WHY I BECAME A COACH or WHAT MOTIVATES A MOTIVATOR?
`Life Coaches`, `Lifestyle Gurus`. Almost every time you open a newsaper, glossy magazine or watch a reality TV show this phrase always seems to come up, but what are life coaches and what motivates them to motivate us? As a professional I am frequently asked why did I decide to become a Coach and what prompted me to specialise in working with clients with impaired vision?
Perhaps three years ago, or thereabout, I realised that through my working life to date there was a thread, a link of working with people, from retail management and running my own customer based business, advanced driving tuition, recruitment and training positions with National Companies to property sales. All of these situations involved meeting and working with a wide range of individuals, which I enjoy. What I also realised however was that within these various roles the element that I found most satisfaction from was training, being involved in the development of an individual from a new recruit to a point where they are contributing to the success of their company. As an added bonus I also noticed, during follow up sessions, that people I had worked with had become more confident as they had acquired new skills within their company.
Some years earlier I had suddenly, and without warning, become partially sighted. My wife and I have always been positive people and, over the next couple of years we gradually overcame most of the challenges and restrictions that this new situation presented. This was also an interesting period of exploring my inner resources, deciding who I was in my changed world and what I was going to make of it. It was during the reflective period that I first heard about Life Coaches and felt as if a light had been turned on. This could be the ideal culmination of my working life as it involved working with people but on a more individual, personal level. After qualifying as a coach I practiced generally for a while before deciding to specialise in working with newly partially sighted or blind individuals. Having observed the effects of this potentially traumatic event myself it seemed logical to combine this experience and my earlier working life with my coaching skills.
What I have had first hand experience of, and have certainly noticed in other visually impaired people is a `stillness` or inner calm which is absent from the majority of the fully sighted population. If all of the faculties are available then they are generally taken for granted and, in most cases are underused. If you don’t hear a car pass by because you are talking to someone you will still realise its existence because you will see it. Reduce or remove a faculty however and you learn to compensate for the loss by tuning the other senses more effectively. I think it was the author Conan Doyle who had Sherlock Holmes say something to the effect that, ”People look, but they do not see.” You only realise how true this is when you can no longer see. A similar phrase could be “we hear but do not listen” which is particularly relevant in life coaching and vital when working with visual loss. A coach needs to develop what many people would describe as intuition but what in reality is a deeper understanding of what the client is feeling, or what may lie behind the sentiments expressed even if they themselves cannot articulate it immediately, to `not see the wood for the trees`.
Life coaches offer a clearing station for stifling processes, a sounding board for ideas and ambitions and unqualified support during change (if the client decides that change is required). Life in general, the workplace or even friends and relatives frequently encourage us to conform or to `fit in`, this can dull our sense of who we are and what we could possibly achieve, after all they often have their own agenda and views about what they think you are capable of whereas a coach does not. Life coaches can improve happiness in the office and at home.
This `intuition` is arrived at by the effective listening of life coaches, by not overlaying the coach’s own thoughts or emotions onto the client`s and must be done without putting words into the client’s mouth. Understanding such as this develops over a period with the client and there is a great deal of satisfaction, as life coaches, in watching people grow as individuals and realise that they can change their lives if they wish to do so.
It has been my experience that loss of sight, partial or otherwise, engenders intense emotions probably not previously felt, or at least not to the same degree. These emotions can range from self-pity to envy of fully sighted people (or `viewers` as I call them) and from great pent up anger at the feelings of being useless to a wonderful spirit of determination to overcome the situation. Through all of these emotions however seems to be differing levels of fear, depending upon which emotion is being experienced. Fear is often considered to be negative but can also be positive. I have become, like many life coaches, an advocate of fear as a positive emotion to generate movement away from a limiting belief or situation as discussed in Susan Jeffers book `Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway`.
Hearing what clients are saying, or perhaps not saying, as opposed to just listening to the voice will reveal what is really being felt and therefore holding the client back. Concise questioning will encourage the client to recognise the fears for themselves and act accordingly. Loss of vision, after a period of adjustment, often means that we realise that the car is there, to use my earlier example, before the `viewers` do. With this example in mind people with sight loss will often be more effective than `viewers` in positions where listening is essential because there are no visual distractions on the other side of the office or out of the window. There is a rich resource being lost to employers because of either a lack of imagination or the perceived difficulties caused by the presence of someone who cannot see in an office environment.
As a group there are probably more blind or visually impaired people in the UK than other `disabled` (a phrase that I dislike as it is limiting in the mind of the user and has become patronising due to overuse) sections of society. As a group we are also open to discrimination or are challenged in many ways that viewers are not. Low lighting in hotels or the workplace, street furniture, advertising boards and vehicles carelessly parked on pavements are but a few examples. This discrimination can be deliberate, unconscious or simply caused by lack of thought.
In an attempt to highlight the challenges faced by loss of sight I am researching a book about the position of visually impaired people in today’s society. If you are blind or partially sighted, or know someone who is and are willing for your comments to be quoted I would love to hear from you. I’m keen to discuss the following areas:
To preserve anonymity any replies that are directly quoted will be abbreviated e.g. DS from Kent. If you wish to contribute and someone is able to type for you then please forward replies by e-mail marked `Lawrence Nelson book research` to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am investigating alternative ways to make contact for those unable to write or type. It will be assumed that any item submitted is available for publishing without recompense or any restriction. When the book is published the proceeds will be used to offer subsidised coaching to newly blind or visually-impaired clients. Thank you in advance for any contributions.
If you live outside of the UK and are reading this or hear about the coaching solution, I would still be interested in your views as the challenges that we face are universal.
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