On Coaching Self

A couple of years ago my oldest child, my daughter, was transitioning form her college life to a choice of professional job. She was making a pretty good list that highlighted pros and cons of two main choices available to her, that were quite significantly different. She was, like most of us would be, trying to be quite predictive, wishing that there was more certainty in a decision that of course, had inherent uncertainty written all over it. She asked for my opinion.

I offered her what I thought were some pretty good bits of Dad advice. And I was glad to offer it. I care about my daughter. I care about the decisions she makes. I care about what’s happening to her under the surface of things.

It’s an old coaching technique to ask someone what they would advise another to do, particularly someone they love, if they were in your shoes. You can see from that little bit of description above as I talk about my daughter how this coaching reality begins to come to play. Hmm…, I care about me too, with what’s happening under the surface of things.

Here’s what I shared with my daughter two years back.

  1. Trust your gut. What do you feel in your gut? I was trying to encourage her to think and feel, not just with her brain, but with her emotional intelligence and her intuitive intelligence. There are so many more ways to “know.”
  2. Go for it. I wanted her to feel encouragement to make a decision that had her leaning in, with full attention and commitment, to what was before her. The “go for it” part is different that the “careful, hesitation,” that can come with such fear.
  3. Express your talents in the world. This job isn’t just about a paycheck. It’s not just about her. It’s about offering some of who you are, in effort and in attention, to a particular domain and geography and group of people. It also builds on the assumption that she has genuine talents and that it is part of a human’s contribution to offer those talents.
  4. You won’t know what all of your talents are — you’re not done learning yet. Not until you are in your circumstances. It’s not like, “hey, cool, college, done — now you’ve maxed out on your talents — finished.” It’s important to name what is a continuous path. And, yes, to welcome leaning in to some surprise in that.
  5. What you are choosing ought to have some soul choice in it. It’s not just a job. You could think of it as a kind of calling. Again, to express some talents, and some wonder in the world.

Yup, the short of it was to go for it. Whatever that is with her (because in the end it was choosing between two good things). And it came with my offer to stay in the thinking and feeling it out with her so that she could come to as much clarity as possible about what she was choosing (not to mention growing some awareness that she even had choice and some privilege in the decision itself).

Yup, wait a minute. That advice to someone we love is pretty darn good advice for self. I can feel it alive in my as I approach a very full and busy two months ahead.

My daughter made her choice. It’s been really good for her. I’ve been happy and proud to watch her growing over these two years. Ironically, now, she is in another significant transition and move.

Fun to know that same advice matters now. To her and to me.

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