Climbing Over the Wall

Hi!  I’m Amy and I’m a coach.  

I haven’t always been a coach, well, at least officially.  The thing about coaching is a lot of us are coaching all the time – at work, with kids, with aging parents, in teams -- all over the place!

People often ask me what coaching is like – to be coached, to have a coach.  It’s amazing!  It opens doors to new possibilities for how to live on this earth and how to get more of we want.  And it’s hard work. Sometimes you see things about yourself that don’t feel that great to look at.  I want to share a story of how coaching has been BOTH those things for me.

I’ve had a lot of bosses.  I’m 45 and I’ve been working since I was 17 – I don’t even want to count how many bosses that is!  As I progressed in my career, my jobs and responsibilities changed, the company I worked for changed, but one thing remained pretty constant:  I kept getting stuck with rotten bosses – in fact, the worst bosses anywhere, ever.  When a new gig would inevitably reach the point where my boss and I were at a total impasse (always happened), I would become miserable and stop growing and curse my rotten luck.  Fun stuff, huh?

And then I got my dream job (well, the dream job of that era – coaching is my dream job now!). The honeymoon period was lengthy – maybe I’d finally broken the curse of terrible bosses!  And then, BOOM!, I walked right into that same, old wall.

“Nooooooooo!  Not here too!” I wailed as I smacked my head into that wall a few times for good measure.  My boss could feel it too and we had some painful discussions (we had to fix this or I had to go – for both our sakes).  That’s how I ended up with a coach – my last-ditch effort to save the job I loved.

It wasn’t too many hours into the work that my brilliant coach had me seeing that it wasn’t bad luck at all – there was one very tangible common denominator in every bad boss story I had and it was me.

I spent the next several months digging into that idea – what I found was some icky stuff:  I was used to being good at everything and the more I moved up and the more responsibility I had, the more scared I was that I was going to screw something up.  Being scared led to being defensive, hiding and blaming circumstances for all it.  And conveniently, blaming my boss.  I learned to see how my defensiveness, hiding and blaming triggered alarmed responses from not only my boss, but my peers and team as well.  

And I got super clear on some really good stuff too – my core values are love and compassion.  I want to show up on this planet with love and compassion, I want to lead with love and compassion and I want to serve my team with love and compassion.  When I put these two ideas together, I was able to come up with a plan.  My coach and I called it the “fake it til you feel it” plan.  Maybe I couldn’t find the switch for turning off the fear or defensiveness, but I did know what I wanted it to look like once I did find the switch, what it would look like to show up from love and compassion.  And so I faked it.  And gradually, I stopped faking it and starting feeling it.  I got less defensive, less scared because I was spending so much time feeling love and compassion – in touch with me at the center of who I am.  And the ripple effect!  Walking through life being who you want to be, letting go of the crappy fear and defensiveness, has an amazing effect on how people treat you!  Suddenly, I loved my boss.  And I had huge compassion for the job my boss needed to do in the world and a ton of excitement about how I fit into that work.  It didn’t all happen overnight but I did see change right away, and it was amazing!

Coaching is amazing.  

It allowed me to break through to a new way of showing up at work, as a leader and as a teammate.  I knew who I wanted to be, every day.  It was also tough.  I had to sit with some hard truths about how I was feeling and behaving.  My coach was not always my favorite person – she held a mirror up.  She reflected my strengths.  She said bold things.  Together, the work we did changed my life.  It changed the way I was being in the world.  

Coaching catapulted me over the wall.  

I see the wall coming now, I know what’s possible if I get to the other side and I’m getting better at launching myself right over the top of it.  That’s what coaching can be like.

Photo by André Ferreira on Unsplash

Amy Michael