June 20, 2016 by John Andrew Williams
In my last post, I mentioned that my coaching niche focuses on helping athletes and individuals who are recovering from an injury, and today I want to share how I got here and why you, too, should dare to answer your calling.
First, I am and have always been an athlete. I believe you naturally gravitate towards what you know and love. My family and my husband’s family are athletic and pretty intense sports-lovers. When I had my son I said, on several occasions, “Please, dear God, let him like sports!” Back when I was figuring out what the heck I wanted to do with my psychology degree post-graduation, Sports Psychology was a consistent area of interest. The interest and identity of “athlete” has always been a part of me down to my bones, so the “athletes” part was pretty obvious.
When I first started my coaching training, I was a mental health counselor for teens and young adults with substance abuse issues and co-occurring disorders (think depression, anxiety, bi-polar). I liked counseling but wanted more of a positive and future-focused technique, and I wanted to work with clients that wanted to improve (mine were mostly on probation and mandated to treatment by court). Academic Life Coaching offered the perfect fit and platform for this.
Over the next couple of years I coached students through the Academic Life Coaching program and also worked for an employee engagement company (Random Fun Fact: I shared my Core Motivation type and how it influenced my self-awareness and personal development during my interview with the company #coachingnerd #nailedit). Starting my own coaching business full-time was still on the to-do list, but I was comfortable.
Next up, as the Universe often likes to shake things up a bit, my husband and I were thrown a dramatic curveball. He was in an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, four weeks after we’d donned the shiny new title of “parents” no less. To make a long story short, my husband was told he’d most likely never walk again. We both said “Yeah, okay. Agree to disagree. What’s next?
”What was next was about nine months of rehab at Barwis Methods, a professional sports training facility that, along with training athletes (pro, Olympic, college, and high school level), also helped people with spinal cord injuries and other diagnoses walk and move again. What was also next was Academic Life Coaching 2.0 and Life Coaching Sport training – heck yes, I signed up. So there I was, watching athletes and injury recovery clients build their physical strength, while I was also honing and building my coaching skills repertoire.
While watching and learning, I was also listening. Listening to stories about athletes trying to overcome struggles in training, in competition, and yes, in academics. Stories about other families agreeing to disagree with doctors and, instead, seeking out alternative therapy techniques to help a loved one with an injury beat the odds. The battles most often fought were about mentality, confidence, motivation, stress management, emotional control, and other psychological elements.
What I heard was a clear opportunity for coaching to help these individuals build the mental muscles they needed to be their best and overcome the obstacles and odds they faced. “Hello niche, thanks for calling. Roger that, I’m on it.”
Oh, and I even quit my other job to go at it full-time and take the risk of building a business. I love it THAT much and I believe in it THAT much. If you don’t know what your niche is yet, keep listening, keep searching, keep working, and keep learning.
And I have a mighty large hunch that your coaching niche IS calling. Go ahead, answer it. I double-dog dare you!
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