Coaching Moments

"Coaching Moments" takes a
thoughtful, and sometimes lighthearted, look at how coaching
can be interwoven into our daily lives. 

by Janice Hunter

Gunless Game

The woods
were made for the hunters of dreams
The brooks for the fishers of song
To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game
The streams and the woods belong.
– Sam Walter Foss

A few weeks
ago, my widowed mother-in-law phoned to tell us she'd got
engaged on a dance floor to the lovely man she's been
seeing for a long time. I was delighted!

One of my
biggest coaching challenges over the past few years has
been trying to improve the fragile relationship I have
with her. Fortunately for both of us, the more I evolve as
a coach, the easier it gets. Twenty years down the line, I
no longer feel the urge to slam the door and storm off
cursing. At best, we've enjoyed an uneasy truce spanning
two decades but I really want to make our relationship the
best it can be for all our sakes.

I've tried
to do the work on why I let her affect me so much,
constantly asking myself what my feelings say about me.
What am I scared of? What do I dislike about myself? How
can I get rid of the shoulds, accept what is and change my
thoughts? She is, after all, a decent woman, a good woman
who in addition to raising a family, has had a challenging
life, devotedly looking after her wheelchair-bound husband
until he died. I keep coming up with the same answers; the
sad truth is we're both judgemental and I can't be my best
self, my authentic, creative self with her. We simply
wouldn't have chosen each other even though we both love
the same man – my husband, her son.

It's a
drizzly, damp, grey day today and I've been daydreaming at
the kitchen sink, remembering one of my mother-in-law's
visits a while ago.

travelled the length of the country to visit us. As I
couldn't do any coaching, I'd decided it was a chance to
practise at home instead, getting rid of old stories and
any stuff of my own that had been stopping me from moving
forward. Here was my chance to communicate from a clean
place, relish her as the woman who gave birth to my
wonderful husband, respect her humanity, her limits and
the difficult, stressful life she's had. I decided to say
less, listen well and use my intuition to hone in on her

If the first
few hours had been a coaching session, I suspect I would
have excelled at silently relishing the truth about
fraught relationships with in-laws, but not much else. I
would have failed Step 2 of the IAC exam miserably, and
not just for having an agenda and trying too hard!

So my
husband decided we should all spend the day at a deer and
falconry park. His reasoning? Plenty of open space to
wander around in, lots of things to see and do and game
wardens with tranquiliser guns close at hand.

After some hot
Scotch broth in a café with tartan tablecloths, I found
myself relaxing as we strolled around and encountered all kinds
of deer. In
one enclosure, I sprinkled some dried food pellets on the ground
for a small Muntjak deer and couldn't resist stroking her rough
coat as she ate. Suddenly, she stopped eating and reached her
head up towards me. As I stood there stroking the soft, beige
fur under her ear, the world stood still. Nothing mattered
except two creatures gently breathing – connecting silently
on a grey day in a damp Scottish field. I have no idea how
long we stood like that until, startled by the arrival of another
family, she bounded off.

I smiled
gently to myself and the whole weekend took on a warmth
and connection I would never have dreamt possible. The
universe always makes sure we get what we really need. All
we have to do is reach out and trust that we'll find
perfection in the silences.


Janice Hunter is a writer, teacher and IAC certified coach
who currently specialises in homelife coaching – helping people
create authentic, spirit filled lives and homes they love –
and in supporting coaches on their certification journeys.
She lives in Scotland with her husband and two children.




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