August 31, 2007
As we approach the end of our personal coaching introductory course, our class is learning about doing virtual groups for training and for ongoing coaching. As a project we are encouraged to plan and present a one-hour telecourse alone or with a partner, which will be announced to students and alumni of the training organization.
After I had a partner for one v-group (virtual group) I had another classmate ask if I wanted to partner for a group. I decided to do two groups to get more experience and move me closer to a thriving coaching practice.
One partner has a great idea for doing a presentation on finding enjoyable work in a creative way. He calls it the “Ferris Bueller” approach to career choice and it’s a fantastic idea. I’ll be able to bring along things I’ve learned in my career change group at Fast Track Your Dream, plus books I’ve read and telecourses I’ve attended or heard by recording that focus on finding your true calling and designing work around your passions and gifts. It’s going to be exciting pulling the information together and coming up with some interactive exercises to get participants involved. This topic is one of my great passions and has been for about three years.
My other partner was eager to do a presentation on building true community and connection in groups. Another one of my great passions! It prompted me to buy Scott Peck’s The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace all over again. I read it first many years ago but wound up giving it away and not replacing it. It’s helped me remember that I had plans for a career built around bringing people into genuine, cooperative community while I was working as a therapist. It’s also helping me remember that for a time I was very energized by books from people who brought together psychology or psychiatry, philosophy, and spirituality to inspire and transform people.
Man, it’s frustrating! I spent a lot of time doing thought exercises and thinking about my interests in childhood and young adulthood to reconnect to what I really want to do in my life—and now I remember I was thinking about this same path a few years ago! I didn’t have the idea of coaching people back then. I could only see the path the authors of books had taken—have a lengthy career as a therapist, then write inspirational and wise books based in those experiences. I didn’t have the foundation to think I could pursue that career and be successful at that point in my life.
Now I’m back to pursuing those goals but in ways that are more comfortable and natural to me. It’s a little strange—I had therapists as role models who transformed themselves into inspirational writers and speakers on life transformation above and beyond emotional healing. I thought I had to follow them through the therapy path until I had “earned” enough wisdom and clout. Now I see I want to teach and inspire and mentor people on personal growth, and I don’t want it to flow from or be based on being a therapist. I had to let go of being a therapist and find a different identity more aligned with my gifts and my calling. Now the new identity and the old vision are going to intersect. Wow!
The v-groups will each be a one-hour telecourse offered in October. I’ll post the information when we have them planned. The v-groups will be free but registration will be necessary. Participants will be welcomed heartily!
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,
August 24, 2007
I took a leap this past week, and anyone reading this post shortly after it goes up will know what I mean. I had been redirecting my ChasingWisdom.com URL to this blog. I decided to purchase hosting for the site and upload WordPress so I can use it to start building an e-zine. Right now, there’s nothing there but a post telling people to find my blog here. By September, I hope to be putting up an informative post from time to time. Click here to see how I’m doing.
Things seem to be coming together for my mentorship and coaching business. Mostly that’s because I seem to be coming together. I’m working on the text for my coaching website and I expect to have it ready to update in September. In my coaching course we’re learning about the logistics of running virtual groups by doing an exercise to develop and present a free one-hour teleclass with a partner. I’ve decided to do two different groups with two different partners—and I’m excited! I hope to be able to use the research, the writing, and the presentation experience to help me develop teleclasses I can offer for a fee in the future. I’ll certainly have the template and the experience to develop and present other topics.
I accepted a coaching challenge during practice coaching with a classmate, Sarah. She asked me on August 6 if I would commit to having my marketing message for a coaching website outlined and in rough draft form in two weeks. That was last Monday, the 20th, and I spent a lot of time working on it. I wound up pulling out old notes and ideas I’ve collected for a long time, including marketing consultant ideas I’d drafted for similar businesses, and everything I could find that I had written down over the past couple of years for marketing my therapy practice (which I ended), my consultant practice (which is on hold but not forgotten), and my coaching practice.
I have a clear vision of what I want my business, Discovery Partners, to be. I see how training and personal growth coaching fit into my model, and have an idea for a support community themed around mentorship and encouragement.
I have a good draft of the changes I will be making to my general website, www.SteveCoxsey.com, and how that will integrate with my coaching website and later my training and resources websites.
My remaining “practice” coaching client has accomplished some important goals and transitioned to maintenance for a few more weeks. This means I will be focusing some of my time on adding a few more clients and spending the rest of my time developing my virtual group presentations and finishing and editing the text for my website updates.
My current coaching course will end in November. My plan for next year is to focus on creative ideas to build my coaching practice and to take one or two courses to advance my coaching skills. A year from the end of this initial coaching course, Foundations, I expect to have a small but growing business focused on mentorship for personal growth and developing community.
To pull it all together, today I received a wonderful quote from Fast Track Your Dream:
Life isn’t about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.
~ George Bernard Shaw
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,
August 17, 2007
On July 8 I posted an entry I titled “Homage.” It was a showcase of people who are in different stages of career transition and are blogging their progress. All of them were women. I wrote:
“All of these women are changing their lives and taking steps towards work that reflects their deepest, truest nature. I honor them and encourage them.
And I’m going to look EVEN HARDER for men who are doing the same.”
I met all these women through a creative career change forum through FastTrack Your Dream at Changing Course. There are many men who are FTYD members, but few post on the forum and usually just ask for information on a specific topic, get some answers, and then fade away for a while.
But I overlooked one FTYD member who has posted several helpful ideas, useful pieces of information, and words of encouragement, especially in the spring. He’s been working on his new career and so is not on the forum very often these days. I think that’s why I overlooked him in my list.
His name is Ken Robert, and he trained to become a certified Creative Career Consultant through Changing Course. He wrote a dynamic article called “Are You on the Wrong Bus?” Click on the title and you can read the article at his web site dedicated to creative career change.
Lately, Ken’s been focusing on an additional direction. Because he love’s brainstorming and creative thinking he’s developed a site called Creativity Man. The format he uses has me very interested. It’s basically a blog where he posts articles related to creativity, puzzles, and processes for organizing thoughts like mind mapping. It’s like an e-zine archive that gets regular updates.
I’m planning to find a way to utilize this format when I start “Chasing Wisdom” as an e-zine. I had thought previously about writing an article at a time and sending a teaser or an overview to my list, then sending the complete e-zine monthly. I also thought about sending one article a week to my list and then posting a complete newsletter to an archive page monthly. Now I’m thinking about using a blog format similar to Ken’s and building a monthly newsletter as I go, adding an article every few days.
One of the most appealing aspects of Ken’s format is that when you get an e-mail, it’s about one article only, his latest blog post. Instead of scanning through 3 or 4 titles and finding time to read them all, you just have one entry to consider. With some e-zines and newsletters I skip parts if I don’t feel I have time to read it all, saving it in my inbox for a few days before losing track or deleting it. With Ken’s newsletter there is less time required to read one article so I’m more likely to read each one.
I encourage you to check out Creativity Man and sign up for the articles. You’ll get a feel for the rhythm (regular but not at regimented intervals) and the chance to see how easy it is to ready a lower-demand format—one article at a time. [Blogger's Note: moving this post to the new site today 10/27/2008 I discovered the links do not work and Ken's site is down. I will update this post if and when I find his new site.]
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,
August 10, 2007
Thursday I was at a meeting for The Parenting Center in Fort Worth. I’ve just joined the Client Services Committee and I’m slowly learning the details of what the organization accomplishes as different programs are reviewed at each meeting. Lots of information was shared, but I was having a hard time concentrating because I walked in the door almost late from driving around trying to find a parking space.
A huge piece of construction equipment was blocking most of one parking lot. It was like an oversized forklift and cherry picker combined. I walked in the door and was overpowered by the smell of glue, maybe epoxy. A new air conditioning system was being installed. Bangs and clangs interrupted our conversations at times, and the glue smell followed anyone in the door who came to give a report. Change is sometimes noisy and messy even though it’s necessary.
That evening driving home I passed what used to be a couple of older homes and open pasture land. It’s been graded and partly paved for a while and a lot of work has been going on with a bridge and two ponds. One house has been built and landscaped very quickly, taking just a couple of days. As I drove by I saw cars parked all the way around the curving road around the center pond and rows of people headed to the house. It was apparently a grand opening for the housing addition, which will have a total of 20 houses within a year or two. They’re building a stone and wrought iron fence around the property, which is the very odd but consistent choice of people who say they love this town because of the “open feel of the land.” Sometimes change is the loss of the old and the comfortable and rightly brings skepticism of the new.
Today coming back from lunch at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant I drove by a church that looked like a tornado had hit. Then I saw the sign and realized the sanctuary was left intact on purpose and the office and classroom building attached to it looked blown apart because it is being demolished for renovation and expansion. Sometimes change is ugly and disruptive and needs a lot of hope and vision to make it tolerable.
Change is coming here. I started this blog in January accepting Barbara Sher’s challenge to her newsletter subscribers to keep a record of the career change steps we are taking and put it out for others to see. I used the name Chasing Wisdom which I had already chosen as the name of a newsletter or e-zine. I knew a time would come when I needed to start building my archive of articles and creating the Chasing Wisdom newsletter/e-zine, and I knew that would mean having an additional writing project and separating the blog from the newsletter.
I’m pretty sure that time is coming. I will continue to post my weekly update of my progress and plans here, mostly to keep myself accountable and moving forward, and also to share my journey with other people who are thinking about career change. When I have the newsletter ready to launch, I will keep a link to this blog on that site.
That means some day hopefully soon, when you click on www.ChasingWisdom.com you will go to the site for the newsletter. When I get closer to ready (and have more certainty and courage) I will set a date for that change and let you know.
One small but significant change I made already. Last week I closed my post with my mission statement. I kept coming back to it over the week and decided to revise it to be clearer:
To be a catalyst for personal growth and development through genuine relationships
that expand to create welcoming and supportive communites
May You Know the Joys of Sharing Your Gifts,
August 3, 2007
I’m a difficult coaching client. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m a pain in the butt. Fortunately for the coaches, right now I rotate every couple of weeks as we do coaching exercises in my class through MentorCoach.
I don’t get stuck on the “how to” part. I can help anyone breakdown a goal into small steps that are easy to accomplish—one of the reasons I really enjoying coaching others. For myself, I get stuck on the “what to,” which usually boils down to “why to.” Or more fluidly: “To what end?”
It’s the underlying philosophy, the ideology, that I keep returning to with these questions. I think about starting a free-subscription newsletter with articles on personal growth and goal achievement. I know “how to.” But I stop and think, “Why would I start that now? What will it accomplish? How does it serve my ultimate mission and purpose? To what end?”
Thank goodness I’m making progress in building a philosophical foundation. And thank goodness I started reading Deep Change by Robert E. Quinn.
The book is about coaching leaders on the idea that greatly transforming the business or organization requires personal transformation of the leaders. Quinn brings in Joseph Campbell’s writings on the Hero’s journey, which flow in part from Carl Jung’s study of the archetypes of mythology, one of my favorite “mind candies.”
Quinn uses the Hero’s journey as a template for personal growth, not just radical transformation through developmental stages. In his model, whenever a person has to test his or her abilities and tackle new challenges, some self-discovery occurs and understanding of the self changes with increased abilities.
Previously I had used the Hero’s journey as a myth for great change—including leaving the familiar world for the unfamiliar, the idea of the new land as undiscovered parts of the self and the collective unconscious (I’m a bit of a psychology nerd so that’s delightful to me), and the idea of the cave or lair of the “enemy” as a place of shadow where one learns one’s power and abilities and gains new understanding that frees and empowers.
I just hadn’t scaled the Hero’s journey down to a point where it is a mythological template for the kind of incremental personal growth people experience more often than once or twice in a lifetime.
This idea bridges a gap for me. Before I would struggle with ideas like, If a coaching client needs help organizing a goal into steps and overcoming some fear or worry in order to take action, how does that relate to deeper personal growth? Deeper personal growth is a more important mission to me than accomplishing tasks.
Quinn’s model shows me how. Learning skills of goal-setting and time management ARE quest objects for some people. Facing a fear or worry, like the fear of failure or of success or worrying that focusing on one goal will be consuming and mean the loss of other goals, has elements of a heroic quest. Taking steps towards goals that seem a little out of reach extend a person’s understanding of the self. Accomplishing things that always seemed difficult before, and learning the way to do that with future goals, is transformative, although in a smaller way.
I understand now that being coached through one goal or series of actions may not be as big as a villain-vanquishing journey to the underworld with a “dark night of the soul” and complete transformation in understanding of the self, but it’s easily an important task along the way.
My work with coaching clients will usually be helping with a smaller quest that prepares for a Great Quest down the road. Some of the quests will be straightforward and simple at the time, but will help a client learn something that may be applied to a future quest in a hugely transformative way. It may even be one of the pieces of information that help the client be successful with the Great Quest.
In great tales of the Hero’s journey, the Hero (male or female) gathers helpers for portions of the journey and learns skills, adds understanding, picks up useful tools or weapons (connecting with the collective unconscious), and grows the self until the idea of facing the Villain has changed from outrageous and impossible to necessary but overwhelming. The Hero has grown to the point of being prepared for the Showdown of the Great Quest, but the Showdown itself is the ultimate transformation, requiring the Hero to use all of his or her skills, learning, and wisdom (secret learning, special weapons, and ancient lore) to come up with a way to victory.
Often the way to victory requires that the Hero combine all the prior accomplishments and discoveries in one great moment of realization of humility and submission. The Hero understands that transcendant needs matter more than personal goals and is willing to give up the personal for the communal, the temporal for the eternal. In so choosing the Hero discovers the weakness of the Villain, who is the embodiment of elevating personal goals and wants at the expense of the needs of others.
If I help my client gather one piece of “ancient lore” that helps make sense of challenges, one bit of understanding that leads to the discovery of a “magical weapon” the client carries with the blessing of a community, or one set of skills that make the Great Quest seem just a little less impossible, my work will tie in with my mission:
To be a catalyst for personal growth and development through genuine relationships in welcoming and supportive communites
May You Know the Joys of Sharing Your Gifts,