Shaped by Life

Shaped.  Yes.  We are affected and shaped by all the people we interact with, the experiences we have, the places we live, work and travel.  These all impact us to become the unique persons we are whether we completely like the results or not.  If we don’t, we can take steps to change those aspects.

Having provided career coaching for a number of years, in 1990 I deeply wanted to find or create another type of work that would combine my strong coaching and training skills with my artistic and creative sensibilities.  I had no idea what that would mean or look like professionally.

After extensively networking, researching, brainstorming and looking for a new way to integrate what I most loved for over a year, I finally acknowledged that I couldn’t find a way to do what I wanted. Although I was disappointed, I decided to create art in my studio and keep it separate from my work.  The best option for work seemed to contact an outplacement firm owner I’d met, been impressed with and with whom I’d stayed in touch.  I developed a proposal for him highlighting what I would contribute to his company and why I wanted to be a part of his team.  We determined that I would start on a contract basis to see whether he had the volume to warrant hiring me on a fulltime basis.  I committed myself to doing the very best job I possibly could!  After three months I’d proved myself and he’d confirmed that he needed another career transition coach.

I felt ambivalent about joining the company.  On the one hand I had not managed to make my dream come true: to find or create an opportunity to combine my best and favorite coaching and artistic talents.  It felt like going backwards to do career coaching again when I was ready to do something very different.  On the other hand, it was an excellent company that felt like a good match for me and I was happy to help build the small office into an important presence during the seven years I was there.

When I started in 1991 the glass ceiling was still firmly in place and almost all of my out of work clients were white male managers.  Having grown up somewhat intimidated by men, it was a challenge for me to be guiding these “men in suits” who were used to being in charge and now had a woman in her 30’s helping them instead.  I definitely had a “fake it till you make it” approach.  My supervisor was a wonderful woman who hired and managed a great team of coaches that I enjoyed working with.  I gradually built my confidence and was pleased with the work I did with these out of work managers and executives.

One day I suddenly realized that I no longer felt intimidated by the men I coached.  I was thrilled!  It never occurred to me that by being in this work situation I would have a significant breakthrough in my relationships with men.  I marched into the president’s office and asked him if he had ever thought I was intimidated by men.  He looked surprised and gave a resounding “No!”  I smiled and said “Good!  I no longer am.” and walked out.

It was fascinating to become aware that these fearsome (to me) “men in suits” were human beings who were hurting from having lost their jobs and status and that I had the ability to help them heal and find their way to what was next in their lives.

Yes, I had been shaped by my experience of being in this company.  This helped me become confident enough to resign and take the heart-stopping leap to start my life coaching business in 1998.

Now, as you think about your life, what is an experience you’ve had or who is a person you knew who had an impact on you that at first may not have seemed beneficial?  What was the gift that ultimately came from it that shaped you?  How have you helped shape someone else to be who s/he is?

We do not live in a vacuum.  I believe it’s important to recognize and appreciate the people, places and experiences that have made us who we are!


Lorrie’s Learnings is a monthly e-article which shares my awarenesses, learnings, contemplations and anything else that comes to the mind of this life coach! Let me know the articles that give you new perspectives/thoughts/feelings, confirm what you’ve been thinking or move you into action. To receive Lorrie’s Learnings straight to your email inbox, click here!