Personal Foundation

When I was in coaching school about 18 (!) years ago, my mentor and teacher Thomas Leonard spoke, almost incessantly, about what he dubbed Personal Foundation.  The general idea is that to coach others, you have to have it together yourself.  You can’t show up to coaching meetings and be in service to others if you are exhausted, wrung out, irritable, god forbid late or otherwise ‘not present’.  For the longest time it drove me crazy because I couldn’t understand how I could get myself to a consistently even keel at all times while working full time, tending to a husband and 2 young children and keeping a nice home.  It took me years to set up my systems and get all of my own needs met and be more and more present with my clients.  The more I got my needs met, the better coach I became.  Not incidentally, the higher quality coaching attracted higher quality clients. It got so I didn’t even realize how intricate my systems were – until they all came crashing down last week.

My husband and I recently bought a lake house in central NY and the plan is that we will spend our summers and work from here.  With phones and internet, I can work from anywhere, right?  I had set up my office in a little trailer type building in back of our house and I was ready to roll.  Cue the string of disasters:  discover no power in trailer, a disconnected phone line and a brutal heat wave.  I held it together, doing coaching sessions from my cell phone (thank god for the higher quality of cell coverage these days!), plugged into a 65 foot extension cord held together with duct tape and, well, let’s just tell the truth about this, sweat pouring down my back.  Frustration was at a level 10, Personal Foundation felt like it was at 0.

It had been literally years since I had experience such duress around my work and you know what?  I am grateful.  Because I saw the intricacy of the planning, the taking care and focus required to show up consistently and be a great coach.  From the outside it looks so easy – (What?  You talk on the phone to people all day for living?) but I got a stunning little reminder of how much work and attention to detail goes into a strong Personal Foundation.  And I am especially grateful for my husband and a lovely handy neighbor and helped out and got me all set up to be totally even keeled going into this week.  No sweat.

One thought on “Personal Foundation

  1. Smilied reading this, Madeleine. Thanks for a reminder of the contribution Thomas Leonard made to my life and work. And, I find nuggets of value in those moments where it all falls apart. Compassion. Humor. Surrender. Appreciation for the value of relationships with loved ones and neighbors. Appreciation for super-reserves of duct tape. A moment of solidarity for people who perservere in places with no A/C, no dial-up, and spotty electricity. Knowing that I can sit and be present with my clients and loved ones without the props I usually rely on. And gratitude when the A/C comes back! Thanks for sharing this, Pam

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