(Photo: Jonathan Hillyer)
Claudia seemed very unhappy. She had been working almost by herself for over 15 years in a stable - riding, teaching, taking care of 18 horses. Her love for horses was obvious, as was her exhaustion and distress. When she first came to me for help she desperately wanted to change careers. Totally burnt and disenchanted, she wanted out.
Over a couple of exploratory sessions we went deeper into the issue. It was clear to both of us that the issue was not her choice of career. It was the interactions with her boss, the owner of the barn, that made her feel constricted, panicked and miserable. Around this boss she lost her confidence - always apologizing and justifying her every move. She felt underestimated, unheard, unseen and very disrespected. In Claudia’s words, The Boss, an older woman, was aloof and totally uninterested in Claudia or in the daily running of the stable. She seemed to believe that Claudia could not handle her most precious horse, Chiquita, and would not allow her to touch her. The rift in their relationship was quickly dissolving Claudia’s morale and career.
As her coach, my intuition told me that what needed repair was Caludia’s tenuous relationship with The Boss, not her career choice. I asked Claudia to tell me a few of her assumptions about The Boss. Assumptions are beliefs that we take for real even though they have not been proven in the real world. I then asked her to tell me how these assumptions were impacting her own attitude towards The Boss. Claudia realized that in her interactions with The Boss she was being defensive and often defiant. She also realized that she was coming from a place of feeling inept and incapable of performing the job.
Understanding the dynamic of this relationship, we started repairing it. A change of perspective brought a sense of empowerment. We began with changing the way Claudia presented herself at the stable and to The Boss. She talked to The Boss with more authority and determination, confidently letting The Boss know her needs and the needs of the stable. She came up with a communication plan that was clear and concise so that everyone involved in the care of the horses was on the same page at all times.
The change in Claudia's attitude brought a change in the dynamic of the relationship. She started feeling respected, heard, seen, and accomplished. Her recommended changes for running the stable were implemented. And, recently, The Boss went out of town and left her precious Chiquita under the care of Claudia. At first petrified - this is a wild horse, difficult to tame and difficult to train - Claudia tapped into our coaching to take control using nonverbal communication and applying an intentional attitude to engage the challenging horse. I had tears in my eyes when Claudia sent me a message to let me know that when the boss came back she said: “Chiquita feels really good for a Monday, please go outside and long line her again….”
Happy that she and her boss have reached a new level of understanding and are even working toward a personal relationship, Claudia is no longer interested in changing her career or job. These days Claudia wakes up early, goes for a jog, and then with a broad smile goes to the stable to work for over 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, managing 18 horses and absolutely loves it!
Ready to explore how to be happier in your current career? I'd love to help!