I came to Gideon looking for coaching because I was ready to start using my life to accomplish my goals – but I wasn’t sure what they were, or how to figure them out, or how much I was capable of changing. I knew I wanted to save the world, and to be happy, but I wasn’t sure what those things were made of, or how to get there from here.

At the beginning I was thinking of a life coach as someone who would keep me from slacking off from my plan, and help me think specific problems through. I was skeptical of the kind of mushy self-discovery part of coaching – the “ontological” piece, as Gideon called it – but I decided to go with him because our communication styles worked well together – he was willing to make me sit with discomfort if a question seemed unanswerable, and to ask me to try again if I gave a glib reply.

In the first couple of weeks of coaching, I had goals – specific, precise goals, and plans to achieve them. More open friendships with people who shared my values. A plan to use my career to reduce existential risk. A body fit enough to be proud of. An outlet for artistic self-expression. This alone was worth a tremendous amount.

But even more valuable was the attitude I learned when working with Gideon on trying to accomplish these goals. Gideon helped me notice when things weren’t happening the way I expected they would – and when my own attitudes toward schedules, planning, and goals were getting in the way of understanding what I could actually do, and doing it.

Gideon taught me how to use a schedule, not as a straitjacket, but a map of the future. He taught me not to settle for beating myself up when I failed, but to ask myself what I had hoped to achieve from the failing strategy. He taught me to accept that I’m only one person, I can only take one step at a time – and only by accepting this did I learn to stumble less and take longer strides. He didn’t tell me to do these things – he just showed me how.

I have better, deeper relationships with my friends, I’m taking control of my career again, and I had a few smaller things like fitness goals that I achieved so completely and decisively that I sometimes forget there was a time before I’d gotten there.