As we commenced the third and final level of the coaching course, I could feel myself operating mostly from humility and peace. I assessed this to be a result of my previous learning around taking care of myself; I was going to be kind to myself.
There was also a small amount of anxiety around how I was going to pull together everything that we had learnt, so that I could become a legitimate coaching offer. I felt as though I had learnt so much, and yet I also felt as though my learning was very siloed. I held the assessment that I could call on all of the various pieces of learning as though they were individuals and not as though they were a team.
My anxiety very quickly turned into wonder and curiosity when I realised that the assignments were designed to address the very thing that I was feeling anxious about. Through the assignments, my mind once again became very busy, pulling everything together and expanding my learning. During this level, however, it wasn’t crazy, overwhelming learning, and it wasn’t learning that was coming from self-judgement. It was learning based in peace and kindness. I was loving it. My mind was hungry, yet in a constructive, fun and peaceful way.
It was only a couple of weeks into this level that I was presented with an opportunity to learn a little more about taking care of myself. I had attended the opening conference for this level of the course, arriving home to a huge panic about ballet exam leotards and a dance eisteddfod that was the following weekend. On top of that, I had work craziness, commitments that I had made to friends and colleagues outside of work, family birthdays, assignments due, and so forth. I survived a couple of commitments that I had made, plus the ballet leotard drama and the dance eisteddfod. And then I melted down on my husband, declaring that my life was just too crazy and I couldn’t keep up with the craziness. He calmly told me it would be ok. I went away and reflected on what would be helpful for me from this point on.
And this is where I received some massive learning about requests.
What occurred to me is that I would say yes to all requests made of me, unless the only option was to say no. For example, if someone requested some of my time on Saturday, then I would say no if my time was already booked and I physically could not meet the request. However, if my time wasn’t booked, I would say yes, regardless of the impact on myself or my family. In the middle of a week that was already filled with family and work commitments, I was still saying yes to requests for my time!
It also occurred to me that I generally didn’t make requests of others. I would suffer in silence until it all got too much and then I would either have a private meltdown or I would explode. Wow.
So, Deanne, what requests can you make right now that would be helpful?
At this point, I drew up a list of requests that I could make to various people. For example, we could make requests to people to assist with some of our family commitments. I could make requests to people around rescheduling some of my commitments. It was funny that, once we did this, things started to fall into place and everything seemed a little easier.
Some final learning that occurred to me was that I was saying yes to people because I genuinely wanted to help. However, I wasn’t considering any other responses to requests other than saying yes or saying no, and there were a number of possibilities:
- No without a reason – No
- No with a reason – I am going to the theatre on Saturday, so will be unable to help you at that time.
- Commit to commit later – I can’t give you a commitment right now because I have not checked the family calendar. Can I get back to you by 5pm today with my response, please?
- Counter offer – I can’t commit to Saturday because I am going to the theatre. Would Sunday work for you?
Once I had reflected on this, I realised that I could have offered different times to some of the people who were requesting my time; none of them were expecting me to sacrifice myself in order to help them and they most likely would have been open to changing dates and times. From here I declared that, in future, I would pause and make a request of myself before responding to requests from others: Deanne, what would serve you in responding to this request right now? If saying yes would serve me, then I would say yes. However if another response, such as making a counter offer, would serve me then I would do that.
This was incredibly freeing and enabled me to have some conversations that had been missing for some time. It was interesting that I accepted this learning as an extension of my previous learning around taking care of myself, and approached it with peace and wonder, rather than self-judgement.
As I continued through the course, I found the learning to be amazing. So much was coming together for me, and I was having a great time. I think that my assignments were mostly on time. When they weren’t on time, I simply accepted that it was what it was, whilst maintaining the boundary that I would be completing all course work prior to the course end date.
It was interesting that, as the course end drew near, I started to appreciate the magnitude and significance of my self-doubt journey. I realised that I had been questioning whether I would be able to pull everything together in order to present myself as a coaching offer and yet, for a number of years, I had been pulling everything together to create a more resourceful version of me. In effect, I was my first coachee and I hadn’t even realised!
When we reached the end of the course, we were asked what learning we had received from our experience of the course. This is what I came up with:
- Don’t be so hard on myself – how would I treat a coachee or a staff member? Do that.
- Holding others as legitimate is incredibly powerful, especially when combining that with holding myself as legitimate.
- Being a learner does not mean being incompetent; in my assessment it means the opposite; being a learner takes courage and opens up amazing possibilities.
- Learning is powerful and amazing. Experiencing learning does not mean experiencing failure.
- Setting boundaries can help us to hold ourselves as legitimate.
- I AM good enough!
- Anything really is possible. If I ever find myself thinking otherwise, then ask myself what about my way of being at that time is limiting possibility.
- I DO have something to offer, whether that is as a person, as a leader, or as an ontological practitioner. Accept that and use it.
- Make requests; I don’t have to do it alone.
- Making requests is a sign of strength; not weakness.
- We are all doing what we can from our way of being at the time. We only have access to whatever our structure is making available to us.
- The moods that we operate from really do make a difference to how we engage in and experience life.
- There are people in my life who genuinely want to help. Consider how their offers might be useful; don’t automatically discount them for fear of “putting them out” or “wasting their time”.
- “For the sake of what…” is an amazing question that can provide clarity and open up possibilities. It is also helpful for ensuring that I operate with authenticity.
- The moods that others are experiencing are valid, and it is helpful to try to understand the moods of others when interacting with them.
- The body is amazing and can tell us so much about how we are in our way of being.
- I am me, and that is ok.
I recall that, when I was much younger, my parents used to say “You can do anything that you put your mind to”. I think that I always thought they were fulfilling their role as parents and that they didn’t really mean that I could do everything that I put my mind to. However, as I read through the above list, I was reminded of their encouraging words, and I started to think that perhaps they had been on to something. Since gaining an understanding of how I was being in different situations, I had gained access to doing things that I had once thought would be impossible for me to achieve. This was amazing. I read through that list feeling empowered and accomplished; simultaneously proud and humble.
And so I arrived at the end of the 18-month coaching course, holding two self-assessments that I once thought would never be possible:
- I am a coach.
- I am enough.
I hold an assessment that the way in which we use requests – both in making them and responding to them – can underpin a lot of what we do and don’t do. As a result of his assessment, one of the first actions that I now take when I am in a situation where I feel as though I am struggling is to ask myself what requests I can make in that moment to help me move forward. Sometimes, I identify a request and then feel totally at peace with not even making it; just knowing that there is a request that I can make if I want to is enough to help me shift how I am being. Other times, I find myself making the request as soon as possible, such as recently when I found myself making a request to a friend to be a sounding board for some of the ideas that I have around my coaching business.
I now tend to sit in the question of “What requests can be made right now to turn this around?” I ask this question not only of myself, but also of colleagues, friends, coachees, my children, and others who may be unwittingly caught in a cycle of complaining or worrying about a situation and not taking action.
The second part of requests is how we respond to requests that are made of us. Understanding that there are more ways to respond to a request rather than simply saying yes or no was quite liberating for me. It is interesting that, in workshops where I have presented requests and commitments, others also seem to have been both surprised and empowered when they have discovered that there is an array of responses that may be useful. The power of choice is quite amazing!
Understanding that we have the answers within us is, I think, incredibly freeing. For me, this shifted me almost immediately from a point of fear and anxiety around my abilities to a point of curiosity and wonder. I went from “I can’t do this” to “I wonder what lies within me that would support me in doing this”, and it was a wonderful feeling.
Points to Ponder…
Think of a situation that may not be working quite as you would like it to.
- What requests can you make right now that would help you?
- What responses have you been providing to requests made of you?
- What responses would be useful?
- What would you like to do differently?
- What changes to how you are being in your language, moods and body would help you to use what is within you to make more possibilities available to you?
Who am I?
I am a leadership and life coach, available for coaching and facilitation services. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.