Yesterday was yesterday. Isabella felt that it had been a great day, but some of the coaching had not been so easy. She still had Camilla vividly appearing as soon as she closed her eyes for a moment. Amazing how easy it was to arrive the wrong conclusion. Better to let the client tell you more before starting to put things together. But Isabella loved putting things together! She had a flair for making sense of only fragments, a feeling for connecting them into something bigger. Her family had laid puzzles every Christmas when she was young and she had always tried to figure out “who did it” in the numerous detective stories she had read. If she had not become a journalist and now also a coach she might have wanted to become a detective or a policewoman. But both journalism and coaching was about finding out too. She had therefore chosen to have a “one-liner” in relation to her company and her e-message signature. “Detect Yourself!” And today she would have the pleasure of meeting her first cop! During her coach training there was a discussion on if you had to have field knowledge in order to coach someone and the class had been divided into two groups. One group believing that the process knowledge you had as a coach was quite enough, and the other maintaining that field knowledge was an asset and even crucial if you should coach a person higher or deeper into a special field. Isabella was inclined to agree that on one hand you could find more relevant filed questions if you knew stuff but on the other hand there was also a risk of the coach steering or colouring the conversation leading it to unwanted places. And now she was waiting for Harry the cop. She had no prior experience from police work other than her interest for detective stories. She hoped that he was nothing like “Dirty Harry” from the Clint Eastwood films. And nothing like Inspector Clouseau either. Isabella had been very lucky a few weeks ago and had by chance landed a deal with the Stockholm Police force. They had created a Personal Development Program for their leaders and one part of it was cash that the individual leader could spend freely. Three of the policemen had chosen coaching by ISIS. One of them was Harry Andersson.
She had already received information on the three cops that she had been “given”. On Harry she read: “Inspector, The Criminal Investigation Unit, social security number 660526-1715, married, 2 children, Stockholm”. Isabella deducted that Harry was born not so far from where she was born. “I wonder where.”
Enter Harry! Mr Andersson was a mid-tall, mid-thin and mid-grey man. At first glance no one would detect him in a crowd, but when he started to speak he gained the room back by his empathic, open attitude. A more perfect police officer than could be expected really. And he had chosen coaching to develop himself too! Isabella felt happy to meet him at once. This session might be even more interesting than usual. Harry Andersson curiously checked out the practice, the availability of coffee and Isabella and finally he relaxed and became coachable. First they talked a while on the long term goals Harry was expecting from his coaching relationship with Isabella and Harry had a vague feeling that he wanted to become clearer in his relations at work and to get more focus into his daily life in order to be more efficient at what he does. He had recently been put into a new role as an inspector investigating fairly complicated cases and even murder and he had not yet passed the rookie state in the unit according to himself. “The others don’t see this of course, but I know.” Isabella replied that this was a process well worth investigating and a process known in other professions too. “What areas are we talking about here?” she said. Harry hesitated a second, reflecting on the question. “I think there are three…hm…first the balance thing between work and home, then the work relations that I need to define and finally there is finding a method, a focus, a way to really get results in my investigations as it seems committing crimes are getting into fashion 2010.” Isabella stopped breathing for a second. As the deal with the Police only covered six coaching sessions they really had much work ahead with three areas any of which would take six. As a journalist she knew to take the most important stuff first. “What area do you think is the most urgent one?” “Well all of them are, really. And I feel that they cannot easily be divided either. That is perhaps also a problem.” “OK Harry, do you think we could start by you just telling me about yourself right now and then we take it from there – can that be the plan for today?” “Yes, we can do that.” “So what can we agree on to achieve today? What would you be OK with after this first session?” “A bit hard to say….perhaps that I feel that we have started to pin down my situation and that I know where I am.” “So if we have defined a number of issues to resolve today that would be OK?” “Yes that would be fine.” “How many issues are we talking about then – three?” “I think there should be more, perhaps five.” Isabella and Harry agreed on pinning down five issues today they should try to resolve during their coaching relationship. “Alright Harry, tell me about the life of Harry!” Harry smiled and started to tell Isabella about work, his present family and his former family, his twin boys who were 9 now “and blonde as wheat”, his trouble getting the hang of the unit and how his family was getting a bit tired of him staying late at work and still arriving home with more.”Amazing how thing can get complicated and it seemed like I became someone else in only a few weeks after starting on this job. Just like my two twin boys look almost exactly the same but they are two completely different people. And still they both exist in the same family and have the same genes! I may have become my own evil twin!” “And your “former family” – how come that didn’t last?” “The same old story. One of us began to study and found new interests and a new angle to life. The other stayed the same and wondered what happened. Hundred years ago the “until death do you part” was true. You actually did not live long enough to get tired of each other. Today we have room for at least two lives! I am not at all sure that this is a good thing.” Harry went quiet for a while and Isabella saw a little sorrow spreading in his face. She quickly got them back on track again “So how does the evil twin work for you?” “Actually he doesn’t. Neither at work nor at home. I want to get rid of him.” “How do you feel about him?” “I hate him!” “Good. Hate is a splendid motivator.“ Harry laughed. “Hate, money, love – all the classic murder motives eh?” “I suppose so.” Isabella worked hard to meet the goal for today’s session but towards the end it was clear that five issues was not to be pinned down today. Isabella said “Where do you feel we are right now Harry?” Harry of course realized too that the original objective still eluded them. “We haven’t pinned down the five issues yet!” “So what do you think about them right now?” “Perhaps I need to first figure out who I am right now before going on to think about where I am…” “Is that something you will take with you from this session and something we can start with at our next?” “Yes, I think so.” After finishing the session by agreeing on a new session and letting Harry off the hook this time Isabella reflected on the session. The “several lives during one life” was interesting, but she also thought that you actually also lived several lives every day in your different roles. Isabella was a coach, a journalist, a mother, a daughter, a woman, sometimes a little girl, a human being and a part of the fabric of the earth. She smiled to herself seeing how “Next Age” that thought was. She har heard about “Next Age” the other day as the successor of “New Age”. It was funny in a way. The latest flu was officially named “The New Flu” in Sweden. Perhaps the next one will be “The Next Flu”? And then what? Naming is hard….but Isabella clearly saw one thing from the session with Harry – You don’t only live once or even twice! There is more….for good or bad….
You Only Live Twice
Isabella was in the “office” early. She wasn’t happy with calling it an office so she had many thoughts on calling the place many different things. “Studio” was one, “atelier” was another. Neither of them was perfect. She tried “practice” and “clinic” too but none of them covered the fact that the coaching relationship as she saw it was a combination of informality, intimacy and privacy. The idea was to have an “at home” feeling – both for the client and the coach. Isabella decided to call it “My Place”. She could then simply say “I have a place in the Old Town, we can meet there!” And the clients could feel like they were invited to the “home of ISIS”. When you feel comfortable at your coach you can free your mind from your daily struggles and start to see ahead and what you and your coach can accomplish together. Isabella was making the efforts necessary to make her first ISIS client for the day at ease. She made coffee, bought some milk and cookies and some oranges to put in a bowl. And to top it she had bought a bouquet of fresh flowers. All was set.
She remembered that her son had found two toy animals on the sidewalk when they were walking to school that morning, a dinosaur and a tiger. “I wonder if my new client is a tiger or a dinosaur.” She smiled at herself for even thinking this. One lady had seen her carrying them on her way to the Old Town and Isabella had defended herself saying “Oh, they are not mine!” The lady had replied “It would have been more fun if they had been yours!” Isabella realized that the lady had been right. We should allow ourselves to play much more. Isabella had been so good at that before, but the divorce had drained her playfulness for a while. Today was a brilliant day for getting herself back!
There was a little noise coming from the waiting room so she went to greet Camilla, her new client, arriving perfectly on time. Camilla was a woman in her forties, informally dressed in jeans and a blue leather jacket. Isabella offered her a cup of coffee or tea and she chose tea. Her choice of tea was vanilla flavoured and that seemed to suit her. While Isabella was doing her best to make Camilla comfortable to start off their coaching session in a good way another person in a small flat in another part of town was making an effort to appear as normal as possible and to blend in perfectly. To be seen regularly at normal hours was the ideal way of not being seen at all.
Back in the Old Town the coaching had started. Isabella told Camilla everything about the absolute confidentiality, the ethics surrounding coaching and everything she would need to know to feel safe with Isabella. “So what do you want to be coached on?” Camilla hesitated for a second. And then another. Then she said “I am not satisfied with my marriage.” Isabella lost her breath for a moment and thought “I get the clients I deserve.” Isabella asked Camilla “What is it really about?” A classic coaching question. “It’s about infidelities and different sex and freedom needs. And the infidelity is also with a man!” Isabella’s mind was working over-time. “So Camilla’s husband had betrayed her with a man? And the reason being his higher sex drive and need for freedom? That would surely be a hard issue to resolve. “OK Camilla, what do you want us to focus on today?” Camilla replied that she would like to find a way to repair the relationship.”What does your husband feel?” “Not husband – wife!” Isabella suddenly realized that her image of the problem was totally off target. Camilla had a wife – not a husband. Isabella wondered if the rest was wrong too and began to ask some more questions to remove the uncertainty. “Is it she or you who has been deceitful?” Camilla responded slowly “It is me. I seem not to be able to keep to one person or even keep to one sex.” Isabella learnt the hard way that everything might not be as it seems at first glance but totally different. In this case it was clear that Camilla was nothing but “vanilla”. Isabella wondered if it was even more to this than has met the eye yet but hesitated a second before continuing. This was a complexity beyond most of her coaching experience so far. But she knew that this client really needed help so she continued the session. A bit more than an hour later the session ended with Camilla making the appointment for their next session. Seems like Camilla had felt the presence and trust necessary to continue. Isabella had learnt new things too. Never take anything for granted!
“Not only does God definitely play dice, but He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.”
I love him who is ashamed when the dice fall in his favour and who then asks: Am I then a cheat?
Amazing how terrible things can turn into greatness. Isabella Strand knew that this day was a new beginning for her and a chance to get a new base for her. She had been a hobby coach, beside her work as a journalist, for a couple of years after attending the coach training at an accredited school. She had recently achieved the qualifications and last Friday she got her ACC certification from the International Coach Federation. The last six months had not been easy for her as she and her husband just separated and all the paperwork was done just recently. As Isabella and her now ex husband Marcus also had a child and a cottage there was some angry words shared during the process but all in all the divorce was fairly civilized. Much of the reason for the divorce was that Isabella for many years felt she tried failingly to reach out to Marcus to make him open up and also trying to make him take a more active role in their marriage and more responsibility for their son. After six years of trying she gave up and told Marcus that she wanted a divorce. Marcus, as a standard introvert man, was totally shocked and had not realized until it was too late that something was wrong at all. Isabella once ironically said “I should have written it in your Outlook Calendar.” Her son David, who was now 8, was to be every other week at his father’s new apartment pretty close to hers in Södermalm at the centre of Stockholm. The cottage was pretty well located and fetched a fair price which Isabella and Marcus split evenly between them. So the divorce actually gave her an opportunity – some cash to invest in a coaching practice. She had never really appreciated the countryside anyway. Too much fishing and too many mosquitoes.
Today, after leaving David at school, she would sign the contract for the new practice. By some odd fluke she had come across an ad for a small place located beautifully in the oldest part of Stockholm. The Old Town was truly a picturesque place to run a business in and such a perfect location for coaching. Every building here had been used for so many things over the years and there were even medieval buildings close by. Change was written in stone here at the same time as you could say that you always bring history with you. Isabella was so happy that this chance had appeared on her horizon and grateful that she could take it too. What she didn’t know was that the next few months would be more surprising to her than she could ever imagine and that events would develop in unexpected ways and directions. But today everything was all well.
A few hours later she stood outside her new business “home” waiting for her landlord to arrive. It was a grey day but her sun was shining from within so it didn’t matter. Finally a blond lady appeared on the stairs and said “Hi, you must be Isabella! I am Anna.” And sure enough she was right on both. Isabella thought that Anna looked nice and trustworthy, not so bad for a landlord…
The two rooms plus a waiting room were rather small but on the other hand the rent was fair and it would not take too much furniture either to fill them. Isabella started to imagine herself here and came to the conclusion that”Yes, this will be just fine!” Anna had brought the crucial bit of paperwork in a folder and it was time to fill in the necessary stuff. “Isabella Strand Inner Search (ISIS)” was the first item to fill in at the top and since her business not yet was a limited company she had to use her social security number. She noted “680404-1744” and realized that not only could someone tell that the company was owned by a woman but also that she was born in a certain county. “Never mind!” she thought. It was obvious to anyone seeing her that she was a woman, and the county thing she usually told people after an hour of conversation anyway. No secrets at all there. “A company these days has to be transparent”. Anna informed Isabella that the former tenant had been a private investigator. “The rooms are already tuned for search!” she said. Isabella smiled and wondered who would be her first client here. Amazing synchronicity that Isabella had a “one liner” that in some weird way was connected. “Detect Yourself!” After signing all the copies and getting her own she received two sets of keys containing two keys for the practice door and one for the main door to the building. And there was a door code too. She tried to memorize it “1789”. She suddenly realized that the code was a simple one to remember – it was the same year as the French Revolution and also the same year that the house was built! “This place will surely be a revolution for me too!” she said a little too loud, making Anna jump a bit by surprise…Then Anna had to run to meet another appointment so the two created the usual separation ritual and Anna was gone…
Isabella was alone in her new empty practice but she did not feel alone at all. She felt she had just met a new friend – and it had walls and a floor! Here she could do great things – great coaching, great business and just feeling great too. Tomorrow she would scout for the right furniture but right now it was time for one word, one shout “YES!” She had finally a home away from home….
Next week she will start her new life and right now she will be busy planning all the details. Right now someone else is also planning details – but not for life but quite the opposite!