By Kim Wunner
Ridley Park, PA, Feminist Business Coach, www.kimwunner.com
The path to becoming a coach is different for each of us. That path is part of what shapes our unique experience that we draw from to serve our clients.
Mine was a quest for alignment.
This was one of the darkest and most relieving days of my professional career.
I was driving down 12th street in Philadelphia to the parking garage at 8 am on an August day, stifled by the heat, the noise and the people. I couldn't breathe. The fear was crippling, my chest about cave in. There was sheer terror and panic in my body. I craved a way out of the job, a way out of the 14 hour days, and most of all. I craved feeling at home in myself.
I got out of my black SUV on the roof deck of the parking garage, wearing my red high heeled boots feeling the wind in my hair, I wished I could stay on that rooftop. The city looked hostile below - everyone probably happier than me, everyone able to live a peaceful successful life - everyone better than me. I craved an ally. I craved to demonstrate how smart and capable I was.
Standing there, I practiced rhythmic tapping on my chest to calm myself down. After months, days, nights, and weekends of endless hours of panic to try and get my job under control, my projects were over budget, clients were pissed off, and owners were mad. I was failing. I was malnourished, not sleeping well, not exercising, missing my daughter because 14 hour days demanded my attention at work, not with her. I spent about two hours a day with her and the weekends were spent sleeping to recover, in the car running errands in weekend traffic and preparing laundry and food for the week.
Later that day, I walked into the smartly designed austere office of one of the partners, where my boss and another partner waited for me.
I was let go.
A single mother, making more money than she ever had, doing a job she knew she could have been successful at, was now unemployed.
There was relief in me.
This led me on a quest of alignment. First, I took care of my health by taking a few weeks off, spending time on hikes and napping. I cooked good food and spent luxurious amounts of time with my daughter.
Next, I hired a coach and a therapist. I read books on true purpose. I confronted social norms on single motherhood and success by journaling and meeting other single mothers rejecting ideas of scarcity. I learned the word alignment. I studied the Japanese concept of Ikigai.
I healed. I found my voice, quiet and inside of me, she became louder.
I admitted I wanted to be my own boss and help women and the LGBTQ communities create lives to be home in themselves. Just like I had craved on that rooftop.
I had gotten away from my mission, for me my life had always been about supporting women’s self-sufficiency. I admitted I wanted to be my own boss and CREATE something. I was able to articulate that I prioritized flexibility in my schedule to be present for my daughter in any way she needed.
A year later, sitting in my home office, I was on a Zoom call with a round-faced woman, a successful project manager an LGBT mother of 4 adopted children. Her life had gotten overwhelming - she wasn’t showing up with joy any longer but with a short temper and anxiety. She has hired me to work with her on being able to navigate it better.
In the middle of the call, I listened to what she was saying, tuning into the actual words and the ones that caught my attention - she was upset about her kids not being respectful. I asked the first question that I was thinking -
“Did your parents value productivity?”
My client’s face started to change, it lightened up a little bit, it became inquisitive. She then spent about 20 minutes on productivity in her family. How she wasn't loved for being her and how much she loved her 4 children. She just wanted their help because as a single mother with a full-time job she was swamped. The journey then came to that it wasn't their help she needed, what she needed was to set priorities in how she managed her time because she was overwhelmed, not feeling productive and projecting onto the kids.
BINGO, I thought.
She started to cry. “Wow”, she said. “I had no idea”. From there, we spent the next three sessions walking through a vision for the life she wanted to lead.
That night, I felt liberated.
How many times did I think, “I could just listen to people for a living?” because it seemed to be my gift. I LOVE that I can listen and ask questions that make a difference to someone.
Three months later I enrolled in my coaching certification program. Today, I am a certified, accredited coach.
I partner with women to live in alignment. That is what I do now.
I am 100% sure at least 90% of us have to go through transformation to be able to get there because we have all come to be with pressures, ideas, wounds and expectations that we developed that we were not born with.
Those of us who have the stomach to do it, to ask the hard questions, do the hard things, face the hard truths, and see the other side of those mirrors are met with loving compassion, bliss, goodness, and freedom.
Those of us willing to transform are the leaders. We lead the way for others.
Yes, personally. Yes, in business. Yes, on teams and in families and in classrooms and in communities and churches and schools and even at the dog park.
If enough of us do this, we have a culture change. And then, maybe we can transform together.