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  • Writer's pictureMaria Wade

The One Word that is (Unexpectedly) Holding You Back

I’ve been thinking about a common word we should consider banning from use - in certain contexts, of course. This is the word “when.”

Time and again we hear (and say) these kinds of phrases:

● When I do this thing, then I’ll…

● When I get the next job, then I’ll…

● When I have more expertise, then I’ll...

● When I’m ready, then I’ll...

The list goes on.

The “When I’m…” phenomenon applies to many facets of our lives, but today, I want to talk about it in the context of the coaching relationship.

Recently, I noticed a client was postponing sessions with me. On its surface, this is not a problem. Life happens, emergencies arise. But, when I dug in a little bit with this client she shared that she was hesitant to come back until she had solved some of the new challenges that had come up since we met.

And, this was not the first time in my practice that someone postponed or didn’t schedule their next session.

It’s surprising how often I hear: “As soon as I’m good [or ready] I will come back.”

Now, I should share that I am open to allow my clients to do something that they believe is what they need. What do I mean by this?

It's okay to….

● change the request for coaching, change the topic or explore something completely different than what first brought you to coaching.

● prepare for a session on one topic, but five minutes before, change the subject.

● plan for a 90-minute session but then ask your coach for less time.

● start your executive coaching program and come in with your personal questions, because when we coach, we’re coaching a WHOLE person.

In other words, it’s okay to have human problems.

Everything happening in your coaching is a good thing.

But I (and I know the majority of my fellow coaches will agree) implore you to come back regardless of where you are in your process.

Unfinished. Unpolished. Not “ready.”

We will help you get ready.

Remember, there’s no useless skills here. If I help you to do something in this project, you can always use this experience in your next project. Invite me in to brainstorm, poke around, challenge and question. You may just unleash your potential along the way.

Thinking about your next job? We will work together to create the right mindset and skill set for your future role, and when the time comes you will be so well prepared because we will have been working together on real life situations. This is what is key here. Not abstract forms or ideas. You have a situation, and you build your skills and mindset on the real-life situation.

One of the best comments a client shared with me was “I feel good about being imperfect with you.”

The messy bits are where the growth happens.

Let’s just imagine we’re all perfect: we look like soldiers… the same space, same order. In our differences and imperfection, however, we create the beauty of this planet. This planet is not something solid and smooth. Everything is diverse. This diversity is what creates life on this planet. It is sometimes dark, light, warm, cold… but, always, good.

Your coach doesn’t want you to show up perfectly. They want you to show up as you.

So, if you find yourself saying “I will do this when…” when it comes to your coaching, your development, or your growth, please take a pause.

“When” can be a killer word.

The answer to “when?”


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