She was an international concert pianist who had lost her nerve. She decided that she did not ever again wish to appear in front of an orchestra or to be bullied by conductors. I heard her play on several occasions and once she took me to the Steinway showroom and played Beethoven’s 32 Variations in C so beautifully that it made me cry. Later I heard her play some extremely complicated 20th century composers heard her make a number of embarrassing mistakes.
I had been introduced to her as a friend and I was saddened that she told me that she was determined to abandon her £150,000 Steinway piano and seek a new life and a new occupation. Privately I had hoped otherwise but coaches must always work to the client’s agenda and not their own. She asked me to be her coach and was adamant that she never wanted to return to first class concert performances.
The question now was what did she really want to do with her life. She was still in her 30s and there was an uncertain boyfriend living in Europe professionally involved in medical research. She considered joining him but was still anxious to find a new occupation that would give her a sense of personal satisfaction and freedom from stress.
As part of my normal process of introducing clients to a coaching programme I usually ask them to write their autobiography before we start. Usually this is three or four pages, but this client, let’s call her Angela, poured out her heart to me in more than one hundred pages. From the age of about five with the moral and financial encouragement of her family, friends and sponsors she had studied and practiced the piano exhaustively shut away in stuffy little practice rooms. Although she had recognisable, outstanding skills she did not feel that her life was her own. Other people kept making decisions for her.
I started simply by listening to her. This was an important part of the process. We then looked at what she consciously and subconsciously really really wanted (rather like the famous Spice Girls song). This covered lifestyle choices, relationships, the physical environment she wished to live in and we exhaustively looked at an imagined pattern of life goals month by month looking ahead for the next 20 years, for both her private life and possible career opportunities.
The point about goals is that many people need to appreciate that they really are breakable. You can change your goals but in the short term it’s a good idea to devise some kind of a route map which challenges your perceptions.
After about six months Angela suddenly said, “I now know what I’m going to do. So far in my life I have spent days and days locked inside studying and practising. I really do like open spaces and feel that I have deprived myself from them.” “So what will be your next step?” I asked. “I have decided that I want to go on expeditions and eventually lead them,” Angela replied. “I am now putting myself on a rock climbing course!”
The coaching programme came to an appropriate end. Angela is now happily leading international expeditions and at the same time had decided to drop the unsatisfactory boyfriend.
I had quietly hoped and still hope that from time to time she might privately go back to sit at her piano to rediscover some of the world’s most beautiful music which in her quest for a new life she might have abandoned forever. However as a coach I continually have to remind myself that it’s the client’s agenda and not mine!
If Angela can do it, so can you. We have a wonderful free toolkit that will help you to Start A New Life. You can get your free toolkit simply by completing the short form below.