Thanks and Forgiving, Part 4

From Corporate to Coach

My evolution from Corporate Leader to Executive Coach has been 22 years in the making. In 1992 I met my first coach and realized the impact that the coaching process can have in creating a sustainable change in someone. Since that time I’ve had the pleasure of personally working with a number of excellent coaches both personally and professionally. A couple of them worked their magic on me and I want to use this moment to express my thanks to each of them.

The first is a gentle, unassuming man by the name of Barry Carden. I first met Barry when I was leading a management development program for a group of recent MBA grads. He and his associates were helping us design and implement a team building event that took this group of 20+ high achievers (myself included) from a focus on “I” to a focus on “Us.” His coaching and mentoring style made me see for the first time in my career that leadership wasn’t about personally being the best at something but about bringing out the best in others. That as good as I am as an individual, if I’m not willing and able to ask for help from others I will fall. (Since he was leading us through a low/high ropes course in the middle of the Massachusetts woods at the time I mean this last part both literally as well as figuratively!)

All these years later when I get into a tough situation I think back to the lessons I learned about myself and the impact Barry had on me. Thank you, Barry for helping me learn that asking for help makes me stronger, not weaker.

The second is a compassionate, empathetic truth-teller named Jerry Zoloto. Jerry showed up in my life when I was sure I was the coolest thing since sliced bread. I was smart, I was funny, I was driven. I was also a pain to work with. Jerry conducted a verbal 360 on me. He asked my boss, my peers and my direct reports the same couple of questions and then verbally provided me with a summary of their responses. Unlike a quantitative 360 where I could rationalize the scores against national norms and argue why they didn’t really matter I had nowhere to hide. Here was a mirror that showed all the knots and thorns that others saw. The ironic thing was that I was so focused on being what I thought an executive should be that I forgot how to be me. The misalignment between who I was on the inside, my values and beliefs, and the external version of me hit me like the polar bear plunge into Lake Michigan in January.

Thank you, Jerry for helping me learn the importance of aligning all the various parts of myself and the happiness that comes from being authentic.

Linda Balkin was my third coach and the one that forever changed my life in ways that I could never have imaged. It started simply enough in January 2002. I was burned out on HR. I wanted to take a break from the function and try my hand at something new. My question was “how to take the skills and abilities I had gained over the years and repurpose them into a new career.” Easy enough topic to work through with a coach. That was up until she had me complete the Wheel of Life. After completing the Wheel I found that while I may have wanted a new job, what I really needed was a family. Fast forward 18 months and I’m getting off a plane from Russia with my 9 month old son! Oh and I also found a new role outside of HR during that period that gave me the opportunity to leverage my existing skills and gain a whole lot more.

Because of my work with Linda, I discovered two things: First, what we want and what we need are not always the same thing and second, once you truly commit to doing something the universe sets out to make it happen. Linda, thank you for helping me forever change my world.

My current coach is Jan Marie Dore. She is my mentor, my guide, and my advisor as I take this leap from Corporate to Coach. As an experienced Coach her knowledge about building a coaching practice allows me to be my best for my clients. Learning through her wisdom and insights gives me the ability to appreciate and understand the coaching process from the other side of the table. She helps me see the possibilities and opportunities. She provides me with the atta-girls when things go well and the optimistic perspective when things don’t.

Thank you, Jan Marie for joining me on this journey. I truly appreciate your guidance, your support and the role model you are.

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Who are you thankful for today?