There was a certain amount of solace in starting this business in 2009. I’d overcome a lot and endured a lot to come out on the other end of things relatively unscathed.
Last year, when I went back to therapy after many years away there were things that were starting to slip through the cracks. Come to find out, you can busy yourself with a life but that doesn’t mean you’ve successfully solved your problems. I know (and train) some very busy people who have yet to conquer their demons.
I haven’t conquered all of mine.
It’s why I’ve always had a fondness for and connection to people who, like me, have some emotional bruises from the life they’ve lived. For my weight loss clients, who live their own share of struggles, food was the cope when they couldn’t handle the pain.
For me, it was drugs, it was messy relationships, it was a poor grip on finances, it was everything I could involve myself in that made me forget about me.
The longer I’m in this industry, the more I gravitate towards my fellow coaches who aren’t afraid to say: I’m depressed, I was suicidal, I can’t get out of bed because of my anxiety, I can’t stop self-imploding…
And these are really, really good coaches. Kind, compassionate, selfless human beings who would do anything for their clients only to break down to pieces when they go home at night.
It’s an immensely gratifying career, to be a coach. It’s also tough to take the pain of others, help them sort their way through it, and find a way to not “take your work home with you”.
There are things I’ve been learning about myself in therapy that are hard to justify after 44 years on this earth. Things that will take me years to solve and sort through and clean up.
Because, like a lot of my clients, I always know how to make a mess of things in spite of myself.
And if you’ve ever “failed” on a diet, despite already seeing progress towards your goal, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
What the pandemic has shown is that clients and coaches have been smacked in the face with a lot of emotional turmoil they were never prepared for. Uncertainty is a painful hand to be dealt.
It’s made me dig my heels in a little bit further to understand the how’s and why’s of my clients; the things that make them tick and derail their progress, just as I have tried to understand the same things about myself.
It helps, in my case, that I found a therapist who could not only be a sounding board to me but has always been relied on to ask me questions I don’t know how to ask myself. Like me, he has his own personal history and the gaps he worked to fill in for himself.
I continue to applaud the work of coaches in this field who aren’t afraid to show they’re struggling. Sure, food and exercise may not be problem areas for them. That doesn’t mean problem areas don’t exist.
And as we take the hands of our clients to show them new ways to thrive, new ways to feel healthier, new ways to feel empowered, it’s with that voice in the back of our minds (and often in our messages) that we don’t coach perfection, we coach progress.
I joke with my therapist constantly about the parallels I see with the struggles I have and how they mirror the struggles my clients have: “Is this what my clients must feel like when they do ‘X’?”
It’s learning how to break the loops of negative feedback and negative behaviors.
It’s learning how to forgive yourself when you fuck it up again (and you will).
It’s learning how to live with yourself as a perfectly imperfect being who’s just trying to get one stubborn foot in front of the other.
Pandemic or not, great clients struggle to succeed.
Great coaches do too.
If we can all recognize some of the fragmented areas in our lives to say: I accept you how you are, let me help you get further along…we’ll end up in a much better place.
Maybe we’ll feel a little bit less damaged when we get there.
“We Make Great People Greater”
2 thoughts on “The Damaged Leading The Way”
Dear Jason: Two of the remarkable things about you as a coach and as a person are your insight into yourself and others, and your honesty. I don’t know what you were like ‘before’, when you were lost, but you should know that there are a lot of people you have helped over the years, like me, who have tremendous respect and love for you.
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Thank you, Grant 🙂