This is by far one of my most favorite breadcrumb trail heads. And it's also the one people ask me most frequently in the form of, "How did you find coaching." I didn't, it found me.
It all started with: I got stood up on a date for the first... and last time. I declared a decisive, "Oh, hell no!" for all of womankind. Then I took myself on the best date ever. So I looked up fun activities and the annual wellness show happen to be on that week. I also happen to be downtown right by the convention center, where show took place.
So I bought myself a ticket, gleefully expecting to go home with a bag full of soaps, salts, and yummy samples. (I so did not expect was to have my soul unraveled in a way I couldn't put back together. More on that in another series.)
At the convention center, of all the dozens upon dozens of doors I could have walked through, and the hundreds upon hundreds of booths I could have visited, the very first one I passed by was CTI's booth (Co-active Training Institute, what would become my future coach training school).
A CTI program adviser jumped out at me, literally, and offered a "laser" session. I wondered silently, "You mean, like laser for my legs or my eyebrows?" She added, "We have certified coaches here who are offering laser coaching sessions."
Until this point in my life, I had never ever heard the word coaching. I knew of the word "coach" in an Olympic, athletic context, but that's it. So I sat down for 15 minutes. Didn't notice or feel anything in particular. I put my name in their glass fish bowl for a prize draw. And carried on.
I had zero, absolute zero clue that my life, not just my career, had forever been changed. Until this day, I wonder what it would have been like, in that very moment, to know, to be aware of this almighty course correction. Was there a sign? Maybe I didn't perceive the sign? Maybe there was no sign. Would I have felt something? Heard something? Might time have stood still for one second? I wonder...
A few days later, that same program adviser called to say that I won the CTI book. Until that day, in my early 30s, I had never won a single thing in my life. I have EARNED things, like mofo earned them through blood, sweat and tears, and/or grace, magic and serendipity. But never had I ever won anything out of dumb luck.
This awareness rattled me to my core. It shouldn't have. It was just a $15 book. But it did.
So you see, I didn't find my way to coaching. It found its way to me. I met the program advisor for coffee. As I casually shared about my last 2 careers, holding back knowing that it often overwhelms people into a state of shock to hear about all 12 re-inventions, she replied, "Oh, so you are coach like."
I remember thinking, "No. I'm not. What is this woo-woo mumbo jumbo you speak of?" Lol! But I also remember not dismissing it, not resisting her words, and definitely not fighting that professional hat.
She offered a discount to CTI's Fundamentals coach training course, with a full money-back guarantee. I was thrust, or trust myself, into leadership roles since I was a teenager, so personal growth was a familiar arena for me.
I was still flabbergasted by, "I can't believe I won a random draw... That has never happened before." The course wasn't expensive, I had the time, and I was always wide open to making new friends and belonging to new communities. So I signed up.
After that weekend course, I knew I had found a very special tribe. For the first time in my life, I felt seen for who I am, not for what I've achieved or what I could provide you.
Normally, coach trainees complete 5 courses in a row, one a month over 5 months. I completed the first Fundamentals course. Then someone in my life died. So I could only complete the 2nd course 4 months later. Then someone else in my life died. So I could only complete the 3rd course another 3 months later.
There was so much death and dying around me that I could only complete the 4th course 5 months later. There was such a bond and kinship with each training cohort, but I was constantly the "new kid." I was used to it by then since I had changed schools 6 times in my first 9 years of school.
This time, before anyone or anything could die on me, I signed up for the very next 5th course, hell be damned!
At the time, other than a constant inquiry of, "What is up, Universe, what's with all this death and dying?" I had no idea what was going on. Only in retrospect can I see that the Universe was demolishing all the beams and structures that patriarchy and filial piety had erected, in order to make space for the new.
I can also see how my training took 14 months instead of 5 to complete because my ego had its nails clawed into those beams, terrified that if it let go, it would cease to have any power or control over. It knew that it would die. So surely it played a role in resisting this calling. But it'd be another 7 years before I was asked, "How are you prolonging your own suffering?" and I flashed back to these 14 months, able to see the correlation between my ego's resistance and the prolonging of my own suffering. Oh... doh.
Becoming a coach was never something I wanted. I didn't dream it, vision board it, pray for it, nor anything in the vicinity of it. I didn't ask for this! I never even knew it existed as a profession! I had everything I wanted in my previous career re-invention.
Never did I ever imagine that I'd end up investing $12,000 in CTI's coach training and certification programs, as well as its $15,000 leadership program. When the program adviser first jumped out at me, I had no clue the momentous grace that had hit me. By the time I signed up for the leadership program, I had every clue: I knew the exact moment grace infiltrated my consciousness. (Another story for another time ;) )
I'll elaborate more in another story, but the highlights of the insights, gifts and lessons I gained through CTI were:
- what true belonging feels like
- safety to cry away decades of pain
- having my heart cracked so open that I fell in love... with me
- seeing through loving my eyes my power, mastery, creativity, and endearing Self
- discovering my gift to make people cry and/or laugh
- being celebrated for my natural temperament of calm, zen, and playfulness
- seeing that I am a seer and knowing that has tremendous worth
- visiting my CTI tribemates in 20+ countries all over the world, like having insta-family!
LETTING GO / WALKING AWAY
This time, I didn't let it all go. Woohoo, this is new, unlike all previous "But I let it all go." (Though as I write this, I wouldn't be surprised if the Universe made me walk away. It seems to do whatever it wants, I don't really get a say in the big stuff.)
In a way, you could say I walked away, but not permanently. I walked away, knowing I'd circle back, but only after I figured out a business model that would work for me. I saw crystal clear, right through this career identity, that huge majority of coaches work on a dollar-for-hour model. If they stopped working, they stopped earning.
I also saw how unsustainable it was, basically guaranteeing burnout, to juggle all CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CTO and CHRO hats as a solopreneur, no thank you! I didn't want to end up in those shoes, so I held off on building a coaching business, even if the Universe kept hounding me to do so and I had already invested $27,000 in training, not counting time, focus, energy, dedication, etc.
(Side note: I'd love to have a deep conversation with you about what it feels like to be hounded by the Universe. It's so unpleasant, so inconvenient, and yet... is there any way around it?)
FEARS / EMOTIONAL RUMBLE
(I didn't think the fears and emotional rumble section could be any longer, deeper and more intricate than the last re-invention, but alas it is.)
Reverse ageism: not being taken seriously because I was half the average age of a professional coach
Not having any self-esteem, self-worth or confidence left to take myself seriously
Mental tug of war between surrendering to this calling (so to make the Universe's hounding stop) vs. resisting the arduous uphill climb of completely starting over "from scratch" in an arena I know nothing about
Frustration at gender inequality and pay gap of the coaching industry and of all industries
Sting of non-belonging, exacerbated by the curse of self-sufficiency (aka lone wolf syndrome)
Fear of prosperity: the more money I made, the more financial windfalls befell my family and repeatedly drained my resources
Self-hatred and anger that I can't get "there" (obtain all my certifications and build a six-figure business) fast enough, it shouldn't be this hard!!! *
* Oh, but darling, who ever said that it would be easy?
Emotional rollercoaster and instability of $12,000/month highs and $0/month lows
Maddening lack of reason to explain why one launch was immensely successful and the other a complete flop, when all other factors were exactly the same if not better
Incomprehensible inability to find talented, loyal and accountable support team members
Flabbergasting lack of a female mentor of color who is bi-cultural and has feminine grace (I searched diligently for 3.5 years and the only three Asian female coaches all operated out of kill-or-be-killed rah-rah-rah punishing patriarchy. They even physically look like the best man they could be, no thanks! Until this day, I haven't found a mentor who is like me whose path I can follow :(.)
Low grade anxiety at being stretch so far beyond my comfort zone that it looked like a dot
Being swirled around in the hypocrisy of the online marketing world, dominated by false advertising, over-promising / under-delivering, and lack of integrity
Tug of war between "I have so much wisdom to share" and "Who the hell do I think I am?" (aka imposter syndrome)
Overwhelmed by having so many identities, talents, and passions, but unable to succinctly capture it all under one cohesive brand (even though ironically I had a branding talent for my clients, I couldn't do it for myself)
Constantly plagued by self-doubt "Who am I? Why am I here? What is my unique purpose? Where do I belong? What the f*ck is happening?!?"
Overjoyed by being able to work from anywhere in the world
Hyper-vigilent fear of losing that joy and freedom at any moment (waiting for the other shoe to drop)
Unconscious barriers to receiving acknowledgment even though it was genuinely, and freely given (You're inspirational! You're a true trailblazer! You are my spirit animal! I want to be you when I grow up!)
Spiritual angst of wanting to trust that letting go of the great will make space for the divine, but struggle to surrender
Rage toward the Universe, "I didn't ask for this! Why do you keep testing me? Please. Stop. I beg you. Stop. Please."
Immense grief, "I don't know how much more loss I can take, how many more tests must I can endure. Please. Stop. Testing. Me."
Grateful that all these fears, repressed parts of me, unprocessed emotions, trauma locked memories, and spiritual wounds were coming to the surface for examination and healing (if I had stayed at a safe, but boring or worse soul murdering job, none of the darkness in me would have been brought to light and alchemized into grit and grace).
Who do you think you are, little girl? Discrimination of my age, skin color and gender by an industry dominated by old, white men.
You won't succeed unless you ride an influencer's coat tail by selling your soul to him. [I soooooo proved them wrong!!!]
What are you doing now? What is this Leadership and Coaching nonsense?
You think those certifications make you better than us?!? [My young age, success, and gender was so triggering to anyone older, whiter, both genders included.]
We never know what you're up to. So we're giving up on you. You are officially excluded.
At the very least, the critics FINALLY stopped asking me "When are you getting married? What is wrong with you?" and "Why haven't you pumped out 2.5 kids yet? What is wrong with you?" because:
- my parents FINALLY realized on their own that every time they brought up marriage or kids, I'd move far, far, faaaaaar away where there was no internet or overlapping timezone when we could speak, and
- the rest of the critics saw the freedom and joy beaming out of my skin and FINALLY realized that their criticism fell on deaf ears. It took them long enough!
UNFOLDING DESTINY / LESSONS
Grit: 8/10 | Grace: 18/10
So much grace guided me here. But also lots of grit was needed to keep me here.
Years later, I wondered who was the dude who stood me up on that date. I scoured my messages, apps, inboxes, backups of backups of backups, but I have no memory of who it was. How do you thank someone profusely for not showing, therefore course correcting me toward my destiny. 🤯
I searched the recesses of my memory, couldn't remember him. I even reached out to the girlfriends who might have set that date up for me. I even scoured apps, inbox, backups of backups of my communication with those girlfriends, nada! This person vanished into thin air.
Isn't it eerie? It is incidents like this that make me believe in Sacred Contracts that our souls make with each other, in the invisible unspoken realm. I needed someone who would not show up to stoke the "Oh hell no!" self-respect fire within me. That person did so and then left my realm of existence as soon as his contract was completed. Freaky, right? Awe filled freaky!
I'd be another 7 years until I fully immersed myself in mysticism and schools of consciousness that I'd understand why I was so often thrust into brand new arenas, where I had to start "from scratch." At the time, it was just f*cking annoying and felt like a punishment, as if I had sinned by merely existing.
But now, I can chuckle and recognize that the Universe had to purposefully place me in new arena's, so that I wouldn't f*ck it up, so that I remained a humble, curious student. If it had placed me in an arena that I was familiar with, surely my egoic structures and past sabotaging tendencies would have found a way to destroy it all.
So in a funny twist of destiny, the Universe was protecting me from... me. Oh... who knew?!? But oh so not funny during the alchemical burning and fire of forging a new identity.
After $100,000 and a decade of healing, empowerment and enlightenment work, I finally have the wholeness and spiritual maturity to discern that the Universe wasn't punishing me, even though it seriously felt like it was. But we are not our feelings. We are humans who have feelings.
However, the Universe was definitely testing me, testing my willingness to sell my soul for physical safety. I passed each test by keeping my soul and forgoing comfort and safety. I often say to my clients, "Warriors are forged from winning inner wars." (vs soldiers who are forged from winning outer wars). And the mightiest spiritual warriors I've met are the one who have won inner war after inner war, without loss of courage, stamina, resilience and faith.
So in short, my greatest lesson and takeaway from this re-invention is: Life is like a game of chess between the Universe and I. The Universe is a grand master, I am just me. Guess who wins every time? Lol! I get it now, my only role is to surrender to where the Universe wants to take me. Who knew...
"Warriors are forged from winning inner wars."
– ELLANY LEA
SACRED BRAND ARCHETYPES
As I rose from freedom seeker to liberator, I guided my clients into the same alchemical fire so that we can transform their wounds into their superpowers, so that they too can rise from freedom seeker to liberator.
It'd be another 8 years before I fully comprehended the nature of our soul, which is to express itself organically, regardless of egoic control. Here, my soul expressed itself through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Maverick (primary) and Alchemist (secondary). Both archetypes have definitely expressed themselves before, but never in this pairing. If you were me, would you be excited for the next pairing or dreading it and wanting to die now? Lol! Who knew?!?
Take the BSA Assessment
Can you clearly articulate the identity of your soul, therefore the brand of your business? Are the two aligned?
In this series...
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Computer Teacher (Part 1/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Web Developer (Part 2/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Industrial Machinist (Part 3/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Banking Officer (Part 4/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerospace Engineer (Part 5/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Energy Researcher (Part 6/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Systems Designer (Part 7/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an International Aid Worker (Part 8/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Global E-Strategist (Part 9/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a United Nations Consultant (Part 10/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Web Design Agency (Part 11/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Success Coach (Part 12/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Wealth Mentor (Part 13/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerial Yoga Studio (Part 14/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Psychotherapist (Part 15/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Spiritual Guide (Part 16/16)
Fan the flames
"Fear not the flames. You are the fire."
May these liberation tools and reclamation stories inspire and guide you to navigate time, identity, and creativity, gracefully and joyfully. xo Ella
To free and renew an identity or business, start with Freedom Fundamentals. ⤵︎
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