Coaching the Transitions
Frederick Hudson (1999), who was one of the pioneers in the field of personal and life coaching was also a major contributor to the field of adult development. He was founding president of the Fielding Graduate School and founder of the Hudson Institute. For Hudson, the history of a life occurs not in stages as Erik Erikson (Erikson, Erikson and Kivnick, 1986) proposed, but in cycles. We return (with new insights and strategies) to the same fundamental issues at multiple points in our life. This being the case, then it seems appropriate that personal and life coaching be made available to people of all ages (a trend we note later), as they encounter challenges associated with the beginning of a new cycle–dealing with what Bill Bridges (2004) calls “life transitions”. They also encounter challenges associated with the end of an existing cycle. These beginnings and ends – these moments of preparation and reflection—are highly “coachable” moments. They enable each of us to benefit from the thoughtful companionship of a personal or life coach.
When might these “coachable” moments occur and when might personal and life coaching become of particular value. The obvious times are when there is birth (a new child), death (of a significant other), marriage, major illness and divorce. These are usually the defining moments in each of our lives. We find similar moments of major personal transition in our work life: a new job, a promotion, a firing or lay-off, retirement. The critical point to be made is that these major transitions (and many others in our lives) are inherently stressful – whether these are “positive” transitions or “negative” transitions. The life change scale — developed many years ago and refined by one of us (Bergquist, 2011) — points to the impact of transitions on our physical and mental health. The key point is that the impact of a major transition typically does not show up immediately, but rather is a ticking bomb—often manifest only six to eight months after the transition occurred.
There is one other important point to make when anticipating the future trends in personal and life coaching. This point concerns something called “locus of control” (Skibbins, 2007). We know that transitions look and feel quite different if they were initiated by our client then if they were imposed by some external person, event or circumstance. Typically, when we have some control (“internal locus of control”) the transition is accompanied by a sense of hopefulness and personal empowerment, whereas the externally-imposed transitions (“external locus of control”) is often accompanied by a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Even when the external imposed transition leads to positive outcomes, we are inclined to interpret these transition as a matter of luck, good fortune or gift from some divine entity. We typically don’t learn much from this external imposition, whereas a transition that we have initiated can be a rich learning-ful event, especially if we are accompanied by a skillful personal or life coach.Download Article 1K Club