She’d hit the point many people eventually confront in their lives: she simply didn’t love her work anymore. Believing it was time for a new start, Stephanie decided to explore coaching as a possible profession. But as everyone who undertakes training for any form of Whole Person Coaching learns, the experience requires a great deal of self-work. As a result, it’s a process that trickles into every other aspect of your life… with results that are often unexpected and always powerful.
As Stephanie’s dance begins, it’s impossible not to wonder: what will someone with her talents and experience find? But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s start where she did.
Despite an overwhelming level of success, Stephanie was stuck.
She is a professional interior designer who has specialized in home décor for more than 15 years. In that time, she has shaped local culture and helped clients big and small create a dream living space. She has consulted on major projects like full remodels and home staging for resale, as well as smaller personal accents like colorizing and custom window treatments.
As an individual, Stephanie shows up in the classroom gentle-natured, outgoing and upbeat, yet slightly reserved in the beginning. She provides truthful answers while remaining a touch guarded in the way most of us are when first meeting someone, her body posture slightly closed.
Wrapped up in her designer persona, this crossroad is causing stress and indecision, amplified by the toll the economy has taken on the industry and a waning interest in the day-to-day process itself. Worried that the door to her career as a designer is closing, she is unsure what she wants to do next.
“The design world fell apart when the economy tanked,” she tells me. “I needed to reinvent myself. I’ve always been about moving people forward in a positive way. So when I discovered the potential of a career in coaching, it was inviting to me. I wanted to do more. I just didn’t know how to get there. It was like ‘Where do I go now?’ ‘Where do I start?’ I was really lost.”
And at least initially, Stephanie was somewhat lacking for support. When she first began to consider a coaching career, her husband thought it was ridiculous (a “180” we’ll revisit shortly). So Stephanie had a few things working against her. But she’s also highly creative and determined.
Discovering existing strengths
As her classroom sessions get underway, Stephanie is introduced to one of our coaching tools called “mindstyles” as a means to understand others and transform how she looks at and connects with them. And as we’ll see shortly, she’ll immediately be able to take this learning and apply it to the company culture at her workplace. But it’s actually the impact of Courageous Space that has the biggest impact on her.
“I see my strengths now,” she says. When you’d have us talk about ourselves in class, that’s a difficult thing for many people, and for me as well. But it was also transformative. Something about that was impactful to me. It just made me more comfortable overall. I felt liberated and more self-accepting of my gifts.”
Inquiry vs. Assumption
The training immediately starts to affect every relationship in Stephanie’s life. In particular, it frees her from the need to constantly fix things (and people), alleviating the drive to express her opinion. Instead, Stephanie learns to listen and draw things out from others, probing through open-ended inquiry that ends up providing a better perspective and clearer understanding – the two primary components that lead to the most powerful state of sustainable change.
“You said something to me one day in class,” she says. “You were like ‘May I share something I’m noticing?’ And I didn’t have time to say no [laughs]. You go, ‘Stephanie, you’re a marshmallow.’ And I was like ‘Wow, I am! I know it!’”
Embarrassed, as I didn’t recall this conversation. I asked: “What did that mean to you?”
“I felt like it meant you weren’t seeing a strong, solid core in me. And that maybe you thought I was capable of more.”
“Anything else…?” I ask.
“Just that I didn’t have clear boundaries – that inner strength. And it was true. It’s what I was working on at that point in my life.”
“That’s interesting,” I say, “because, what I recall is you were an incredible sponge you absorbed everything; which is great because it sounds like you took my comment in the way that you learned something else from it. Are you sure I called you a marshmellow?”
“Well, I have a lot of compassion and love for people in general. And that hasn’t changed; it’s actually deepened.”
“Perhaps you felt that you were taking too much of the story in, getting caught in the details as we can all do from time to time,” I say. “But it’s only human and, in fact, makes you who you are.”
“Definitely. Before coaching, I took on too much from other people; I’d feel emotions from others,” she says. “I’d take on their problems and absorb the negative energy. Now I have good boundaries.”
Now I’ll be the first to admit: I’m a firm believer in the power of Whole Person Coaching when it comes to creating an idealized life (having developed the process myself). But Stephanie’s transformation was amazing even to me. She’s one of our true rock stars!
She started her work on the ground floor. At that point in her career, she was done. But through coaching, she rediscovered her passion in the work by uncovering the missing piece – the human connection. From there, she used the tools to reshape the services she offered, nabbing a once-in-a-lifetime job at a major design company in the process. Changing her role from interior designer to interior design coach, Stephanie realized she didn’t have to start over. She could easily and organically transfer her skills into her existing career.
“There are so many options with Whole Person Coaching education,” Stephanie says. “These skills are so transferable and they are the key to culture change, moving people from negative conversations and stressful situations to working on solutions – all as a result of the way I phrase things using the coaching language.”
“What do you mean by culture change?” I ask.
“Something I’ve learned is that one person can change a culture for good or for bad,” she says. Becoming a super-positive person within a company is a culture change. Losing criticism and understanding who people are – which the coaching and archetypes help identify – you come to really see who people are and can easily work within that.”
“It’s not just about a job or a career, it’s a lifestyle change.”
“Absolutely! And that culture has had a huge impact on the business. Instead of me telling the client ‘this is what my vision is’, I’ve taken on a full coaching relationship with all of them,” she says. “Through this developmental process, I help them figure out what they really want and, as a result, they become in charge of their design. And they love it!”
The Trickle-Down Effect
Stephanie has taken her learning and done the most rewarding thing possible with it: she’s passing it on to others. With only a few sessions under her belt, she reports feeling “totally different.” In particular, she points to a company leadership meeting she would normally have been afraid of.
The national design company Stephanie works for views their in-home designers as the “talent” and puts them out in the front of the public to market the work. This spotlight is only afforded to a chosen few, so the pressure is high. And it’s something Stephanie jokingly says she would previously have had to take an Ativan even to consider.
“They plaster your face all over the marketing materials as part of this event – magazines, your picture in Better Homes and Gardens, the whole works,” she says. “You also have to create a presentation with a role play and a mock client-relationship then demonstrate how you work with them.”
This means the interior designers, who are mostly shy and reserved, need to have excellent public speaking and presenting skills – in short, presence. In the past, Stephanie has been terrified of this prospect. But as a result of the coaching and the classes, she jumped up, went first, and had astonishing results.
In fact, she excelled in every area of the evaluation and was so successful in her demonstration, she is now mentoring other designers on how to work with clients, build relationships, and enroll more business. On top of that, the corporate office is tapping her for her skills and wanting her to share her secrets so others in the company can replicate the level of her success.
“Tell me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like they were looking for the one who’s going to lead the way,” I say.
“Yeah, they want to model my techniques and use them to train others, but I’m not sure how much I really want them to know. Go pay for it yourself!” She says jokingly. “Let’s get some coaching in there.”
People often view coaching, and the process of coming to school to learn to be a coach, as being about a job or a career. But it’s far more. Coaching is a way of being in a relationship with ourselves, others, and the world as a whole. It trickles down and pays forward. We become complete, possessing communication and conflict skills as well as a range of other really good tools that enable us to work through life’s challenges.
“I’ve been wanting to go to more classes but you’ve made me so successful, I just don’t have time,” Stephanie says. “I’m too busy with clients! I got six new clients in one day. It honestly has been a life-change for me, reshaping how I relate to people.”
“And I also hear that it’s about how you relate to yourself too,” I say. “You’re fully resourceful and capable.”
“Yes! It’s been such a builder for me… and I just started!”
Stephanie’s (now former) company became one of the top design showrooms in the nation. Consistently meeting (and exceeding) sales goals, Stephanie enjoyed the best of both worlds: she has the comfort of a day job while playing the role of entrepreneur and in-house rock star. In fact, she was so successful, she was able to scale down the hours she spent at the office, cutting her schedule from five days a week to three and from 40 hours to no more than 20. All that, and a bump in pay too!
This past year, Stephanie left her corporate role and launched her own school, Heritage School of Interior Design, also serving as its director. Overseeing a group of 11 other specialists, this new stage finds her transitioning yet again. She has gone from someone who simply works within a field to an expert whose focus is now “developing aspiring designers,” building up the success of others by sharing the knowledge and experience that are uniquely her own. No small nod to her belief in the power of coaching, Stephanie attributes this achievement in part to the Master Coach certification she received through The Baraka Institute/Coach Training World.
On a personal level, she has been overwhelmed by the number of women who’ve come to her for help in developing their confidence. With her visibility, Stephanie now finds herself in a position to be able to give back in a very meaningful, personal way by leveraging her training to assist others in achieving their best lives.
And her husband?
“When I was first considering coaching, he was like ‘I don’t believe in this – this is ridiculous,’” she says. “Now my husband, who’s the CEO of his company, brags all the time about my success.”
“Coaching transformed my husband after he saw my transformation. I started coaching him at home and he didn’t even know it. He just turned around and was being coached and was like ‘what just happened?’ So he’s a huge believer; he has an executive coach for everybody at his company!”
Numbers Don’t Lie: The Powerful Impact of Whole Life Application
In a recession, Stephanie used Whole Person Coach training to grow her former employers business by 23% in six months! She’s also become nationally recognized for the rate of home sales she’s involved with, responsible for 90% of closures – a rate that’s unheard of. In fact, no one in the nation has a rate this high.
“I believe it’s due to coaching and how I work with the clients,” she tells me. “They love the entire experience. It’s been transformative for my career, and I love it now!”
“It sounds like a big piece of it is not only how you work with people but how you connect with them,” I say.
“I was ready to abandon interior design. And it would have been a really sad thing if I’d let that happen. I thought I didn’t like it. But it was really just how I was working with people that I didn’t like. It didn’t feel right to me. Now I’m drawing them out to find themselves – which is as it should be. After all, the whole thing is about them anyway [laughs]!”
“What I hear is that, within your company, you’re now seen as a thought-leader,” I say.
“Yes – they’re viewing the increased performance and wanting it for other people in the company,” she says. “They’re modeling this stuff and going ‘How are you getting a 90% closure rate?!’ They could attribute it to my personality, but that’s not it. I’m still me; it’s my approach and attitude that have changed.”
Moral of the story
Stephanie believed she had to start over. Stuck in limiting beliefs, she didn’t see any other options. But through the use of Holistic Inquiry and the coaching processes, both in class and her own self-work, she discovered she was simply missing an emotional, relational connection with others. Her stuckness was really about not engaging holistically with other people. So it wasn’t the career that needed to change, just the way in which she approached it.
Maintaining a coach for herself, Stephanie points to the neurological networks continuously being changed within her own mind – developments that enable her to be exponential in all her relationships. A coach is a reflection, a neutral partner through which you can really see yourself and your life more clearly, growing in the process.
Whole Person Coaching provides a powerful, holistic lens through which anyone can look at their life and the specific way they participate within it. Stephanie came to the realization that it wasn’t the career that needed to change, but the way in which she derived meaning from it. And the same holds true for all of us. By shifting the way we interact with others, we can create whole new outcomes in every aspect of our lives – cultivating results that are exponential in nature and work for us indefinitely!