(This is a working preface for a book I am currently working on together with my client,
Rep.Becca Balint, who is the US Representative out of the state of Vermont.
I decided to throw it in here as a blog because it speaks so powerfully to what the right chemistry, and a coaching relationship can create!)
For most of us, the thing we are meant to do with our lives is delivered to us when we’re only just getting started. If we are lucky enough to have been born into a family where there is enough space created for us to listen carefully… to play and experiment freely and even to
fail forward… we will happen upon it… or better yet it will find us. That thing that animates you…inspires you. The thing you’ll spend hours and hours doing or dreaming about doing. The thing that actually comes quite easily to you. And perhaps that’s the catch, it comes too easily to you. So, overtime you start to believe that it must not be right. This thing that comes so easily must not be the thing you are meant to pursue, even if it is the only thing that makes you happy or that you can imagine wanting to swim around in for a lifetime.
So slowly, or perhaps quickly… we switch lanes… Jump the track and get farther and farther away from our life’s passion and purpose. Hopefully somewhere along the line you hook up with someone that helps you to begin the process of reclamation. Someone who helps you to re-member yourself, as if somehow, you have been dis-membered in a way through the powerful onslaught of the negative thinking that comes in the guise of realism and practicality.… not unlike, Humpty Dumpty, this person helps put you back together again. Reminds you of the earlier promptings that guided you so powerfully and purposefully as a child.
When I met Becca… She was taking a break from being a middle school teacher to allow her wife, Elizabeth to work on becoming a partner at her law firm. She was a stay at home mom helping to raise their two kids, Abe, and Sara. To say Becca was over qualified to do just about anything is an understatement. In 1990, Becca graduated magna cum Lauda from Smith College with a bachelor of arts degree in history and women’s studies. She then moved on to Harvard University, where in 1995, she received a master’s of education before finally completing a master of arts degree in history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2000. So it’s no wonder that as noble and well-meaning as it was to take one for the team and stay home with the kids… it was painfully obvious that Becca was dying on the vine…flat lining, and just plain bored. Becca continues to be now, what she was back then.. tiny, but mighty! She was trying desperately to contain the thinly veiled fire in her belly. That fierce determination, she has to be of service. To uplift and empower people in need and to bring much-needed and overdue attention to the many causes she cares so very deeply about. When we first started our coaching relationship, politics was not yet back on her radar, but as I mentioned above, it was very much on her radar as a child. She was president of the student council… Always looking for opportunities to lead! But just like the rest of us… overtime, that persistent voice of limitation and fear wormed its way in and set up camp somewhere in the land of Becca‘s hopes and dreams. “How can you go into politics when you’re queer”? And later… “How can you go into politics now that you’re getting older… You’re too old!” Suffice it to say, that’s one of a coach’s biggest and most important undertaking when working with people personally and professionally. Not attempting to get rid of that voice, but learning to navigate it differently. In Becca’s case it didn’t take long for her to start gathering evidence for how easy it would be to step into a space she was born for. This is not to say she didn’t, and doesn’t work hard. There’s a distinction. Becca does indeed work very hard, but like an escalator the next step rises to meet her as she courageously moves forward on her chosen path. I often called her a Sherpa because the path that Becca was, and is courageously traveling, is not a common one. The agreement when she began her political trajectory was she would never ever sacrifice her most sacred values in service of winning. Better to lose a race than to win by betraying yourself. And as most of us paying any attention at all are painfully aware of, this is exceptional.
This book was Becca's idea. One day at the end of one of our sessions she said, “we should write a book together!” I said something like, “yeah great sure let's do it!” But when we hung up I realized I wasn't really sure what the book would be about. The next time we spoke I asked her that very question. Her answer was short and sweet. "It's about the power of coaching!”
I was almost flattered but only for a moment because at the end of the day it's not the coach that empowers the coaching relationship it's the client! Coaches must never lose sight of this. We are definitely midwives of a kind, but without the right chemistry and a wholehearted commitment from your client, you can't even begin to do your job. It will come as no surprise to you that Becca has always been all in! And much to my amazement, she continues now after almost a dozen years of coaching with me, to be as enthusiastic as she was on the day we started.
This book hopes to be a galvanizing roadmap of a kind. A living breathing example of one woman's winning formula...and hopefully an inspiration for what coaching might be able to do for you. But however it lands for you, we hope at the very least it proves to be a motivating energizing and entertaining ride! Hopefully we even make you laugh a little!
Note to the reader: When we first decided to write this book together, we began to discuss structure. What were we hoping to communicate? And what would be the most accessible and most powerful delivery system? We quickly settled on a dialogue. At the end of the day the coaching relationship is essentially an ongoing series of empowering conversations. So, what better way to structure our book than to do just that, recreate for you here some of the intimacy and vulnerability created in the coaching conversation that we have been having for nearly a dozen years. In the pages that follow, we invite you to join us as we pull the curtain back and bring you into the wonderful world of co-active coaching.
Laura P. Coyle