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How the Railroad Is an Apt Analogy for My Coaching Style

How the Railroad Is an Apt Analogy for My Coaching Style

How the Railroad Is an Apt Analogy for My Coaching Style

This blog article is a follow-up to Putting a Man on the Moon: Confessions of a Beginning Strengths Coach, written by Connie Gildersleeve before she attended a Gallup coaching course. In this article, Connie shares her thoughts after completing the course.

I did it! I buckled myself into my Chrysler Town & Country rocket ship and continued my journey toward becoming a strengths coach by driving to Omaha and attending the "Successful Strengths Coaching" class at Gallup University. As mentioned in my previous blog post, I had a bit of anxiety about whether I was properly prepared for my first coaching class. Truth is, everything you need is more than provided for, upon your arrival!

The atmosphere was much as I expected, a room full of positive energy from classmates waiting to dive right into the CliftonStrengths pool of knowledge! A variety of residents from other states and occupations were represented in this particular group, which I valued a great deal as we all shared "strengths" experiences from our own walks of life.

One of the many light-bulb moments for me as a developing strengths coach was realizing that, even though all of my classmates were given the same Gallup "tool box" (Strengths Coaching Starter Kit), we were all likely to use it differently. I appreciated how we were encouraged to use our individuality and unique set of strengths as coaches. For example, we were asked to look through a deck of 65 photographs and pick the one that best represented how we plan to use our Signature Themes to create a meaningful impact as a coach. This is when I traded in my space suit and boarded the train! Even though there were 64 other spectacular images to choose from, when I laid eyes on these train tracks, I knew this was the one for me.

When I look at the photograph (of train tracks), I imagine some of the ruts my future coaching clients might find themselves in. Perhaps they'll believe their future only has one path or that their life's journey is leading to nowhere. But relying on my top Signature Themes of Positivity, Maximizer, Strategic, and Self-Assurance, I will assure them that they have a choice to get off at any station they choose. If they don't find what they're looking for in that "station of life," they can use their strengths to re-board the train until they find their desired destination.

When I remind you that my No. 1 Signature Theme is Futuristic, you might laugh that I'm willing to trade in my rocket ship for a locomotive. But my limited research discovered that there are hundreds, more likely thousands, of locomotives still being built every year. I wonder how that compares with the number of rocket ships being built in 2014? Another truth about me -- I come from a family of serious rail fans, and I love trains!

We were told in our Successful Strengths Coaching class, "To be an effective coach, you must know yourself well. As you learn more about yourself, you're more likely to be able to offer the best of who you are, while drawing out the best in each person you coach." So, I'd like to invite you to "ride the rails" into a bit of my railroad history.

My father was a locomotive engineer for most of his 30 years with Burlington Northern. I have personally either photographed, ridden on, or helped build layouts of nearly every scale of train model that exists. As a teenager, I trekked through the Rocky Mountains with my father, following the old rail beds of the historic Colorado Midland Railroad. More recently, I had the honor of riding on the Union Pacific #844 steam locomotive with my son, Sean. Peaking into that small window of my life might help you better understand why I chose the image I did out of a deck of 65 options.

This exercise helped me realize that, as a coach, I need to discover a bit of history about my clients to most effectively help them to use their strengths moving forward. So, with the help of my Strengths Coaching Starter Kit, the Strengths Coaches' Playbook blog, the Called to Coach webinars and Facebook page, etc., I plan to strategically design my own list of questions to enhance those already provided -- so I can get to know my clients.

I am proud to announce, for the first time, that at the end of this month, Beautiful Life Retreats will be offering our guests a CliftonStrengths assessment code along with group strengths discussions and private strengths coaching opportunities. I look forward to sharing the next step of my coaching journey with you after the upcoming San Diego retreat.

Connie Gildersleeve's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Futuristic, Positivity, Maximizer, Strategic and Self-Assurance.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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