I graduated from the Coaches Training Institute in 2010, got a master’s in psych in 2013, but didn’t commit to coaching until the end of 2015. In the interim, I had nine jobs—from SAT tutor to sales person at a piercing shop, to starting a non-profit, to professional poker player and sports bettor.
I told myself that while I liked human behavior and transformation, I didn’t like coaching that much. In reality, I was drifting, but I wouldn’t admit it. I had a litany of logical reasons why every seemingly valid possibility for my career was wrong.
For the time being, I would support Lee and Britta to spread the COR work that I loved so much that had allowed me to have the best relationship I could imagine with my wife, Liz.
Then in September of 2015, Liz got pregnant so I had nine months to get my career on track. The fact that I was going to be a father gave me a new sense of responsibility and priorities. Finding the perfect path wasn’t a luxury I had anymore. I needed to do something that was going to contribute enough resources to our family, and that was the bottom line.
“Well, if I have to choose something to commit my time to,” I thought, “coaching is the obvious choice. I make good money doing it, I’m good at it, it gives me freedom, and even if I don’t love it every moment, I like it far better than any of my other options.”
I revamped my website, wrote new copy, and started promoting myself and slowly growing my business, while Liz was slowly growing our baby.
At first, I felt inspired and enjoyed coaching a lot more. It turned out that I could build a foundation of work fairly easily. I didn’t blow up over night, but there were many people who came looking for my help, and I was getting referrals and clearly my business was growing.
Three months later, I had the worst session of my career. I met with a couple who were furious with each other, and I couldn’t stop them from yelling.
Afterward, I felt terrible. I consulted with some mentors about it and was assured that this happens to all of us at least once in the helping professions, but I couldn’t shake the downward spiral. I hated coaching. I wasn’t cut out for this. I suck. I should just give up. See, I don’t even like coaching anyway.
This feeling carried into the middle of the next day when Liz sent me to get some groceries. During my walk I found myself down this same train of thought about how I needed to quit coaching. Then, the word “contraction” popped into my head. I thought about one of COR’s favorite ideas, how life comes in a series openings and contractions, and a contraction doesn’t mean we have to change course completely. I thought about how I was inspired by coaching just a short time ago. I knew my pattern: get inspired, coach for a bit, feel challenged, quit, come back and repeat.
I know from being married that when we stick with conflict and move through, greater love is available on the other side. But with coaching, I had quit every time I’d been in turmoil, so I actually didn’t know what was possible for me if I stuck through a contraction. Yet, now, I was forced to grow up, and I couldn’t quit just because it was hard. I had to stay committed because I had to do my part to support myself and my family.
On the other side of that contraction was more inspiration, more value for my clients, more reward for me. Coaching became easier. I became more skilled. I enjoyed my time more and could help more people. It was all a greater win. The next time that voice of doubt and wanting to quit came along, it was easier to feel my fear and move through it.
Now, two years later, my practice is still growing and I continue to feel more rewarded. I’m also looping in new projects, like a book I published about relationship conflict called The Honesty Practice. I can choose the next steps of my path, and I’m not paralyzed by thinking so big. From here I know if it’s nonsense fear that’s holding me back or if I have real concerns.
Being child-like is being in a loop. We get stuck by the belief that we’ll never get what we really want or that we should always get exactly what we want.
Growing up is committing to something even in knowing that it’s not perfect, because nothing is. It’s both not settling for crumbs and not living in a fairy tale. It’s engaging fully in the path of our life journey, instead of judging things from a distance and keeping ourselves safe with justifiable excuses.
Thankfully, my desire to become a dad forced me to grow up and commit to my work and break out of my loop one by taking small steps instead of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of commitment, but I know it’s not that easy to do when we don’t have to. It takes humility and honest inquiry.
So I ask you, where are you playing it safe? Where are you running away when it gets hard? Where are you settling for crumbs? Where are you justifying non-commitment because of a child-like fantasy of perfection? We’d love to hear your comments, questions or insights here on our FB page!
You’re not alone. I just got about 20 seconds away from quitting and applying for a doctorate simply to justify that I’m smart enough to help people.
Here’s to growing up out of the loop,