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What's that lady in the minivan doing?

It’s summertime and that means I spend a lot of time with my children. And mostly, I love it. There’s one thing in particular that I love about it right now: pumping the Moana soundtrack in our minivan as we sail through erranding. Now usually this is something that I’d keep quiet. For many reasons, obviously. But I’m going to allow myself to be vulnerable on this one.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the children’s movie Moana, I’ll bring you on board. It’s about an island girl finding her purpose, honoring her roots, choosing courage, being the heroine of her adventure without a male rescuer in sight. Lin Manuel Miranda (creator of Hamilton) wrote the soundtrack. It has a bunch of wonderful elements but what moves me (to tears, if I’m honest) is how perfectly Lin Manuel Miranda captures this deeply human longing to find and honor the voice inside that speaks our deepest truth of who we are, how scary it is to step into the unknown of following who we are called to be and how empowering it is to claim that sense of purpose-- and act. It moves me because it speaks to what I love most about the work that I do. It speaks to what called me to be a life coach in the first place.

There’s a particular moment when Moana feels like she’s lost, that she won’t accomplish what she set out to do. She’s alone on a raft with a tattered sail in the middle of the ocean, and her dead grandmother appears. She adores her grandmother. Her grandmother imparts some wisdom and then asks, “Moana, do you know who you are?” Moana begins to speak hesitantly at first but once she gets rolling she breaks into this song about who she is. She sings about where she came from, her ancestors and family and what she loves, she sings about what she’s learned and where she’s headed and how’s she’s all that and more. And then she sings: “The call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me. It’s like the tide; always falling and rising.” She realizes she knows her own way. The voice, the call, is within her, always. And by then she’s fixed her broken sail and is skimming across the water once more. After that she has this confidence about her. She doesn’t question or second guess herself. She’s not hesitant about whether she can handle the raging lava monster. She’s got it.

I think we often confuse confidence with arrogance. When I describe the benefits of coaching to new clients, I often talk about confidence and then feel compelled to add a lot of qualifiers. The confidence I’m talking about is Moana post-grandmother-song confidence. Confidence as peace of mind. Confidence as vulnerability and courage. Coaching is a path that cultivates confidence. I’m not talking about knowing how things are going to turn out or manifesting some physical reality because you’ve followed the right rules: Moana doesn’t know what will happen when she finds the lava monster. I’m talking about the scary, courageous act of aligning who you know yourself to be with how you choose to live. Again and again, day after day even when things don’t look just like you want them to. It’s a confidence that’s resilient to the ups and downs of circumstance.

I’ve experienced coaching this way myself. I worked with a coach when I was ready to start my own coaching practice and then again this spring when my practice began to grow quickly. Being coached is a form of self-care, similar to meditation, for me. It’s a process of becoming familiar with my mind and heart. It’s also uncomfortable and quite challenging at times, but as I allow myself to authentically engage with it I feel more myself, more whole and grounded, greater peace of mind. I am called on to be honest and creative, and I feel supported in a way that is unique to any other relationship in my life. I also make decisions and act with more precision and purpose. When I am being coached, I see new things manifest in my life. I feel myself change in ways that I’ve invited, and I feel purposeful as I move through my days.

And that’s kind of amazing because it’s super hard to change. I heard a statistic on NPR recently that said only one in nine people will make a lifestyle change-- even if they are told they could prolong their life, restore their health- even reverse diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Only 11 percent of people choose life over death when it depends on them changing their lifestyle. What?! The vast majority of people will choose to die rather than make a long-lasting change?

There’s something else research has proven about change: it works best, it lasts, when it comes from-and is defined by- the person who wants to change. Clients most regularly find me because they are experiencing some form of discomfort. Something is falling apart. They are facing a challenge they can’t see their way through. They feel a pervasive sense of dis-ease and restlessness that won’t quiet. They want to change something- their work, their lifestyle, their relationship. They want to feel true to themselves in a way that they don’t right now. They feel like Moana sitting with her torn sail on a tiny boat, alone in the middle of the ocean at night (though many show no visible outward sign of this, only feel that way inside). The coach is her ghost grandmother: the one on the other end of the phone, video screen or coffee table who says, “You know who you are. Let’s talk about the voice in your heart.”

The ground of my coaching practice is deep unshakable confidence in the wisdom of my clients: They know who they are, who they want to be. Their longing for clarity and confidence and peace of mind resonates, because I live with that longing in my own life. So often the voice in our heart is clouded by outside pressures- our family, our work, our responsibilities, shame and fears.

My tools are deep listening and skillful questioning. By reflecting, naming, reframing, challenging, celebrating I help change- transformation often- emerge in a way that is completely designed by my client. A coach can clear space to hear our own voice, our calling. Sometimes the change is big: a new business venture or relationship decision and sometimes it is much more subtle: moving through each day feeling more relaxed, grounded and in touch with yourself. Coaching can be like the spirit of Moana’s grandmother—the kind, honest, powerful reminder to listen to that voice within that orients us.

This post arose for two purposes. Number one: my desire to spread as far and wide as possible a mental image of myself really embracing the Moana soundtrack cruising in our minivan with my kids. Number two: this fall, as my son begins kindergarten, I am expanding my coaching practice significantly and am ready for new clients. I hope this post gives you a sense of both what coaching can be and what I am like as a coach. If you would share this post with anyone in your life that may benefit from it, I would appreciate it.

For more information, please check out my website: Please be in touch if you have questions or would like more information.

Enjoy the rest of summer.



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