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Coach on Call...
by Boyd Martin
Gaining notoriety as America's Coach, with a series of appearances on the Oprah Winfrey TV show, and best-selling books, Cheryl Richardson is a no-nonsense, get-to-the-heart of the matter advisor. Her laser-beam focus on her clients' issues spawned her "laser coaching" sessions for call-ins on her radio show, "Coach on Call" on HayHouseRadio.com, providing exhilarating doses of common sense for all. Cheryl has been one of the foremost popularizers of the "life coaching" field, and was the first president of the International Coach Federation.
When I was going through a particularly rough patch of life experience, it was Cheryl's book, Take Time For Your Life, that helped keep me from diving into complete despair over my situation. Synchronistically, shortly after picking up the book, there she was on Oprah, and suddenly for me, my onerous angst lifted and my problems looked like small potatoes. It is, after all, a matter of perception and perspective, and often all we need is a reminder that we can prevail, even if it seems impossible. Cheryl goes one step further to remind us that it is the impossibly big problems in our lives that offer the greatest opportunities for growth.
"Usually what happens is a people get tired of tolerating an area of their life that is draining their energy in some way," says Cheryl, describing a typical reason why people seek coaching. "Sometimes it takes the diagnosis of an illness, or some traumatic event--the loss of a job, the death of a loved one--some major life event that makes a person say, 'Wait a minute, I'm not particularly thrilled with the way I'm using the precious time I have here on the planet. It's time to make some changes.' For other people it's more of an accumulation of experiences that continuously rob them of their spirit, their creative energy, their physical energy, and then some small event is the straw that breaks the camel's back, and they're ready to make a change."
Cheryl points out that many of us can get lulled into a comfortable numbness, and effectively go to sleep at the wheel of our lives. "When we are tolerating a mediocre life, it's as though we step into this comfortably numb place. It's where we operate on autopilot. On autopilot we end up not seeing the signs that say, 'Hold on, here, something's not right.' A lot of times that little red flag is an inner gut sense--a nagging inner voice that says, 'Let's see, there have been 50 people laid off in my division over the last six months. Maybe I'm gonna be next.' But instead, we live in that state of denial, just trying to make it through the day, and we're not able to see the signs."
Once we wake up to the warning signs in our life, and undertake a mission to answer them, it's not uncommon for our relationships to need some adjusting, too. "We each walk a unique spiritual path," says Cheryl. "My path is different from your path. And some people's paths mean that something will occur to wake them up where they'll make a choice to live a more conscious life. Others may end up living their whole life in a comfortably numb place. What's really important is to focus on your own self-awareness, your own growth, your own commitment to consciousness. You learn to be respectful of the fact that, while you might be starting a journal and reading self-help books, or going into therapy, or whatever, it might be your spouse isn't. Instead of trying to convert him to get him onboard, focus on being the power of example and respect his or her space. Then, you've got a better chance of eventually inviting somebody onto the path with you when they're ready, in their time, and in their own way."
An assumption I had made about coaching was that women would be the more interested gender, but Cheryl has had a different experience. "When I did one-on-one coaching, 65% of my practice was men. This was really surprising to a lot of people, because traditionally we know that women buy the majority of self-help books, and women attend the majority of self-help seminars and workshops. What I found is that men are really hungry for support and guidance, although they've not been trained to ask for it, nor have they had a very practical place to go for it. Traditionally, you've had therapy as an option, and that's about it. There's so much stigma attached to therapy, especially for men. All of a sudden there was this profession called coaching where people experience well-trained coaches giving practical advice, and I think that was a very attractive option for men."
Cheryl's latest book, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace, tells her own story and the stories of others awakening to Grace. Cheryl defines Grace as the benevolent force of energy that comes from the Divine Source. "This energy is available to each and every one of us at any moment," says Cheryl. "And when we learn to recognize its presence in our lives, we become aware of the signs, symbols, and messages meant to lead us in the right direction. When we begin to live a more conscious life, we recognize that we have the ability to be connected to the sacred dimension of life. The only thing that keeps us disconnected is not being present. It's really in silence that we're able to find that present-moment place--a state where we have a complete sense of everything happening as it should; we feel a connection to all living things, we recognize there is an interconnectedness to existence. We're able to see, truly see, what's going on in our lives. We're able to see and experience signs of Grace that are occurring all around us all the time."
Cheryl points out that getting to this present-moment state is not something that requires a lifetime of meditation to achieve, but it is a process of making smart choices about your well-being. "It is a process of becoming more awake in your life, making the very practical changes you need to make to get off that treadmill, or stop operating on autopilot," says Cheryl. "The good news is that as you begin to make a commitment to live a more soulful life--to live a life that honors the essence of who you are--there is a divine force that rallies behind you to support your efforts. I have watched this happen with literally thousands of people."
This commitment we can make to become more aware in our lives can begin to open the door to daily miracles, and greater meaning in our lives. Cheryl gives an example: "You're sitting at dinner the night before, talking to your family about how you'd really like to take a trip to Costa Rica--it's something you've always wanted to do--and the next day a brochure of Costa Rica shows up in the mail out of the blue. You see it, and in that moment you think, 'Wow, what a coincidence.' The first thing we want to do is recognize it for what it is--believe it. Decide that this isn't a random event. This is a sign of Grace. And the next question is what am I going to do about it. Maybe I'm going to call the number on the brochure and just get more information. Because one of the things that prevent us from seeing the spiritual signposts that show up in our life, or following them, is our apathy. Something will happen, and we'll say, 'Wow, that was really amazing,' and then go right on to the next thing. If we would trust these signs more and act on our inner nudges, we'd find very quickly that we are being led in the highest and best direction for ourselves. And it's not always the direction we want to go in, by the way. We don't always get what we want--like the old Mick Jagger song--but you get what you need. And sometimes the direction you think you're going in ends up being a completely different direction, but it opens doors for you that are far greater than you could have ever imagined for yourself."
Cheryl puts a lot of emphasis on community building to create support for creating the changes we want in our lives. "Experience has taught me that 95% of people who have support in place actually succeed in making the changes they want to make in their lives. If we're left to our own devices, we end up just rolling right back into that comfortably numb place. So, I would tell anyone that the No. 1 thing you can do first is get support. We have the Life Makeover Group database on our website. It's absolutely freeSimply visit www.cherylrichardson.com, and either list yourself as somebody who would like to start a group in your home town, or you can send an email to an existing group near you and join with other people."
Journaling is another favorite tool of Cheryl's. "Journaling is a very powerful tool for building a relationship with yourself, remaining self-aware, identifying what's working and not working in your life--what needs to change and what needs to be strengthened. It takes discipline to build habits that support us, which means we've got to do it over time, practice it consistently, and not expect perfection. What happens to a lot of us is we'll say, 'OK, I'm going to meditate every day, or, I'm going to journal every day,' and suddenly you miss a day, and you say, 'Ah, well, see? Did it again. Said I was going to start, blew it off, to heck with it,' and then we don't go back to it. We just need to build new habits, and they take time. And a lot of times it occurs in fits and starts. You do it for a while and then stop. I don't journal all the time. I go through periods in my life where I journal regularly, and then I go months without ever journaling, especially when I'm working on a book, so it's just about returning to the behaviors that will change our lives."
Listen to Cheryl every Monday on Hay House Radio (link below), and visit the archives for her show, "Coach on Call."
Cheryl Richardson website
Hay House Radio
International Coach Federation
Interview transcript for this article