Don’t Ditch Your Niche: Targeted Coaching for Lasting Results
By Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD
While on a call with a new coach last month, I mentioned the importance of knowing and understanding our niche. This simple statement unveiled one of the benefits of the virtual world we’ve been forced to befriend during the COVID-19 pandemic — I saw the blank stare I would have missed by phone! “What’s a niche?” she inquired with coach-like curiosity. “I don’t think that’s in my toolkit yet.” I smiled. And as I replied, I thought of the journey that led me to coaching, and how vital it’s been to narrow down who it is I feel called to serve.
A brief search on Merriam-Webster’s dictionary reveals clues about the significance of this little word for us as coaches. One description of a niche is “a place, employment … or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.” It’s like a habitat that supplies the right environment for a particular species. Another definition points to the distinct nature of one’s niche, describing it as “a shallow recess, especially one in a wall to display a statue or other ornament.”
In other words, a niche can be understood as that space set aside for a special treasure you guard attentively, aware of its worth. Isn’t that a lovely thought as it relates to our high calling as Christian coaches?
Targeted Coaching for High Impact
Our niche is that group of people we are uniquely qualified to serve with excellence because of life experiences and expertise we’ve acquired in specific areas. For over a decade, my niche has consisted of my physician colleagues—people who, like me, sacrificed much of their youth to embark on a demanding and costly educational road to care for people well. Along the way, these healers have faced a growing number of obstacles that make the practice of medicine exhausting and increasingly challenging. A broken healthcare system makes our work feel like we’re climbing a mountain wearing flip flops, and we’re barely hanging on.
To say my colleagues are wounded and disillusioned while corporate practices take over our noble profession is an understatement. I wrote about this in a peer-reviewed article titled, “Burnout” in the Workplace: Strategies, Omissions, and Lessons from Wounded Healers.1 The pandemic has only magnified practices that devalue physicians who, while risking their lives with inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE), have been furloughed or fired in the midst of the global emergency.2
And I feel their pain because it’s my pain.
Adding coach training to the wisdom I gained by working with a coach — and to the empathy and insight born of scaling those same mountains — uniquely qualifies me to meet the needs of my colleagues through coaching. As is so often the case, my niche grew out of my experience of near-burnout seven years into my twenty-five-year medical career. The transformation I experienced meeting one-on-one with a coach was a powerful catalyst that clarified my vocation in a new season of life. Embracing my calling to use all the gifts God gave me beyond the exam room settled my soul and inspired me to serve physicians in training and in practice and, in particular, women in medicine. These coaching relationships are deeply rewarding, and I value their trust as the treasure it is.
I love to come alongside my colleagues to encourage and empower them so they may recapture a sense of meaning and joy in life and work. As they gain clarity and self-awareness about how they arrived where they are, I get to support and watch them make changes and embrace their vocation once more. I get to see their passion for service rekindled, and the sparks spill over, reminding me of my theme verse as a coach: “A generous person will prosper; the one who refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).
Discerning Your Niche
Not sure who’s in your niche? I invite you to sit down with intention and consider your passion, your gifts, and your calling. Using a vision board, a journal, a drawing sketch, music or another creative outlet that helps you reflect and brainstorm, consider why you are a coach, what you hope to accomplish through coaching, and who you feel led to serve.
Just as our prayers are infused with power when we give them a face and a name, this exercise will bring clarity about your calling as a coach. As you pursue your purpose with renewed intention, be sure to keep your niche in mind while implementing your coaching plan. And here’s a joyful bit of hope for the journey. As you meet their needs, you will find yourself in that lovely ‘nook on the wall’ where you experience the blessing of living out your purpose and using your God-given gifts to serve.
© 2020 Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD. All Rights Reserved.
- Wohlever, Amaryllis Sánchez. “‘Burnout’ in the Workplace: Strategies, Omissions, and Lessons from Wounded Healers.” American Journal of Health Promotion, vol. 34, no. 5, 12 June 2020, pp. 568–571., doi:10.1177/0890117120920488c.
- Read, Richard. “Doctor Fired after Criticizing his Hospital for Coronavirus Response.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2020, www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-04-03/fired-coronavirus-doctor.