What led you to becoming a coach?
My first career was in outdoor education and as a maritime captain, including many years with Outward Bound. Then I went to business school and transitioned to consulting and working for a handful of startups. After a while, I realized I missed the people leader and development work that was a part of my first career, as an Outward Bound instructor. The work that energized me most involved working with people.
I view coaching as an opportunity to do work like I did at Outward Bound, yet within the business realm - helping folks navigate uncertainty and recognize their inherent capacity and strengths, enabling them to get to where they want with more confidence and ease
How have you personally benefitted from working with a coach?
Working with a coach helped me to realize the stories I was telling myself about myself, and to begin to see how many of these narratives were holding me back from the goals I’d identified as important to me. I experienced the same benefits I often witness my clients experiencing when I was asked questions that made me challenge my base assumptions, ideas and thoughts. Many of these false narratives arose by comparing myself to folks around me, many of whom I only knew through their public facing story, and not their internal journey. Many times I realized my belief in my stories was one of the biggest impediments to moving forward. Getting free of them helped me to move forward in ways I didn’t realize would be possible and make progress towards my goals.
"a client said to me, “what we’ve lost is the illusion of certainty.” I was walking when she said it and the truth landed so hard I had to stop and catch a breath."
You work with professionals who are navigating periods of uncertainty, describe what this typically means for your clients.
During the first few months of the pandemic, when it became clear that life had fundamentally changed, a client said to me, “what we’ve lost is the illusion of certainty.” I was walking when she said it and the truth landed so hard I had to stop and catch a breath.
Many of my clients come to me after years on “certain” paths that, consciously or unconsciously, they believed would lead them to happiness, fulfillment, an internal feeling of success, and so forth. And then something shifted their perception - they got to where they wanted and didn’t feel the way they thought they would feel, a big event (birth of a child, death of a loved one, being let go from a beloved company/role that was part of their identity, the pandemic, and so many more); an event that shifted their view of themselves or the world they live within and they looked up and had a feeling of, “I don’t know what to do or how to shift or where to go …yet this doesn’t feel right” or “ … I know what I want yet I’m not sure how to get it/get there … “ or someplace in between those two extremes. The “certain” and often prescribed path slowly or suddenly doesn’t feel familiar, and they’re left with the uncertainty of how to move forward in it.
As a coach, I work with them to tune into what they know, even if not consciously at first (internal guidance), instead of looking outside for what to do next or to what others tell them they should do.
What kinds of results do your clients achieve in working with you?
They know themselves better which gives them the confidence to be themselves and make decisions according to their values, strengths, what they feel, what they know and their own experiences, even when the world (culture, community, family, professional network, all the different opinions giving advice) is telling them to do differently, or be something prescribed. This leads to them making decisions from a more grounded place instead of from a sense of scarcity or from emotion. These are the internal results.
The external results are replying with confidence when asked about what they have the capacity to contribute to an organization or team; transitioning to organizations that are better aligned with who they are and that give space for them to continue to develop and grow; knowing with certainty that it’s time to leave where they are because they have clarity it’s a bad fit yet moving towards something better instead of away from something bad; leading in a manner where they can communicate what matters to them - enabling their team members to be more successful themselves; letting go of comparison and the feeling like they’re behind, not enough, should be different/something else. With this last one - letting go of comparison - the caveat is that (at least in my experience) this never fully away - it’s human. Yet it becomes easier to recognize when they’re caught in these thoughts and to shift more easily.
The external results of this have been transitioning to roles that are a better fit and pay better, bumps in title and compensation because they’re doing more of the work they love and are good at, letting go of what isn’t theirs, and more.
What is one of your favorite client success stories and why does it stand out to you?
One of my clients came to me with both a full time role and with a side business. One of the things she was seeking was the path forward, uncertain if she should/could continue with both, or close down her business or leave her full time role.
In working with her we came upon a tendency I see often - overcommitting by reflexively saying yes to requests. This habit had led to a cycle of being over extended and worn out. She noticed she sometimes took on work she resented and felt trapped by it. Overcommitting herself was also keeping her from spending time with friends and family and engaging in activities that she found fun, restorative and brought her joy.
Coaching work helped her to pause before taking on new commitments. She got clear about what she wanted to say yes to and began to decline opportunities that she did not want to do. This not only led to more time, yet helped her know herself better in all ways. Our work led her to decide to confidently leave her full time job to focus on her business. Last time we caught up, she loved what she was doing and her business was thriving - she had scaled to add a partner and had close to ten folks working full time or on contract basis.
She also gave me one of the biggest compliments I’ve received: she shared that when she needed to make a decision or felt stuck, she would at times ask herself, “what would Fielding ask me right now?” and that would help her to look within and find the answer within herself.
What do you think is a common misperception in working with a coach?
That coaches have the answers, or the “right” answers.
While many great coaches have walked the terrain that their clients are walking through, this helps us be guides - to ask good questions, to help see connections, to be aware of the challenges that may arise, to have ways of moving forward when things feel stuck - yet not experts. Being a guide is like holding a flashlight: we can shine the light on the path for clients to help them find footing for their next step, yet we don’t have maps, we haven’t traveled their particular path. Each person’s journey is totally their own. There is no “right” way, and so no “right” answers.
What is your favorite way to get to know a client and see if you're the right fit for working together?
For me, there’s no better way for a client to sense if I can support them in the way they are seeking or for me to know if I can be of support than to work with someone for an hour long call. I will not be a fit for everyone and that is ok.
What is a common hesitation your clients may have prior to deciding to work with a coach, and how do they move past it to take a leap of faith with coaching?
A common hesitation is not knowing how it will support them, and whether the investment of time and resources will help them achieve their goals and objectives.
The best way to move past it is to experience a coaching conversation and sense it is truly supportive. If it helps to create movement and generates clarity, then they take the leap of faith to sign up for a longer engagement.
"Most folks in this stage know themselves far better than they realize and have far greater deeper strengths and capacities than they may know or can articulate to others."
Why do you enjoy working with mid-career and senior-level professionals?
I enjoy working with mid-career and senior-level professionals because they are at a beautiful inflection point- they have considerable experience to draw upon, professional experience and life experience, and they also have so much time left in their professional journey. Most folks in this stage know themselves far better than they realize and have far greater deeper strengths and capacities than they may know or can articulate to others. Many have been doing what they felt they had to do for a long time. It’s fun to witness them let go of what isn’t theirs, giving space to more confidently deepen into work they enjoy more.
What led you to join the Fink Development Collective?
The opportunity to be a part of a collective of purpose driven coaches who are out to support clients and create change in the way I strive to, and to continue to learn and grow with them, is one of the primary reasons for joining Fink Development Collective. Coaching can be solitary, and it's a gift to join the round table of people that help me continue to raise the bar in what I can offer my clients.
One of our core values at Fink Development is continuous growth. What is one area you're hoping to develop professionally this year? And, one thing that's on the horizon for your business?
Professional Development: Much of my professional development in recent years has been about deepening my skill as a coach, which I’ve done through additional training, practice and coursework. I will continue these studies, yet the professional development area I’m leaning into is writing and sharing more stories and what I’ve learned in my own journey and in conversation with people I admire - blogs, articles, LinkedIN, beyond. It scares me. I’ve learned that when fear shows up, in an area that I really feel drawn to do, that is usually where I find incredible opportunity for growth.
On the horizon: I’ll be launching a group program in the first half of 2023 and I’m incredibly excited about it. I feel that the group setting can be an incredible catalyst for individual development because we see our experiences reflected by and in others. It can be a really powerful way to experience coaching. It also has the power to facilitate a deep sense of connection and community with folks struggling with similar challenges, and can feel more accessible from a cost perspective.
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