My Journey

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
-Steve Jobs

If I look back on my life, I can join the dots. All along, there were signposts revealing to me that my destiny in life was coaching. Like most people, I didn’t see it at the time.

I am a born and bred listener. This skill was passed on to me through genetics. My mom was quite the listener and I believe I got it from her. Here’s the thing about listening: it makes you curious. The more you hear people — truly hear them — the more you start thinking about the big questions. What makes us happy? What drives us to do the things we do? Curiosity made me hungry. I needed to hear voices from all stratas of life. I needed to see the world and travel.

To my family, I made a foolish decision. “Why can’t you work in a bank? ” my mom would plead. “They make a nice salary.” I think working in a bank was the highest form of respectability she could think of because she grew up in such abject poverty. But money didn’t motivate me much. I wanted to live life on the edge. My heart told me that working in corporate America would kill me a little bit on the inside.

So I went and lived in Alaska. I worked in canneries and processing boats. I met all sorts of people from all over the world. I hitchhiked down the Alaska Highway to the lower 48. Actively sought out fun and adventure. Tried to feel OK with the world.

When I did work I did all sorts of people-centered jobs. Twenty-five years as a massage therapist. Seven as a health and wellness consultant in the insurance industry  — managing, strategizing, getting everyone’s house in order. Ten years in the rewarding world of non-profit, working with domestic violence victims and AIDS patients. My time at In Touch, Northwest AIDS Foundation taught me the value of profound accomplishment. Here I developed and ran a unique massage therapy program matching volunteer therapists with AIDS patients at a time when no-one would touch them. I am proud that we offered healing hands to so many AIDS clients who were longing for human contact.

I lived out dreams and navigated storms. In my youth, I lost myself to alcoholism  and Alcoholics Anonymous pulled me out. Years later, my folks got old and my sister got sick — terminally so, and I had to draw on the tools recovery taught me to negotiate hospitals, lawyers and patient advocacy when all I really wanted to do was grieve. My story curved and wobbled and the lessons I learned made me stronger.

This rollercoaster life has one common thread —  loving people is the driving force of my life and work. This is not completely unselfish. I believe that what you give out comes straight back to you. One of the greatest privileges of being a coach is that I grow alongside my clients. If you shine and allow yourself to have whatever it is you want, you unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. This ethos has clearly shown itself in my people-centered jobs with battered women and AIDS patients, in health and wellness, therapy and  coaching. And it threw me a lifeline when I too was lost soul, reaching out for help in the rooms of AA.

Some say that I embody the Wounded Healer paradigm: the belief that the experiences that wound us most deeply are those from which we draw the greatest strength. But I do not wish to romanticize suffering; it is not suffering that is beautiful, but what human beings can do with it. This belief informs how I work with others: helping people free themselves of self-doubt so they can move toward a successful life.

My message to you is: I have been all the people I work with. I will continue to be these people. And what I’ve learned is: we can be whatever we want to be. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about the truth of this statement. Life brings its ups and downs. But we can develop the resilience, self-esteem and stamina to bounce back in a way that’s absolutely authentic to ourselves. We just need a little help sometimes.

After many years of watching me gallivant around the world, my mother finally stopped mentioning the bank job. These days, the thing that makes me smile the most is a memory of her eyeing me with barely concealed pride, singing the words of Frank Sinatra.

“I did it my way.”

Need help figuring out how to do it your way?

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2016 © Molly McCormick · Counselor & Life Coach