I just love my work. I know, that’s not something that everyone might say, but for me, it is simply true. When I had a corporate job I used to worry that I wouldn’t know how to be happy in retirement; work was so very much a part of my identity. Who would I be if I didn’t have a job??
I was socialized to believe the saying, “I am what I do!” and for decades my work defined me. For the early years of my work-life, the title of my occupation was sufficient to explain myself to others: I am a nurse!
In my current vocation I can’t rely on such a simple one-liner. When I say, “I’m a coach” most people conjure an image of their high school sports coach which has nothing to do with nature of the work I’m engaged in! So, I need to explain a little further what an Integrative Health & Wellness Coach is and does. If you’ve had a coach, a Life Coach or a Health Coach, you already understand the kind of interactions such a coach enjoys. If you haven’t had such a coaching experience, I would certainly invite you to have at least one session with a qualified coach – it will surprise and probably enlighten you!
But even if few folks fully understand either my training or my methods for engaging with clients, I am always pleased to explain myself and offer a definition of my work and its typical human outcomes.
Here’s a quick glossary:
- Coach (like a life coach, health coach, nutrition coach, etc.) – serves as a partner with clients, helping them achieve their goals, overcome challenges, and make changes in their lives. They help clients identify their own strengths and use that knowledge to successfully accomplish the changes they seek.
- Health Coach – to paraphrase Wikipedia, a health coach engages in skillful conversation using evidence-based, clinically focused interventions and strategies to engage client/patients actively and safely in achieving their desired health or behavior changes.
- Health & Wellness Coach – Blue Cross & Blue Shield offers this: A wellness coach specializes in helping people make changes to improve and maintain their health. Our coaches have training and certification in a variety of health and nutrition programs.
- Integrative Health & Wellness Coach – the University of Minnesota offers this definition: Integrative Health and Wellbeing coaches, in this emerging profession, partner with patients to achieve their overall goals, practicing from a holistic perspective that views each person as intrinsically whole and the ultimate expert in their own healing journey.
So, does any of that explain what I do? Not exactly. I do those things as a coach, but for me (and in my coaching practice) the word integrative is particularly important. In my work, it means that I integrate not only holistic healthcare knowledge and practices into my coaching work, but also I integrate my knowledge of adult education and organizational development into my consulting work, all of which allows me to connect the dots for both individual and corporate clients who want to change their behaviors and become healthier people working in and for healthier organizations.
And, if you’ve worked with me (as an individual client or client-organization) you know that I listen and I teach, I hold space and I challenge your assumptions, I offer my reflections on your language, habits and patterns so that you can look at them with fresh eyes and consider different choices that may serve you in better ways. I help you move forward, using every tool at my disposal, and invite you to imagine your own work/life/health/experience with unexpected possibilities. Together we discover your deepest motivation for the changes you want to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
For me, this Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching work is the best iteration of my long-standing belief, I am what I do. And in this work, I have the unusual opportunity to DO what I AM – to simply be myself and share (in these Monday blogs and in the presentations I offer) the journey to wellbeing through the lens of a fellow-traveler. After all, life needs more BEING and could use a little less DOING.
My wish for you this week is that you’ll discover in your own calling, your own vocation or avocation, the opportunities to live your values, engage the world around you with integrity and share from an honest place the joys and the messiness that is our modern life.