Their Words, My Gratitude

Professionally speaking, there is no better feeling than getting positive feedback. Not saying that money in the bank is not super rewarding, however knowing that you delivered and that your work had a positive impact on the people you aimed to help is like protein for the soul.

If coaching is about helping people, well… they need to feel helped. In this co-creative relationship between coach/client, the commitment, the flow and a good energy exchange are the most significant aspects of a successful coaching effort. If I helped, it is because my coachee was really present and open to the experience. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have delivered, and no shift would have occurred.

Testimonials and word of mouth help immensely in building a reputable business. Therefore I am so grateful to the coachees that have been giving me honest feedback and a chance to practice, shape and grow my coaching.

Thank you, my coachees! I will keep working hard to help you in the best way that I can. And I couldn’t delivery if it weren’t for your coachability.

The Bestie Selfie

Self-care, or lack thereof, has been a common topic in my coaching sessions.

Frequent but not limited to women, the idea of tending to our own needs seems to be associated to a mix of guilt and shame, as if we were not meant to be included as recipients of our own time and attention.

I see helping each other and giving your time and heart to others as the major reason for our co-existence in this world. It evokes growth and happiness. There is no question that affections should be spread thick. Loving is the best invention – way before sliced bread jumping hot from a toaster and ready to be topped with melting butter.

Why can’t self-love be included? There is nothing wrong with being your self bestie.

I mean, I for one have always put my kid first. Family is the top priority for me. Work is up there too. My problem is the organizational glitches that result in the common statement:

“I have no me time.”

Is that because you’re not at the top of your to do list? How about creating a “to be list”? Maybe self-care is not even on the list at all. Perhaps your meditation, your bubble bath, your exercising, your skin care mask, your reading in peace with a warm cup of cocoa or a lemonade on the rocks, your watercolor painting or playing the piano rank number 15, way below rearranging your client mailing list, cleaning up your medicine cabinet, scrolling your feed to find that funny meme to forward to a friend you haven’t seen in 10 years on international friendship day, or finding a new mousse recipe because the last one wasn’t a big hit.

One common consequence I see with coachees lacking self-care is some level of stress in their relationship with the people around them. The need grows if not fed, and you may expect others to fill it for you. You make dinner after a long day at work and get upset if the Chicken alla Florentina doesn’t get a 5 star review when compared to the one you ate at a restaurant in Florence. Or even a smile. You blame others for not appreciating you and your efforts. And sometimes they see through you indeed – so used to your devotion that you become a bit invisible. And that hurts so much, resentment happens, and all sorts of valid feelings deserve attention. Arguments or isolation may happen. Obviously, you cannot control other people’s actions, but sometimes it’s not all about them. Your expectations may become demanding too. They see someone giving not out of pleasure, but charging high for the “selfless” actions.

Who is not appreciating you in the first place? Is the person in the mirror a friend? And what message does that send to others? Up to a degree, of course, don’t we teach people how to treat us? Is it really all 100% about them, or maybe the void got too big and our need for approval became too outsourced?

Of course, self-care has a lot to do with what makes you happy, but it’s beyond that. All the things I just mentioned can make us happy. In different degrees, your family appreciation at dinner makes you happy, seeing your pantry organized can make you happy. Heck, my pretty notepad full of daisies and lemon slices makes me happy. Both floral and fruity?

However, what I would like to emphasize when I mention self-care is the component of things that not only make you happy, but where you get to take center stage. Things that both soothe and energize you. Those things that make you better equipped to care for everyone and everything else around you. They get the best version of you and you are in a better place to ask for what you need from them.

And that makes self-care a necessity, a service to those you love. Including yourself.

Check my meetup for the small group coaching event “How is Your Life Balance?”, or schedule an individual sample session for us to talk more about it, one-on-one.

A Take on Mistakes

The other day I was coaching someone who was clearly overwhelmed. She mentioned being afraid and I asked her if she could describe that fear. She said, “I fear making mistakes. I have to be perfect.”

I carried that sentence after the session and thought about not only the huge weight she was carrying, but also other people I knew (myself included) who have displayed that same pressure to perfectionism at times.

For the sake of clarity, I will use the word “mistake” simply in the sense of not achieving a specific desired outcome. I believe that everything we live and do is a meaningful part of our personal evolution journey.

Surely (no, not calling you Shirley – if you’re over 50, you’ll probably get the intended pun to bring a smile to the read), it’s hard to find someone saying “Yay! I love making mistakes, they are my favorite!”, but the utopian notion that we cannot and won’t make mistakes if we work hard to exhaustion is so unfair.

The coachee also mentioned she valued justice. How about self-justice? Was she fair to herself by setting up such an impossible demand? Perfection is an idealistic noun, while perfecting can be a hands-on, fun verb.

“Making a mistake once is human. But if I keep repeating it, shame on me.”

“Shame”, what a word. I have been there many times, in the “shame” mindset. It still creeps up momentarily sometimes, but now I am aware and not beg, but state to differ. Sometimes, life happens and the ride is rough. Or we can get frozen, stuck, or not have the necessary energy or awareness to get out of the hamster wheel. To break the pattern, we might need some time – and that’s ok.

Coaching, for instance, requires the person to be really ready to take action towards their goals. Even if they are not sure of which action yet, the will to change is a must. If it’s not the right time to invest in growth, it doesn’t mean that it will never happen. You will know when/if the time is right.

Who gets to decide that one second chance is all we get?

Resilience matters more than numbers to me. I personally believe that there isn’t a magic number or a rule that determines how many times you are allowed to “fail” before you give up on yourself. Every person has a story, a learning curve and so much they can do at a specific point in time. Of course, “mistake” is a broad word and its ramifications are a separate discussion – especially if they are consequential in a way that hurts others. I am focusing here in personal choices or missed targets that usually deal more with the person themselves.

How many marriages can you have? Of course, one “happily ever after” is always the goal, at least for most people. I don’t think many enter a marriage keeping the receipt for a possible return. It is a beautiful, deep, lifelong in premise legal commitment between two people – otherwise why not just be happy together without the traditional walk down the aisle? But what if it doesn’t happen that way for a truly deal-breaking reason? And then again? Divorce is a difficult process, and I believe all viable attempts should be made to prevent it, but if a marriage becomes impossible to continue, should there be a moral one-and-done-two-tops cap on pursuing happiness?

How many career shifts can you make before being labeled as a “choppy, all over the place resume” person? Some people know they want to be a doctor from teddy bear days, while others only realize they want to be a marine biologist after a summer trip to Costa Rica. Others need to explore more options to achieve better self-knowledge. And experience is such a rich asset.

How many times can you join and cancel the gym? How many (insert your attempt here), before judgement comes your way – from others and, even worse, from yourself – telling you that you are a lost cause that will never make it?

When you start to believe in limitations, you, well, limit your growth. You allow yourself to be defined by your past, rather than your core strength. And that is unfair. You might miss the fact that you might have survived those mis-takes, and life ahead is still full of blank pages and now you have a better hold of the pencil.

As long as the yearning to succeed in that particular task is not extinguished, why stop? Naturally, revaluations and applying different strategies are often in order. The same strategy, same results mantra. Change elicits change, most often than not.

I have seen, witnessed (and lived myself) many cases of “lost causes found.” People growing old together holding hands at sunset after having a few “happily ever afters” interrupted once, twice, three times… Stopping smoking for good after many unfruitful attempts. Getting healthier habits after 23 failed diets. Finding their calling in life after 8 different career paths. You got the idea.

Mis-takes are opportunities for growth, that is a common interpretation. Not that learning can’t be achieved through successes and pleasant experiences, “victory” certainly can leave its mark as strongly as a difficult “defeat”. Plus it feels great. But when we experience that loss of the success we expected, we are given the unique chance to go from “I couldn’t” to “I can now.” And that has a peculiar delicious taste of overcoming. It emphasizes that strength can be worked out as a muscle. It’s growth.

The fuel that feeds the forwarding movement? The reinventing yourself factor. Have you find it yet?

Book a no obligation complimentary sample session now so we can talk about how to build confidence in your reinvention skills. Coaching can help.

It’s worth a try. Or several.

The Coach and Coachee Synergy

Life coaches are called to learn that a client may pick you, but you also have the reciprocal right to pick the client back. Or not.

For the benefit if a co-creative dynamic, which is crucial in a good coaching process, it is imperative that both coach and coachee are welcoming, engaged and willing to work within a partnership that fosters communication and a desire to explore options in an open-minded capacity.

Personalities matter, of course. Not all coaches are a good fit for all clients. I am not saying they must sing along or laugh in unison throughout the session. I love diversity and different points of view are powerful sources for awareness. But their basic alignment lies on a flow of ideas bouncing with the same energy level and on the same page of an agreed book. A book club where participants read different books is probably not going to work so well. Both client and coach are ultimately working for the client’s goal achievement and growth, but for that to be successful, they must play nicely together.

And let’s not also forget that the coach’s professional satisfaction is important too. Taking any client may be a short term profitable choice, but it might prove to be an ineffective strategy down the road.

It’s a little bit like tennis. Leaving the competitive aspect and scoring aside, the best matches to watch are the ones where the ball stays in play for the longest time.

The coach usually talks much less than the client. But the exchange must match in mutual respect and collaboration disposition.

There are many reasons why a coach-client relationship may not be a great fit. Personalities, thinking processes, personal preferences, and even the need for a different type of professional.

That’s one thing I learned. People are looking for their ideal coach, but we, as coaches, also have to be mindful that we also get to decide who our ideal clients are.

It’s fair. And best for everyone in the long run.

And that’s why I always offer a complimentary sample session, so we evaluate if it is a good deal for me and my prospect. It’s like tasting the wine before buying the case – it saves time, money and increases the chances of a beautiful outcome.

Bullying Is Ageless, But Tomatoes Can Grow

We, coaches, sometimes encounter clients dealing with – or causing – some degree of bullying. It is not something confined to the hallways of school, unfortunately.

While many kids realize they were bullies at some point in their more immature days, sincerely regretting growing away from that, some adults still engage in intimidation tactics to engage with the world. Bosses, co-workers, or even relatives can do that. For whatever reason, most likely because of unresolved issues or pains they must channel. And if they mistakenly identify someone as weak, that may look like a good escape valve.

But that can be a big mistake. Don’t we love to see underdogs triumph in the movies?

While Coaching, I only bring personal experiences in rare instances where it can contribute to the client’s agenda. But, here, I can share.

My first personal experience with adult bullying started when I was about 14, and he was a teacher.

An educator who was described to me by peers as a “super funny and cool” guy with a larger-than-life persona was my new History teacher. In my private Catholic school in Brazil, we mostly stayed put in one classroom and the teachers would rotate coming in. We were about 50 students per class.

At the time, I had a crush on a boy in my class – let’s call him Randy. He wasn’t into me at all and I was very shy too. Some friends knew about my crush – but nobody ever made a big fuss about it.

One day, I had to make a presentation about the “Aberdeen Act”. While practicing my lines and trying to perfect my pronunciation of the English words, I prepared a nice poster board, and I was sweating but strong in front of everyone, ready to start my delivery.

Before I opened my mouth, the teacher with a thunder voice, yelled for all the class to hear:

“Watch out, Randy is here, did you get yourself all pretty for him? Do you think he is going to like your presentation?”

I became a frozen tomato. I saw red.

I could feel the blood rushing to my face but I couldn’t move or say anything. My throat seemed to close. Shame, humiliation and anger boiled in me. How did he know? Why did he think it was funny?

Some kids were laughing. I managed to see some faces of pity, some shaking their heads.

And then silence. I don’t know how long I stood there, but I eventually grabbed my chrome pointer and started talking about the England-Brazil friction I studied so hard to present.

After I was done, I gathered my stuff, stepped down the stage and the bully who betrayed my trust as his student left nonchalantly. Some kids gathered around me saying things like, “I have never seen anyone so red”, “Poor thing, I would have died”, “This teacher is an a-hole”, “I can’t believe he did that to you”, etc.

Until someone approached me and simply said, “I have never heard anyone speak English so perfectly in my life. Great presentation, I understood everything – wonderful job.”

That impacted me so much; it felt like ice-cold water on a hot Summer’s day. Years later I became an English translator and instructor, way before coaching. And I made the point of always being kind to my students, whatever their age.

Oh, in case you are wondering, I got a good grade (I wish I could have graded him too) and ended up dating Randy’s brother for a while, after the story went viral and he asked to meet the tomato girl.

But my victory was that I delivered, despite my wish to run and hide. Of course, I could have advocated for myself, argued, and said something. But that wouldn’t have been me. I am not the one who screams back. But I am not the one who runs and hides either. I may freeze for a second. But I keep myself whole and I don’t let anyone stop me from doing what I was set to do.

I am 52 and I still encounter bullying, because I am a sensitive kind of person and some people take that as “fragile”. Big mistake. I will never be someone I am not, but I have grown a long way from that little frozen tomato. I will always deliver my message in my own terms, even if I have to adapt to rough circumstances.

I am not a therapist and won’t diagnose anyone’s bullying causes. Maybe it can derive from some internal pain numbed by putting others down to feel higher, better, safer, smarter, funnier, more admired? Each case is different, but I cannot help with that.

And I simply won’t.

Coaching – The Good and The Misconception

I heard about life coaching some years ago, and I must admit, I wasn’t impressed with the little information I had. I actually developed a slightly negative impression towards coaching, a stereotype I created in my mind, based on ignorance and limited exposure to the subject. As a fan who benefited from therapy for my own issues, it somehow felt like coaches were a new age competitor to therapy. Oh, was I wrong…

I also saw professionals in the area as mostly businesses coaches for companies or executives only, or motivational speakers. Impressive and certainly valuable, but not in my realm of expertise. Or “gurus” with fancy headseats asking people to repeat affirmation sentences out loud. Energizing and effective for many, yet not the way I personally communicate.

Well, what I did no know is that coaching goes way beyond all that. There are many ways and many styles out there. I was alive wrong in my narrow-minded assumption.

It took research, opening my mind and realizing that coaching was a much more interesting field, not related nor competitive with therapy or counseling at all. Not limited to careers and companies. Different professionals for different needs. Or wants. Also, there were different coaches for different clients – and you get to be your own version. Once I learned more and broadened my limited beliefs, I actually got interested in pursuing it.

What’s the best way to provide a service in which you truly believe? Using it yourself!

I am coached too!

Coaching is based on a co-creative relationship that includes insight, awareness, encouragement and, often, accountability.

It is simple. There is no magic potion or shake to drink. And it works.

Why?

Because Coaching believes in bringing your own insight to the surface, and igniting it into action. You have a goal and coaching helps you go after it.

Let’s frame this with some examples, for illustration purposes.

1. Client A is 51, and divorced. He went through the transition from married to single, and after a couple of years of working on continuing being a great dad, living by himself and casual dating – but completely closed to the idea of a new steady relationship – he now wants to explore the possibility of a new partner and companion, for a possible long-term commitment, as long as “he doesn’t feel trapped”. That’s his goal.

With Coaching, we are not going to talk about all that happened in A’s past to seek healing or fix unresolved issues. That’s therapy’s work. Although, of course, he might want to identify patterns and evaluate how certain choices and actions affected who he is NOW, we are more interested in his present feelings and frame of mind, and how to set action plans and practical ways to achieve the future he envisions. The details of his desire to reconnect romantically, what he looks for in a partner – and compromises he is not willing to make – who he is, now that he has learned and grown with his previous marriage and experience. Identifying his fears, possible obstacles and self-imposed limitations, and the paths he feels comfortable taking toward that goal. We brainstorm and he creates next steps by actively looking for places and opportunities where he can find kindred spirits with those common interests – so he increases his chances of finding at least a new best friend out of the effort, for starters. He feels safe, assertive and excited. Guess what type of people he will most likely attract? Those on the same confident wavelength. And I can act as his accountability partner in his re-loving journey, because that is a service he is expecting from his coaching – and one I can provide.


2. Client B is 59, and worked for 23 years in a corporate job for the same company. Now she is getting her retirement package. But she doesn’t know if she wants to learn Italian, take up gardening, or start a consulting business to add income to her pension and keep her comfortable financial status. Her goal is to find clarity about what’s next for her.

In Coaching, we are going to unveil, through self-awareness and brainstorming, what is driving B. What options she has, her values, how she wants to redefine herself after so many years used to seeing the Operations Manager label as her main mission. What her limiting beliefs are. She fears getting bored. She then realizes that she actually doesn’t know how to organize her all new found time. She is her own boss now and gets to make her own schedule – able to achieve balance and satisfaction in this transition from familiar to new. She then sets actions to enroll in a self-paced Italian course and learn slowly, while working on a new consulting business plan. She devotes time to her perennials on the weekends. She feels empowered and energized and busier than ever – but with things she loves. And I can keep her accountable and encouraged along the way.

If you didn’t know much about coaching, or had a different understanding of what it is, I hope this post made it a bit clearer for you. Still, the best way to get the potential benefits of coaching is to try coaching yourself, for your goals.

That’s why I offer a free sample session, no strings attached. Try, like it, or not. Just don’t let a pre-conceived notion prevent you from experiencing it. Book now and see it for yourself. Available in English or Portuguese – or both!