Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

The Disquiet in Men

Working with men as they engage the disquiet in their lives

One Man’s Story - A Case Study

I want to give you a sense of what the coaching process looks like.

Of course, each individual client has his own unique set of issues and challenges. That is why I custom design a coaching program to fit who you are, your learning needs, your particular outlook and where you are trying to go.  Hopefully though, the following case study can give you a sense of the process.  The client’s name was changed and any identifying data was omitted to honor his privacy.

The Issue:

Bill wanted my help.  He was a mid-level executive who had enjoyed a successful career until about 2 years ago.  Since then, his whole life had derailed.  He started having performance problems at work, his staff and peers complained about Bill’s bordering abusive behavior.

Things at home weren’t any better:  his marriage was contentious and he had alienated his teenage son.  The stress of all this was taking its toll with several ailments and a sharp weight gain that came from his lethargy and lack of activity despite years of being an athlete.

In our meetings, I noticed how Bill’s energy and enthusiasm flattened whenever he talked about his work.   Bill said he wasn’t sure what happened.  It started with a feeling like things were “just not right.  I started waking up around 2am each night, and would just lay there not even sure what I was worried about.” 

This unease grew over time and he knew he wasn’t himself.  He wasn’t sure what to do.  He couldn’t leave his job even though it felt deadening.  He had 2 mortgages, car payments, elder care and college bills.   What used to give him a sense of purpose and direction sounded trivial.  He felt isolated and was surprised to realize he had not had any friends in years.  Activities and issues that he used to care about had disappeared from his life. 

Bill complained he didn’t want to replicate the mistakes of his father in his relationship with his son.  He didn’t know how to relate to his wife who was increasingly worried about the changes in him.  He described her questions and concern as nagging.   Bill felt alone and lost.  Bill was not even sure what he wanted other than for the pain to go away.

Bill reminded me of a zombie from the monster movies I saw as a kid.  I discovered that he had a great personality, a dry sense of humor and a spiritual side, but he checked all of that at the door to his company each morning.  The burden of being guarded all day at work, unable to be himself, left him exhausted and demoralized by the time he got home.  He had nothing left to give his family.  He numbed himself with mindless TV until he fell asleep and started the whole cycle again the next day.  After time, he had forgotten who he really was.

The Coaching Program

I designed a coaching program that needed to accomplish the following:

  1. Break Bill out of the “dead man walking mode”
  2. Help Bill identify what he wanted his life to mean and look like.
  3. Create an internal navigation system to guide Bill long after our work together ended
  4. Build the necessary “muscles” to create and sustain this new way of living
  5.  Enable Bill to know what to do to stay on track when he found himself off course.

The Results

After some hard work and time to learn new ways to operate in his new life, Bill is no longer a zombie who leaves his real self at the door.  He reports being at home with himself.  His old humor has returned.  He is using what he learned from his own experience to help mentor his staff.  He has a new relationship with his son, including working out together at a gym.  His marriage is reinvigorated.  He has a sense of purpose from a volunteer leadership role with a community outreach effort at his office.  A long dormant spiritual life has re-emerged.  He no longer thinks he has to leave his job to be able to be happy.  He is fine where he is and is actively rebuilding lost and bruised connections.  His health has improved.  Looking into his bright face and watching him walk, I can see how alive and vibrant he is.

…You are not a troubled guest on this earth, you are not an accident amidst other accidents. You were invited from another and greater night than the one from which you have just emerged. Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window toward the mountain presence of everything that can be, what urgency calls you to your one love? What shape waits in the seed of you to grow and spread its branches against a future sky?…
by David Whyte,
Prologue to What to Remember When Waking.

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