A few months back, I became a coach-in-training at the Adler Graduate Professional School in Toronto. My coaching company is Salmon-Run Coaching. (Please check out the footnote to find out why I chose this name.)
Coaching is a career that thoroughly resonates with who I am and my strengths. I have always been a great listener, and most of my friends have come to me to vent and get validation over the years. I’m also a self-improvement junkie and universal-truth dispenser.
What I learn in coaching classes is essentially what I read outside of work as my nonfiction fix. Several peer coaches and instructors have commended me on my coaching, and I’m determined to work hard every day to become a better person and, thereby, a better coach.
I’ve racked up over 250 hours of free coaching and volunteering as a crisis center responder while holding down a stressful, full-time job. When you want to do something for free for the rest of your life, you know that you’ve landed on your calling, and the money will always follow.
Coaching resonates well with my beliefs about human potential and how life works. I root myself in these beliefs when I coach my clients.
1. Society can take you away from authenticity
I grew up in the thick of many rules, regulations, and conventions as the eldest daughter of a Sri Lankan Muslim family. Even when I was 27 years old, I had a curfew of 11 pm when I went to office parties. The long-term impact of these rules was that I showed symptoms of social anxiety, my networking game was only subpar, and my sense of self took longer than usual to develop.
As someone whose primary value is freedom, I struggled against these conventions, although I know that my parents were doing what they thought was best.
How many people are trapped in bureaucracy because society told them this was the safest choice? How many people forget their first love and settle down in a “respectable” marriage so that their family would not be shamed?
I’m a citizen of the world, and I truly believe that humanity is above caste, creed, religion, or class. I believe that blind following of social conventions tend to take people away from authenticity.
So, my coaching objective is to question the limiting beliefs that our societies have fed us so we can get closer to our true selves. Often, a powerful question nudges the client just enough that they begin to see through the societal norm, slowly but surely.
2. You can change only if you want it bad enough
I have gotten caught up in the mirage of trying to change my family and friends in the past. But I’ve now understood that no one changes until they truly want to change.
It’s the same with my coaching clients and me. Until and unless we understand why we want to change and how this change is connected to our purpose on earth, we will only make half-hearted attempts at implementing the change.
When coaching, I strive to go under the water level and make the client understand their true motivations. As the client gains clarity on how the change aligns with his or her value system and purpose, I’ve seen the need to hold them accountable disappear. Their motivation effortlessly drives them towards the change.
3. Life is all about the feedback loop
I’m a strong believer in the growth mentality. Anyone can grow and attain goals that matter to them if they are willing to observe the results of their actions, get feedback, come up with new actions by tweaking observed actions, implement revised actions, and repeat the feedback loop.
In my personal life, I used the feedback loop when I launched my freelance business and pitched clients in the mental health sector. I first invested in an online course to gain the knowledge I needed to launch the business. Then I implemented the course of action recommended and observed the result. I didn’t get many bites from clients at first.
With these observations, I strategized on how I needed to change my actions. I enlisted the help of a successful freelancer and got one individual coaching session with her. According to her advice, I got my writing samples edited, reached out to a more targeted customer segment, and sent more follow-ups to land my first freelance client within a month.
When coaching clients, I help them look at their actions using the feedback loop so that they can begin to view life as the biggest experiment of all. I’ve seen a light bulb go on in most clients when they grasp this concept as this helps them understand that they can achieve any goal if they are willing to use the feedback loop and grow until they attain their goal.
4. You are powerful when you realize your potential
You have all the answers deep within you. So, no one else can give you the precise advice that will guarantee your success. Not even a coach or mentor.
Coaches can ask you powerful questions that will lead you to clarity. Mentors can share their life experiences that may give you some perspective on how they dealt with certain challenges. But none of them can tell you exactly what to do.
After working with a coach or mentor, you need to decide what action will work best for you. No one can and should decide that for you. Believe in your intuition and make time to listen to yourself, and you will arrive at your answers.
As a coach, I try my best not to advise my client. This is hard to do. But with practice, I have understood that I only know a fraction of my client’s life based on what they choose to share with me. With this limited knowledge, how can I possibly think myself qualified to advise them on what to do?
When I forgo the temptation to advise clients and let them arrive at their own solutions (referred to as “coaching the person vs. the problem’” in coaching jargon), I have witnessed heightened ownership and motivation levels in clients. The new-found twinkle in their eye was undeniable.
5. The greatest gift you can give yourself is a positive mindset
I’m a big, big supporter of a positive mindset as I’ve experienced good things in my life when my energy is positive. And the opposite is true too. When I was desperately looking for freelance clients and operating from a mindset of lack, I heard from no one. But when I believed in the universe and took a step back to let the magic unfold, I heard back from many clients.
Even if you don’t believe in attracting things that match your frequency through visualization and affirmations, try out the positive mindset as it makes you feel good, and it’s good for your health. Positive “coincidences” will then follow.
After all, cleaning the toilet while complaining about your family is far less enjoyable than grooving to your favorite music while you clean the toilet. Certain tasks need to happen whether you like it or not. So, why not do it with a smile anyway?
Of course, there are uncontrollable situations like death and disease that make it very hard to be positive. But while taking the time to mourn and grieve, we have to remember that it’s how we respond to life that clears the path of future calamities.
You can also check out Recommendations on my LinkedIn profile to get an idea about my beliefs and coaching style based on clients’ experiences.
Are you looking to work on specific goals or gain more clarity about what you want from life? I might be able to help. I also offer sliding scale fees.
Why did I name my coaching company Salmon-Run Coaching? The salmon run happens every fall when salmon from the ocean swim upstream against the current. The species go back to their place of birth to spawn new life. Coaching can be likened to the salmon run, wherein my clients and I swim upstream against the currents of societal limitations to go back to the authenticity that they are born with.