During my summer holidays I have met a man who was physically very similar to Donald Trump. He was around 70 years old, small (1,60 M), same hair color and style like Donald Trump, he does not look very friendly either and even though he came from New York, he was originally from Georgia (Russia). He came to spend two weeks holidays in Aruba with his wife. When I first met him, I was doing the queue at the hut where one can lease the deck chairs at the beach in order to get four for me and my family. Suddenly little Donald Trump came to me and complained that I had taken his place at the queue.
He argued that I took his place while he was training with his soccer ball 30 meters from the queue. He told me that he can not just sit and wait until the office for the chair-rental opens. And he also said that this was his chair even though he was away playing soccer by himself. I told him that I understood and I just took a place after his empty chair. But he still continued complaining and talking to the air about my mistake of having taking his chair for two minutes. People looked at him but nobody was formally in his conversation.
I had the impression that he was honest and that he is the kind of person that says the things exactly the way he experiences it, so he expresses his own true.
Next day, I arrived again after him. I took a chair behind his chair and I start reading. Then a woman came and she took his place. I explained her that this chair was already occupied by the man who was playing soccer by himself over there, but she didn't care, she was impolite and told me that if he was playing, he lost his chair and she just took his place. All the people in the queue look at her without saying a word. After a while she felt so uncomfortable that she just left and I put my book on the chair to avoid that it happens again. Little Donal Trump watched everything and looked at her with a mad face. He came back to his place and I took my book to let his chair free. He started to tell how impolite that woman was and how shocked he was with the abusive behaviour of that woman.
I did not know to whom he was talking to. To me? To the whole line of people? To himself? Is it possible that I paced him unconsciously and he was talking to me?
The next day I decided I will coach little Donald Trump
The next day I arrived early. I was the second person in the queue to reserve the deck-chairs. Little Donald Trump arrived a bit later and was on the fifth place in the queue. Then he walked to a terrace that was about 30 meters away from the queue and started playing soccer by himself. I put my book on his chair to reserve his place and avoid problems. He came and started to talk to me and to the other people in the line. I guess he was in a good mood. He was funny and the people liked him and we all laugh with him at his jokes. It was interesting to see how my first impression of him were changing: from a grumpy old little man to a total social success with the people of that place. Everything was fine until he started to talk about the social and political situation in the USA. That was pretty uncomfortable for many people in the line because all of them were Americans, who were on vacation and don't want to talk about politics. Some of the people started to use their phones, other continued reading their books and I was left there listening to his complain about how bad the situation was. I felt uncomfortable, but then I thought, that was my chance to coach little Donald Trump!
I did not talk about politics, but I listened to him in order to find the spots where I could turn around the conversation from complaining to a solution oriented perspective. It was not easy, that was a real challenge. He talked a lot and I couldn't find the turning point. I tried to discover the figure and the ground of his theme. I just wanted to figure it out, what was behind his concern. After a big while I thought that not finding solutions to the social and political situation for his neighbourhood was his real problem. In such a case the hypothetical frame was an excellent tool to work with.
If you were President of the United States what would you do?
I asked. He looked at me as if he didn't expected that question at all. He was speechless. I let him a while in his astonishment but I was waiting for him to answer. He asked me, "What do you mean with that?" He looked upset. He thought I was joking. I just asked the question again with all respect. He told me his first solution. And I asked, "What else?" It really does not matter if the solution was right or wrong. The important thing was to bring him in a position to open up and to bring his awareness to focus on solutions. He started to tell one thing after the other. He started to have fun telling me about how he would solve all the problems of his neighbourhood and he got happier with every answer he was telling me. At the end he said, "I know, I am not a President. But it was fun to talk about it".
And that is exactly what was our conversation about: to change from problem oriented to a solution oriented conversation and it was great even though it was not a formal coaching session!
Life coaching is not only what coaching training schools can tell you. All those definitions are pretty boring to me. The first time I heard about life coaching, I didn't get so much mumbo-jumbo about how to be a coach and how complicated life coaching would be. I know that life coaches speak in their own coaching language and it may follow different styles and methodologies. In these circumstances, it is normal to be confused and check with wikipedia in order to get an idea about life coaching, even though we all know how inaccurate Wikipedia could be. Anyway, it doesn't hurt to check on what Wiki has to say about life coaching. We just have to be clear that Wikipedia is not the ultimate truth.
This blog offers part of my truth about life coaching. So, let's check the following seven points about Life Coaching and see how easy it can be to talk about it. May be you want to become a life coach too, who knows?
1.- Life Coaching Offers You Rewarding Experiences
One of the most exciting experiences I have had, was when I coached an american couple who were facing a big challenge in their lives at that moment. They also seemed a bit sceptic about coaching. But after I answered all their questions, there was no other choice for them to start answering to my first question. After a while and after a lot of paying attention to what they said and felt, we connected. They started to open up and being more receptive. During our conversation I could see more spots that needed my full attention to be clarified. Then, I asked them some questions. They had some remarkable A-ha moments they couldn't explain with words, but instead, they immersed in their feelings and reached peace of mind. Finally they show themselves relaxed and their face expressions showed such a beautiful warm look I cannot describe. After that moment I gave them some time before we start working on solutions, but they were not ready for that yet. This peaceful feeling conquered the room and the session was almost finished. Before they say good-bye, they explained to me that they never have been so enlighten about what was happening to them. That was more than enough for me to know that they were on the right track to solve their situation. I saw their faces full of hope. Even though they didn't find their solution right there, it doesn't matter because they are on their way to find it. I trust that baby steps bring big changes.
2.- Life Coaching is as Wide as Life is
What type of themes can you bring to a life coaching session? You can talk about whatever you want. You can talk about your actual love life, work life, social life and spiritual life. You can talk about your goals, your plans and your wishes. You can talk about looking for solutions and making big changes that will transform your life or you may just go step by step to realise small changes in your life. The important thing is that you clarify your mind and discover the way you function to achieve success.
3.- Everybody is an Undercover Life Coach
We are all masters in life and we can learn from each other at the present moment. It depends on our perception, on where we are directing our attention. A person and a situation have many different meanings according to the way we perceive reality. We learn not only from the good friends and the nice or the positive people we meet. I know this is what we all prefer to experience. But everybody can teach us something. The people we don't like without any reason, are showing us what we are projecting on them. So let's learn what is that we don't like about them and let's change it in ourselves. Then we can not change the others, that's an illusion. Interestingly we can realise that we feel different when we are with different people. This is so important when we look for a coach to talk to. That's the same great feeling we have, when we talk to a friend drinking a cup of coffee. We feel comfortably and understood.
4.- Life Coaching is about being Human, not Perfect
When someone tells you that s/he is a life coach, what is your first expectation of the person? Some people think life coaches are the perfect happy people, who've discovered the source of happiness or that life coaches are enlightened Buddhas and know the path to be out of suffering.
I have never ever met a life coach like that. All of them look pretty imperfect and normal to me. All of us have problems and all of us also need a good life coach that help us to be fit.
All life coaches need a life coach too. I have my own life coach too. And this is an investment in myself.
5.- Life Coaching Won't Be Standardised by Any Association
Life coaching can not be standardised. Anyone can be a life coach without any training and these are called Intuitive Life Coaches. Many sport coaches retire from the sport world and enter in the business world as executive coaches and they don't have any life coach certification either. Nevertheless, they do a good job and the main clients for these ex-sport-coaches are executive men. Unfortunately the coaching world have some perils that wants to standardised coaching. These are international organisations that also present a list of schools they recommend. If you do not learn coaching by any school of their list, they will not accept you in their global association of coaching.
Life coaching is as wide as life is. Life coaching is as varied as people on this planet and that is why it cannot be standardised.
6.- Life Coaching Can Be Manipulative in The Wrong Hands
That is so true! As I already told you before, I also use life coaching to be fit. It means, I use life coaching to clear up my mind, to define good plans and good strategies to achieve my goals. Therefore, I have had many different coaching sessions with different life coaches. As a client I have experienced that my plans, dreams and goals were deflated like a ballon, when I got the wrong coach four years ago. But this experience did not disappoint me. I just comprehend that I got the wrong life coach and I decided to look for right one for me. I found more than one. During these experiences I learned that It is very important to book a first session to get to know you coach and see if you can trust him/her your theme.
7.- How to Choose a Life Coach
First get clear about why do you want life coaching. Do your homework and read his/her testimonies and reviews. Read his/her website, Facebook-page and other social media references. Then, call her on the phone and pay attention to your feelings about her/his voice. Notice if she/he only talks or only listen. Is it all about you or about her? Book a first session just to get to know her/him and pay attention to your feelings and to your intuition.
Maria Griselda Mueller
is a professional life and executive coach specialized in expats life and cross-cultural support. She is originally from Venezuela, has lived in more than ten countries around the world and has a Master certification in psychological coaching.