A Career Coaching Case Study: Coaching Sam

Sam came to coaching with the specific goal of having his book published overseas. He had an agent but wanted to do this as a separate activity as he was finding his agent more of an obstacle versus a supporter. The coach’s role was to support Sam in coming to believe that he could, indeed, achieve this. As the sessions evolved he also wanted to be kept accountable for the actions he committed to undertake.

Trust was built quickly, more so because Sam is a spiritual soul and connected with his coach’s energy straight away. Being a published author, his anonymity was paramount as he had reservations about what readers would think if he was known to be ‘seeking support’ when he is portrayed as an ‘expert’ himself. As the coaching relationship deepened and progressed over time, this issue diminished.

Sam saw the task of securing an overseas contract as overwhelming – he was frightened and stuck as how to proceed. However, he showed huge levels of determination and a willingness to do whatever it took to secure it. Using goal templates he began to break down the huge task into manageable components and actions that he felt comfortable achieving.

These actions and tasks were consistently checked to ensure that they were indeed possible in the time frames he set himself, and that he could ask others for help. Sam shifted perspective from thinking he was an island to seeing that he had a network of helpers around him, even including his agent, that were only too happy to assist where they could.

As each action was gently competed, Sam was encouraged to celebrate his success and acknowledge his achievements. Initially he was reluctant to celebrate such ‘small’ successes but as time passed, he began to enjoy his rewards and now plans them without having to be reminded. This homework was poignant as Sam thought of business as boring, but now had a fun angle to it. As some of these actions were mundane, Sam was delighted that his coach was enthusiastic and interested in them, as he had never shared these with anyone else before. He consistently says that he is no longer alone.

Running parallel with this big goal, were the deadlines for his regular columns, and working on a financial independence plan. The structure and setting up a WorkStyle Week was discussed and now set up and followed, taking an afternoon off each month.

The exciting news is that Sam had a positive response from an international publisher and has now been published in four different languages, and he is receiving royalty cheques. The major awareness that he saw was that although he saw himself as a creative soul, the ‘business’ side of writing can be fun and achieved. It is not the dread that he once thought it was. By partnering with a coach, Sam is moving forward and realising his dreams.

Here is an extract of an article that Sam wrote for my company’s e-newsletter, Work Style by design:

The power of one is a magical phrase almost everyone knows, thanks to the best selling Aussie writer Bryce Courtney and his million dollar book title. But to me the ‘Power of Two’ is the really magical phrase. It explains the astounding success of life coaching as a tool to reach your goals. When I was struggling for years by myself to reach major goals, like a dejected Lone Ranger riding a weary horse along a deserted plain, I used to feel overwhelmed and tired just contemplating my lofty goals. It’s a wonder I didn’t shoot myself with a silver bullet. Right through my daily planner.

In 2001 I read an article on life coaching in a daily newspaper. I tracked down a few coaches on the phone and felt immediate rapport with Belinda Merry. At our first meeting, I discovered a vibrant blonde wearing lots of hot pink clothing who runs a chic and zippy office, radiant with hot pink pens, hot pink paper, hot pink post-it notes, hot pink paper clips and hot pink memos. Belinda seemed so fired up with zing, I felt he could generate life in a statue.

At her request, I sorted out five major goals. By myself it took all day deciding which five, but many things fell into place just completing this first task. How energised, clear and pleased I felt. How inspiring to divide this task up into manageable bites and actually start chomp-chomp-chomping on them! Sure, I knew about this technique in theory, but by myself I procrastinated.

“Why don’t you just ask a friend or family member to check up on you instead of paying money for a coach?” one close buddy asked. “No way,” I explained. “Somehow it never works. Long-term friendsand family can run out of juice and peter out. Besides, with friends you know you can wheedle out of deadlines if you slack off, or if there is a Brad Pitt movie on TV or if they’ve just fallen in love or your hot water system explodes or something.”

Yep, there is something life changing about putting your money where your mouth is. Deep down in your soul – or maybe your wallet – you know at long last you mean business. As my life coachingprogressed my own energy and enthusiasm doubled. Suddenly I was reaching those up in the sky, unattainable goals.

It got me thinking back to first year psychology. I faintly remember a lumpy book describing a series of experiments – how one person alone, faced with opposition, finds it difficult to perform a challenging task. But add a second, supportive person and the first person suddenly increases their power and endurance in a manner that is way out of proportion to the assistance added by the second person.

Academics evidently also know about the ‘Power of Two’. It may sound simple, but in real life it is magic.
So now, at a cocktail party level, I attribute my new happiness and success to my coach, Belinda – my hot pink policewoman who keeps me on track. But at a deeper level, I know it is the ‘Power of Two’.

(Belinda Merry who wrote this Case Study may be reached at belinda@belindam.com, her web site is www.belindam.com)