Coaching the locals in New Zealand
When I launched my coaching website, I had so many people coming to me with feedback. They were overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. Most had never seen anything like it before, and were happy to read it and get a sense of what life coaching is.
Most of the comments were along the lines of “wow, that looks so great, it’s really interesting”, or “I have read all of your content, and it’s great”. The feedback was really supportive, and encouraging.
But a few people surprised me with a very specific type of story.
I didn’t know you were doing life coaching! Wow, my life was changed by a life coach. I was a nurse in the US. My job was good but I wanted something more. A life coach helped me summon up the confidence to do an MBA, and then I decided to come and work in NZ for awhile. All my friends and family thought I was crazy, everyone told me not to go. I was leaving a good job, all my people. Now look at me, I live here in NZ permanently, I met my husband here, I now have my 4 children, my lovely home, my parents followed me out here permanently. My life is NOTHING like it would have been if I stayed in my job. It all came back to that one life coach.
Or from a top executive:
I hear your website is up. Life coaching. Hmmmm. You know? I had a coach, we talked career and business, and where I wanted to go. Got my career on a planned path, I sidestepped industries, which really shook them up at my old job. Everyone said it wouldn’t go anywhere. But then I started leapfrogging up the career ladder. I just fit better in my new industry. I wasn’t just waiting for stuff to change for me, getting these new roles just became the logical next step. I now have my dream job, a transfer with my family to come and live in NZ. I love our life out here. Coaching can be such a powerful process. I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t made that tough call?
There were a few more, and do you know what those comments have in common? None of them were from New Zealanders. These people all came to New Zealand due to some sort of personal transformation, driven by their strong desire to change something, and in a small way, encouraged by their coach.
I think that getting help with something like coaching, is a big step for New Zealanders. We are positive about it, but reluctant to put a toe in the water. Curious, but detached. It isn’t something we have much experience with.
I love being a kiwi, and I love being surrounded by them. We can be so open and friendly, so hard working, so practical and down-to-earth. There are very few airs and graces here! We are very egalitarian with a strong sense of fairness. We are modest and don’t like a show-off.
But we Kiwis are also known for being stoic. Perhaps it is part of our colonial heritage, a leftover from our parents’ generation. Stiff upper lip and all. A stoic person is someone who endures pain and hardship without showing feeling, or complaining. On the sports fields, this makes an athlete legendary. In our own families, or marriages, it just causes gentle slow decline, without us even realising. In the workplace it just creates festering resentment that suddenly explodes.
Asking for help with ‘being happier’ is quite scary. And requires a certain degree of vulnerability. So many people just don’t ask.
We are also very inventive as a nation. From the days of number 8 wire, the mentality persists that “I can do this myself”. Necessity is the mother of invention, when you are living in the farthest corner of the world, there is no easy access to solutions. In 1900 New Zealand had the highest per capita number of patent applications in the world. You just couldn’t get ‘stuff’ here, so our grandparents just figured it out, and made it themselves. Or they did without (there is the stoic thing again)
So this comes through in our attitude toward coaching too. “I can figure this out for myself!”
Hmmmm I know I am feeling like crap today, my boss/husband is running me down again and its making me feel awful. But I am just going to push through, keep busy, keep going, and that feeling will pass for awhile. It has always worked before.
I’m not loving my job. But it pays well. I am lucky to have it, many people would die to have a job in this industry. It’s so exciting. But I don’t enjoy going there every day. But I can stick it out for a while longer, something new will come up that I can slide into. I will just keep going. It has worked in the past.
And on a personal level, we can be quite humble. We don’t really like talking about ourselves much. You don’t hear the word ‘me’ very often, we talk in subdued tones (just put us in a restaurant next to your average vocal American and watch the table cringe as they have to hear other people’s business). Again, I think this is slowly changing.
There will be a myriad of reasons why we are so politely reluctant to try coaching. But go on, be brave! There is very little to lose.