A year in people #30 – Steve the life coach

My boss popped her head around the door. “Steve’s got a spare slot if you want it?”

“YES!!!” I snapped it up.

We were launching a leadership coaching programme at work, and Steve was one of the top coaches from the company we’d partnered with who was working with the senior leaders, so to get an hour’s session with him was quite the opportunity.

As I walked to the training room though, I racked my brain for what to talk about. I wasn’t really stuck on anything and was quite happy at work. Given I was at work, and this was a work coaching session, I was pretty sure he wouldn’t want to spend an hour chatting about the latest TV show I’d been watching, or the weather. What the hell was I going to talk about?

I had one work thing. We were in the middle of a project to upgrade the HR system I looked after and I was clashing with the Project Manager; he thought I was intimidating, I thought he was inept although up to that point we were both far too polite to actually thrash it out (but that’s another story).

We spent the first 10 minutes talking about that, I already knew what I needed to do, but Steve did help me with some suggestions on how to get on and do it and not hide behind fear of confrontation.

50 minutes left.

“I haven’t got any more work stuff to talk about.”

“It’s OK, it doesn’t have to be about work. Is there anything else?”

“Errrr.” I racked my brains. The only thing that was coming to mind was a thought that had been nagging the back of my mind for a while.

I can’t remember exactly how I phrased it, but I explained to Steve how I wanted to travel, but couldn’t.

Now if you know how coaching works, it’s mainly someone listening, and then getting you to answer your own questions or come up with solutions. It can be quite infuriating, but liberating and empowering.

I explained to Steve how I wanted to drive down the West Coast of America for a few weeks, maybe even go further afield. He said it sounded fab, so why couldn’t I? With each reason I gave, came a question about how to knock down the barrier. He even offered some suggestions himself. As I spoke, I realised every single reason was the words of my ex-husband, not me. I agreed with everything Steve said, but for some reason I couldn’t admit that. Probably because he would have said to ditch the husband. See, I’d already had the conversation with my ex, put forward all the same suggestions, but they’d been rebuffed, and so that was that. I had to choose my marriage over any travel dreams I had.

Steve got me to stand up, and stand on the far side of the room. “That’s you now. Think about what you want, your travel dreams and your life.”

He got me to take several steps forward. “That’s you in ten years time. Look back to where you were stood before. Think about all those things you wanted to do. How do you feel if you haven’t done them?”

Sick. I felt sick.

It was a real jolt.

I left the session with a real unease. I didn’t want to get to ten years on, not having done any of the things I wanted. But all the things I wanted to do, my ex-husband didn’t.

It would take me another 3 years before I realised that I had to choose my life and dreams over my marriage.

It’s around ten years now since that session, and I can safely say that when I look back across the other side of the metaphorical room, I don’t feel sick. Just proud.

I made it happen.

 

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