Waking Up To The Possibilities

FOF Kathryn Gritts, from St. Louis, recently attended a two-and-a-half-day Fundamentals of Co-Active Coaching course, in Chicago, given by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), which she won in a FabOverFifty giveaway.

A coordinator of Projects & Business Affairs at The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, Kathryn reported to us on her experience.

Why did you enter the giveaway?

While I knew nothing about personal coaching, I found the idea intriguing and wanted to explore this field and what it could mean to me. I am at a crossroads in my life. Over the past eight years, I’ve been the primary caretaker for my parents in their old age. I was blessed in that my work allowed me to go on a condensed flex work week so I could devote one weekday each week to their care. My mother died in 2008 and my father died in January of 2013. While I’m now busy tying up the estate and managing their trust, I no longer have the caretaking duties that I had for so many years.

I’ve gone back to a regular five day work week. My evenings are now spent at home or with family or friends instead of at the hospital or at my parents’ home. I can devote time to being a better wife, mother and grandmother to my core family. And, it opens me up to looking at my future.

So, this class came at a great time for me, when I am exploring who I am and what I have to offer to the world outside my immediate family. Over the past few years I didn’t have the time to think about—much less actively pursue—any kind of self improvement. I’ve gained 20 pounds and just did my job at work.

Now I’m ready to spend some time and effort on being the best me, in every part of my life.

I jumped at the chance to go to the class in Chicago. I took the train from St. Louis to give me a leisurely journey where I could think and read and nap.

Tell us about the classes.

The First Day

I walked into the room not knowing what to expect. There, I found chairs arranged in a circle with two very energetic ladies greeting each of the 16 participants. We started with exercises designed to open us up to coaching. We all introduced ourselves and explained why we were taking the class. We had quite a diverse group, including men and women, young and mature, some in second careers and others established coaches. We had folks, like me, who had no idea what coaching is or what it entails. We had folks who were working toward their coaching certification and those who were established coaches but weren’t yet certified and were taking this class (some a little skeptically) to see what CTI had to offer.

We were pretty much all hooked within the first four hours of class. We did the circle of balance with each other (designed to search for better ways to put balance in our lives and still find time to follow our ambitions and dreams) as well as some preliminary coaching. I left exhausted and invigorated.

The Second Day

The next day, we covered a lot of material and experienced constructive interactive coaching. The day flew by and I became enamored with the coaching and ended the day wishing that I could pursue this field. We were given an assignment to coach an individual and report on it the next day. One of the other participants and I exchanged “clients” so we could talk to someone cold, without any history. I called her friend and she called my husband. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but it was extremely useful. Asking powerful questions and listening, really listening, to another individual was quite an experience.

The Third Day

We did some intense coaching on the third day and finished up the curriculum by noon. One of our last exercises was to coach each other using the tools we had learned over the preceding 2.5 days. While being coached by another member of the class, I began to cry, mourning my dad.

It was out of nowhere.
It was momentous.

My father died on January 13, 2013, after a horrendous two-month hospital stay. I was his caretaker. The last day I cried was the day we laid him in the ground, on January 18. I had been unable to shed a tear since.

I was actually starting to worry about myself because I’m a natural crier. I cry at weddings, funerals, birthday parties, sentimental commercials on TV, you name it! But I felt empty since dad died. Those 2.5 days helped the real me, hidden deep inside, to start emerging. I’m ready now to move forward to the new chapter of my life.

One of the teachers asked if I was going on from this class. Although I wasn’t, she said she felt I would be good at coaching. Since I’m currently the only breadwinner in my family and I have a senior in high school who will be going to college next year, I need the good benefits and steady income that my job provides. So, while this class was a great experience for me and helped loosen up a tight internal dam inside my core, I can’t make the financial or time commitment to go this route. At least, not right now.

What do you think about coaching now, two months after taking the class?

I can actually see myself as a personal coach. I mentioned it to my neighbors the other night and several said that they, too, thought I’d be a great coach. So, you never know! It could happen!

I have been using much of what I learned at the Fundamentals class in my day-to-day duties at work. I’m in the eighth month of a nine-month management development class, where we’re learning to listen, to go deeper and to go further. The CTI class really reinforced what I’m learning in this class. It, too, is a participatory class with 16 students.

One co-worker makes my life miserable. Over the past two years, she’s really beat me into the ground. It’s not personal. She does it to pretty much everybody. CTI helped reinforce my faith in myself and that I have options. Since returning from the Fundamentals class, I’ve applied for three open positions within my company. But, I’m also working on being more assertive in my dealings with this co-worker. I’m exploring what’s out there while staying within my retirement and benefit programs.

I have a new lease on life due, in part, to my participation in CTI Fundamentals. It helped wake me up to what’s out there. I’m listening and I’m open.

If you’re interested in learning more about CTI’s Fundamentals program, or other programs, click here.

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