"Coaching Moments" takes a thoughtful look at how coaching can be interwoven into our daily lives.
What’s in a Name
by Janice Hunter, IAC-CC
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name. ~ T.S Eliot
T.S Eliot said a cat must have three names; its everyday family name, a unique special name that sets it apart, and the secret name that only the cat itself knows – its “deep and inscrutable singular Name.”
What would your three names be?
I’ve been thinking a lot about names recently. I’ve never really liked being a Janice. It’s a perfectly good name, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just not a Janice. My six-year-old sister chose it when I was born. My Greek baptismal name is Yanna, which suits me so much more, but it would have upset my family if I’d adopted it.
When I married, I kept my own surname, simply because I prefer it. We were ostracised by several members of my husband’s family, and then shunned by the remaining members when he announced that I’m not a Mrs. either, but a Ms.
Names and titles have power. I know we can become obsessed by naming and defining, can end up feeding our egos instead of simply being, but clarity can empower us, and as names are symbols, it makes sense to investigate whether they empower us or hold us back.
Our lovers and parents give us pet names we can accept with love…or reject; being called Mum, a name shared by billions of others, has a magic all of its own when our children say it, smiling; if a woman chooses to take her husband’s name after marriage, it’s an eternal symbol of the blending of hearts and fortunes.
I love the Native American tradition of naming people after nature or characteristics. I often wonder if I’d be Woman who Smiles at Birds.
That’s why the Internet has empowered so many of us; we can choose – and change – our domain names and user names with freedom and ease, anonymity or laser focus.
I spent weeks deciding on the name of my new blog, even longer deciding on a tagline. I shunned all advice about specialising in one niche, and felt passionately that it needed to embrace all of me, as well as my desire to create a community. I eventually used Sharing the Journey: soul food and support for coaches, writers and homemakers. A touch of unashamed alliterative lyricism, a simple statement of intent. It expresses my mission, what I hope to offer.
I sometimes sign comments janice | Sharing the Journey; it feels more comfortable than my first name and surname, but it’s not my special name. It doesn’t define me.
I read a book last year which guides the readers through constellations of wonderful questions about likes and dislikes, passions and personal tastes until we hone our authentic, personal style into a style statement; two words that symbolise our essential, authentic selves, everything we are and love – our core foundation combined with that extra something that gives us an edge.
Mine came out in Greek. Sometimes I close my eyes and draw on it to give me strength. It still has the power to enchant me, but it’s too special to become invisible through daily use and familiarity. It’s also impossible to use in an elevator speech.
Years ago, I paid to do a course called Introduction to Life Coaching. In Britain, "life coach" was a term we used while North Americans simply called themselves coaches. After I became IAC-certified and started refining my interests and attracting people I resonated with, I began to refer to myself as a homelife coach; in my mind, it covers everything from interior design work and decluttering to the family coaching that can define our happiness at home.
After I became more deeply involved in writing about coaching topics, supporting and connecting with folk through my writing, I felt comfortable calling myself a homelife coach and coachwriter. My Twitter name, although I haven’t done much tweeting yet, is lifecoachwriter.
Why then, you might ask, did I tell a BBC radio producer on the phone on Saturday that I’m a certified life coach, in response to her innocent question “Shall we just say you’re a blogger, then, or a full-time mum?” She’d emailed me to ask if I’d do a guest spot discussing the benefits of "staycations," based on a blog post I’d written. I could have chosen any of my roles, but it came out passionately, and with conviction. “I’m a certified life coach.”
I realised quite suddenly, that I’m fiercely proud of being an IAC-certified coach. I don’t actively market my coaching services and I still have to explain to many of my fellow countrymen what a life coach actually does, but it means something to me and I worked very hard to be able to call myself one.
It always comes back to knowing who we are, what we value most, and what we were born to share.
What does the name "coach" mean to you?
Janice Hunter is an IAC certified homelife coach who lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She created and co-wrote Sharing the Certification Journey: Six IAC Coaches Talk About Their Journeys, and her blogsite, www.sharingthejourney.co.uk, provides soul food and support for coaches, writers, parents and home-based workers.
Janice has compiled all of her Coaching Moments pieces from the last two years into a free 46-page ebook, 'Coaching Moments: A Collection of Articles about Coaching in Everyday Life' which can be downloaded here or from her site.
4 thoughts on “Coaching Moments”
Gardening is one of my favourite analogies when I talk about writing, but I’d never thought of coaching like this. I loved your list and will be checking out that post! One of the things I enjoy doing as a coach is encouraging people to find metaphors and names that empower them.
I do enjoy Seligman’s categories! I accepted long ago that I’d be spending a lifetime searching for meaning. My primary school teacher said this to my mum four decades ago: “Make sure she finds some way to earn a living; she’s one of those who’d spend a lifetime happily reading, writing and learning.” She was right – I ended up in universities and colleges before I discovered coaching. I went back to visit her before she retired and she was relieved I hadn’t starved in some attic! I think it’s important that there are people like her who can perceive essences; the inlaws who shunned us couldn’t get beyond titles and traditions and the burdens of history they carry.
I’d love if there was another word for someone who receives coaching; one of my pet peeves is the word ‘coachee’. It’s functional and can be used for people who receive free coaching, unlike ‘client’, but it’s so clunky! It’s also interesting when new coaches have problems deciding if they have a ‘practice’ or a ‘business’.
I think it’s one of the IAC’s strengths that it’s always been so open to investigating definitions, values and meaning; I think it’s what keeps us strong and evolving. You know I believe that some day the IAC exam could be expanded to become a range of exams that includes coaching specialisms.
Yes, Yanna suits you very well!
It’s very interesting to think about the names we give ourselves and others. Nicknames and pet names can be so valuable …or destructive. Names bring out different parts of ourselves. The names we use for others affect our relationships.
I wonder about the ongoing use of “client” and “coachee”. Could there be an even better general name for the people we coach?
Finding meaning is a wonderful thing isn’t it? (indeed Martin Seligman tells us that meaning and engagement are two of the primary drivers of “the happy life”). I was troubled although not surprised by your observations that you “were ostracised by several members of my husband’s family, and then shunned by the remaining members when he announced that I’m not a Mrs. either, but a Ms”. Just another reminder of how much coaching has to offer the world don’t you think?
Steve Maconachie – Executive Coach
I’ve started thinking about a coach like a gardener. We help the client when we work together to:
Prepare the soil by turning over the earth or examining your life circumstances.
Pull the weeds by up rooting & getting rid of limiting beliefs.
Plan the new garden by envisioning the life you WANT to live.
Plant seeds for change by clarifying your values &
aligning your life with them through focused action.
Fertilize by giving you tools to accelerate your growth.
Add sun by bringing out your strengths and validating your efforts.
Watering to create the momentum that keeps the dream alive.
Hey! We can even help to keep the bugs out!
This is in my recent blog at http://stirringthespiritwithin.blogspot.com/2009/08/master-gardening-cultivating-what-gives.html
I love examining ways words have meaning! Jude Eastman~Master Gardener (and coach)
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