Finding One’s Voice

by marilyn on August 11, 2008

I am rarely at a loss for words but have found myself staring at a blank box for days wondering what to say in my inaugural post. So, bear with me as I “find my voice.”

The other night a friend, interested in learning more about the value of coaching (something often tricky to convey in the abstract), challenged me: “It’s great to help people be more productive,” he said, “but haven’t we had enough of that? What about plain old happiness? Can you coach people on how to be happy?”

I thought for a minute and realized I rarely discuss happiness when I talk about coaching but it is at the heart of what I do. . . whether with individuals or organizations. If people feel better about their jobs, they are happier; if people make better decisions about their lives, they are happier; if people succeed in overcoming an obstacle–personal or external–they certainly feel happier. We have only to look at the joy of the Olympic men’s swimming relay team–the underdogs–that won the gold last night to see what that kind of happiness looks like. Priceless!

The Olympics are the quintessential example of coaching at its best. By the time the event takes place, the coach’s job, for most sports, is pretty much done. It’s up to the athlete. Whenever we succeed–whether it be a big or small victory, our happiness quotient goes up.

Back to my friend: We happened to touch upon one of the things contributing to his unhappiness. . . in this case a family matter. I asked one question (coaches pride themselves on “wisdom”-seeking questions) and his perspective shifted. I would guess he left the conversation just a bit happier than when we began.

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