Coaching the Cycle of Renewal:

Honing our emotional intelligence can be enhanced not only by educating ourselves about models of adult development like Frederic Hudson’s Cycle of Renewal but also by seeking out mentors as coaches. Let’s face it – we are all bombarded with a myriad of people and events that scream for our attention. How much time do we consistently set aside to listen to ourselves and to build perspective about our experiences? How often do we sincerely seek feedback about our behavior? When was the last time someone actually held us accountable for our New Year’s Resolutions?

Coaching is a unique relationship
In Co-active Coaching by Laura Whitworth et al., the coaching relationship is broken down into the following basic premises: the coaching client is viewed as capable and resourceful, the client is seen as a whole person with a complex and interdependent set of needs and desires, and the client has sole responsibility for determining the agenda for coaching.

The coaching relationship is what Whitworth calls a “designed alliance”. The power of the relationship flows from the environment it creates allowing the client to grow and manage change in ways that provide the best result for the client. Coaches ask the hard questions that guide the client to find his own answers. Coaching is about facilitating the client’s learning anddoing.

Whitworth breaks down the agenda of coaching into three fundamental aspects of the client’s life: fulfillment, balance, and process.

First, fulfillment centers on what the client truly values in her life. What deeply stirs her passion and sense of commitment? Determining life values leads naturally to life choices that are satisfying. It is intimately connected to achieving individual potential.

Second, balance involves being able to focus and nurture those parts of the client’s life that give him a sense of purpose and satisfaction. The coach encourages the client to manage his life in ways that speak to the whole person in terms of career, intimate partners, family, friends, community, and personal growth.

Finally, Coaching is a process of personal development with detours, periods of stagnation, fits of starts and stops, and triumphs. The coach’s job is to provide consistent feedback about where the client is in the process, where she has come from and where she says she wants to go.
Coaching in action

So let’s say that you are in Frederic Hudson’s “Getting Ready” Transition Stage as we discussed in prior articles. You are experimenting, networking, and training to test out your desire to live your life according to your passions and convictions. You hope that you are on the verge of catapulting yourself into “Go For It” (e.g. getting that “dream job” after graduation). Let’s pretend that you present your coach with the following scenario and see how the coach might respond.
Client question:

I feel fortunate and in some ways guilty complaining about my current job dilemma. I have two job offers and neither is really my “dream job”, but in this economy I feel grateful to have some choice. One job involves a nonprofit that will give me some experience administering a program with a diverse population of colleagues as well as customers. However, the pay is low and it means relocating to St. Louis, a city that offers very little in terms of culture and recreation. The second job offer is located in one of my favorite cities, Chicago, and pays better. However, I am concerned that the division I am hired for has less potential for providing me with the work experience I want. I have heard too through the grapevine that this company chews up people with long hours and requires a lot of political buckling under to climb the ladder.

Coach’s response:
First, take each job scenario and play it out in your imagination over the next year given the information that you are fairly certain of so far. Imagine how you are feeling at your first year anniversary. What have you have gained professionally? What have you gained personally? What professional and personal goals were you unable to achieve? Why? What held you back? Were there any pleasant/unpleasant surprises?

What are the three most important goals for you to accomplish in your life the 12 months following graduation? Rank them. How does accomplishing these goals fit into these two job scenarios? How would gathering more information about the job scenarios possibly open up new potential to meet your goals?

Ask yourself, what it is about your “dream job” that makes it so desirable. How does it relate to your personal values? How do your current job scenarios relate to your values? What would happen if you turned down both job offers? What resources would it take to create your own “dream job”?

Finally, explore why you feel fortunate being offered two jobs neither of which are ones you say you truly want.

In next week’s column read how coaching can help us deal with our “Gremlin”, our internal saboteur, the creator of our self-doubt, fears and resistance to change.

Editor’s Note: Susan S. Wilner, M.S. is a personal coach and cross-cultural corporate trainer in the metro-Boston area. She can be reached at

April 1, 2002
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