Success E-Letter Vol.1/3 Fall 2001
Coaching During Adversity
Nina Ham, CPPC, LCSW
Even before the events of Sept. 11th, I had been reflecting on coaching as a resource during times of adversity. My year, personally, had been filled with adversity — surgeries, illnesses, and family deaths. In these last turbulent weeks, when adversity-emotional, spiritual, and even economic- is confronting us all, I've been aware more than ever of the benefits of coaching. I've seen it provide my clients with a welcome rudder, keeping them on course toward the changes they want in their lives. I've seen coaching help them decide whether and how they need to modify their goals, given the uncertainty of these times. But, most heartwarming of all, I've seen them accept the challenge of coaching: to do and be their best, thereby making the one essential contribution that we can all make to our troubled world.
As my clients have been looking at balancing the career and business goals they held before Sept. 11th with the economic, social and emotional changes facing us all in the aftermath, three themes have emerged. I've included them here in hopes they will be useful to you.
Self-care needs to be practiced more rigorously than ever. The levels of grief, horror, and uncertainty affecting us all are deeper than we can know. A client this morning explored how she could care for her "heavy-heartedness" and hold it as a potential source of creativity. She committed to setting aside time for unstructured, "unproductive" solitude. Other clients have mentioned needing time to listen to music or read poetry.
Review your values
Review your values. A natural by-product of the events of 9/11 is to ask what is of bottom-line importance in our lives, now, today? What do we want to be saying "yes" to, tolerating no distraction or diversion? And to honor those "yes"s, where are we required to say no? Changing careers, or expanding your business, may emerge close to the top of your priorities, in spite of admonitions to conserve and secure. Perhaps the self-fulfillment of right work, or the opportunities for yourself and others created by a thriving business, is not to be postponed to more propitious times.
Be realistic. How should we respond to the economic downturn? Focus on working smarter rather than working harder. Assess what risks you want to take, and build in an evaluation process at given intervals to track your results. Consider extending your timeline for achieving certain goals. And lean on your network! Talk with people who may have already tried what you're considering; and in turn offer your experience to others.
Living and working wholeheartedly in the face of adversity is a challenge I hope all of us can step up to. The inspiration, support and focus of coaching can be a powerful resource.