Life or Death | David Couper Consulting

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Life or Death

Posted by David A. Couper, MA on December 11, 2019 4:13 PM
Life or Death

Sometimes people ask me why they should get a coach. There is no should. You shouldn't do anything in this world unless you want to, apart from flossing, helping old ladies cross the street, and doing the right thing.  

The easiest way to explain why you might want to get a coach is to share my experience. For the last twenty years, I have worked with many coaches. I believe that any successful coach should invest in their growth and experience what it feels like to receive coaching.

Let's get back to the question at hand.  The reason to get a coach is if your life depends on it. If it is a life or death moment, it’s pretty easy to forgo Starbucks and invest that money in help. That person could be a therapist, a priest, or a spiritual leader.  But I didn't want to work through my "dark night of the soul." I needed to make decisions, take action, and get some peace on things that were keeping me up at night. For me, I needed a coach.

At the time, I was running my business, working with healthcare companies on culture change and leadership.  It was OK. I thought business was the area of focus when looking for a new coach. One particular coach caught my eye.  He had a successful consulting firm; I reached out to him for help growing mine. But when we met, we instead focused on my relationship with my young son.  He certainly did help with my business, but it was my personal life that he transformed.

My son is a fantastic kid. My late husband and I adopted him as a baby. He is smart, sensitive, very kind, loves animals and little kids.  He also witnessed the death of his "Papa" when my partner drowned in an accident. That trauma hit him hard, adding to his existing attachment issues from being adopted. He did not know how to process his emotions.  They came out as anger at others, at me, and himself.  

Fear about a possible dark future for my son consumed me.   It had been eating away at me to the point that I had trouble functioning.  My coach enabled me to accept that my wonderful boy was struggling; it wasn't my fault even though I wanted it to be. If it was, I could somehow "fix it."  My coach helped me see that I could live both with a positive vision of his future and accept that there could also be a dark future. The truth could end up living in the middle. That revelation was huge. 

In life, we need to take a middle (or neutral) track. But understanding the positive and negative on both sides of us is a Buddhist idea too. Unfavorable outcomes in vivid detail had previously consumed me.  This new realization saved my life.  

Sometimes it's easiest to see the answer for others, but the hardest to see it for ourselves.  That's where a coach becomes revelatory. Having a coach who could be with me in my anxiety, sadness, and despair was a gift. It's a particular coach who can be strong enough to help their client dive down deep without getting stuck in the mud.  My coach was able to stay afloat and help me to shore, just as I had with my domestic partner when I tried to save him. The hard truth is, there are elements of life over which we have no control. But with this new outlook, I have the mindset and footing to save myself, grow my business, and be there for my son.

As a successful executive coach, I've worked with everybody you can imagine.  I've met a 70-year-old woman making $7 an hour whose company paid me to help her find her next job.  I've helped a man who was making 7 figures uplevel to a better C-level position to keep up with school fees, mortgages, and avoid moonlighting as a barista.  Great coaches and life taught me all I know. I can empathize with what my clients are experiencing while keeping them and myself grounded and moving forward.  With a strong foundation, I find it possible to help others find their "aha!" moments so they may thrive.  

So should you get a coach? It has to be up to you.  All I know is that with the right coach, anything is possible-- including getting your life back or creating a new one. Four years later, my son is doing well. He is a growing teenager and likes fishing.  I see a bright future. I also know that we can never know what life will bring us, and I am OK with that. Now, my son wants to live in Alaska because "it's beautiful, and you can go fishing." Alaska is not my current ideal next destination after living in California for the last 20 years. So maybe I should get a new coach--  Anchorage I hear is lovely in the spring perhaps? 

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