As a coach, an important principle that guides my practice is my belief that each client already has his or her own solutions. Everyone has had small moments when they can remember being successful, one week when they worked out regularly, one argument they were able to negotiate peacefully, or one day when they were able to manage their pain and focus on the positive. Or maybe you have already done the research, consulted your doctor or professor about how to succeed. Nonetheless, at first this may sound like a disappointment, as if it were bad news that we have our own answers. That means we have to do the work! Exactly. And that’s why the next step is the hardest step, and why there are coaches.
It is extremely challenging to take our knowledge and integrate it into long-lasting behavior change that works for our personality, lifestyle, and physical or mental capabilities. I coach clients through a variety of topics and situations, given that my expertise is not in the biology of nutrition and weight loss, but rather in the how of identifying values, setting goals, slowly acting more congruently with those values, and identifying from where people draw their motivation, energy and fulfillment.
Integration and consistent progress is the highest hurdle for everyone, even coaches ourselves. My colleagues and I spent hours practicing coaching with each other. We continue to coach one another when we are feeling professionally “stuck” and need some new energy and motivation to move intentionally forward. This is especially hard given that there is never a career direction that is “right.” It completely depends on what suits the person uniquely. Coaches do not give advice for this particular reason. If I were to become a powerful CEO, I guarantee I would be unhappy.
We don’t want to get caught up in what everyone else wants for us, taking solutions and advice from others. We would wind up in a rat-race with other people we would not relate to. A small example of this was when I got caught in my own rat-race. I was rushing to meet someone on my bike. Now in Munich, the bike lanes are incredibly civilized, one must always leave space for someone to pass when they ring their bell, and everyone stops on the red bike-stoplight. I was trying to go fast, and so I passed another biker. At the next light this man looked over and glared at me, staring straight at me for 5 long seconds. I thought, “Who is this guy? Is he mad at me? Am I in Munich anymore?” I stopped at the following red light, and he went right through, and spat a disgusting “HAH!” in my ear as he flew by. I had to stop myself and ask “who am I right now?! I just got myself into biker’s road rage! Really?” I was sending the message that all I cared about was speed and racing against this man. I was riding in the front with all the other commuters and got swept up in their desire for speed, whatever the cost. When I look at who I was in that moment; that is not at all what I care about. When I get space from the road, what is more important to me is community, connection with others, and above all, arriving to my destination alive! But I behaved like someone else.
On a broader level, I have gotten caught up in the desire for the respect and status of having a private practice and a better income. I hear myself talking about a private practice as a goal, and that only then, would I feel true success. But wait, is that what I really want? What I love most about work is having colleagues with whom I can build ideas and think differently about cases.
Consult your own expert more often: “Is that what I really want to be right now?” “Do I really want to put that artificially colored processed piece of something they call food into my body?”