Some radical honesty

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been doing some soul-searching about my life and my practice over the last few weeks, after returning from California.  I want to share some of my musings here, since I like to align my internal reality with my external reality as much as possible.

Shortly after my return from vacation, I met with a business coach to talk about my plans for this practice.  The meeting was a bit of a reality check for me.  The coach said my intended timeline for quitting my day job and launching the practice full-time (in early November) was not realistic.  Thinking about it, this made sense to me; I have a few clients, but I’m not far enough along yet to make that leap.  However, this realization felt like a splash of cold water on my California-sun-drenched face.  I was feeling so ready to make a change!

She also told me that in order to be successful on my intended business path, I needed to focus more clearly on my target clients (whom I had been envisioning as people who are thoroughly sick of their paid work and ready to move toward something better aligned with their values and passions) and their specific needs, and focus less on my four areas of interest/passion that I had identified when I started this venture.  I needed to take my own passions and preferences out of the picture, to make way for those of my clients.  I should establish myself as an “expert” for this particular niche:  Offer tips on my website and in email newsletters.  Offer free teleclasses.  Perhaps write a book (electronic or print).  Come up with a step-by-step system to coach people, package it attractively, and build my contact list to gather clients.

From a business perspective, I completely understand and appreciate this advice.  It makes sense.  I have heard similar advice from other knowledgeable sources, such as other career coaches, books, and websites.  This is how one becomes a successful coach these days, it seems.

From the perspective of my heart, soul, and gut, though, I felt uneasy as these ideas sank in.

I do want to help people who are struggling to align their paid work with their values and passions.  But thinking about this prescribed regimen for success did not excite me.  I felt sluggish and reluctant.  Those four passions are deeply, centrally important to me.  Finding/creating my own path is important to me, too.  That’s what I want to encourage others to do: to follow their passions and create their own paths. To find ways to make every day, and every step along the path, worthwhile and enjoyable, rather than steps in a slog toward a hoped-for blissful success at the end.

This is tricky, because I don’t want to fail.  I don’t want to “do it wrong.”  I don’t want to be stuck at my day job forever, trapped by my own stubbornness or an unwillingness to follow a tried-and-true path.  I feel scared and vulnerable talking so openly about these topics here with you now, in front of clients, potential clients, colleagues…  But authenticity and vulnerability are emerging as core values of mine.  And I believe that in showing our vulnerabilities and uncertainties, we also reveal an authentic strength, and a trust in our own truth and our own path.  And I want to work with people who resonate with this truth.

I don’t get excited thinking about myself as a “successful coach.”  I get excited thinking about finding a magical way in the world that is exactly right for me and for the people I know I can work with, support, and inspire.  I know that my clients appreciate what I offer.  I’m beginning to understand myself as someone who sees and appreciates many nuances and complexities of life… and what I want most to do is to hold space for clients to inhabit that glorious messiness in their own lives, on their own paths.  I see myself as a peer and a collaborator who “gets it,” and who is probably at least a few steps farther along the path than my clients are at any given moment, because I live this stuff 24/7.

I see myself as someone who has her own passions, and states them openly.  Who wants to help others who share those passions (or different ones) as they grapple with the challenges, both internal and external, of living those passions, day to day, within the context of paid work or any other life context.

It’s not so much “coaching” that I want to offer. What I want is to support people in asking themselves the questions, and challenging themselves – as I challenge myself – to always stretch, to always believe that creative solutions exist to all problems, to always hold a vision of a better world, and to work consistently toward bringing it about.  That process can be euphoric at times, and deeply satisfying.  It can also be painful, lonely, and fraught with obstacles.  In my Happy to Listen practice, I love to witness people on their conscious paths, and hold space for them to share their truth and emotions, without judgment or advice.  With Dream Into Change, I want to do much the same, but with the added underpinning of the person’s desire to manifest a particular dream, or dreams.  Here, there is more of a focus on movement along a path.

My stated passions represent four examples of areas of life where people might want to work toward their own vision of a better world.  For example, maybe someone is working to integrate Nonviolent Communication into their lives, and they are running into stumbling blocks when practicing with those close to them.  I can offer support and role-plays or other helpful exercises.  Perhaps someone has decided to go car-free, or go vegan, or open up their relationship to become polyamorous… and they are encountering pragmatic obstacles or resistance from family or community members, and need some support.  Or, perhaps they do have a specific dream – such as a new career direction or business idea – that they want to move toward.  I can offer moral and emotional support, collaborative brainstorming, a safe space to cry when things get tough, and community resources, so that no one has to pursue their dream alone.

My dream is to find a way to support myself financially by offering the above.  I don’t seek to be wealthy.  I do want to live comfortably: pay off my mortgage, travel around the country (and world!) by train, eat at wonderful vegan restaurants, give to nonprofits whose missions I support… etc.  I want a mutually satisfying, collaborative relationship with clients. I’m feeling good about the honesty and vulnerability of sharing my messy, work-in-progress dream with you right now. I want all of our dreams to come true… and I believe we can do it.  If you, or someone you know, might want to work with me as a client, or colleague, or collaborator of any sort, I invite you to contact me at maren@dreamintochange.com. I’m dreaming into my own change – whatever the path or pace turns out to be – and I’m excited to help others dream into theirs.

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