This post from Marshall Goldsmith about flashes of clarity prompted me to take stock of how I came to coaching and where I am now.
The clarity that Marshall speaks of came for him during some very dramatic events in his life: Breaking his neck surfing, being involved in a near-plane crash and observing the plight of starving children in Africa first hand are certainly experiences that will make one look at life differently. The point I took away is that sometimes there needs to be a trigger to help you take stock.
What I decided to look at in my life are a few events that sparked an interest in leadership and coaching for me. These events revolved around my evolution as an adult and leader.
For me it started with my first real, “adult” job. I was working for a railroad in Chicago for a while when I was tapped for promotion to foreman. While it seemed like a plum job, the reality was quite different. Having had no preparation for the position, I learned really quickly that there was a lot I didn’t know about working with people, and it was up to me to figure out what to do through trial and error. Looking back, I doubt I was a terribly effective leader at the time, but it gave me a taste of leadership, and I liked it.
The second clarifying period of my life was when I stumbled into writing software. The act of writing software is solitary, but the real joy for me at the beginning was working with my customer to deliver something that really helped them in their day to day work.
The final event that clarified an interest in helping others through coaching arrived after I had become experienced in Information Technology. Along the way I’d been presented with many roles as a worker bee and a leader, seizing the opportunities as they came up. Coder, systems analyst, team leader, project manager and department manager. They all offered a great deal of technical challenge, which I liked, and the reward of helping to solve a problem. But there was something missing.
As I moved up through the ranks I noticed that I yearned for something more beyond technical skills. I wanted to become more adept at the “language” of leading, and to help other leaders become their best.
That is what brought me to coaching. Combining what I’ve learned in coach training with continuing education and life experience has helped me to help others grow as humans.
And now that I’m here, it’s a pleasure to report that helping others through coaching is all I thought it would be, and more. The “more” is that it’s a continuing journey of learning and honing my skills, both as a coach and a leader.