I often get asked why I left a successful career as a broadcast journalist to become a life coach. My answer is, being a life coach is where I feel the most real and honest version of me. And it is my desire to help others find that for themselves too.
Feeling lost is a state of being with which I am quite familiar. It’s akin to feeling stuck, unable to decipher which way to move, what steps need to be taken to even begin moving. I was at the top of my professional game anchoring at CNN. I anchored two shows with my name attached to them. I was travelling the world meeting incredible people who would give me one of their most precious luxuries—time. To the outside world, I lived a fascinating and glamorous life. To the outside world I must have been feeling the happiest and most fulfilled version of myself. Except I wasn’t.
And I knew why. I was growing. I was evolving, which doesn't always feel comfortable or smooth. I didn't understand why I was feeling that discomfort. Even worse, I didn’t feel I was allowed to feel unhappy. After all, I had a job so many would love. Who was I to be unhappy? What right did I have to want or even expect something different? Maybe I was just being ungrateful.
To blame it all on a job would be wholly inaccurate and unfair. After all, I loved interviewing people. I was damn good at it. I loved being allowed into that sacred space where someone opened up to me because I listened without prejudice or agenda. It was an experience I never took for granted. But my life back then wasn’t exactly picture perfect. I was in my 30s (and getting older every day), I lived far away from my family, and I didn’t have a stable relationship. I had a few good friends who helped me through some pretty tough times but I was lonely. Very lonely. And it was from that place that many of my choices were made. Plus I was raised to not rock any boats, to always be amenable, to be grateful for opportunities, to be successful, to make a name for myself. My history informed my present and it directed my future. Until I decided to figure out where I was going wrong.
Essentially, I was looking for a roadmap to a life where I felt in control of its direction, or at the very least, feel I was headed in the right direction. It was when I started to ask myself the tough questions that put me on a path that would lead me deeper into myself. I remember asking myself “why am I so unhappy?” The more I started to question my life as it was, the more I realised what was making me feel that way.
My discomfort, my questioning of my life was part of my growth. Me questioning my life and my search for answers came in the form of asking my guests on my talk show some deeper questions that they were not used to getting asked and which resulted in some pretty powerful interviews; experiences for both them and me where we would leave that space feeling lighter and more grounded at the same time. I asked them those questions because I desperately needed the answers for myself and I assumed they would have them because it felt l like I was the only one in the world who was feeling this way. What I would soon realise is that many didn't; many were searching for answers too.
When my time at CNN came to an end I was in no rush to go back into the same kind of world where my discomfort grew. Truth be told, something was stopping me and that feeling was strong. Palpable. So I took some time to figure out what my next phase would look like. I was fortunate enough to have put some money away for these rainy days. In that time I got married and had a baby; two things I was desperately missing in a life that was wrapped in my career and the lack of which contributed to my feelings of dissatisfaction.
I had always dabbled with the idea of being a life coach. I was often told that I should be one by many of my guests on my shows. I knew from experience the benefits of having someone to talk to and having someone with whom to figure things out. My therapist was an incredible resource for me. She helped me develop the tools I needed to pull myself out of my dark days and the tools I would use to this day to work on living in a way that is true to my values (which she helped me define). And I realised what I wanted in my life professionally: 1) freedom in how I structure my day; 2) to keep feeding that curiosity about how we live, how/why we make the choices we do, our narratives, our histories, and our goals; and 3) a deep desire to help people delve deeper into their own lives and find their essence.
I wanted to help others feel that same lightness and strength after talking to someone who truly listened and heard what they were saying. I wanted more people to feel that sense of growth and grounding that my guests on my talk show would tell me they felt after one conversation. So I took what was a deep interest seriously and got trained and certified. It was an act of commitment to myself and to my clients that I truly believe that we are capable of not just being an active participant in our own life but being the captains of our own soul.
Life coaching isn’t therapy but it is a space where we work together to help you figure out what is making you feel stuck or dissatisfied with your current existence. It is a space where we work towards achieving the goals you want for yourself. And it is a space where you are always heard, seen, and respected. A life coach is on your side, helping you feel your inner strength so that you can be true to your values and live them which in of itself is a courageous thing to do. We live in a world that is constantly telling us how to look, how to feel, what equates happiness and success. Yet, so many of us are miserable because those directives don’t align with who we are or what we want for ourselves. A life coach helps you establish and respect your boundaries despite what the world expects of you and reminds you that life isn’t a one size fits all situation.
I also believe that we don’t exist in a vacuum. We are all interconnected. Social media’s original ideal was for us to be connected, to feel more connected. However, the current state of it leaves us feeling so disconnected not just from each other but from ourselves. It is my sincere belief that by finding our core values, having the courage to live by them, frees us to find our ways to help others whether it is through how we lead, how we contribute, or how we see each and every person that crosses our path. It’s as the writer and activist Naomi Klein writes (and who I quote on my website) "The task is clear: to create a culture of caretaking in which no one and nowhere is thrown away, in which the inherent value of people and all life is foundational."
Kerri Kelly writes in her book American Detox, “The right conversations reveal our interconnection, unleash our aliveness, and open us up to healing and possibility. To do that we must build containers that can hold all of us in our truth, complexity, and longing for collective well-being—spaces where we can practice creating a counterculture to the one we have inherited that helps us build new skills and capacities for being together. The practice of how we be together is how we stay present in the face of discomfort, how we hold one another in both our brokenness and our beauty, how we listen for understanding, and how we have conversation about things that matter, even when it’s hard.”
For me, that’s what life coaching is really about. It is about holding a space for someone where we have a conversation, a real, meaningful conversation where there is acceptance, respect, and recognition for the bravery it takes to show up for oneself. Then together, we work through any blocks that are felt and through purposeful actions we develop new habits and thought processes. It is amazing what happens when we have someone who truly listens to what we have to say without wanting to change us into their perception of who we need to be. You see, I believe we have within us our inherent intelligence; we know ourselves what we need to change in order to live that life we dearly want. Yet we are afraid to want it, to work for it, or to even believe it is possible. That’s where life coaching can help. And it all begins with a conversation.
The family therapist and social entrepreneur Noeline Kirabo said in her TED Talk, "Passion is a collection of your life experiences that give you the deepest sense of fulfilment." My life experiences led me to being a life coach. Conversations that I had as a talk show host in my previous career as a journalist as well as the conversations I had with my therapist helped me design a road map for the kind of life I really wanted; a life that felt true to me. It was a road map that showed me the way out of feeling stuck and lost. Helping people design their own road maps is why I am a life coach.