!...coaching!
SIDENOTE: When you study to be a coach, it is a general certification. You can be an expert in Agile, Business, Music, Finance, but being a Coach is really an add on.
WHAT IT TOOK
A long year with lots of hours of practice
Learning about myself and other people
Working on emotions and habitual behaviors
Understanding who I am and why I am.
A lot of things were new to me, but some things had been inherent in me for a long time. I felt that I had found myself in the right place. I succinctly entered my new profession. It was obvious that everything I had done before, all my experiences had not been in vain. They all fit perfectly into the work of a coach.
And now that the training was behind me, there was just a little bit left.
I had to take the exam!
Was I ready for it? You bet I was!
Was I nervous? You bet I was!
Where did all this worry come from? After all, I gave it my all, I studied with all my heart. I was nervous because it was very important to me. It wasn’t just a piece of paper to say I was a coach, I wanted to pass this exam and enter the profession of coaching with every bone in my body. Because the anticipation of the exam was worse for me than the actual exam itself, I volunteered to be the first one to take it. “Bring it on!”, - I told myself. “I am ready. I remember all the exercises and the structure of various types of sessions and I have a pretty good idea of which of the practices I will use”.
My exam was a zoom call with my first client who agreed to participate in my exam, my instructor who is supposed to assess me, and all my peers from the coaching cohort. I inhaled, exhaled, and was about to begin when I realized that this sweet young lady who agreed to be my first client was on a loud busy street surrounded by many people.
We got to know each other and I asked her if she could go to a place where she would be alone and how long it would take her to get there. The first shock was that the woman was planning on having the session in a park. Second, her headphones didn’t work. It was clear that everything I would be saying would be broadcasted to the whole park!
She sat down on a bench near the sandbox with children and mothers, and she periodically said goodbye to colleagues, as the office in which she worked was also next to this park, and each of them nodded or wished her a good evening …
What were my options at this point? What would YOU do?
HOW I HANDLED THE UNEXPECTED
My first thought was to offer to move the session to a more convenient time. At the same time, I knew that was not a preferred option for me. First, I was already prepared; I was in the zone; I was ready and really wanted to get it done. Second, the following week's schedule was already tight, and I didn’t want to just postpone indefinitely for “at some point in the future". Third, the very thought of anticipation was unbearable to me. Finally, I knew that a bad experience (and it would be a bad experience for me, even if the responsibility for her decision to come to the park wasn't mine) carried a trail of consequences. There was also a possibility that I would start persuading myself that it was a sign that this whole coaching thing wasn’t for me and I wasn't good enough. I was well aware of those other self-doubts and limiting beliefs that tend to creep up when you think about something for too long.
So I quickly considered my options and asked her if she could find a quieter place, away from the crowds.
“Yes, I can” - she said
“And can you detach yourself from what's going on and tune in to the session?” - I asked with hope that she could
“Yes, I can” - she said firmly
Then I began to doubt how comfortable it would be for a client to go into a trance meditation (one of the techniques we had learned which I could use in the session for the exam) if I decided to do it. And I immediately said to myself that I should not decide for my client, if I thought it was necessary to perform this meditation, I would ask her. Perhaps, she wouldn’t need it, after all, so no reason for me to stress about having to do it in a space that was not ideal.
The client ended up finding a quiet place, and she was actually able to dissociate herself from what was going on around her and immerse herself in her work. I also was able to put my confusion and surprise aside in a distant compartment of my mind and fully give myself to the work.
We analyzed the troubling topic, came up with an action plan, and discussed the potential reasons and what could have caused them. The client left with a great deal of gratitude and I passed the exam!
Passed the exam!
What frightens and stops us at first may turn out to be just an easily solvable inconvenience.
Intention has a crucial role to play in the development of the situation. If it weren't for my firm intention to pass the exam and get my long-awaited certificate to start practicing coaching professionally, giving up the session would have been a lot easier.
Accepting the situation or conditions as they are, and acting on them.
After all, if I got angry and reminded her (even in the most friendly manner), that it was known in advance that the session would be held in private in a quiet place, without strangers, etc., it is unlikely that she and I would have tuned in to each other, and certainly, the trust would have been out of the question. Making someone feel guilty and pointing out that they are wrong, doesn’t help in achieving the desired outcome. Staying calm (as much as I could) and quickly focusing on what we had to work with, allowed me to lead a successful coaching session and pass my exam. The result - a satisfied client and insanely happy me.
The main lesson of all: We build our own happy events! It is all about our perspective and our attitude. I can say without a doubt, that regardless of the client surprising me and having to adjust on the spot, passing that exam on that particular day and overcoming those minor obstacles will forever remain as my happy day!
Photo by Airidas Imbrasas