Early in my coaching career, I learned an unexpected lesson. Having been a social science researcher, I had studied various aspects of career-family conflict. I believed that leveraging my expertise would help me succeed as a coach.
Two years into coaching, however, I sent out a newsletter article called “expectations and the holidays.” In it, I happened to mention an embarrassing bad morning moment. I had been so frustrated with my kids for dragging their feet when I was trying to get everyone out the door that I threw down my tennis racket and shoes, scared my younger daughter and made her cry.
The reaction to that admission was overwhelming. Before then, few people had ever responded to what I wrote each month. The intent of the article was about how we raise our expectations during the holidays. But, those who wrote me thanked me for revealing that I too yelled at my kids.
I learned that trying to be the one who knows all the answers (i.e. perfect) is akin to putting on a bullet-proof shield. You may feel it protects you but in reality, it’s awkward and makes you less approachable.
On the other hand, when we show the cracks in our armor, we become more relatable and can connect with others. Because we are all human, imperfections and mistakes are what we all have in common. When we share these, we learn from one another and can feel lighter.
When I coach, I am not an advisor, teacher or expert. My client and I are equals. She is the expert of her life. She knows her work situation, her family circumstances, and her own personal preferences better than no one. During coaching sessions, the focus is my client’s concerns. I ask a lot of questions and make suggestions based on what worked for other clients.
I usually don’t get to talk about myself. Instead, I do that in my writing. When I write, I process my life often with what I’ve learned through my work with clients.
Last year, when I went through a very difficult time, writing helped me to heal. I had been practicing by writing this newsletter for over 10 years. I knew from you, my readers, it is ok to be vulnerable.
Since 2015, I had a personal goal–to get something published by the New York Times. I finally accomplished that goal last week:
Thank you for allowing me take off my armor here and remaining connected to me.