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Finding Balance: Stacy Townsend's Path to Executive Coaching

written byErickson Coaching Internationalon 19/10/2011

Why do many individuals transition from their successful careers elsewhere into coaching? Learn how our graduate Stacy Townsend found her path to executive coaching and never looked back.

A Canadian by birth but now living in Europe, Stacy is a go getter. Today, she owns her own coaching practice, with a focus on corporate and executive coaching.

Stacy is the type of person who is smart, competitive, and confident but that drive and determination to succeed don't mean she’s missing out on fun and relaxation. Much like the Nataraja-asana pose she is doing in her Skype profile photo, Stacy uses strength, focus, and a lightness of being to create balance in her life.  

What got you interested in coaching?
I was at a yoga retreat and met a coach from Erickson. We really clicked and what she told me about Erickson coach training programs really resonated with me. She kept saying, “You know, you would make such a great coach!” 

At that time I was living in Vancouver, working for the Government of BC as a counselor specializing in adoptions and adult education. I was helping people to create new lives for themselves, which was wonderful. Ironically, I wasn’t feeling completely fulfilled in my work, yet I didn’t have the vocabulary or tools to understand why. I felt really bogged down by the paperwork intrinsic to the job. I also felt I couldn’t really connect with my clients and that I lacked support and motivation from my superiors.  

Interestingly enough, I went to the yoga retreat to nurture myself and the universe delivered this wonderful guide, so as a naturally curious person, I had to check it out.  

First, I completed my NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) certification and after that I graduated from Erickson’s The Art & Science of Coaching program in 2003. I thought those programs would give me better tools to use in my government job, and they did, but they also gave me the insight into why I was unsatisfied. I discovered what I would rather be doing and how I could help other people to find fulfillment.  

So you chose to take the plunge and try it?
Absolutely, Marilyn (Atkinson) really took me under her wing. The whole team at Erickson has always nurtured and supported me, and I have always felt their strong belief in me as a coach.  

At first, I faced in-credulousness from some of my friends and family. Here I had this really great job with five weeks of vacation a year and a government pension and I gave it up to become a coach. To some people that seemed crazy but the funny thing is that it never even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to make this a business. In my first year, I dove into coaching full-time and made over six figures! I never doubted I would be successful.  

I think once you allow the voice of “reason or fear” to plant the seed of doubt, it will eventually take over. I just DID IT! 

In fact, I often find myself in the company of people who have a framework of scarcity and fear and I find I always get the best results with those people.  

That’s very inspiring! What do you attribute your success to?
Well, it’s a combination of things. I’m lucky in that I’ve never had the little voice that says, “I can’t”. I just take the plunge with anything that feels right and resonates with me. I also love the Erickson approach to coaching.

Many coaching programs have the friendly, supportive, holding you accountable for your actions feel but only Erickson gives you the actual tools; the questions to shift people’s experience and shift how they see the world and it’s that shift that’s so powerful. My approach is a culmination of many techniques and teachings. Erickson gave me a clearer understanding of the tools I had, the larger framework to put them all in, as well as, the confidence and trust to learn elsewhere and tie everything together for myself.  

There’s a magic, a lightness that happens in my coaching sessions; an opening to new possibilities. Being present and watching a client’s mind shift into a different experience, is magic. I serve, contribute to, and connect with each one of my clients. By honouring the coaching process and trusting that every client has their own answers, allows me to be patient and see them through to their own individual breakthroughs.  

How has it impacted your life; any breakthroughs?
Had I not done this training, I wouldn’t be living the life I lead today. Stepping out on my own has allowed me to live my values; I truly “walk my talk”. And that’s why I’m successful. I’m a proof of my values and training and coaching skills. That’s why as an executive coach I do so well with top-level leaders. Because I live a balanced life, I can help them to find their own balance and show them that it’s possible.  

The external challenges of the world will always happen. Snags will always come along but you can learn to see those snags from a new perspective and thus deal with them differently. It is from this shift in perspective that success can be found.  

Being a coach has supported me in living my entire “life wheel”. I have created a career that not only allows me the flexibility of time but a flexible way of thinking and being in the world. I feel very blessed and am grateful for the nature of my work fulfills all of my deepest values.  

And to take a quote from Stacy’s own website: “There is no passion in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living.” - Nelson Mandela