Caroline’s unique background and her continuous passion and interest for inner growth led her to coaching as naturally and confidently as water flows in a river. We are all often undergoing periods of inner rearrangement, and it can be a special moment in life when we take conscious note of this, and re-orient ourselves in the midst of outer chaos. Caroline’s calming yet productive presence, her empathetic and healing listening are well-known to those who are acquainted with her or have worked with her. She has cultivated this natural inclination of hers partly through years of interviewing work but also through training with CoachU (leader in ICF accredited Coaching training) and through Psycho-Social Therapy studies at University. The result allows for a very intuitive and human working session during which real directions for positive change arise in the minds and hearts of the conversing client and coach. We asked her a few questions to get to know her a little better. Maybe it will answer some of your own questions too.
What do people get wrong about coaching?
Caroline-I think that some people think the coach does all the work. It isn’t so. The coaching process works because the client is the one that learns and integrates new tools for growth and for action, and then learns to apply them when need be. Very quickly, the client feels «equipped» and needs the coach less and less. It is a bit like teaching how to fish instead of doing the fishing for someone. But in this case, I remind the client that they can even teach themselves.
What have you learned from doing interviews?
Caroline-I have learned many things! I have learned to listen, mostly. And that is an art. I continue to do interviews for the website because I know that the life lessons of one person can nourish another, and more than that, I believe that we are all very similar. We are all dealing with similar challenges, fears, pains, etc. Where it differs is in HOW we deal with them, and if we let it affect us to the point of «inner paralysis» or not. Realizing that we are all one, all fundamentally similar, all of us, millions of people, is a very empowering vision. I think through interviews, these similarities come to light and make us feel less alone. We can see that others before us have overcome some barriers and difficulties that we are now facing, and when we will too have overcome them, we will be an inspiration for the ones who are just starting to encounter those same difficulties. And so on. The Earth is a big Community and we can and could all help each other. What else is there? Is there something more important than that?
I also realized to a very deep level that celebrities are not different than we «non-celebrities» are. They share the same joys and sorrows, fears and challenges. And they serve as shining examples that we too can do it. They are not as idealized as the icons that we sometimes make them to be. They are very «normal». And therefore, you are of the same species and have the same capacities.
Why do you think coaching has become popular lately?
Caroline-I would have to offer my opinion only. I can suppose that since the beginning of coaching, more people have experienced the positive aspects of the coaching process and have transformed their lives, sped up progress, moved forward after feeling stuck for years, etc… And perhaps they have spread the word and generously told others what their «secret» is. I could also guess that more and more people are realizing that they have more power over their lives than they used to suppose, and that coaching is a tool which helps them turn that realization into something more concrete and tangible.
Caroline-Sadly, when they first come to me, most, if not all of my clients are rather sad and lacking energy. One of the first things I do with them is to make a list of what energizes them and what drains them, and then we try to implement the easiest thing on their energizing list in their life that week, and we try to remove one easy thing from the list which drains them. The effect is immediate and always a bit surprising to me! So simple, yet so effective! Why do we forget to do this?
What best describes your coaching style?
Caroline-I would have to say that I coach with my heart, mostly. I am naturally a non-confrontational person, but I address issues directly when need be. I remain calm (nothing shocks me) and confident. I don’t believe I have the answers, and I do not ultimately care what my client chooses to do. I do care that what they do feels right for them and resonates with their deeper selves. That is my focus.
What was your most challenging case so far?
Caroline-I have not met my most challenging case yet! I have had great clients who really want to work and they even surpass the goals we have put forth. But I imagine that what I would find challenging would be to coach someone who is not seriously involved in the process. But in that case, we would revise the decision to do coaching and explore what is behind the resistance or lack of enthusiasm.
Why do you like coaching?
Caroline-When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a psychologist. I liked to help people and I felt great compassion for others and saw that field as one well-suited for me. I studied in that field and I found it fascinating. All the shades of the human experience were explored, or sometimes browsed. Then in my 20’s, I first encountered Coaching. I read the first books about it, took a few classes and looked for schools. It was very new then. I did not like the term Coaching. To me it sounded patronizing. So even though I loved the general concept (even more than psychotherapy/psychology) I waited to see what would come out of it, and promised myself that I would become a Coach, or find a better term, by the time I turned 40, which is what I did. I now made peace with the term itself. I like coaching basically because the way that it looks towards the future and does not dwell on the past fits my nature totally. The very concrete aspects of it make it more dynamic and enjoyable to work with. Also, importantly, because it really does help people, in a concrete way that can be measured, and that is what my deepest wish (and joy) is. It ignites me to see others overcome their own barriers and accomplish themselves. For me, it is not by reaching a specific goal that we do that but by aligning ourselves first with our « wise self », the most authentic part of ourselves, and letting the goals flow out of that connection. Then our actions come from a higher place and we can say that we live an authentic life, in line with our values. And in that space, our « goals » might take on a whole new meaning and definition. That is partly why I say that we are the vessel from which all else flows.
Is there such a thing as failing?
Caroline-No. I dislike that term. If you divorce after 20 years of a bad marriage, is it a failure? Or is it not a great victory? If you tried to realize a project that did not become concrete, did you fail or did you learn valuable tricks about how to do it better next time? Did you enjoy the «ride» enough that the outcome of your task does not matter as much? If you send out your manuscript to 1001 publishers and have only a few responses, all negative, have you failed? So many people give up just when they are about to succeed. It can take hard work and a lot of seeming rejections before we get to where we are going. (Might as well enjoy it no?) Those «rejections» are nothing personal, but we often take them as personal attacks and let that affect our confidence and hope. There is no such thing as failing, but there is such a thing as quitting. And that is not always bad. It actually can be the best thing you could do sometimes. What matters is the growth.
Who inspires you the most and why?
Caroline-I am constantly inspired by people I meet, by clients and friends alike. Everyone has something inspiring, a «story» that can move me, something that they overcame and something that is admirable. I have to say though that I was most inspired by a man I have first heard about when I was in my teenage years: Martin Gray. For those who do not know him, he was born to a Jewish family in 1922. Barely surviving the horrors of the extermination camps himself, he lost his whole family. After the war, he moved to the USA and married. In 1970, his wife and four kids died in a forest fire. He was devastated. Today he is remarried and has 5 kids. I think his story in itself speaks volumes as to why he inspires me. He was truly tested, like most of us will never be, and he basically defined and demonstrated what resilience means. A true inspiration.
«There is such a big difference in my life at the end of our series of sessions from the beginning, that it feels like it was years ago. I became more aware of my calling, my mission, my values and I’m a more discerning participant in life. I ask myself if I am serving my purpose and if I am in alignment with my mission. Defining my mission was an all new idea in my life. I have learned to start monitoring my thoughts, and added a much needed structure in my life. No matter what difficulties happened in my life, I was helped to keep focus on my goals. I have appreciated this non-judgmental environment where I could share my struggles and was encouraged to think creatively. I received credit for my smallest achievements, which gave me wings. I have a much more positive outlook on life now.»
-Chioma Nwosu, Actress
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