The Wonders of Relational Coaching
Blog | Life and Leadership | January 22, 2016
The world is filled with mirrors. There are the literal mirrors—the tangible items that we place on our walls, hallways and desks. And there’s another type of mirror—our loved ones, closely knit, trusted family members, friends and colleagues who can show us that part of ourselves that we don’t see.
I had a rare opportunity to look at my heart’s mirror through relational coaching with Chris Hogan. It was an incredibly humbling yet transformative experience that has left me as a better wife, mother and colleague. This is my story.
After graduating law school, I felt like the superhero Wonder Woman. I like Wonder Woman because she fights injustice, she has an arsenal of weapons and best of all she’s strong. Her super powers make her practically invulnerable and she wears a cute tiara to boot! It may seem a bit juvenile but I was incredibly enamored with the fact that Wonder Woman is invulnerable.
In order to succeed in a court of law and properly represent my clients, I had to be tough and pull myself up from my own bootstraps. I specifically remember being told “there is no crying in court.” So I didn’t cry, tried my best not to be expressive (very hard for a very social extroverted American like myself) and held back on complaints. These things not only weighed me down, they affected my relationships and my home life.
At home, I maintained a faulty perception that true leaders are not vulnerable. Vulnerability continued to make me uneasy and anxious so, as much as possible I filled my time with tasks and work. My invulnerability suddenly became unavailability to anyone close to me. My familial and personal relationships suffered. Things were disastrous.
Fast forward to my coaching session—I had to be open and honest about many facets in my personal life. The session supported me, as a learner in achieving a very specific personal and professional goal. By learning and reaching my goal, I received the gift of creating healthy boundaries in my workplace. I also learned to manage everyone’s expectations, including my own. Here are a few fresh realizations that I learned during and after my coaching:
1. Relationships Matter
I am a box-checker and a list-maker. I typically compare my life to a series of boxes that need to be checked in order to ensure that the status quo is still in…check. No pun intended. Attend a great football university? Check! Go to law school? Check! Get married? Check! Have 2.5 kids? Almost there —check in progress. Having goals and checking the boxes is great, but the real deal is what is going on with the most important relationships in your life.
2. Being vulnerable is a strength.
Vulnerability leads to transparency. Transparency can lead to better communication in the home with loved ones and at work with colleagues. Vulnerability helps you respect your colleagues on a unique level because you are willing to give something that can only be rewarded through reciprocation.
3. Work and home are inseparable.
As much as we may want to keep home separate from work, it almost impossible. Even if someone’s actual assignments are kept on the work desk, the stress and emotional highs/lows that can come from a toxic work environment can negatively affect our the home front if not properly managed.
4. Correction and feedback are gifts.
When we take time to remove the focus from ourselves, we can learn from our actions and even inactions. Gathering a 360-degree feedback is an excellent way of truly ascertaining whether you are hitting the mark. As we press forth to become better connected pieces of a grand puzzle, we have to be open to receiving information. There may be some pain with the feedback, but there will be great gains.
5. Accountability makes us stronger.
Everyone knows that accountability at work is important to a business’s success as a whole. Every employee, no matter what level of seniority is equally responsible for aiding in the success of the company. Yet, do we throw out this notion when we make it to the home front? Are we accountability to our spouses, parents and loved ones just as we are to our colleagues and managers? During my relational coaching session, I had to be truthful about my actions and responsible about my behavior.
To this end, I can definitely say that being coached in a relational manner opened my eyes to deeply rooted matters that I wasn’t aware of. Chris asked me questions that weren’t just hard to answer—they were revelatory because of their truth. In my heart, I didn’t want to answer them because I would be held accountable after hearing the truth. Looking back, I know realize that even Wonder Woman has to look in the mirror now and then. This “mirror” helped me better communicate with husband Ange, express myself in a healthy manner and take a qualitative approach to my relationships.
I am forever changed and thankful.
Elizabeth with her husband Ange
Liz is an attorney based in Orlando, Florida. She works at a large education company as a Compliance Manager and Diversity and Inclusion Advocate.
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