I was at a leadership conference for women and the keynote said “successful professionals know the value of investing in themselves by investing in a coach” – wow was I convicted. I didn’t have a coach and I wanted to be more successful. So, I bit the bullet and began the search. Meanwhile, God had shoulder tapped someone in my church to ask me if I would be interested in attending a 12 module coaching class for women – I didn’t even hesitate!
That was a little more than a decade ago. The benefits to me (and others) have been profound. So what have been the biggest “ah-has” and key learnings?
Through coaching I have discerned the impact of being attached to outcomes. In my career as an association professional, outcomes mattered – a lot. The problem was how I came across to others in my passionate quest for those goals. I ran hard and fast on the corporate treadmill. Learning to “dial back” my intensity by asking questions and building in more time for projects was something That I struggled with. Even now I still get triggered by the pressure of time constraints, but tend to have more ability with extending grace to others and to myself.
Before Christian coaching, I allowed the world’s view (although a Christian) to over-shadow His plans for me. As a result of learning more about myself and digging into my God given gifts, talents, and temperament with a coach, I decided to change careers and start my own meeting and event planning company. Through coaching, my natural leadership ability and need for continued achievement and building into others and their organizations emerged as something to leverage verses wield. I no longer felt the unending compulsion to reach the next rung of the corporate ladder regardless of the cost.
Taking this step was a direct result of coaching questions such as “what stops you from doing….” And “what impact do you want to make as a leader…” and “what has God said about this?”. All great questions (and there were tons more!) that helped me gain clarity and step out in courage without having EVERY thing all figured out. I learned how to trust God in a new way by taking steps in faith WITH action and then taking time to breathe!
Slowly I am seeing business referrals emerge and continue to thank God for His provision anticipating the next opportunity. I also give back as an instructor at Duke University where I have the privilege and greatest joy of pouring into others. I am still an achiever and work to earn the trust of my clients through achievements, but now it is with a content spirit and that has made all the difference. My definition of success is not how much money I have in the bank, but how I feel in my heart when I lay my head down on my pillow and chat with God. It’s amazing how having a coach to ask the hard questions, provide space to explore perspectives and pause to check alignment with God can impact a life so profoundly. I like sleeping well at night!
Author: Mary-Margaret (“MM”) Armstrong, a native North Carolinian, has over 20 years’ experience with a myriad of areas including business consulting, business management, non-profit association management, and event planning. After working within healthcare in various operational and management roles, she ventured into meeting planning where she sourced and executed 100s of meetings for clients in the pharmaceutical industry. From there, she moved into a sales and consulting capacity for a national meeting planners network group bringing in over a million dollars in sales. In 2005, she, along with several other executive women volunteers, founded the Research Triangle Park, NC chapter of Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) which provides services to over 6000 members. In 2007, she joined the HBA as a full time staff member, managing 14 domestic and 1 international chapter boards as well as half of the organization’s staff, and held the position of Vice President, Membership and Education. In 2013, she launched CertainInsights, a business consulting company that provides strategic planning in areas of operations, marketing, and prioritization. Mary-Margaret currently serves as the CCNI Board Secretary.