Finding a Purpose


Melissa Killeen

[This is another in a series of posts about my interactions with recovery coaching clients. I want to share what happens during a recovery coaching engagement, the discussions that take place, what usually comes up for the client and how as a recovery coach I respond.]

“Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” is indeed an apt way to describe the differences between men and women. As a coach, I have watched that boundary slowly erode. In my previous post about my client with 45 days of clean time, I related how our last meeting was spent with him venting. I liken that session to a bunch of girlfriends sitting around the dinner table bitching about their spouses. Eventually, after all the venting dissipates, solutions arise. Or in the worst case, a lot of negative thoughts are brought into the open, to dry up in the light of day. And at least by venting, those issues tend not to torment one by coming out sideways at an inappropriate time. In much the same way, that session with my client likely opened up a new conversation on having a purpose (a purpose other than where to cop the next dime bag).

In the follow-up session my client began discussing a plaque hanging on his wall. It was one of those made of walnut and brass that you get at a trophy shop, with a bas-relief of a kid swinging a baseball bat. The plaque was given in recognition of his father’s 35 years as a supporter of Little League Baseball. Coincidentally, the inscription carried that day’s date, albeit for the year 2000. He mentioned his father was always his Little League coach. His dad coached his three older brothers, as well. As a teenager, my client later joined a traveling team, winning international competitions, while visiting Canada and Mexico. He said his father was the best coach, ever. (I smiled).

I looked for a common thread in my client’s successes. Who was involved? His Dad. Why was he happy? He had support, belonged to a team and he was winning. His emotions? He was elated, he felt recognized and on top of the world. He thrived as a teenager because of his involvement in baseball. When I asked him, “if you could choose to start all over again, what would you want in your next life?”

He said he would want to be a coach. Not a recovery coach, not an executive coach, but a baseball coach.

Making the most of this information, I observed aloud that when he was his happiest, most alive and thriving self, when he felt like he belonged and was recognized, he didn’t drink or drug. That he got what he needed externally. Well, he lit up like LED headlamps on a BMW! He went on to say that Spring is coming, and he was going to volunteer as a coach with Little League Baseball in his town. Moving immediately into action, he picked up the phone and dialed a friend of his father’s still active in Little League, asking for his advice and information on which teams needed coaches.

Finding purpose and giving our gifts is not about making money. It is about being happy, and sharing those gifts. 12-step programs advise that “service keeps you clean and sober,” and in my client’s case, service on the local baseball diamond is a start in the right direction.

As coaches, we can’t make our clients do anything they’re not willing to do, but we can create circumstances, environments, or conversations with the intention of inspiring our clients to feel they can achieve that which makes them happy.

I can hardly wait to see to which Little League team my client has been assigned.

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