These days everywhere I look I see the term “Coach." There are Life Coaches, Wellness Coaches, Health Coaches, Spiritual Coaches… you name it and I’ll bet my scrawny ass there’s a Coach for it.
To be very frank this hasn’t sat very well with me since the term first began being bandied about. The word “Coach” brought up repressed memories of a potato sack relay in 4th grade where I placed 5th and an image of Beulah Balbricker of “Porky’s” fame. I was 12 when I watched Porky’s for the first time and Beulah formed a scarier figure in my psyche than Jason Myers and Freddie Kreuger combined. Not only would Beulah yank on my proverbial dong, she would delight in my pain.
My first Coach was my step-father. Every day when he got home from work he would change into his gray, shiny gym shorts and white sneakers, grab the basketball, and inform me we were going to "practice." I hated it. I would sit cuddled on the couch with my nose pressed into a Nancy Drew mystery and instantly my soul would fill with dread. Then I would whine, “I don’t want to play basketball.” There was no arguing with my step-dad. Ever. Off we would go to the middle school basketball courts and he would spend two or more hours drilling me on my faults. “Follow through.” “You’re horrible.” “You need to practice, tomorrow it will be three hours.” I don’t recall ever having won a “game” with my step-dad.
While I don’t remember the name of my second coach, I do remember the shrillness of her whistle as I tried to pull myself up the gym rope to reach the far off red flag on the ceiling. My little hands would burn and my inner thighs would chafe and I’d look down at all of my classmates staring at me, my Coach blowing her whistle and yelling, “CLIMB… Don’t look down. CLIMB.” I realize now it was fear of the laughter of my peers that got me to the ceiling, not any particularly pressing desire of my own to get there.
My last coach memory was my high school gym teacher who happened to head up the track team. At the beginning of the year Coach Sess would run timed drills in 60-meter sprints and I ran so fast that she asked me to be on her coveted team. I was thrilled, perplexed, and honored and joined track for two weeks until the “head pack of boys” in our high school started making fun of how I ran. It didn’t seem to matter that I was lightning fast, it did matter, however, that apparently I looked like a fool doing so.
As I sit here pondering my “Coaches” thus far in life, and as I rifle through my blue, red, and green ribbons and 1st place certificates, I realize that while I was good at sports as a kid, I didn’t feel joy in them. I ran, dribbled, hurdled, and passed the baton throughout school in fear, in trying to belong, and in thinking that just one victory might secure my stepfather’s love.
Well, HELLO… no wonder I have issues with the term “Coach.” Ding, ding, ding, what have we got for her Johnny? I decided that I needed to put some salve on my mental rope burns and call my new friend Fred Krazeise who just happens to be a Wellness Coach.
I asked Fred about the philosophy behind his coaching and how he would describe it. Fred told me that he believes that everyone is a creative, capable, and complete being and his job is to help folks to see that. In other words, one of his “duties” is to help his clients see themselves the way the rest of the world sees them; as whole, perfect beings. He also gave me some points on how to look for a coach and some of the most common thinking errors:
I ended the conversation with Fred asking, “So… would you say a Coach is really like having a best friend?” According to him it is, to a certain extent, but often your best friends don’t have the skill sets to guide you, nor are they able to give you the tough love, or set you fully free to fly. A Coach doesn’t just listen; a Coach guides. A Coach pulls that salve out of their tool box for your own mental rope burns but they let you put it on yourself. You decide if you climb to the top of the rope and reach the flag and, more importantly, you set your intentions as to why you’re climbing in the first place.
Wowza. Sign me up -- but for love, not whistles, for achievement, not rope burns!
Ironically enough, or not (as I believe), Lissa is starting a Coaching Practice. I read her testimonial from Patricia, "Lissa shoots an arrow of love and acceptance through your heart, and that commands change. When I’m tired and don’t think I have the energy to change, she brilliantly points out the next step. When I’m resistant to change, she fearlessly points me back to my own empowerment and creates yet another opening for me to walk through. When I feel hopeless, she ignites hope within me and inspires me to unravel the ropes of my own hopelessness, trace it back to its origin, and rewrite my story..." and thought okay, I want me some of that can I book a session yesterday.
What about you Pinkies? How do you feel about Coaches? Does the term Coach make you cringe and remind you of standing against a brick wall for a game of dodgeball? Or... does it fill you with hope over all of the possibilities?
Climbing with Joy,
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