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Coaching for Joy

Posted by Joshua Ramey-Renk | February 16, 2018 | Comments (16)

Personal celebrations are oddly hard for me in a coaching relationship. It seems that they are self-contained, already fully formed, perhaps even (in the best way), cliché. “Hey…I’m happy! That speaks for itself, Coach, so let’s do the high five and move to the next tough thing I’m working through.”

Recently a profoundly different experience has caused me to rethink that simplicity. I’ve found that it’s as important to coach through joy and celebration as it is to work with a client while they deal with negative emotions and rough waters of grief, unhappiness or any of the things that we are called on to hold with our clients as they journey to their own best and most fulfilling life.

A peer coach I work with asked me, “What’s something in your life that holds a lot of emotion for you right now?” On consideration, I brought up something that is filled with a lot of positive energy.

“My writing.”

She gave me the “go on” sounds and so I did. “In the last few months I’ve had articles published in professional magazines, some good responses to more casual blog posts both on LinkedIn and for organizations I’m associated with, and one of my side-hustle writer pseudonyms has gotten rave reviews for a recently published e-novella.”

“So, what are you feeling, right now?” asked the coach.

“A lot of joy…a lot of exuberance…kinda like the kid who sees their assignments with the A grade posted on the refrigerator. I feel a glow through my whole chest, my shoulders are light.”

“Do you feel it anywhere else in your body; can you show me?”

I considered, taking a physical inventory. There was a bright glow across my chest and through my shoulders…and my feet felt like dancing. And not just any dance.

The Snoopy Dance.

Yeah, I’ll own that. I did the Snoopy Dance, unabashedly, like a five-year-old with a sugar high who had just been given a second helping of their favorite ice cream, right there with my coach. And she mirrored me beautifully, my champion even in my silliness.

We collapsed back into our chairs with some giggling and a lot of grinning. That’s when it got interesting.

“So what’s here now? What’s happening in your body?”

Coaches…always with the coaching!

I began to say…

I started to describe…

And then there were tears.

Because in that exact moment, as I took another brief physical inventory, there was an unclenching and a release inside my core.

Suddenly it all connected. It was as if a switch had been thrown that let all the current course through me unimpeded, taking my breath away and making my heart race. The bright energy in my chest and the dancing Snoopy energy in my feet were suddenly joined as one circuit, alive with yellow-blue sparks flowing all the way through my abdomen.

And bringing me to tears.

In that moment, I felt an emotion that was completely different than the happy exuberance of a dancing puppy or a satisfied writer. It was a connection with my highest and best purpose, my whole body completely thrumming with the truest expression of joy that I’ve ever experienced.

This was a whole new thing. This was Boss-Level Joy.

I had leveled up in what joy and celebration can mean.

It was coaching that brought me into that space. Not coaching to clear obstacles or find my purpose or become unblocked but coaching into extreme celebration. Just by exploring what it feels like to be in a place of joy taught me a whole new meaning of the word.

This was a transformational moment for me personally and as a coach. It has created a new space for me to work with clients in owning and truly experiencing the positive things that exist for us. Coaching joy enables us to know, deep in our bones and breath, what amazing creatures we humans are.

So, let’s not overlook the power of working with our clients in their strong positive emotions and sensations as readily as we do in their stuck spaces. Because sometimes there’s a whole new level just waiting for them, and us, to discover.

joshua ramey-renk

Joshua Ramey-Renk

Joshua Ramey-Renk has over a decade of experience in staff training and organizational development and is currently the vice president of Talent and Organizational Development at a large credit union in Silicon Valley.  Joshua is a Co-Active trained coach currently pursuing certification and holds an MBA in International Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.  He encourages feedback and open debate on all of his writing, here in the comment section or at Opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect those of any current or future employer.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (16)

  1. Katherine says:

    WOOHOO!! Love this! And so true. Joy is a wonderful emotion, and people too often just skip right past it. Soak that in Josh, celebrating you!

  2. I loved this Joshua! I recognized that Process coaching is great to use in situations when the emotions are positive, but before this I had not seen or heard it be demonstrated. Your story inspires me to bring this into my coaching. Thank you!

  3. Kaylee Houde says:

    I love this, I feel as though I am such an overachiever I forget to celebrate myself as a coach and I am sure that impacts my clients. I aim to do better as a result of this article. Thank you for sharing!!

    • says:

      Thanks for the comment, Kaylee! It’s so true, isn’t it, that we often forget our own self-care and appreciation?

  4. Thank you Joshua for reminding us of the power of Coaching toward all emotions. What an interesting perspective that I can’t wait to explore at deeper levels! I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

  5. You have a gift for taking us into your world, and when that world includes a pregnant pause, we get to see what is born of it. Not just see, but feel, viscerally, in our own beings. Thank you for bringing to life something that can remain a theoretical possibility, a “yeah, I learned about this in class” for those who’ve never experienced it first-hand.

  6. John Owens says:

    Lovely, lovely post. I love how the coach slowed things down to heart-speed, and kept it in the body moment to moment, and I love how your joy deepened into something profound, authentic, and transformational. You got to see a piece of Essence, and that is sacred and profound.
    Thanks for the reminder that such lurks within each and every coaching session!

  7. Nikitta says:

    Beautifully written, not only because I like Snoopy. We can feel the job you felt and indeed it’s something us coaches should remember when coaching: it’s not all about getting unstuck, it’s about partnering with our clients when they have the need to celebrate also. Thanks for sharing!

    • Joshua Ramey-Renk says:

      Yay Snoopy!

      You nailed it- “it’s not all about getting unstuck, it’s about partnering with our clients…”

      Great point and thank you for the feedback Nikitta.

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