You’re interested in coaching because you feel you can have a meaningful impact to help someone achieve their goals. But how does life coaching really do that for actual clients outside the classroom? We chatted with an expert at getting people to get the best out of their potential, even when they’re feeling at their worst: Dermot Butterly. He is a professional life coach and Trainer’s Assistant for Erickson Coaching International.
Dermot has coached people from all walks of life. When it comes to business and financial coaching, he’s helped some clients develop large revenue streams, but one story of a modest goal set early on in his career sticks out in his mind.
“One of the principles in Erickson’s coaching program is that people already have the resources to be a success,” Butterly says. “When I first heard this principle, I remember being skeptical. I was driving in my car and saw a homeless man begging for money on the street. I thought, how could this guy have all the resources available to him to improve his life?”
Fast forward a year later, and Butterly was giving back by creating a life coaching program for people in a homeless shelter. “This homeless man (Bob) comes to a session and I asked him about his goals,” he says. “He pulled a cell phone out of his bag. He held it up and said, ‘I want a battery for this phone’.”
Curious, Butterly asked him how he planned to use the phone.
"I only have two friends in the world who care that I'm alive,” the homeless man explained. “Recently, all of my belongings were stolen. The only thing that was given back to me by the person who stole my stuff was the phone – but the thief kept the battery. Before my phone was stolen, I had a habit of calling these two people once a month, just to let them know I’m OK. I want to be able to call these two people again."
That was the goal – and Butterly helped the man through it the way he’d been trained. “We did a few coaching sessions and Bob came up with the plan – and it was laid out in detail.” To get the money for the battery, the man would need to bring back a number of cans and bottles to the local recycling center. The plan entailed making $12 a week from that activity.” In four weeks, the man had earned enough to purchase the phone battery.
“That might not seem like a big deal to you or I, but from the look on his face, you would swear Bob had just won $1 million. He shows up with the phone in one hand and the battery in the other and says ‘I wanted you to be the first to see. Thank you for your help, but I don’t need your services anymore. Now I’m going to call my friends.’”
Everyone does have the resources in them to succeed, Butterly realized then. “They may not have the resources they want in that moment, but they have the ability within them to find those resources and get what they need. That was a powerful lesson for me. I finally made peace with that coaching principle as Bob walked out the door with his ear to the phone that was finally working.”
Want to read about more life coaching success stories? Check out other articles on our blog.