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Published: Wednesday, 6/12/2002

Coached For Success

BY PAT STEIN
AND ELIZABETH REITER

Some people think they know what they want in life but don't know how to get it. Others aren't sure what they really want, but they know what they've got isn't it.

If you're ready to tackle either of those issues, a personal coach will help you define your goals and then to create a plan to achieve them.

Coaching serves to chart, evaluate, pursue and attain client goals for success, as defined by the client, and is built on the premise that coaching is a collaborative relationship between the consultant and the client, says coach LeeAnn Grundish, who started Grafix Services, Etc. in 1988.

Depending on individual needs, she helps her clients work to achieve high levels of both personal and professional accomplishment, social contribution, earning credentials, financial reward, self-confidence, freedom to choose one's own way, keeping one's options open, satisfaction with a job well done and beginning a challenging lifelong career.

"Personal coaching is about helping people to create an extraordinary life - the life of their dreams - and about opening people up to the possibilities in life. A personal coach helps you plan how to get to where you want to go -- whether it's a different career, a different lifestyle or a relationship change," said Kathy Nelson, member of the International Coach Federation.

"What a personal trainer does for the body, a personal coach does for the soul," explained Thomas Leonard, founder of Coach University.

Life planning, soul enhancing and career building. That's a tall order.

With these attributes, it's not surprising that a great number of today's life coaches are trained in combinations of Psychology, spirituality, financial planning and business management - as well as a degree from one of a few possible coaching schools.

Grundish graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Toledo and opened Grafix Services Etc., which began as a resume writing business.

To write a resume you have to represent the client, she says, and to do that they have to be focused on who they are, which naturally evolved into coaching, Grundish explains. She's coached for 14 years, although in the beginning she didn't even know there was such a thing as she was doing.

"Coaching can be a very gratifying way to spend the day; it is so rewarding to see the empowerment of increased confidence in a client," Grundish says.

Professional and personal coaching intersect and favorably influence each other, she believes.

Approximately 80% of Graffix's 5,000 clients are local but the remainder communicate via telephone, Internet and fax machines. She finds it beneficial for many clients to meet with her, but others can be successfully coached wherever they are.

Interestingly, coaching sessions are often conducted through telephone, email and faxed exchanges- favored for their ability to occur anywhere. Typical fees range from $200-$500 per month, which gives you about a half-hour telephone conversation.

Some sessions take the form of 'behavioral interviews,' such as sample questions, priority lists and role-playing.

Within a very short time, Leonard claims that you'll take yourself more seriously, take more effective and focused actions, stop putting up with things that rob you of energy, get results easily and set goals that are precisely what you want.

Although all that sounds invigorating, Grundish feels that sometimes people are reluctant to begin a process that doesn't produce tangible results. Her clients have achieved very tangible goals, however, and are grateful that they invested their time, money and effort in a coach.

"It is my philosophy that a person's sense of well-being (which is derived from a wide range of areas of life - professional and personal) is one's greatest asset. So, it is a vitally important investment that will provide innumerable long-term returns," Grundish says

Since the terrorist attacks, Nelson finds that more and more people are examining their lives and looking for quality of life.

"What happened on Sept. 11 has made people realize that life is unpredictable and sometimes brief.

They're looking for fulfillment in their careers, not just a way to make more money, and more joy in their lives," she said.

Nelson is convinced that most adults who feel locked into careers (or lifestyles) that are unfulfilling have bought into the "shoulds" of life and have "been on auto pilot."

"Most people are so busy being busy that they have forgotten how to dream; they've forgotten their resourcefulness and creativity," she said.

She leads her clients through what she calls a "clean sweep walk through life." It deals with personal foundations, such as attitudes and beliefs about money, relationships, integrity and values, their innate talents and desires. It enables people to get rid of old, limiting beliefs about what is and isn't possible for them and to gain clarity on what's really important to them; identify and capitalize on natural gifts, skills, talents and potential; discover; live their life's passion and purpose and make life-enhancing choices; and set and achieve personal and professional goals.

"Once you get clear on your personal values, making decisions is easier," she said. "Your values are the truth of who you are and are the foundation for creating the career and life of your dreams."

Although she is convinced that finding or creating a fulfilling career is based on "establishing a relationship with yourself," she also coaches clients to achieve clarity in what they really want, set their intentions and focus on reaching their goals. Developing organizational skills, learning time management and leadership skills are all part of the formula for reaching the goal. For those who dream of starting their own businesses, coaches like Nelson help by providing basic tools and knowledge needed to start a new business.

There are dozens of books about time management and getting organized, so why go to a personal coach to learn these skills?

"A personal coach helps with focus and accountability," said Nelson, who gives clients "homework" assignments, which usually are about achieving clarity as to goals and values. Then she works with them on creating a step-by-step plan to reach their goals.

Nelson left the corporate world about a dozen years ago to embark on her new profession as a personal coach. She established her San Diego-based On Track Success Coaching and Consulting business in 1996. It was a decision she made because she wanted more satisfaction in her work and wanted it to be more meaningful.

"Most adults spend much of their lives at work. Since 9/11, more and more people want their work to be satisfying and meaningful. They want to make a contribution and they want to feel a sense of satisfaction about what they're doing to earn a living. Your work is not just about bringing home a paycheck," Nelson said.

Nelson advises that it's important to hook up with someone you feel a connection with. Otherwise, you might learn as much from reading a book. She provides a free 30-minute consultation with new clients and suggests that those seeking the help of a personal coach interview with several on a no-fee basis to find the coach they feel comfortable with.

While a career change is what often motivates people to seek the counsel of a personal coach, Nelson says the process of defining goals and values often leads to more than a career shift. She has had clients who thought they just wanted to take a break from their all-consuming but unfulfilling careers to find one that would be less stressful and more satisfying and in the process found they had time to build new relationships.



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