A year ago, we were preparing to launch a program to train people to be life coaches, and we were feeling a bit like we had bitten off more than we could chew. We had been asked for this – “How can I help others using these methods?” – by many passionate users of our whole-life-wellness books and courses. But we’ve been at it for 20 years, and figuring out how to convey what we’ve learned turned out to be a monumental task. And because it was the first run of the program, we had to wonder if it would even “work.” Would participants come out of it with the ability to wisely and lovingly guide others? We hoped so.
In the process of creating the course, there was a point at which Peter started to write synopses of all the major schools of thought in psychology, and then we realized that was the wrong direction. For one, it would take a four-year college curriculum (at least) to teach people to think their way through other people’s problems. But the more we talked and meditated on it, the clearer it became that what makes us good at what we do isn’t that our minds are full of theories.
If we had to narrow it down to two things, we’d say what makes a person a useful guide is: 1) They’re continuing to do their own work, and 2) They understand how to hold space for others.
By “doing their own work,” we mean that a person is continually engaged in their growth and expansion. They have a sincere will to heal their wounds, to understand themselves and others, to respond consciously instead of reacting unconsciously, to broaden their perspective, to recognize their purpose and potential … in short, to be their most authentic selves.
By “holding space” for others, we mean that they’re able to establish a therapeutic container in which another can safely unravel their problems and discover their own answers. When we hold the space, we’re maintaining a steady focus on the process that’s occurring in the moment. We don’t wander away in our mind. We don’t anxiously search our archives for snippets of sage advice we read in books. We don’t fill the space with our own needs or stuff. We hold it open, we see the other person’s light, and we trust.
So, while writing Cliff’s Notes on Jung and Freud and Rogers might have taken some time, at least we could have looked them up in Wikipedia. But guiding people through the process of doing their work (we call this Sacred Expansion) and finding ways to teach them to hold space turned out to be a lot harder.
Luckily, it worked!
We can barely put words to how gratifying and awe-inspiring it has been to see the growth and grace of our students. It turns out that if you do your work and are committed to serving, you can help others release their baggage, discover their strengths, and see their problems differently! Our coaches’ clients have had incredible breakthroughs. They’ve gotten their dream jobs, they’ve healed their relationships, they’ve become healthy, and they’ve achieved goals that eluded them for years.
The coaches are discovering that they don’t have to have all the answers. They must simply be able to show up, hold space, and be a loving partner to their clients. In the process, their own lives are changing, too. Their relationships, their communication skills, their ability to manage stress – all these areas improve because in the end, the work they do to serve others is inseparable from their own life work.
We feel truly privileged to witness the devotion, the power, and the light of our participants. And a huge added bonus is that all the profits from this program go to a charity we established, called The Well Life Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting community projects that benefit women where and when they need it.
The Dragontree Life Coach program will be opening for enrollment again soon, and we couldn’t be more excited. This training has shown us just how many good people out there want to be of service to their species and planet. We look forward to meeting more of you.
Peter and Briana