This past weekend was a big one for me. For the past three years, I’ve been working hard on my MBA (focused on Collaborative Leadership at Marlboro College in Vermont, for those of you who are curious). On Saturday, I presented my capstone speech and submitted my final work. In a few weeks, I’ll have some new letters after my name.

In celebration of this milestone, I want to share with you the speech that I gave on Saturday. It’s kind of long, so I’ll share one half today and one half next week.

Bon appetit!

People often ask me— How did you become a coach?

It all started in 2006.

At that time, I was a bonafide workaholic. As a strategic researcher with the hotel workers’ union. I fiercely believed in the work I was doing, but deep down, I knew something was off. I had chronic anxiety and migraines that told me that I needed to stop and ask myself what I truly wanted. But I never did.

That is, until a series of wake-up calls forced me to pause.

First, while on a work trip to DC, I got the call that my partner, who was undocumented at the time, had been stopped by a cop while driving to work. He was detained and deported back to Mexico six months later.

A few months after that, while at a routine doctor’s visit, I got the great surprise that I was pregnant.

Finally, when I was seven months pregnant, I moved to Oaxaca, Mexico. There was no way that I could continue with life as I’d known it.

I was forced to ask the hard questions:

  • What did I truly want from my life and career?
  • From this new vantage point, how would I make an impact in the world?
  • What was possible?

At that time, I felt called to support other new parents through the hero’s journey to parenthood, and I soon began studying to become a birth doula, childbirth educator, and yoga teacher.

Over the course of the next several years, I moved back and forth from Mexico, I attended births as a doula, and I studied everything from craniosacral therapy to hypnotherapy to mediation to health coaching to facilitation.

To some, it might have looked like I couldn’t make up my mind. But I trusted that by taking the next step in the direction I felt called— I’d find the path that was best for me and the people I was called to serve.

Six years ago, I moved back to Western Mass for good and began my full-time coaching practice.

And, a year ago, I started asking myself what I wanted to do for my capstone project.

By that point, I’d been coaching for almost five years, and I felt limited by only being able to serve fifteen people at a time.

So I experimented with several ideas from teaching peer coaching to college students to offering burnout prevention courses to non-profit professionals.

Finally, I paused and remembered how my clients were asking me to serve.

I had just answered this question in the Big Data class at Marlboro.

For a research paper, I had decided to look at the numbers at play in my coaching practice. I took all of the intake forms from my clients over the previous two years, made a list of the words they used most frequently, and then tallied how often they used these words. That’s how I discovered that the word they use most frequently is clarity and that the words they use almost just as often are confidence, focus, and balance.

I had thought that my clients’ biggest concerns were making more money and getting more clients, but it turns out that most of them were coming to me to get clear and confident about their next steps in their careers.

Even though I worked with my clients on a daily basis, I wouldn’t have realized what they really wanted if I hadn’t listened more closely.

Have you ever felt called to make a change in your work but felt confused or uncertain or unclear about your path forward?

You are not alone.

For my capstone, I set out to create an online course to help many more people figure out their career paths forward.

At first, I considered writing a book, but I resisted the call because I didn’t want to be just another coach or self-help “guru” adding to the noise that’s already out there.

But, after reading ninety-one books in the last several months, I’ve discovered that the book I’m called to write hasn’t been written yet.

It’s a book that doesn’t just tell you that you need to move through fear but teaches you how to do that. A book that addresses the very real structural and systemic forces that make career change hard. A book that integrates both the inner work of cultivating deep and lasting self-confidence and the outer work of smart strategy.

I know in my bones that this book needs to exist, and I’ve let go of the story that says I’m not ready. So, what was initially going to be a short online course has become the first draft of a full-length book.

The working title is— Your Next Level Calling.

I’ve woven all of the teachings into a structure that keeps evolving and will continue to evolve.

Now, if it were up to me, you and I would get to talk about these teachings all day long. We’d spend a week together learning about them. But, in the remaining time we have together, I can only give you a small taste of three pieces of the overall map.

The Call, The Allies, and The Gates.

Keep in mind that the book follows a “Choose Your Own Adventure” format. These phases are not linear, and how you approach them will be unique to you.

We’ll start with the first one—

The Call

A calling is a longing to take on a new challenge in service of a purpose greater than yourself.

So, let’s say you think you have a calling, but you doubt that you have what it takes to make it a reality. Good news. You are not alone. In fact, your doubt is a good sign.

The truth is, when we first get a calling, we are not— yet— the person we need to be to reach it. That is because while any great calling is about creating external change— move to a new country, have a baby, change careers, build a business, find the holy grail— deep down, a calling is about becoming a new person.

That doesn’t mean becoming a “better person.” It means to simultaneously become more fully yourself and becoming the person who is capable of rising to the challenge.

An epic journey deserves epic support. Which brings us to our second phase— The Allies.

You’ll have to stay tuned next week to learn about the Allies, the Gates, and what’s next for me. Yup, it’s a cliff-hanger, I know. But I want to pause and give you a moment to digest what you’ve already read.

I invite you to ponder the question—

How are you feeling called at this moment in your life and work?

— and to free-write what comes up.

And, I’d love to hear from you.

What’s calling you? What questions do you have about what it means to have a calling?

Please share your comments and questions in the comments section below, and I will be sure to respond.

Until next week— Hugs!!

Katherine

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