A Conversation About Personal Life Coaching
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to go through a life planning process. For two days, I sat in a room with a facilitator and he asked insightful questions to help me look at my past and consider my future. It was a significant milestone in my life, and in many ways helped lead me to my current profession.
I think everyone, especially those in mid-life or later, should find a time for an assessment like this. Recently, I sat down with my friend Mark Waltz, who facilitates personal life coaching every week, and asked him a few questions.
Tim: What is the professional and personal coaching process you facilitate and what’s unique about it?
Mark: Let me put it this way. Maybe this has happened to you. I experience it often.
I’m not a big shopper, but when I’m traveling I like to stop in a store to pick up something for my wife.
However large or small the shopping mall, I do the same thing: I look for the directory of stores. I don’t mind wandering around, but I typically don’t have the time to walk the entire shopping area. I need to identify where I want to go.
But that’s not all.
I also look on the directory for one more thing: the “You Are Here” logo. Only when I see where I currently am in relationship to where I want to go can I best chart a path to get there. Finding the “You Are Here” logo allows me to determine clear steps to the store of my choice.
That’s the working principle for my coaching process - clarity that comes only from honest assessment: Where am I right now? What’s my current reality?
I don’t take any shortcuts. It’s a very comprehensive process. After all, this is about your story – which is in no small part a lifetime of steps. It’s why I refer to the process as “MyLife. MySteps.”
Tim: So, why would someone come to you for this type of coaching? What do you typically see in people that caused them to seek you out?
Mark: Typically, people are at some sort of crossroads or they’re missing something. They were exploring a new job, or they needed something to shift where they were. I’ve worked with people who are asking what the next season looks like for them, because they realize they’re at the beginning of a new era in their life. All the kids are gone. They’re looking at retirement in five years. They want to do something with the degree they just earned.
Ultimately, people want to work and live with purpose. They want work to be meaningful. They don’t want to spend all their time and energy at work – whether it’s ministry or the marketplace. They want to live with priorities and significance, and they want to maximize their skill sets.
Not everyone who comes to me is looking for a big change. They want perspective so they can deliver high performance, focused on their unique strengths. They want to thrive where they are.
Joseph Campbell observed that perhaps what we want more than meaning is to have a sense of being alive. And that aliveness isn’t about a search for one’s self, but rather a discovery of how our truest self integrates with the world around us. Our work, our relationships, our creativity, our actions and our learning.
Tim: What can someone expect to experience in the process?
Mark: First of all, they can expect me to be their guide. I don’t have the answers. I’m not dictating a plan. I’m asking questions – lots of questions to help the person find purpose and aliveness.
It's about discovering and affirming who the person is at their core. I find that most people are quite self-aware coming into this process. So, there is a lot of affirming what is already known. It's also about discovering what's true, but may not be articulated, simply because it is so innate, so part of their DNA.
I help my clients take a look not only at the “You Are Here” spot, but also consider how they arrived here. It's about unpacking their story and discovering there's something wonderful there. We develop their unique storyboard. That said, it's not counseling. It's not about pointing out flaws.
A lot of people think this is strictly professional, only focused on work and career. But it also includes physical health, emotional/spiritual health, family relationships, vocation, creativity and community.
We take time to understand their unique skills, as well as their passion. We spend time affirming values. We explore fears. We even take the time to carefully identify and word the person’s personal mission statement. And it becomes their lens for viewing and engaging life.
When the client attains a clear lens to see themselves, then they’re set up to chart a course of next steps that are that person’s steps – the right steps for where he or she wants to be, where they want to arrive.
Tim: What’s the time commitment?
Mark: This is a journey and it starts with two consecutive days. All day. It’s intense – and connective. When you take this kind of time to consider your whole life in a single context of 30-plus hours, you see a lot of pieces come together. As I mentioned already, the person will leave these two days with a definitive plan that they created. That plan will point down the road 5, 10 years or more, but ultimately their initial execution is within a few months. So, if they are willing to stay engaged with me, I offer to be accessible to them over several months. Not to tell them what to do or how to do it, but to continue asking questions that helps them stay focused on their plan.
Tim: And how does someone get in touch with you to explore or schedule a coaching session?