I’m writing to mark International Women’s Day by sharing with you some thinking about my coaching work that I don’t often talk about:
Over the past five years I’ve been privileged to work with hundreds of amazing people.
When I say it’s been humbling, I’m afraid it’ll sound too clichéd to convey what I actually mean: That I’m in awe at what I’ve seen clients do to turn their ideas and their dreams, for which they had zero evidence that anything would take root, into living, breathing reality.
The intimate nature of coaching has also opened my eyes to a painful truth that had been me staring in the face my whole life; a truth I’d managed to not see.
– Women clients would preface perfectly sound ideas with the disclaimer that they were crazy.
– Women clients would lay out information they knew to be true but somehow still fail to believe their own hard evidence.
– Women clients would identify exactly what they needed, articulating all the ways to meet their needs, and then come to the following session having done nothing and acting as if our groundbreaking conversation had never happened.
What I gathered from these clues is the extent to which my women clients have faced uphill battles their whole lives for no other reason than this: They’re women.
Letting this realization sink in has been heartbreaking. I’m sadder, I pay closer attention to what people tell me, and I make a concerted effort to not make life harder for women when I open my mouth. But I’m not a changed man and I don’t have a silver bullet cure.
This is what I mean by ‘humbling’.
These days a good chunk of my clients are women who coached with me years ago to escape nightmare jobs. They identified the structures that were holding them back, demolished them, and returned to coaching in new executive roles, less willing to put up with the nonsense that used to keep them down.
I am so proud of these women I don’t know what to say. So I’m writing this.
In a few hours, International Women’s Day will be over. I’d like to ask of you a few favors for each of the other 364 days of the year:
– Please take a moment to make someone feel sane.
– When you hear someone doubting truths they know, please back them up.
– When you see someone identifying what they need, please take a small action to help them get it.
And don’t be shy if that someone happens to be you.