What is Coaching | Leadership and Executive Coaching
What is Somatic Coaching | Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS COACHING? Coaching is a support and guidance system, to help you get more of what you want in your life. Simple.

Each of us is a person, a biological being living in the intricacies of community with other people. This is the way it's been for eons. The notion that any of us can "go it alone" is a relatively new idea, and, in my opinion, a completely false premise. It's our nature as human beings to rely upon and support each other.

For me, coaching is all about support and collaboration. It combines the expertise of an effective, insightful guide (a coach) with a client's desire and commitment to accomplish something. The result is a partnership that brings clarity of purpose, precision of action, better results, and greater fulfillment.

Perhaps the growth in popularity of coaching is in part a need to feel this support and collaboration, to experience the sense of connection with someone who really cares, to gain the advantage of having someone ask deep questions and be the voice of accountability for results. This kind of human connection and interdependence seems diminished in our modern world; in spite (or maybe because of) all of our high-tech interconnectedness and spontaneous ability to talk with each other. Effective coaching feeds the hungry parts of us with real nourishment, which in turns allow us to express ourselves in healthy ways.

I think people desire real connection, with themselves and with each other. Coaching starts with the connection that counts the most, the one a person has with him/herself, and explores the world from there. Coaching strives to align what's special and unique on the inside of each of us with the actions and results we create in the world around us. Parker Palmer perhaps said it best in his famous quote, "I will live divided no more," meaning that we don't have to compartmentalize our lives into being, for instance, miserable at work so we can be happy at home. Coaching helps people accomplish a life that is grounded, balanced, and true. It helps people live integrated and fulfilling lives, giving them more of the real nourishment they seek. From there all else is possible.

Coaching helps people do things that are difficult to do alone; things like giving critical and grounded assessments, pushing for clarity even if it's uncomfortable, probing for bigger thinking, illuminating assets and possibilities, and demanding practical actions that match up with what people say they want. We all benefit from someone supporting us to look at ourselves, and provide support and guidance along our paths.

Coaching is all about you. It isn't about your family, your past, or your personality. It's only about you getting clear about who you are, what you want, and what you have to do to get there. It's not about figuring out why you are the way you are and resolving the bruises of your past and injuries to your psyche that each of us has accumulated along our journey through life. It is about living a centered life in this moment. Coaching helps you lead the life you desire, to live your best life.

Coaching is about learning; it isn't about getting something right or fixing anything. It helps you expand the way you observe yourself, and to engage the world by challenging underlying beliefs and assumptions that invisibly define your choices and behaviors. Understanding the principles upon which you build your identity leads to larger possibilities for relationships, contributions, and achievements.

We all are learning about our lives and how to live them. I believe that our lives are a hero's journey, filled with experiences and challenges that enlighten us about the deeper meanings of living. Our growth doesn't stop at high school or college graduation, at our first promotion, at marriage, when our first child is born, or at retirement. Why not get help along the way - especially if it has the possibility of making your quest happier, healthier, and more successful?

Working with a coach will build your vision for what you can accomplish, give you a deep sense of commitment about what is important to you, give you strategies for getting past obstacles and limitations rather than trying to ignore they exist, and design an action plan that is broken down into small enough steps that you can accomplish them and build confidence in yourself.

So, how does a coach accomplish this "simple" feat?

Coaches employ a wide range of strategies and techniques to help people move forward in their lives. But essentially, coaching involves three broad questions:

1. Where are you, and what's not working?
2. Where is it you would love to be?
3. What is the sequence of achievable steps that will get you from where you are to where you want to be?

A coach will use a variety of techniques to engage you in these questions, from questionnaires to guided meditations, from journaling to mind-mapping, from mirroring back your own story to challenging your view of the world, from helping you look for resources to encouraging you to find them for yourself, from physical practices to daily moments of silence. But what all coaching techniques will have in common is that each exercise and question will be selected and delivered with the single purpose of having you, the client, discover and own for yourself what is right for you.

I believe that we are defined from the inside out, not the other way around. It is our inner sense of ourselves, of our own unique purpose that defines what will truly make us happy in the world. Aligning our actions and the results they bring is central to being happy and healthy. Spending focused time designing the life you want and charting a course of action to get there will be the greatest investment you can make.

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Leadership and Executive Coaching

Leadership coaching is at the center of my coaching practice, and is of particular interest to executives, entrepreneurs, and anyone trying to work with others to advance ideas into the world.

I believe that in order to be an effective leader we must bring our whole selves to the table. This means being intentional and authentic. It means a seamless kind of presence. Who we are at home is who we are at work. Ultimately, developing an executive capability and the power of leadership requires a continual investment in self-development. Coaching can accelerate this process.

Leadership and executive coaching takes the coaching experience to the next level, from building the clarity and capacity to lead one's own life, to building the confidence and ability to lead others into collective action. It is often best accomplished in a combination of one-on-one coaching and group coaching (such as Success Groups). World-class performers, artists, and athletes have always had coaches. Coaching provides the kind of support, thought partnering, objective observer, and co-inquiry that accelerates achievement and success.

Examples of leadership development work include:
Optimize personal style to blend with the organization
Optimize the first 100 days of a new position
Develop skills to leverage new opportunities
Align the "walk and talk" to develop a stronger leadership presence
Increase communication and decision making skills
Achieve greater work/life balance
Being groomed for top management positions
Increase capacity to take on new role
Converting stress to focused excitement

Leadership and executive coaching gets to the heart of key issues, including:
making value statements explicit,
assessments of embodied language, emotions, and tendencies that cause automatic (and often inappropriate or ineffective) responses and approaches to relationships with others,
the willingness and commitment necessary to make desired self-improvement,
evaluation of thinking and decision making styles and how to expand the repertoire of options, and
practicing effective ways to manage unexpected or stressful situations.

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WHAT IS SOMATIC COACHING? Somatic techniques are specialized approaches that help people delve deeply and directly into the coaching experience, by accessing their inner wisdom through physical awareness, sensation, and presence. I believe that successful individual change and growth has to be grounded in the fundamentals of the body, as well as in the logic of the mind. Therefore, I integrate these powerful techniques into most of my coaching sessions, because they accelerate progress and deeply anchor positive change.

Somatics is the Greek word meaning wholeness of the body, to include the mind, body, and spirit. Somatic techniques help achieve coherence between the state of the body and the intelligence of the mind. It is a walk-your-talk kind of experience.

Somatics increases the power and frequency of those moments when you know that what you are doing and the way you are being, is exactly right. When this happens, people believe you easily, because what you say and all the non-verbal cues you display, are congruent. The true part of you steps forward from a deeply grounded place, a place that does not require language to be conveyed. It is so much more than just a facade of confidence. You become magnetic and effective and accessible to others, because you are in a state that is genuinely powerful and comfortable.

When I learned about somatics I was delighted; it was the missing link for my work. Practicing for over 25 years in the counseling and coaching professions, I know that working only through the mind's clever strategies and brilliant defense mechanisms is challenging, slow, and often ineffective. But, when you also incorporate the wisdom of the body, you make changes faster and easier. The changes are more sustaining and the results are undeniable. The body tells the truth, often before the brain even gets involved. Integrating somatic techniques into the coaching experience increases the ability to hear and understand this important deeper information.

Coaching from a somatic perspective offers a distinctive advantage, because the primary interest is about the state of your body. Learning the subtle language of the body gives you valid and spontaneous guidance for almost any situation or decision. Integrating this with objective thinking and sensible action is a powerful combination.

If this sounds a bit on the "soft side," consider this example from Jack Nicklaus, the world-famous golfer. He said that he could play a round of golf with someone and know everything he needed to know about him, without ever having to talk with him. He knew from the way they carried themselves if they were trustworthy, flexible, adaptive, careful, risk taking, fun loving, or excitable. He credits this ability to read his opponent's somatic states as part of his winning advantage.

We all rely upon our bodies to inform us. We often call these body messages instincts, but we spend little time honing them or knowing how to effectively engage them. We are trained to listen to the outside "experts" rather than our own inner wisdom. We are told, "don't worry about it", "deal with that disappointment and pain later", "power through it." We practice ignoring vital information, and we've all gotten very good at it. Unfortunately, these lessons dull us rather than sharpen our edge. They do not serve us well. They separate us from the sensations of our bodies and the vital information they provide.

Somatic practices help us remember and pay attention to the basics. Here's a brief overview of a basic somatic experience. The first thing that happens in any situation is we are "triggered", good or bad, and we have a biological reaction, a sensation. In negative situations this sensation is often felt as a contraction of some kind, like that feeling of tightness in your gut when your manager asks to see you in her office in the morning. Next, from that sensation a mood is created. In this example you label the mood as anxious. The following step is how to deal with that anxious mood. So, let's say you are a worrier type, who typically shrinks away from the discomfort of the anxiety. Your action may to be to spend hours worrying about what might happen in the meeting tomorrow, not sleeping well, and being grouchy and short with your family. The sensations might be shortness of breath, your shoulders pulled up around your ears, your forehead raised and eyes brows arched. Rather than ignore all of these cues, somatic techniques will allow you to recognize them and how to open up your vision to the variety of different ways you can choose to encounter that meeting with your manager. You can make a choice that will improve your chances of getting more of what you want out of that meeting, rather than simply falling in to all your standard and well-practiced and unconscious patterns.

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FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions About Coaching

What is coaching?
Coaching is a collaboration combining the expertise of an effective, insightful guide (coach) with a client wanting to take his or her business, professional and personal life to a new level. Through this relationship, clients define success on their own terms and take action to lead the life they want, to live their best life.

Why has coaching emerged as a profession?
A combination of factors has opened people to the need to take more responsibility and accountability for how they live their lives. Life, particularly in the West, has never been more abundant. Consequently, never before have individuals had to choose amongst so many possibilities. And, these choices must be made in an environment of ever increasing uncertainty and complexity. Old solutions for help, like counseling, have shown themselves as insufficient to help people look forward in their lives, and hone choice-making skills. The profession of coaching has emerged as the response to help people manage these challenges from an internal perspective based on personal vision, values and beliefs.

What is unique about Life Action Coaching?
For more than 25 years, I have inspired people to create a life they love. My unique integration of personal assessments, powerful somatic techniques and practices, playfully creative exercises, and strong supportive structures provide my client's a robust and uncommonly effective coaching experience. In the world of coaching, I feel I am among an elite few that bring to their work this depth of experience and range of training.

My client relationship is based on:

Synergy: I form with my clients a powerful confidential alliance designed to forward and enhance my client's process of learning, effectiveness and fulfillment.

Structure: I am an advocate, committed to my client's success. I guide my client to clarify his or her vision and values, set goals, take bolder and smarter actions, think bigger or perhaps differently, and develop new skills that translate into success. I provide tools, insight, support and accountability for my clients to stay on track.

Expertise: All the wisdom and information lie within the client. My expertise in people, business, and life, guides my clients to become more skilled at making choices, better equipped to go beyond the ordinary, and to create meaningful, contributing, and balanced lives.

What are some of the typical issues clients bring to Life Action Coaching?
Each client is unique and the focus is on what the client needs most. Some of the common topics are:

Making successful transitions in life, including everything from turning 25 to stepping into retirement, from leaving a job to taking a new position, from having children to having them leave home, from taking a project to a new level to finally starting a dream you've always had.

Finding work that is meaningful, and not merely a source of income.

Having more freedom from work or business, and establishing a nourishing balance that brings more joy and happiness into life.

Developing a compelling future vision, declaring achievable steps to realize it, and gaining the skills to make them happen.

Strengthening relationships through enhanced interpersonal skills and satisfying commitments.

Who are my clients? I only work with people who are ready to stop talking about their lives and start leading the life they want. All manner of people seek my guidance, from executives to at-home moms, from people in higher education to lawyers, from 20-year olds to folks imagining retirement. What my clients have in common is that they are ready to make a change and ready to take charge of their lives. I love to work with people who are fully living their changing lives.

How and where is coaching done? Coaching is usually done face to face, and phone sessions may be used. Meeting times are established to be as convenient as possible for the client. Most coaching sessions last a couple of hours, twice a month.

How does one get started? The first step is to decide that you are ready to begin. Coaching is a very personal experience, and chemistry between coach and client is critical. Contact me to explore if I am the right coach for you takes only a little time and costs you nothing. I would be delighted to talk with you.

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