About a month ago I did something that’s been on my to-do list for about five years: I signed up for professional life coaching certification. Ever since I started the regular practice of meeting with a coach of my own, I’ve let the thought simmer on the back burner what it might look like to do the same for others.
For a good part of this year, I’ll be in class, learning from professionals. For the second half of the year, I’ll be logging practicum hours, learning what it’s like to coach in real time. I’m nervous and I’m thrilled.
I don’t yet know what my practice will look like once I’m certified, because my priority will remain writing — more books, in particular. But I’m pretty sure it’ll have something to do with the marriage of travel and introspection; my purpose for the relatively newly christened trips I lead is to host meaningful conversations in meaningful places. That feels like the type of coaching I want to embody.
Who knows really where this will lead, at this point, but I love the idea of holding space for others to find their answers as we let meaningful places around the world speak to us in new ways. And doing this in small groups is where it’s at, I think — just enough people to tap into a hive mind of thoughtful wisdom, but small enough for those conversations to truly have purpose and meaning.
For me this year, it looks like leading a small group of brave women for a week in London and its surroundings, using the filter of its literary greats to explore, learn, and move forward in wisdom.
And it looks like this fall, where a small group of brave women patrons will gather with me for a weekend right in Georgetown, my delightful small town just outside Austin, where they’ll be my guinea pigs as I practice the fine art of life coaching in a small group weekend setting. More gatherings will most likely follow, since there’s already a waiting list the size of two more small group workshop weekends.
It feels good to learn and try something new. It feels good to have finally started something I’ve wanted to do for half a decade. It feels good to feel vulnerably like a beginner, to not know what lays ahead, to risk going beyond the safety of screens and delight in face-to-face connection.
As I continue to learn what it means to coach well, here are three small questions my coach has asked me over the years. These three questions almost embody all the introspective questions we ask ourselves.
1. Where am I right now?
This question asks us to name the present, to acknowledge where we are today, and to notice the little things. No judgment, no panic, no stress. It just asks us to name the place where we stand right now.
2. Where do I want to go?
Asking this question summons the possibilities, gives us permission to dream big or be honest about the small, and to get clear on what’s just beyond the fog in front of us. It’s an invitation to be honest with ourselves and give a name to the thing we want — again, without judgment. We’re simply being honest with what’s already inside us, asking to come alive.
3. What’s getting in the way?
This is The Question, right? Because by parking here, we invite honest feedback and a gentle reality check. Again, this question doesn’t hold judgment, but it does ask us to get real about the thing behind the thing — what’s behind the curtain, after the bend in the road, or hiding under the clutter.
None of these three questions are easy, but they are simple — and they can be asked again and again, about all sorts of things. You can be macro about the whole thing, and ask these three things about Your Life As It Stands. Or, you can zoom to micro level, and ask the trio on repeat about your health, your work, your relationships, and beyond.
These three questions hold so much power, and yet I see them simply as envelopes to open, one at a time, with invitations to ask what’s really going on. They remind me a little of what I ask myself in my Think Days. But these can be asked as I sit in traffic, stir the soup, or brainstorm the book outline. I can mull over them in real time, in real life.
They’re the keys to unlock what’s really going on.
Sometime this week, consider asking yourself these three questions. Perhaps you’ll find a “enroll in life coaching certification” of your own, patiently waiting inside your soul, asking if it can come out and play. Or maybe you’ll simply find the measure of contentment you’ve been looking for, to help you remember you’re doing the right things you need to be doing at the moment.
Either way, let these three questions be invitations you give yourself. What do you think some of your answers will be?