Career Coaching Isn’t What You Think

Career coaching is actually about your whole life, and then sometimes about work.

I hear this from almost every new client in our first or second session: “Oh, I’m sorry– I shouldn’t be talking about this stuff. I should be talking about work.” (At that point I cringe in an inconceivably audible way, aware that I haven’t set the stage for what this whole coaching thing is supposed to be about.)

The “I should be talking about work” line comes up after the conversation veers towards something that might just happen to not be directly related to the client’s career:

  • “I’m feeling resentful towards my husband”
  • “I’ve gained so much weight and don’t fit into any of my suits anymore”
  • “I think I’m falling in love!”
  • “I feel like I can’t stand up to my sister”
  • “I’m the one doing all the work managing our kitchen renovation”
  • “I’m so proud that I got my green belt this weekend”
  • “I’m afraid to make the doctor’s appointment”
  • “I went to the most inspiring workshop on creativity”
  • “I’m thinking about going back to church, but…”
  • “My mom needs to go into a nursing home and I’m feeling guilty”
  • “I’m thinking a lot about aliens since the eclipse”*

So here’s the deal, at least here at Happy Spectacular: career coaching is about your career, 100%, for sure. And it’s also about who you are as a person, because the body that walks into work in the morning is a reflection of the other stuff going on (whether you’re worried about your blood pressure or you’re feeling lonely or you’re on a post-vacation high or you’re sad to leave your kid crying at the door).  

Addressing all the stuff that matters makes for a more fulfilled person inside and outside of work.

And it just so happens that working on that outside of work topic usually ends up relating to work anyway. Kind of like when a client talks about how her kids don’t seem to respect her, and then it becomes clear that she’s not assertive with them, or assertive enough at work.

Having happy work is about fixing cruddy work situations and/or making amazing work situations even better, very true, and it’s also about looking at all of the other areas of your life because you know they impact the way you work, too. Let’s work on this life thing, shall we?

Now please read the best poem about living a spectacular life that you might ever come across:

The Invitation by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming, 
from the book The Invitation 
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
 1999. All rights reserved.

Jodi Wellman

Jodi is a co-founder of Happy Work Spectacular Life, loves red Skittles (maybe too much) and is contemplating where to get the Happy Spectacular logo tattooed on her body.

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