From the President

by Susan R. Meyer,

Who’s Taking Care of the Coach?

This morning the temperature has dropped to a cool 75° Fahrenheit and the
humidity has dropped to a pleasant level. I’m planning to spend part of
the early afternoon in Central Park, perhaps reading, perhaps listening to music.
It’s been a busy few weeks, paired with very intense weather — temperatures
soaring to triple digits alternating with flooding rain and thunderstorms. After
spending so much time indoors, I am taking care of myself by enjoying the temperate

How are you taking care of yourself? As coaches, we are in a profession that
is most often exhilarating yet also demanding and draining. How many times,
after a very full day of appointments, do you want to both dance in the sheer
joy of your clients’ gains and collapse in a little heap from exhaustion?
How many days do you crowd in just one more thing?

This month, I’m suggesting that you turn to Mastery #9: Helping the client
create and use supportive systems and structures to support yourself. What supportive
structures have you built into your own life?

Time for Yourself

Beyond the basics like good nutrition, exercise, and health maintenance routines,
self-care involves making time for yourself. Years ago, my coach taught me to
build personal time into my schedule. Are you doing this? I take one workday
a week off and put it on my calendar. On that day, I put my coaching and consulting
work aside and get out into the world. Because I’m sometimes so immersed
in our practice that I forget about socializing, I try to schedule time with
family or friends on those days. I’ve also started using a different color
on my calendar to denote personal appointments. It may sound silly, but sometimes
it’s just nice to look at the month and see how much time I’ve reserved
for myself.

Something for Your Spirit

Whatever you may call it – spirit, soul, heart – find a few minutes
every day for some kind of peaceful reflection. Read something that moves you,
find a little time to sit quietly and enjoy your surroundings, pray, meditate.
There’s something that works for everyone. This time devoted to your inner
self is another way of continuing to grow and remain centered.

Maintain Your Support Network

For the past fifteen or twenty years, I’ve been using a four-quadrant
framework with my clients and in my own life. It’s changed over time,
and I no longer even remember the source of the original version. The four components
of this support system are: Cheerleader, Comforter, Clarifier and Confronter.


Everyone should have a Cheerleader. A cheerleader offers unconditional support
all the time. Cheerleaders will tell you how great you are even if all you did
was get out of bed in the morning. Cheerleaders are relentlessly enthusiastic
about even your smallest accomplishment. They urge you to do whatever you want
to do; not by pushing, but by applauding every effort and reminding you just
how wonderful you are.


Your Comforter is the second source of non-judgmental, unconditional support.
A comforter is the first person you call when things aren’t going well.
Comforters give you all the sympathy you need — and nothing but sympathy. They
make a pot of tea or open a bottle of wine or find some chocolate and sit down
to listen and listen and listen. They offer you words of comfort. They are willing
to hear the same story hundreds of times if that’s what it takes. A comforter
will not try to fix things or offer advice. They just offer you all the unconditional
support you need whenever you need it.

One thing that I’ve observed over the years is that, while almost everyone
understands the need for Comforters, there is often resistance to the notion
of having Cheerleaders. Many of us think that we ought to be able to give ourselves
positive reinforcement — and to a certain extent, that’s true. But a
little external reinforcement couldn’t hurt. I have a colleague who every
so often starts off a text message with “hi, gorgeous.” I walk a
little taller and my smile is a little bigger the rest of the day. Of course,
there’s more to support than unconditional positive regard. The remaining
two roles are people who help you buckle down and accomplish great things.


A Clarifier is an expert at sorting things out. Clarifiers help you get at
what is going on beneath the surface. They probe to find the real problem and
help you get a clear idea of what you want to do about it. You can bring any
situation to clarifiers and they will ask you questions, listen, ask more questions,
pose hypothetical situations, help develop solutions, and, finally, help you
pick the solution that will work best for you. When you can’t figure out
what went wrong (or right) or what to do next, sit down with a clarifier and
work through the situation.


Despite the name, this is a supportive role. I’ve stayed with this name
to balance out the four C’s, but you may want to substitute another, gentler
word for Confronter. A Confronter will not let you get away with a thing. Confronters
remind you of your commitments and push and push until you meet them. If you
mention a goal to them, they will ask for a progress report every time you see
them. You may not always appreciate your confronters, but they are essential
for all of us who have a tendency to procrastinate. They don’t accept
excuses and they don’t give up until you finish what you started.

At the last Conversation Among Masters, Maria Nemeth gave a wonderful example
of the role of good confronters. When she was writing The Energy of Money,
she had three friends who fulfilled this role. She asked for their support in
making sure she wrote three pages a day. Every morning, one of them would call
Maria and ask three questions: Are you sitting at your computer? Is it turned
on? How many pages are you going to write today? If Maria said “three,”
the conversation was over. But some mornings, she, like all of us, had a whole
litany of excuses. The friend would listen patiently and without judgment and,
when Maria wound down, would ask, “Maria, how many pages are you going
to write today?” I’ve adopted that technique myself to keep me on
track with my book.

Make a grid. Put at least one name in each quadrant. Make a second grid. Fill
this one in with the names of people you support. That’s your support
network. I revisit mine every six months to be sure it’s current.

Find a Coach

I’m a firm believer in the notion that every coach needs a coach and
I often have more than one. My coaches serve as sounding boards. They support
me in achieving my own goals and in supporting my clients in meeting their goals.
They offer marketing advice. They share their new ideas and listen to mine.
Some are paid coaches; some are buddy coaches. Each relationship enriches my
life and I know I enrich their lives as well.


This quote from George Bernard Shaw is the tag line in my coach’s email
signature: "…we don't stop playing because we get old. We get old because
we stop playing."


I’m seeing more and more studies suggesting that lifelong learning is
even more important than diet and exercise in longevity. Interesting! Have you
completed your Learning Agreement? Read this
in the July VOICE.

We’ve got a wonderful collection of interviews with masterful coaches
for you to listen to. The latest
, conducted by Kristi Arndt, is with Julia Stewart, lifetime member
and Director of the School of Coaching Mastery. There’s also a new teleseminar
on the Masteries
, presented by Natalie Tucker Miller and facilitated by
Krishna Kumar. Finally, the slides from last year’s and this year’s
presentations are available

Well, this has been a long message. I hope it helps support you on your path
to coaching mastery.


Dr. Susan R. Meyer 
Dr. Susan R. Meyer, MMC is President of Susan R. Meyer, Coaching and
Consulting. As a Life Architect, she helps wise and wild women construct
a joyful life, provides executive coaching and instills a coaching
approach to leadership for organizational success.

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