Coaching Case Study: Getting Back to What You Love

By Patti Baron Schreiber

08.15.2012

Have you ever picked up Money Magazine and read their case study, complete with recommendations on how to improve the featured financial situation? I love to read those, because there is usually some tidbit that applies to me. And it’s always a “feel good” to know I’m doing something right.

I hope that this coaching case study will work the same way and that you will find some golden nuggets that are helpful to you.

Around 8 pm on a Wednesday evening, my business phone rang. Picking up, I was surprised to hear the voice of an acquaintance on the other end. She had several businesses in a creative field which she had grown from the ground up. Originally, she was the creative talent and then, as the business grew, she became the manager and administrator of creative talent.

She called at her wits end in frustration, ready to close or sell her businesses and move to a Caribbean island. She asked if I would coach her to figure out what to do. Over the course of the next few weeks, it became clear in our sessions that three things were at play:

  1. Coming from a culture in which women were devalued, my client had many negative thoughts about herself and what she was capable of.
  2. She had completely lost touch with her passion, instead morphing into the consummate business owner to grow revenues while losing touch with the “why” of her business.
  3. She did not have the tools or desire to manage young, creative people and teach them how to function in a business.

The first issue became apparent when I had my client write down all the things she heard in her head when she thought about success, pursuing her real passion, making money, etc. The flurry of negative thoughts and phrases, many which she had heard from her father and some from her mother were overwhelming. She was embarrassed by how these had controlled her and how horrible some of them truly were.

Going through each one and identifying where it came from, how it no longer served her and how it was damaging to carry it around tuned her awareness in to the messages. Gradually, as she learned to listen to her inner voice, she was able to discern this second, hurtful voice and banish it.

The second issue was complicated by time and money. She had become the person that the business needed in order to be successful. However, she was less than successful because the constant dissatisfaction and downright unhappiness with what she was doing was affecting her performance.

I asked her to think about her passion, which was helping other creatives in her field become successful financially through their artistry, and how much time she could carve out each week to spend on it.

Her eyes lit up as she thought about getting back to her joy. She committed to spending one hour a week on a project she had set aside that was geared for artists in her genre. Reigniting her passion for something, even though it was somewhat outside of her business at the time, made work more enjoyable.

The third issue had grown into a complicated management mess. She had over 10young creatives working for her as sub-contractors. At the time, she was taking all phone calls regarding their schedules, cancellations, marketing her business, dealing with a sub that didn’t show or was late, etc. For many of her subs, the job was not their passion but a way to earn a living until their own careers took off. They had no business or customer service acumen.

When I asked her which things she was willing to get off her plate she realized almost all of it. Over the next few months, she set up a manual for her subs, gave all calls and scheduling issues over to each sub and set up another person to manage more of the day-to-day items. She even implemented an automatic pay plan for subscribers. This freed her up to get back to some of the creative production as well as marketing her business, which had fallen by the wayside with all of her other responsibilities.

That was over two years ago. In the time since, she has completed her passion project, her marketing efforts have grown and her business has doubled in number of clients and space. Being stuck doesn’t have to be a permanent dead end. Knowing how to seek assistance, give up some control, not be afraid to reflect and become aware of limitations may be what’s needed to spring forward to the next level.

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