Coaching relationships have an arc. At their conclusion, before saying farewell, typically the client and coach talk about the ways their alliance worked and where it fell short.
It’s radical. It’s a coming together to move apart and, if done with care, each person leaves richer, wiser, and with great appreciation for what they accomplished in the partnership.
How often in life do we consciously, intentionally design the end of a relationship? What’s more, when do we do so by identifying and celebrating the relationship’s achievements and taking responsibility for the ways in which we disappointed ourselves and the other person?
One of the prerequisites of CTI’s coaching certification program is to receive coaching throughout the process with a CTI-certified coach of one’s own. I’d been working for several months with a coach who was a couple of years further along than I was on this journey. I decided to up the ante and hire someone who would demonstrate masterful coaching.
My future coach had co-led a three-day-long CTI course I’d taken. She had impressed me with her deft intelligence and willingness to be open and genuine. Three months later, I followed my intuition and asked her to coach and mentor me during my certification process.
I grew through this relationship in unexpected ways. My edges softened. I became more forgiving and compassionate toward myself and other people. Because my coach saw what I am capable of, I reached deeper and pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. I took on coaching 75 people for free to develop my coaching chops, investigated my relationship to competition (with my tennis partners), and delved into how I handle the almighty dollar, among many other things. I did my best to play big.
Really, that’s one of coaching’s sweet spots: A coach sees your capacity to do more than what you think is possible – especially and even when the siren songs of your inner critics grow loud. It’s no coincidence that being seen as your best self can spur you on to do more than you thought possible.
My coach walked a fine line: She made me feel thoroughly seen and understood and championed me in such a way that I learned to better trust my intuition and, by extension, myself.
That was new. As a longtime therapy client, I’d too frequently ceded my power to the mighty therapist. While I gained lots of insights about myself over the course of many therapeutic relationships, I never changed as a result.
My coach and I spent our final session reviewing what I’d accomplished in our 18-month relationship. I talked about what I’d hoped to do but hadn’t (by the way, hope doesn’t hold a candle to commitment). My coach appreciated me for being “…open, honesty, funny, and raw. When we talked, you were going to bring it,” she said. My doing so made her feel “trustworthy.”
She helped me learn when to “lean in” – or turn to her for support – and when to look to my own resources. I was open, too, to hearing hard truths. After three decades of living in the Bay Area, I still write these words a tad self-consciously: This was a transformative, incredibly empowering relationship.
But now it was time to end. I had earned my coaching certification and I knew that I needed a business coach to help me build a solid foundation as a solo entrepreneur.
Although it’s been nearly three months since my first coach and I wrapped things up, I continue to recall how she called forth the greatness within me – and now I can access it on my own. That’s been the lovely surprise here. Coaching is an investment in yourself and, like any good investment, you’ll draw interest from it for many years to come.
I made the “timeline” picture above as a way to review some highlights from my 18 months working with my coach.