I’m Your Fortune Teller, Not Your Cheerleader

Whenever I’m at an event, dinner party, social gathering, evil villain meetup, or otherwise out and about, I’ll often start a conversation with someone new.

I’m an extrovert, and I like talking to strangers. It’s what I do. This is a fun pastime as an adult, but this behavior was worrisome as a kid. “Stranger danger” and all that.

Anyhoo, after a few brief pleasantries, the same question always comes up:

“So what do you do?”

Hmm. What do I do exactly?

When I lived in San Francisco, I would simply say “I’m a life coach” and be met with nodding heads and looks of approval. Life coach is one of those liberal hippie type jobs that are all over the Bay area.

But in most other parts of the country and world, life coach is a confusing profession. How do you coach someone on her life? I’m sure people imagine me wearing a whistle and cleats while screaming, “Live, Cheryl! LIIIIIVE!!!”

Of course, I could always spout off my elevator pitch (“I help ambitious career women edit their habits…”), but even I get sick of that.

My favorite way to describe what I do is that I’m your fortune teller, not your cheerleader.

There aren’t any shrunken heads, crystal balls, or spell books in my office. But there are a lot of binders, neon wall art, and a snoring puppy. My business is less mystical and more mundane.

So what’s with the hocus pocus talk? Here’s what I mean.

Don’t mistake a coach for a cheerleader. Yes, they’re both sports terms, but I’m not here to simply rah-rah-rah you to your goals.

A client will come to me because she has a vision of her ideal life. Maybe she wants her own business, a better day job, to lose weight, to stop wanting to strangle her mother-in-law, to travel to Italy, or any number of ginormous dreams.

That’s not where she is right now. Far from it.

Right now, she doesn’t know the first thing about starting a business, she hates her crappy job, she’s 30 pounds overweight, she threw a casserole at her mother-in-law last night, she’s never traveled outside of her rural home town.

She explains this to me on our first video call, and then looks at me with expectant eyes. This is the part where I’m supposed to grab my pom-poms and cheer, “You can do it! You’re unstoppable!”

But I don’t.

Instead, I do what us coaches call “holding the space.”

Think about an image of the future you might see contained in a crystal ball. That vision hasn’t come true yet, but the fortune teller can point to the crystal ball with absolute certainty and say, “This WILL come to pass.”

I repeat the client’s desires back to her and get her to feel all the emotions that come from her ideal life. What would be different? Where would she be? Who’s with her? We vividly paint the picture of her perfect future.

Then I hold that vision for her and say that I believe it’s possible for her. It’s true.

And when she gets on a call with me 3 months later and is crying because it’s so hard to edit her life and she just wants to give up, I’ll use my “fortune telling” skills to show her that her ideal life is still there. I see it.

There’s something profoundly powerful about having another person believe that you can have the kind of life that feels impossible to you.

That kind of conviction can give you the strength to keep going.

It’s the difference between pushing your way to a goal and believing that it’s already in existence.

Your dreams are real. Your ideal life is real. Everything you want is waiting for you.

I’m your fortune teller, and I can see your future. Let me hold that vision for you until you can see it for yourself.

[Tweet ““Fortune is not on the side of the faint-hearted.” Sophocles”]

Would you rather have a fortune teller or a cheerleader?

In the comments below, share your biggest goal and what kind of support will help you achieve it.

This post focuses on Step 1 of the Life Editing Process, Create a Foundation. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

1 Comment

  1. Dana Lynn Thompson on April 14, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Hey Sage! I enjoyed this fun and interested take on the job of a life coach. I never really thought of life coaching in that way, but it makes perfect sense. There definitely is something powerful and motivational about having someone there who really believes you can achieve your goals. I just hired a personal trainer and she has pushed me farther than I ever would have pushed myself. We give up too easily on ourselves sometimes. Thanks for the insight!