I recently interviewed Cate LaBarre, a life coach based out of Central New York, on her work — especially during these difficult times. I hope her words are helpful.
How would you describe the position — “life coach”? And what are some common misperceptions?
The brief answer is life coaches help people move forward in their lives. Usually people seek a life coach because they are stuck. Something is static and they know they want to create movement and don’t know how. This might be a special project, reaching financial goals, changing jobs or getting an education, changing something in their environment, improving communication with family and friends, healing from a broken relationship, serving their community, or any number of areas!
I help my clients by providing a sounding board, listening and giving feedback on their ideas or how to get from point A to point B. Sometimes it’s to help my clients figure out what point B is! Then I provide the structure and accountability a client needs to move forward. Coaching isn’t counseling. I don’t give my clients advice, but rather help a client figure out for themselves what the next step needs to be. Coaching is not therapy, which deals with past issues and trauma. A coach may look back with the client to see patterns of behavior; we are where we are because of the choices we’ve made in the past. Coaching is present and future oriented. It is definitely not hand holding. My clients will tell you that being in a coaching relationship with me is hard work!
Do you have an overall goal as a life coach that you aspire to meet or measure yourself against?
My mission is to assist people in reclaiming their birthright of self-acceptance and unconditional self-love, using emotional education and a structured coaching process. My goal is not so much for me as it is for all of us. Can you imagine a world where everyone was living in their highest integrity, taking impeccable care of themselves and caring equally about the people and world around them? This sounds like a huge aspiration, but truly it is my vision to reach as many people as I can, which is why in addition to coaching one-on-one with people all over the world by telephone, I send out an e-newsletter, write articles for regional journals and teach workshops in the Northeast. I also plan on creating teleclasses (group teaching and coaching by phone) and have a book in progress.
How did you become involved in life coaching? And what are some examples of works you are proud of?
I knew I wanted to be a life coach some time before I actually took the training. I was (still am, but no longer practice) a licensed massage therapist and Reiki master since the mid 1980s, and realized that I am a natural coach. I would ask my clients questions that would challenge their limiting thoughts and beliefs about themselves and the world and caused them to shift their perspective. Usually this meant that they were looking through a disempowering lens and the questions I asked created a sense of empowerment and movement forward for them.
I am an Integrative Coach certified by the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching. I first met Debbie Ford, the founder of the institute and best selling author, at a workshop at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies (in Rhinebeck, NY). The workshop, called “The Shadow Process,” was a life altering, deeply healing weekend for me. When I realized she trained life coaches, I enrolled!
I am proud that I was willing to make a mid-life career change and that I have faith that I am on my path. Coaching is my calling and professional purpose. More than that, I live what I espouse. I work for the institute as a mentor and reviewer for coaches in training and I assist Debbie Ford and her staff in San Diego and in New York.
From your work as a life coach, what are the most common challenges people seek your help with? Is there a common theme or obstacle?
This is a great question. To be successful in business it is important to have a niche market. My niche found me! I have worked mostly with women: an entrepreneur and designer, a dairy farmer, an attorney, financial consultants, social workers, hairdressers, a chiropractor, a salesperson, other coaches, a songwriter and performer, a CFO, an inventor, a private detective and writer, to name a few. And all of them, without exception have had a common challenge. They all had trouble saying NO. They tended to put others’ needs first and be at the rock bottom of their “to do” list. By the time they came to me, they were exhausted, spent.
Examples of their complaints include they needed to quit their jobs, leave their partners, sell the farm, or otherwise drastically change their lives. But in all cases what needed to change were their boundaries. They all needed to learn to say NO to others more often and YES to themselves a lot more. Not to say that some of them didn’t make a drastic change in their lives, like selling a business, leaving a partner or changing their work, but it all started with making conscious choices and taking full responsibility for those choices. They explored what it means to fully accept and love themselves exactly as they are. This began the process of creating healthier boundaries, which lead to taking much better care of themselves. Once that was in place, they had the energy to look at their lives through the lens of empowerment and create exactly the future they most desire.
Do you feel women often need help in certain areas in comparison to men. Why or why not?
I work with more women then men, probably a ratio of 20:1. This is only my observation of the coaching world, but it seems women are more willing to reach out for coaching than men, unless it is corporate coaching for team building and better employee relationships.
In most cases, women have a lot more on their plates than men. Working or not, they are the center of any household, even one without children. Women are amazing multi-taskers. Even single women not in relationships are more likely to have trouble saying NO because of their ability to care for others and handle everything simultaneously. The educational component of the coaching I do gives women “permission” to put themselves at the top of their lists, finally realizing that if they don’t take care of themselves, they won’t be around to take care of anything or anyone else! They already have the tools they need because they have been doing it all for these years. Though men are definitely way overstressed in today’s world and I know they are in need of just as much help as women, they are less likely to call me for personal coaching. Some of the calls I get for men come from the women who love them!
It’s a difficult time for many of us across the country and around the world. What are some everyday things we can all do to keep moving forward amidst all the dreary news and circumstances?
I love the saying by Wayne Dyer — “If you don’t like the way something looks, change the way you look at it.” We are headed for a complete turn around in the way we do business, do everything, as a global community. We need to let go of the old paradigm. It’s like standing at a padlocked door and pounding on it, knowing full well you’ll never get in. Accepting and letting go of our expectations of the way things “should” be takes faith that there is something more, a greater purpose for your life. It takes courage to turn around and look for an open door.
What can we do on a daily basis? Not watch the gloom and doom on the news. Radical, I know. But negativity breeds negativity and we are hearing mostly bad news. I don’t mean stick your fingers in your ears and sing, “La, la, la, la…” but temper all the negativity with some empowering thought and action. We are all a part of this mess and we all need to take part in our recovery! Stop complaining and see yourself as part of the solution. Sometimes there are only small things we can do, even if we are secure in our jobs and homes. But we CAN do something. Look around your community, make donations of your time, expertise or money (if you have to think about whether you can afford a donation, you probably can!) Your neighbors, your city, your country, your world needs your talents, your expertise, right now. Nothing feels better than giving to improve another’s circumstance, (remembering to take impeccable care of yourself at the same time!) Pay it forward by sharing your gifts and blessings with others.
If someone just found out they lost their job during this economic crisis, what do you think are some helpful first steps that person should take?
Mourn the loss. Grieve it like crazy for a while. Then accept the loss. Face the facts, the job is gone!
Pray for guidance. If you don’t believe in God or a divine presence, pray to your higher self — that wise part of you that has all the answers you need.
Instead of choosing to be a victim, choose the high road. You may not have chosen to lose your job, but you can choose how to respond. Make the decision that every event has a lesson and gift.
Be willing to ask for help! There is support available from your family and friends, I guarantee it. You would be amazed at how grateful people are to be asked for help, not rescue, but a helping hand. And many coaches and counselors from different backgrounds and trainings are willing to take a certain percentage of their clients on a sliding scale or “pro bono,” with the commitment that the client will pay it forward when they are back on their feet by sharing their unique talents and gifts!