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Blaze a Trail!

A Client's Perspective on Coaching
by Idellah Ashlie


One of my favorite quotes comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson and reads:

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead
where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Exactly a year ago this month, I had that quote in mind and decided I was ready to move toward some major changes in my life.  As a creative person, I live for self-expression, and my medium is the written word.   However, the scope of my vision for transitioning from J-O-B holder to professional scribe is BIG – too big to shoulder alone. 

That is a lot for a woman from a working class background with no close examples of visionaries in my life to carry alone.  I grew up among those who had talents, abilities and dreams, but relegated their entrepreneurial spirits to the realms of foolishness.  Dreams and visions, bent by the demands of bills and folded into the landlord’s wallet, were reformed into fantasies -- daydreams for mental respites at mid-morning snack and 2 pm energy deficits.  

I came to a point, as I move toward my 4th decade on the planet, where I’d become weary of chasing after what was passing for life. Deep in silent repose, reclining in the back of my mind, were dreams deferred. Those dreams are real things.  They reside in the very grooves of your brain and dance between the beats of your heart. For the most part, I ignored them, but sometimes I’d find, while sitting in my cube, the computer screen would start to float and tears would streak down my cheeks.  Some part of me was thinking about my deferred dreams, even if my mind was not engaged.

I realized, if intended to take Emerson’s advice and “leave a trail,” I would need to shake off doing things the way I’ve always done them.  I am not obligated to do what I’ve always done.  Once I made the decision that I have a say in the matter of my life, providence showed up.  No matter what one’s background, mental or emotional inheritance, there is always a CHOICE.  With that choice, I knew I would need assistance in making the necessary adjustments to set the stage. 

I felt it would be best to have an unbiased voice to provide guidance. I did not want the unavoidable judgment that comes with turning to a relative or a close friend.  It’s common knowledge that those closest to you, mostly with good intentions, might hinder your progress with their preconceived ideas.  And you know what they say the road to hell is paved with….

I’d heard of life coaches and did a little research online to get a clearer idea of what they do.  It didn’t take long to find the person I needed.  Once your mind is made up, destiny awakes!  I reviewed coaching websites and educated myself.   Most coaches focus on people in particular careers and life situations. It’s useful to take up a handful of coaches on their complimentary consultations.   I was selective about who I decided to contact. 

I conversed with a few people, but I was most attracted the person who is now my life and creativity coach, Ms. Sharon Good.  I like that she works with the artistically inclined and the late bloomer – or as she calls us, “tortoises.”   Those two features hit directly upon what want to work on.  I was happy, and after speaking with her, I knew she was the right one for me and my objectives.  

Thanks to the support of my coach, I feel I have made more personal strides over the course of this year than I would have made alone.  Having Sharon as a sounding board and as someone to whom I can be accountable has added value to my life.  That value has come in the form of greater confidence and clarity of purpose.  In the act of enlisting the aid of a coach, I broke a strangling lifelong habit – not asking for help when I KNOW I need it.

Like me, maybe you also are accustomed to handling things yourself.  Maybe you’ve not had anyone else you could count on.  A coach is not a therapist or a counselor.   She isn’t there to slap your hand, but to remind you what your hands can do.  The coach isn’t there to chastise you, but to encourage you.  The coach isn’t there to tell you what to do, but to help you determine a course of action.  

You can lean on your coach, but a good coach won’t allow you to lay on them! The coach is there to accomplish things WITH you, not do them for you. She will celebrate your victories with you.  I have this knowledge through my experience.  Personal responsibility is stressed.  If you aren’t ready for that, you aren’t yet ready for coaching.

I thank God I had the courage to take this step toward my future. I thank Him more that I have someone to give me that needed push when courage fails.   So in all this, I feel I am on the path to making Emerson’s quote a reality in my life.   By working with someone who helps me honor my uniqueness, I find more reasons every day to revel in it.  Mr. Emerson, I think I am ready to blaze that trail.    Stay tuned!

© 2005 Idellah Ashlie







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