As I made the shift to self-employment last year, I found that I had to decide on a business name. I had only recently gotten clear, after 18 months of discerning, that I wanted to focus on coaching and "coach-like" consulting. (More on that in a moment.) So I started with some simple research.
Looking around at similar businesses, I noticed that many were simply the name of the person who provided the service. Others had names that spoke to a specific market segment. Neither of those appealed to me. I'd like to develop a brand, and I don't feel that "Jim Young" needs to be a brand. And I hadn't settled on enough of my brand strategy to determine what a market could look like.
Having put the naming exercise down more than once, I finally was struck with the inspiration i needed. It came in the form of a handout I had kept from a ZingTrain leadership workshop I attended in April, 2018. The presenter, Ari Weinzweig, is an inspiration to me. His leadership style is empowering, bold, straightforward, opportunistic, and above all else, welcoming. One of the exercises Ari led us through that day was his favorite visioning process to define our own leadership success. Here's the first paragraph of what I wrote that day:
"It is April 24, 2023. I have worked hard these past five years to transform my work to fit who I am and how my life works best. A key discovery for me has been how much I enjoy helping others find their center, that calm place from which they do their best work."
I had read and reread that vision statement several times as I at first pondered, then eventually decided, to move into my own business. So finally one day after taking the leap I read that passage again and realized that was it. I wanted to focus on helping people get "centered" via coaching.
Ok, so what does "centered" mean?
The dictionary offers this: "well balanced and confident or serene". That's close, but not all of it, for my taste.
In the author Stephen Mitchell's interpretation of "Tao Te Ching", he translates verse 53 to include this passage:
The great Way is easy, yet people prefer the side paths. Be aware when things are out of balance. Stay centered within the Tao.
I like this, but for those who aren't familiar with (or fans of) the Tao, it falls short. So how about a reference from a famous inspirational speaker?
The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective - people who know to see a problem as an opportunity. Deepak Chopra
This puts it into a context that resonates with me.
For years I've worked on myself, honing my skills - sure - but also learning what makes me tick, what lights me up, what I value. With that clarity of self, I am able to start mapping out a "well balanced" life. I'm able to be confident in my approach. I more easily avoid the side paths and stay focused on "the Way" that best suits me. And ultimately I have learned to operate from the center of my being, following my intuitions about the future, reflecting on the lessons of my past, and seeking out as many creative opportunities as possible.
This is how I understand "centered". It is a transformational place for me - one in which I am finding tremendous satisfaction, serenity, creative power, balance, and even joy. Having fought long and hard to find it, I hope I've picked up a few lessons along the way that I can share with others who are on that same path.
That notion of "a centered way" makes a lot of sense in a pure coaching relationship. I believe that most people come to coaching with at least some expectation of digging deep into the center of their being to grow and change. But since this is how I work best, I also apply it to consulting engagements. When operating as a consultant I will definitely provide the guidance and answers my clients hire me for. I'll do it in a "coach-like" way, though, to make sure that my client is ready for the change at hand, is considering its impact, and has taken the time needed to introduce it successfully. (I said I'd get back to "coach-like" consulting ... so there.)
Do you want to talk about what "centered" means for you? Drop me a line - I'd love to talk about it with you!