Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life Coach, Empower Thyself!

So one of the hardest things to do as a personal success coach is to turn the enlightenment on myself and follow my own advice. In this case: Understanding your power, and never taking NO for an answer! Recently I was offered an opportunity to take part in a makeover surprise on a daily talk show. I was to be featured as the life coach for a woman who was destitute, she lost her job, her home, and her ability to pay her rent.
This national daytime talk show was a perfect forum for me to share my message of stepping into your own greatness, not allowing circumstances to cloud your true power and self esteem, and the opportunity to take care of yourself before taking care of others, or as I often say to my clients, “A candle losing nothing lighting another candle.” Buoyed by the prospect of a national audience, I cancelled a previously scheduled trip and agreed to provide free coaching for a year to the lady-in-need, in exchange for my participation during a segment on the show. This single mother of five who lost her husband to pancreatic cancer years earlier has lost her job and was now facing eviction, and the show was offering her a year’s worth of rent, a head-to-toe makeover, and a year’s worth of success coaching from yours truly. I couldn’t wait to meet her! On the day of the taping I arrived at the studio to find that the names of all the guests who were there to provide services for this lucky lady were all on the doors of the dressing rooms with the exception of my own. This mysterious incongruity between my ability to serve others in such a powerful way and also draw virtually no attention to myself has always baffled me. Do I have some cloak of invisibility that I’m not even aware of that seems to activate when I need acknowledgement? Despite the door mishap, I was thrilled to be on the show and looking forward to my part in it. During rehearsal I was asked to wait back stage while the designers and make up experts walked through their parts for the show. I was then told that I would be sitting in the audience and when the host stood next to me, I could stand up, address my new client and tell her (in 10 seconds or less) what was in store for her from my coaching. My first thought of course was “Hey, this wasn’t what I agreed to, and everyone else is on stage, and I’m the only one providing ongoing services for a year and I’m the one in the audience?” My next thought was “Shame on you… this is about her, not you…. You’re here to serve (My success paradigm up to this point has been “Contribution”) and just sit in the audience and when your time comes, knock her socks off. (In ten seconds or less of course.”) Cloak of invisibility engaging... But as the show carried on, I sat in my chair, watching her make up, hair, and stylist experts fawn over her new look and thinking to myself “you’re actually doing something real, you’re going to inspire and ignite her from the inside out… this will be her greatest gift!” I was getting more and more excited for my ten seconds. And then my moment came. The host stood next to me, began to thank the stylist and the hair person and the make up person for their contribution and finally angled toward me and said “And also, you’re getting a year’s worth of free life coaching from Steve Truitt! Now… back to your new look…” And that was it. Not ten seconds. Not five seconds. Zero seconds. Cloak of invisibility successful. Now my first thought at that point was “What? This is ridiculous! I’m offering a free full year of coaching (which ain’t cheap, I can tell you) and I get a three-second shout out? These stylists up on stage spent 20 minutes on a highlight and a tuck and they’ve been on stage the entire program! This is total B.S.!” Yes… that’s what I thought. Then I said to myself “Steve, c’mon. Is the show about YOU? No. This is about a woman who desperately needs your help! Remember, your success paradigm is Contribution! Get over yourself, smile, thank the show’s producers for thinking of you and go home.” And that’s exactly what I did. The next morning I woke up in the worst mood I could have been in. I was mad, and I needed to know why. Why? Was it the producer who blew me off? Was it the back stage crew who forgot to post my name on the door? Was it the unfulfilled promises of airtime in exchange for services? No, I was mad at me. I was so excited about the prospect of airtime and sending my message out to the world, I forgot to make sure (like any business man would) that the arrangement I made was going to be honored – I was so excited to be Contribution! Contribution. My success paradigm. “If I am always being Contribution, then I am always successful.” This is the way I have lived my life since I began as a personal success coach. My goals for my career have always centered around giving.
And that – as much as any other kind of lure of success – like fame, money, revenge, likeability is a trap. And I fell right in. I was so focused on being the good guy that gives and gives and gives, I never thought about what I was losing to be that person. I was selling out on my own needs to have success in a career focusing on others – my apparent invisibility caused by my own activation of those powers. So what happened here? Why didn’t I get my end of the deal? One of my favorite lines from the play “Fences” comes when a father is advising his son on how to avoid getting taken advantage of by his friends at school. He tells his boy, (who gives too much to the kids just to be liked), “Don’t worry about whether people like you, just make sure they do right by you.” I have told client after client after client this story for years. But like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, realizing that consistently spouting out the same bible quote before he takes down a foe without understanding the context of the verse, I never really thought about how the “Fences” quote applied to me. I have been so lucky to have helped so many people, and have been so gratified when I hear from past clients about how well they are doing. But at the end of the day, if I had to write a thank you note to myself for all I’ve done for me, it would fit on a Post-It note with room to spare. I’ve had a genuine breakthrough as a result of this experience – and for me, breakthroughs are few and far between as I am constantly monitoring and tweaking my own life. But this one was a biggie. I remain grateful to the producers and host of the show who were kind enough to think of me. I’m thrilled to be helping this woman discover her passion for herself again and get her on the right track. But by the same token, I’m heading straight to the mirror each morning and asking “What do you need and how can I help you get it?” I’m just kinda hoping the reflection has something really awesome to say back! Post script: Several days after the show taping I wrote a polite, but direct letter to the producers explaining my stance on the inequity of our business arrangement and they couldn’t have been more apologetic or accommodating. They have kindly invited me back at the soonest possibility to participate in a much more robust way, and I happily accepted. “Take your oxygen first,” “Make sure they do right by you,” “To Thine Own Self Be True.” “Treating people fairly doesn’t necessarily mean treating them the same.” These aren’t catchy maxims conjured up to temporarily stave off depression or get into a quote book, these are necessary tools passed down through the ages from wiser, more seasoned thinkers – gifts for us (myself included) from those who came before us and made the mistakes we have the opportunity to avoid. These gifts are to be opened, enjoyed, and shared. Contribution? I’ll always give. But my new success paradigm “Balanced Engagement” ensures that, like the rising tide that lifts all boats, when I light that other candle my own flame will stay as bright as ever. Be your best, Steve


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    I Need A Life Coach