Thanks Dad

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They say the first real relationship you ever have is with you Dad. That’s certainly true for me. As the youngest of four siblings, I seem to have had the closest relationship with our father. Perhaps it’s because I’m the only one he named (he wanted a little girl he could call Andy). Perhaps it’s because I most resemble him and his mother. Perhaps because he saw the fighter in me. Or perhaps, my elder siblings wore him down, leaving a gentler kind of Dad. Whatever the case, I’m happy for it all.

Most of my earliest memories involve my Dad. My first time riding my bicycle without training wheels, sitting in his lap, standing on his feet so he could teach me to dance (I always loved dancing with him), even lecturing me when I’d done something stupid. They are vivid memories; all of them.

Dad was not the super-involved kind of father we see today. He was a father of the 50s and 60s. Patriarchal, the provider, the disciplinarian, but there was always love behind everything he did. He wanted the best for us and did the best he knew how.

He instilled a love of learning that remains with me today. College was not an option in our family. It was a requirement. Education was the route to a good future. Another vivid memory is sitting down to dinner as a family – something we were expected to do daily – and Dad correcting our grammar – constantly. We hated it at the time, but as an adult, I’m ever so grateful for the love of, and gift for, our language. It’s been a blessing.

I’m a fighter, have been all my life. I was born blind in one eye, but was 7 years old before anyone knew. However, it didn’t stop me from taking ballet or tennis lessons – neither of which I was any good at, but I tried. At 14, I was required to have a spinal fusion that required me to be in a body cast for 6 months in a hospital, followed by a body brace for a year in school. Again, it was simply what happened, and I soldiered on. There were many such setbacks in my life, but I never asked “Why me?” or felt sorry for myself. It was just what was. I don’t know if this is a gift from my Dad or not. It’s more likely a trait from my mother, but it’s what has allowed me to persevere, to grow, to succeed. And that, my Dad would take delight in! He was so proud of the business acumen I showed, even early in my career.

Dad passed away nearly 6 years ago, before my journey back to Seattle and entrepreneurship even entered my mind. My Mom said today how sorry she is that he’s not around to see my success. He would be brimming over with pride and joy. We share the same smile, the “Charlie Cole smile” as we call it in the family. And I can just see him now, beaming at me. While I might owe my fight to my mother, I know I owe my intellect, my love of language (English and French), my business sense, and my looks to a man who was always an example of how to be a gentleman, to provide for your family, and to be a rock.

On this Father’s Day weekend, I pay homage to my Dad, and all the Dads out there, doing the best they can with what they have. And from this Daddy’s little girl, thank you.

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The Journey Continues

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We’re mid-way through 2016 and it’s already been quite a year. At the start of the month, I celebrated my third anniversary of this bicoastal journey I’m on. It was three years ago that I arrived back in Seattle and started this new chapter in my life. Three wonderful years, where I’ve seen all my dreams come true.

Someone asked me yesterday what my “Willie Wonka Dream” was. First, she had to explain what that was, some reference to the book and movie, which she described as your wildest dream that you wish could come true, but likely wouldn’t. Well, my honest answer was that I had nothing left like that. I had achieved the big dreams for my life and am living in a wonderful state. Sure there are things like see my business continue to flourish, retire well, etc. But big unachievable dreams? Well, I don’t believe things are unachievable. If you want it and you work hard, I do believe dreams are achievable.

While the conversation went nowhere, it did leave me thinking about where I’d been and where I am. And it’s a really good place. My work continues to morph. I think one of the best traits of an entrepreneur is the ability to go with the flow, and change with the times and your audience’s needs.

I’ve been a career coach for a number of years now and enjoy it so much. It’s remarkable to watch people learn to take control of their careers, and their lives, and find their dream jobs. Far too many people are not that fortunate. They are stuck, or at least they think they are. They stay with a job for all the wrong reasons; benefits, “security”, fear, and so much more. I don’t believe in any of that. If you’ve followed my journey, you already know that. There is no benefit you can’t buy on your own, and sometimes at a lower cost than through your employer. “Security” is a fantasy. I’ve seen too many people get laid off from large organizations after years of employment, shocked that this happened to them. And fear? Well, that’s just you being afraid of the unknown. I don’t think I’m any braver than the other person, but I honestly adhere to the saying, “I’d rather face my fears and fail, than never have tried.”

As I focus my work on women wanting to leave the corporate world to launch their own business, I’ve started another blog where I share my entrepreneur journey. It’s called mysolopreneurjourney on wordpress.  Take a look if you’re interested.

And as always, go ahead and dream. Then make it happen!

Check out my website at http://www.colecoach.com

Posted in achievement, career, change, coaching, colecoach, dreams, entrepreneurs, failure, fear, goals, growth, leaps of faith, life, New beginnings, passion, Seattle, self improvement, strength, work, your calling | Leave a comment

That day in your life you’ll never forget

I am having that day today. That day when something BIG happened, something significant, something you will just never, ever forget.

Here’s why. A colleague, Jonathan, at my office share is co-founder of a start-up called Givesafe that is building an app for people to donate to the homeless safely. The homeless get a fob, called a beacon, and wear it. When you are within 500 or so yards from the person with the fob, and have the app installed on your phone, you will be alerted. You’ll see a photo of the person and a brief story about them. If you choose to donate, you can do so with the touch of a button, safely, from a distance. But wait, the best part is that when you donate, you can be sure the money will go to good use.  The funds on the fob can only be used with approved partner vendors, for things like hair cuts, food, clothing, necessities. The donor can be sure it won’t go for things like drugs, alchohol, etc. I was approached about being a job coach, helping people find jobs, and quickly signed on to join the team.

Yesterday, I was introduced via text, to Shawn, a young man who’s been homeless over a year. All he wants is a job to save some money. I met with Shawn this morning, gave him a couple cups of coffee from the office kitchen, which he truly appreciated. In his words, “I haven’t had a good cup of coffee like this for a long time”.  We located some job openings at the local baseball stadium, a short walk away. I called to ensure there were openings. I also directed Shawn to Goodwill, where he might find work and/or training. I then walked him outside, showed him the way to the stadium, gave him a hug, prayed, and waited. I thought about him all day. Did he get a job? Would he continue to be homeless? Would he be ok? This man, this bright young man, a former member of the military with plenty of work history, somehow found himself homeless in Seattle. He just wants to save some money, get some basic necessities, and then pay it forward.

This afternoon, while riding home on the bus, I received an email from Shawn. He applied, and got, the job at the baseball field! I shouted with joy (my fellow bus riders thought I was a little strange), said a quick prayer and felt tears welling up in my eyes. Never in my life, have I felt such a tangible feeling of making a difference in someone’s life. I still don’t know how to describe this feeling. I do know, of all the hundreds of  people I have coached through the job process, this is the most meaningful. Jonathan, GiveSafe, the people who donated money, and my simple gesture this morning, changed Shawn’s life. No, I will never forget this day. I know it.

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Lessons from a Year Well Lived

It’s been some time since I visited my blog. Just another indication of how busy this year has been. Busy yes, and truly wonderful. It’s been a year of transitions, challenges, and, of course, lessons learned. As most of us do this time of year, I have been reflecting on what this year has meant to my life. Thought I’d share some of the lessons I learned with you.

  1. DON’T BE AFRAID OF CHANGE. This could well be the theme of my life. While there is definitely change I don’t like, for the most part, I embrace it. Growing is change. Learning is change. So, in that context, change is not only good, but necessary. I chose to make several changes throughout the year; calculated ones at that. When I knew it was time to move on from one contract position to another, I leapt at the opportunity knowing growth and learning would result. Recently, recognizing I’d maxed out all there was from the most recent contract position and that I had to move on and go ‘all in’ with my coaching and consulting business, I made the choice to leave and pursue my business with everything I have.
  2. TRUST YOURSELF.  We all have self-doubt. In my youth, that doubt was crippling, limiting my growth and squashing my potential. Whether it comes from age, maturity or experience, my self-doubt is now well under control. I’ve learned to trust myself and the choices I make. That little voice of self-doubt is now my friend, tempering my enthusiasm and keeping me in check. I’ve learned to slow down, let my mind be clear and listen to the opportunities that present themselves. When I follow these openings and listen to my gut, I’m well guided and always end up in a better place. I’ve learned to trust myself. The worst that can happen is I don’t succeed and follow a different path, having accumulated some new and valuable learning.
  3. GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA ONCE IN A WHILE. I’m sure this one seems strange for someone as plugged in as I am. I LOVE social media and all it has to offer. But, there is still a time to step away, to simply be and look up from the keyboard. I’ve committed to media-free weekends for the month of January. It seems I’ve been glued to my laptop and phone for the entire year. I want to recapture what it’s like to just sit and watch a sunset, or a sunrise. Remember the joy of sitting at my quilting table, creating a piece of art and letting my mind wander. It’s amazing how creative my mind is when I’m away from the computer screen.
  4. DON’T WASTE TIME ON NEGATIVE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE. This can be a tough one. Throughout my life, I’ve had people in it who simply weren’t healthy for me. They brought out the worst in me, or drained me of all my energy, or otherwise were simply negative and detrimental to my well-being. Long ago, I started shedding these people from my life; delicately and kindly. I find I am in a much better place by surrounding myself with positive people who see the world as opportunities the way I do. It’s made a world of difference in every aspect of my life. Some splits were painful and regretful, but the outcome is better than the impact I was living with.
  5. FINALLY, FOLLOW YOUR PASSION! This is my favorite one and it’s become a focal point for my work. By learning to live my true, authentic life, I’ve developed a passion for helping others achieve the same. Too many people accept the status quo or stay in a job long past the time they realized another dream existed. I am now driven to help them see a way out; a way to follow that dream and live every day in their dream. It IS possible. I’m living proof.

So, that’s it. My list of lessons from 2015. 2016 is full of promise. I have several projects I’m working on for my business and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I’d love to hear from you. What was your #1 lesson from this year?  Do share.  Happy New Year everyone!

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It’s Not a Job, It’s Who I Am

You know that question you get asked when introduced to new people. “What line of work are you in?” It should be an easy question to answer, right? I kind of giggle internally when asked because I sometimes feel like I don’t work at all.  It’s not because I’m not earning an income or doing something useful though. It’s because what I do is simply who I am. How many people can say that? Precious few I should think.

Those who have been reading for the past two years, have been on this journey with me. It’s been a journey of self-discovery, of emotional challenges, a physical journey that’s brought me back to Seattle. I’ve evolved through this process and it’s been a wonderful adventure! I’m now where I want to be, with the people I want to be with (except for the distance from family), doing what I love to do.

What I do is help people. I help them find the life they want to lead. I want everyone to experience this same growth and happiness that I have found. Occasionally, I hear from someone who’s known me or my journey and they share how my journey inspired them to take one of their own. I am so humbled by knowing that my own life has inspired others to change theirs. I’ve realized that I’ve been coaching people for years, some formally, but most simply by being who I am, caring for others, and seeming to be one of those people others turn to. Once I realized this, I made coaching my career. For years, I’ve been in the learning and development field, helping organizations build skills and leadership capacity in their employees. I still do this work and it gives me great joy.

But this new work with one-on-one coaching is so special! From the person stuck in a job they hate, to someone transitioning to a new job, to someone who simply doesn’t know what she wants to do for the rest of her career. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be all of these people. So, when they come to me for coaching to help them through these difficult times, I’m able to join them where they are emotionally. I empathize. And, I get so excited for them when their goals are reached!

Not sure where I want to end with this blog, but perhaps it’s this. I LOVE what I do because it is who I am. I’m a helper, a nurturer and I want to see everyone have this same joy from their work that I have in mine. So, if you’re feeling like you’re stuck, seek out a career coach. All communities have them, and most of us also work remotely using the phone or Skype. Don’t wait. Achieve the life you want now!

#colecoach, #dreamitbelieveitachieveit

http://www.colecoach.com

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Looking Back and Ahead

image Today marks two years since I moved out of my house in Washington, D.C. to return to Seattle. I happened to come across my blog entry from that day and a world of emotions swooped over me. Contentment, amazement, a little melancholy, but mostly gratitude. Gratitude that I took that giant leap because it’s brought me to a wonderful place. A place where I am happy, healthy, doing work I love in the place I love. While it was scary a time or two, I never faltered. I never doubted. I KNEW with every fiber of my being it was the right decision.

In reading the entry, it reminded me how much I did love the house I left and all the memories there. That’s always a bit sad. But oh! The new memories I’ve made since then! Wonderful new experiences, new work, new friends and old sprinkled in too. I have learned more about myself in the past 2 years than in my entire life. I’m more confident, I trust myself, I’m kinder, more patient, more loving. I like myself more!

I think a lot about people being stuck. It comes up in my posts frequently, whether on LinkedIn or here. I know it’s hard. Reading though that blog entry from two years ago, I remember feeling lots of things that could have held me back. But I do believe it is better to try and fail, than never try and regret. I tried and succeeded! And I can tell you from this end of it, it’s all worth it. So, if my story can help you make the change you know you need in your life, I will be grateful for that. Grateful that my story and my love of sharing it can make a difference in even one person’s life.

You know what you want!  Now, go for it!

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Approaching Two Years of My New Life!

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I was looking through my history on Facebook over the weekend. You know that app that shows you your history on each day? Well, two years ago yesterday was my last day of work before leaving Washington, DC to return to Seattle. I remember the feeling that night. I had chosen to walk away from my job. I didn’t know what was ahead, but I knew it was to be my new life. I’m not sure I ever felt afraid, but it definitely felt strange. That didn’t last long.

In those remaining two weeks, I furiously worked to shed half my belongings. It’s not easy to sell perfectly good furniture on craigslist for anything that comes close to a reasonable price. So, rather than play hardball, I sold my things for less than I wanted. But the object was to shed things and have less to take with me. I did minor repairs around the house, took carload after carload of things to Goodwill and the Humane Society Thrift Store. Those were crazy days, working from sun up to sun down. I went to bed every night exhausted and sore. But it was all worth it.

Here I sit, nearly two years later in the life I dreamed of living. My coaching business is taking off and I get to help people find new jobs, build their careers and organizations build leadership capacity! I live in a beautiful condo on the water with unobstructed views West, able to enjoy startlingly beautiful sunsets every night, and I have a wonderful man in my life. There literally is nothing left for me to want!

I believe that life presents what you need when you need it. Two years ago, I had a vision of what I wanted my life to be. I could literally see my new life. With that vision and a strong pull, I made it happen. I meet people all the time who envy my ability to have done what I’ve done. It makes me wonder why I could do it and why they can’t. I’m not Superwoman. I don’t have anything extraordinary about me. I simply knew what had to be and would rather risk making a mistake than regret for the rest of my life. I think this has also made me a better coach. I know what it takes to make life-changing decisions and see them through to reality. I want everyone to experience the same thing. So, when I have a coachee who wants to leave the corporate world and launch their own business or work for a non-profit, I get really excited. In fact, I get excited anytime anyone comes to me for help in changing their lives. I believe it’s what I’m meant to do.

So, on this nearly 2nd anniversary of my new life, I am grateful. Grateful for whatever it took for me to do it, grateful for the many people who supported me in many ways along the way, and grateful that it has all unfolded just as it has.

andrea@colecoach.com

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