How Long Have You Been a Life Coach?
I get asked quite often how long I’ve been a Life Coach. To be honest, I’m not really sure how to answer that question. I guess the technical answer would be since February 2018, when I completed my Life Coaching Certification. But it seems to me like it would be more than fair to say at least since 2008, which is a whole 10 years earlier (and that’s being conservative)!
I’m sure most of you know that I served in the Army for almost 21 years. I’m also sure most of you know that I am extremely proud of my military service and wouldn’t trade it for the world. What many of you may not know is just how much I value the relationships formed and time spent with so many amazing people, people who I had the honor of leading. These are people who have done and continue to do absolutely amazing things. These people have looked to me for advice, guidance and coaching. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that I was in a coaching role; I was simply helping people. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would eventually start another career focused on just that – coaching amazing humans to live their best life. I coach others on how to live a whole and joyful life. It was an honor then, and it is an honor now.
As I was considering this as a topic to write about, I reached out to some of the people I served with many years ago. I was curious, because I can’t, in good conscience, say that I’ve been a life coach since 2008, if I don’t have “clients” (in this case Soldiers) who can attest, if you will, about when and how I coached them. I got some pretty cool responses that I want to share with you.
“I am going to share two experiences that were both personal. The first was when I was dealing with a personal situation in my life and my attitude towards my work changed drastically. For the first time, I found myself sitting before my First Sergeant and being counseled about not meeting deadlines and just being a subpar leader in general. My First Sergeant was you, Jennifer Ballou; you recognized there was more going on than what I was willing to say at the time and told me, without going into my personal situation, how you knew this was not me. You helped me to navigate through an emotional time in my life by showing me that you believed in me and my strength, and we discussed my goals and how to see past this slump I was in. You were realistic, positive and motivating in helping me navigate a way to get back on track and do what I needed for myself, my soldiers and the unit. If I never thanked you for that, I am thanking you, now. The second coaching time that you probably didn’t realize was a coaching moment but it helped me to deal with other events in my life similar to the one that I will never forget and that is when I was trying to figure out what to say to you when I called you after Eddie’s passing. That was a very difficult day. Once I called and heard your voice, I was just glad I had called. During our phone call I told you I was scared to call because I didn’t know what to say and you told me it was the call that mattered. After that I have always had the courage to be that person to make those tough calls just to make sure people know I am here for them. I want the same, so treat others as you’d like to be treated.”
~ Name withheld for privacy
“Your statement of, ‘If you’re waiting for the perfect time for an opportunity, you’ll always find an excuse not to start’ has helped motivate me to do the following things:
- Get my first degree
- Start/manage our landscaping company (we were successful for 8 years in business and sold it to make our Oahu move)
- Move to Oahu for 2.5 years
- Go after my own career, after children
- Continue to seek more advancements in career choices (literally just did this within the last two weeks)
None of these things would have happened had I never received that specific advice. I can still go back to that day. And hear it in your voice.”
~Name withheld for privacy
“Vicenza Italy…studying and prepping for the Europe Regional Dental NCO of the Year board. The entire time of your coaching and training was amazing! You let me know up front that you expected NOTHING less than EXCEPTIONAL performance! I will never forget the night land nav on the golf course and driving all night from Italy to Landstuhl because Ryanair wouldn’t let me fly with military ID. My engagement with you as a young SSG set the tone for my Army Career as a leader.”
~name withheld for privacy
“I’ve always wanted to commission. I was fortunate enough to have you as my leader supporting and encouraging me. Throughout my career, you have done and said many motivating things. At one point we were on block leave before deploying to Afghanistan. I remember there was a last minute scholarship board that you found out you were going to sit in…You called me as soon as you found out, to tell me to fly back and go for it. Back then, I was young and stupid and chose to stay and hang out in NY. After block leave, I went back to work and to this day I remember the disappointment in your voice when you told me “the Soldier who got it couldn’t compare to you”. At first, I was disappointed in myself because well…I looked up to you. But ultimately, this little scenario plays in my head every time I encounter something that I am not comfortable with or I feel like I can’t accomplish. It’s a good thing…those words continuously motivate me to be the best me that I can be.”
~name withheld for privacy
“I have so many moments I could mention: From your encouragement the whole time I was working to get my EFMB (especially during the ruck March), to your passion for resiliency training and how it can truly impact and change your life, and of course helping encourage me to try out CrossFit (which truly did change my life). All of those are just small examples of your passion, willingness to listen, your empathy, and your encouragement. You never let me (or anyone else) strive for less than what we’re capable of. You helped give me the nudge I’ve needed so many times because you believed in me. THANK YOU!”
~name withheld for privacy
While you can easily see that these examples are from my time as a leader in the military, it is easy to connect the dots. As it relates to coaching, here is what these testimonials display. It is in my nature to lead by encouragement, to offer advice and guidance that will enhance someone’s quality of life, and to present it in a way that makes a lasting impact. I have been coaching people on ways to live a whole and joyful life for over a decade. I have been doing this long before I received any certification proclaiming my skill or ability because it is an authentic part of who I am. What I bring to my coaching with clients isn’t just things you learn in a textbook or in a course. These are things that are at the core of my being, the things that make me the kind of human that I am. This genuine and ingrained part of me is what creates an impact. Speaking humbly, it is what makes me a good coach. I don’t have to turn to a book to give guidance and lead; it comes from my heart and my own life experiences. What I learn in courses or books is icing on the cake.
I have been coaching others in some form or another for a large part of my adult life. I do it because it’s in my nature and because I love it. I feel very grateful that I can offer this service in a broader way, to more people now. Because the truth of the matter is, we all could use encouragement and sound guidance. Sometimes, what you need is a person who can help you see through the haze, to see your potential for greatness and for a fulfilling life. This is what I have been doing, and this is what I offer.
If you have been considering working with a life coach, are feeling stuck or unsure about next steps in your life, or are interested in seeing how I can help you, I invite you to schedule a Complimentary Discovery Session with me. You can do so here.