I've spent my entire life devoting my time and energy towards helping others, whether it's helping people find a job, an apartment, a new restaurant or guiding them through the steps to a more productive work life. These are all things that I am known for, good at and love doing. Connecting and helping people was and continues to be extremely rewarding for me. I decided to continue on this journey to become a certified coach.
In April I received an email from iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching) outlining the steps we needed to take to begin our 12 weeks of peer coaching and exactly whom from our class we were being paired up with. It all seemed too real too soon -- I immediately panicked. I immediately doubted myself. I immediately thought, "How can I get a refund and get myself out of there?" Uncertainty and uneasiness rushed over and left me feeling completely overwhelmed.
Moments later I had an hour-and-a-half phone call with a close friend from high school. He makes me feel more empowered and excited about my journey with every conversation we have. I stopped the call and said, "Can I tell you something?" "Of course," he responded, to which I almost frantically mentioned, "I'm completely terrified of coaching. I've never felt so uncomfortable in my entire life."
There. It was out. My fear. My uncertainty. My self-doubt. I put it all on the table, and almost instantly I felt a weight off my shoulders. My friend reminded me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and that being terrified was the best feeling in the world.
Our conversation continued, and I told him how I felt like there was too much structure with the program I was about to begin and I wasn't used to fitting into someone else's box. I was rejecting the structure, something I had also done with school years ago. He provided me with an analogy that this music aficionado greatly appreciated: When a musician learns an instrument they have to learn everything, the chords, the physical act of playing, and a sense of melody. Once they have the tools they can tailor the music in whatever way they see fits, whipping out skills in dynamic ways. This analogy made me realize that I needed to learn everything, but I could pick and choose what resonated with me and apply those skills when I needed to.
For the most part, learning comes naturally to me and I pick up on things quickly, and while coaching itself felt natural, the realization that I now possessed these tools that needed to be implemented in someone else's life made me nothing short of nervous. Maybe some people would feel empowered and excited about this. All I felt was intimidation. Much of what I was applying in coaching followed tactics I already applied on a daily basis, in my life and relationships. It came organically, but I still found myself confronted with self-doubt. It's a scary thing to break out of your comfort zone, and here I was careening down a terrifying new path.
I finished the conversation with my incredibly inspiring friend and immediately emailed my peer coach to setup our first call. Shortly thereafter my peer client contacted me to setup our first call. (Funny how that works, huh?)
We had our calls several days later. I reviewed all my notes and manuals, I meditated to get centered, and I jumped on the phone excited to begin. It's like I had been doing this for a lifetime -- it felt completely natural, totally right, and absolutely where I was supposed to be.
It's really easy, almost too easy, to stay in your comfort zone. It may be a relationship you're not happy in, a job that's not fulfilling, an apartment that feels less than ideal, a bad food habit or addiction. When you see the other side of the coin and realize that you have the choice and power to conquer your fears and do what will make you happiest, taking the plunge goes from scary to exhilarating just like that.
On the other side of fear is where life begins.