As a teenager, I was too young to join the gym as a member, but old enough to be hired as an instructor. This was my first paid coaching gig. (I am sure my brother would attest that bossing him around wasn’t coaching.) At the time, I hadn’t identified it in this manner, but clearly instructing and leading others is a form of coaching.
While I wouldn’t yell at the participants, I am bossy and confrontative, as early personality tests indicated (and as evidenced by said brother). Last I checked, these are dynamic and critical leadership skills (insert polite attention-getting cough with power stare, which I have perfected). Instructing hip hop classes at the age of 15 to a room full of people twice my age didn’t phase me. It was fun. The best part was getting to know the personalities in the room.
Through my first career in sales and marketing, I was a personal trainer on the side. Coaching skills were applied daily in both jobs. What I learned was that even though I was meeting with people with both jobs for a small window during their week, we all were being our best, drawing common ground from strengths, not weaknesses.
It was these encounters with people that were powerful. I explored how to have that sense of empowerment all of the time, not just in the moments when it was required.
My Pilates studio, which I’ve owned for over fifteen years, is a networking hub. As a trainer, I was truly coaching others as well as sharing stories. Most all of my clients would confess that they loved coming to class for the stories as much as the workout. Every hour of every day was like a “girls night out” (even with men in the room).
Now, as I’ve transitioned to being a writer and a pitch coach, the focus is heavily upon cultivating and nurturing strengths in others. This is just like training a body, but through stories instead of Pilates equipment.
When I dig into my line of questioning during an interview, I am able to strike to the core quickly by asking a few simple questions. Frequently I will ask what drives them, as I uncover their true passions. The bottom line comes down to love.
We value what we love.
Once the love and passions are revealed, the story takes shape. The magic of these encounters is that by talking about someone’s passions, it rekindles their flame for their work.
This is the core intention of coaching: by pulling out the best of a person, you are empowering them. Assisting my clients or article subjects by creating the most effective means of expressing their passion is my job.
Recently my best friend sent me a note that read: Don’t ever be afraid to shine. Remember, the sun doesn’t give a f*ck if it blinds you.
I’m all about blinding people.