Kelly started coaching with me as part of a multi-year, company-wide leadership development program for senior-level leaders. The program included individual coaching to bring everyone to a higher level of professional performance and to strengthen collaboration within and between departments. A key element of the program included building emotional intelligence (EQ) for individuals and teams.
When Kelly first started coaching, she had a firm demarcation between her work and personal lives. Work was work, personal was personal. She rarely discussed her hobbies, interests, or family at the office. Her determination to keep work and personal compartmentalized sometimes created a level of frustration, especially when she felt pressured to put work above her family, staying late to meet urgent deadlines and missing family plans,
Kelly discovered that what she really sought was greater alignment between her personal and professional goals. I asked Kelly – who has a strong artistic side – to try vision boarding, so she could experiment with a more flexible approach and see that her core values could be expressed in harmony with work and her personal life. Kelly has a very rich home life and a real passion for cooking, art, and writing, but she didn’t feel comfortable bringing any of that to work with her. “It was eye-opening to see what components ended up on that board and what components didn’t. It was clarifying.”
Kelly then worked on bringing her career expectations more in line with those values. Kelly prioritized her desire to create value and feel like she had an impact on results, rather than simply focusing on efficiently completing her projects.
Kelly found her individual EQ Assessment particularly useful and throughout her sessions worked on self-awareness, flexibility, and self-actualization. “I didn’t realize how I sometimes came across to people,” Kelly commented. “Knowing that made me more mindful of how I effect the people around me.” I suggested a self-awareness audit exercise that would help her become more aware of the behaviors she wanted to change, then worked with Kelly to address these changes.
Self-Actualization: Pursuit of meaning, self-determination
Self-Awareness: Understanding our own emotions and how our actions impact others
Flexibility: Adapting thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
Kelly continues to use her increased self-awareness today. “I’ve taken that awareness into my new job, which followed post-coaching sessions with Amanda. I’m doing things differently and I try to behave in new ways so that I don’t make the same assumptions that tripped me up previously.”
Kelly became more comfortable including what was important to her personally into her work day. When traveling on business, she added solo trips to local art museums. She arranged her schedule to leave work at 2 PM on Fridays. She turned off her computer and kept it off all weekend. Although initially quite reluctant, Kelly decided to bring her vision board to work and post it in her office. It felt a little risky to her to hang up her true desires for anyone to see, but the board was a reminder and inspiration to bring her back to what she wanted for herself.
After her company was sold, Kelly assessed new job opportunities from the mindset of whether they would bring her closer to or further away from those core values. “I’m most proud of the fact that I reframed my current situation in light of my overall career goals. Rather than get bogged down in the details of my day-to-day, I was able to get a broader perspective on what I wanted to accomplish and what was really important to me.”
I started to ask myself, where can I achieve results that will make a difference in a year and a half? Rather than, where can I be promoted to the next level?
Shifting limiting beliefs
As we continued to work together, Kelly identified a limiting belief that was holding her back professionally and personally. “I really thought I didn’t have a choice about what came next.” As a result, she felt stuck in her current position. Even though it had been fulfilling, Kelly wanted something different.
Amanda helped me see that I wasn’t stuck. I get it now that I do have choice around what I want to bring about in my career.
I can go high profile; I can go low profile. I have a choice.
I asked Kelly to do Ten Minute Drills to get clarity on her preferred future and what she wanted to experience during her work day. Every day, for ten minutes, for 30 days, she brainstormed on paper what her ideal work day looked like. There were no wrong ideas and no limits.
Kelly says of this experience, “I could just envision something going positively the way I would like. Instead of thinking, ‘Oh, this is how it’s going to be, because this is how it’s always going to be,’ you re-frame a situation. What’s my day going look like? What’s my first hour going to look like?”
“Just doing some positive thinking around how you want it to be can help you to create more of what you want in your professional life.”
Kelly notes that her current position is a very different position than she had before. “I don’t know that I would’ve accepted this without the opportunity to work with Amanda. She helped me put the framework around what it is that I want in the whole picture of my life, of which work is just a part. The inner conflict I used to have is gone.”
In closing, Kelly reflects, “I really enjoyed working with Amanda, and the relaxed atmosphere of meeting at her home office. I know most clients meet with her virtually, but my work was close enough and I enjoyed that. Amanda isn’t hesitant to call you on your avoidance or your excuses. She’s pretty honest and insightful. I recommend her to anyone looking to get clarity around what it is that they’re truly interested in bringing about in their career.”
Making space and time to get honest about what you want out of life, both personal and professional, opens up possibilities you may not have been able to see before. For Kelly, we gave attention to her ideal situation and little by little, she got there, creating lasting choice and change for herself.