Stories on the Head-to-Heart Journey: Taking Time to Celebrate

I occasionally share stories to illustrate what a coaching session is like. While these stories are drawn from my experience working with clients, names, details, and identifying information have been altered.

A. sent me an email before our coaching session and listed a number of things that she’d done during the week, including an amazing race she’d run, a successful team meeting at work, and taking time out from a busy day to spend some time recharging with friends on a patio.

All of these fantastic celebrations were overshadowed, however, by a difficult situation she was facing with a supervisor. As our call began, A. was about to skip over all the good stuff and dive into the challenging stuff, but I interrupted.

“Hang on! Look at all these things you have to celebrate!” I said.

“Hmmm, I guess so. . .” A. replied. “Actually, it was a pretty great week.”

“What I’m seeing,” I said, “is that even in the midst of a stressful situation at work, a situation that’s taking up a lot of your energy and causing you pain, you were still able to accomplish so much and enjoy so much in your week. That’s really something to celebrate.”

After we’d celebrated, we delved into the work situation to do some coaching around that.

Later the same day, I received this email from A.:

“Thank you for reminding me that it is okay to celebrate. . . I really didn’t take the time to consider what I’ve done recently, or to look at it as anything more than regular. It felt really good to have that validation. I’ve really been in need of that. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until you stopped this morning and acknowledged it.”

P.S. For all you coach geeks out there, some of the coaching skills I was using in this conversation were:

  • intruding – yes, I cut my client off to make a point.
  • acknowledging – I acknowledged her ability to accomplish a lot and enjoy herself even in the midst of a sticky situation.
  • celebrating – I was inviting my client to take some time to celebrate herself and what she’d done, and I was celebrating with her.