Before coaching became a thing, I started my coaching practice in 2000. It took off and in one year I had created a strong following. This career was so in line with my heart and soul, finally. I loved what I did and adored my clients.
It was sometime in the second year that I began to realize the problem. A new client had an incredible breakthrough in our first session. The next day she called me angry to tell me that I had crossed her boundaries (an important therapeutic process in people who’ve been victimized.)
As she voiced her outrage, I was shattered inside. I knew I had been open and transparent with everything and that she had chosen in 100% the entire way. When I hung up, I thought, “Carmell, who the hell do you think you are? You have no business doing what you’re doing. You could unintentionally cause damage!” And on and on.
A dear and wise friend who knew us both, said, “Your intentions are clear, Carmell, and you know it. You have to decide if you’re going to take on that risk if you do the important work you’ve started. Some people may not like taking accountability and being back in their bodies even though it’s what they want.
Then she said, “ If you’re going to take credit for the good stuff that happens with your clients, you’re going to have to take credit for the bad too. Is that what you want?”
This gave me one of the most powerful lessons in my coaching career. I was validating myself and my success on the way others felt about my work with them. I had to reevaluate this, I just didn’t know what would take it’s place.
At this point I began noticing that some of my best clients were coming into every session and asking me what they should do–asking me to ‘know’ for them. They excitedly referred many people to me with this same idea—that I knew. I could direct them in crucial ways and moments. Oh god, I had unintentionally made myself into a guru.
I realized I’d been unconsciously judging what I thought best for them.
All of these experiences happened in a matter of weeks. My gut and my heart told me clearly that I was finally doing what truly fulfilled me. I was also clear I was not doing this to be somebody’s guru. I was there to lead others back to trusting themselves to know–back to their own inner wisdom. I began to move my clients not to my answers, but to questions and the path of their deeper consciousness.
It was a profound shift.
Almost overnight, this radical self-responsibility meant saying goodbye to most of my clients who wanted the guru, and essentially starting my practice over. And yet I’d found a freedom in my work that spoke out through my whole soul.
The truth was, I couldn’t know for anyone. Whatever hot mess they might have going on, it was my job to trust their path and meet them consciously on it exactly as it was. No judgment. Total trust. Accountability. And from there, to get them to actualize in their own choices.
In essence, teach them to follow themselves.