Professional life coaches can make a profound impact in people’s lives. Some stories we’ve heard from our Erickson-trained coaches are just too inspiring not to share.
“Tell me something great about yourself,” coach Valerie asked a group of addicts in recovery.
Nine out of ten of them were able to at least give some sort of answer: “I can paint” or “I can cook a gourmet meal” or “I speak four languages.” But one person out of all of them just couldn’t give an answer. This would be the first step on a carefully-managed road to recovery and she was already stalled. It was heart-breaking and potentially a big stumbling block for a non-professional to deal with. After all, if a client can’t take that first step, how will they set their own goals?
Whether working in addiction recovery, business coaching or life coaching, professionally trained coaches know to ask powerful open-ended questions because it’s the best way to get people talking.
In this case, it had fallen flat but Valerie wasn’t discouraged. This was just part of the coaching process. “Sometimes, it’s a little harder to get your client to open up,” she said. “You just have to try a different key.”
“Tell me about someone who ever loved you,” Valerie asked the reluctant participant. The shy woman, Mabel, thought hard about it. “My grandmother,” she replied after an awkward pause. “She loved me.”
“If someone were able to ask her right now what she thought was special about you, what do you think she would say?” Valerie asked. Mabel thought hard again. “I guess she would say I was funny. I made her laugh.” At that point, the ice didn’t just break – it completely opened up. The rest of the group suddenly chimed in with their own experiences. “She is funny!” one added with a chuckle, apparently remembering some recent incident. “She cheers us up all the time.” This was the first milestone on Mabel’s road to recovery.
One of the first aims with recovering addicts is to restore self-confidence and self-esteem. “At first, you’re helping them to achieve their goal of sobriety one day at a time – and ultimately, for more extended periods,” she says. But without a longer-term goal, anyone, in recovery or not, can fall back into old habits. That’s why it was so uplifting for Valerie when Mabel took the initiative of approaching her. “I’m ready to take the next step,” Mabel said on their next encounter. Valerie went through the coaching process with her, continuing to ask open-ended questions to understand her goals, capabilities, challenges, and how she could ultimately achieve success that was meaningful for her.
Today, Mabel is still in recovery. She has successfully chased down her dream of getting her private pilot’s license – something that might have taken years, or may not happened, otherwise! “The power of Solution-Focused life coaching and asking the right questions never fails to get the client to open up their brain to the possibilities,” Valerie says. “It's inevitable. This is the process for anyone or anything – to be the best in life they can be.”
Valerie L, Erickson Graduate and Recovery Coach