This paper will explore the perception of life coaching among a small sample of Egyptian women. Evidence will be provided in the form of a case study to support the conclusion that life coaching is a cornerstone of benefiting these Egyptian clients in their desire to feel alive, or live in a state of aliveness as they define it.
The research presented here is based on a small sample of coaching clients of the author, and therefore the scope of this study cannot be generalized to all Egyptian clients. The sample consists of 21 clients who range from 20 to 56 years old. They belong to different social and economic backgrounds and are coming from various educational backgrounds. The name of the client presented in the case study here is anonymous, and a nickname was given to the client. This is because the author is strongly aligned and committed to the ethics of the International Coach Federation concerning protecting the privacy and confidentiality of clients (ICF, 2008). Oral and/or written permissions were given to the author to discuss the clients’ cases with anonymous names in research papers, case studies, and other publications.
The perception of life coaching among the Egyptian clients was comprehended as therapy or counseling in the beginning. Few were aware of what life coaching really is. Therefore, the first step was bringing awareness among those who misunderstand what life coaching is by explaining to them in detail how it works. In some cases, they were given the link provided by the International Coach Federation in the initial conversation to understand all about life coaching. As clients became more aware of what life coaching is, they became interested to be coached.
The author’s coaching model, Path to Aliveness, was used while working with these Egyptian clients. Several coaching techniques were used with clients to bring awareness about being alive and achieving their desired goals as shown in the case study presented later in this paper.
Path to Aliveness
Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion (Reich 1974, p.121)
The Path to Aliveness coaching model, shown later in this paper, is structured around the concept of ALIVENESS; in whatever way clients defined it based on their own insightful meanings, and how it is aligned with the general basic description of the concept known generally in dictionaries, for instance, “full of activity, or active” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, n.d.).
Aliveness as a concept must have meaning for the client and with her own values and goals. The variety of aspects defining Aliveness gives the concept of rich diversity and shows that each person is creative in giving her definition for the concept of aliveness.
Each client is guided in defining what aliveness means and how it is integrated with her own values and potential goal(s). It is vital for coaches to determine this definition with every client through different sorts of questions, such as powerful questions, open-ended questions, and exploratory questions.
Another coaching method, visualization, also help some clients in coming up with their own meanings and definitions for aliveness. This method enables the coach and clients to learn how the different values of clients are linked to their potential goal(s). The role of the coach is to keenly help clients to reach their desired goal(s) while being fully alive which, in turn, is based on the client’s own definition of aliveness.
It is important to establish trust between the coach and client as the coach and client go through a journey of exploration. What does Aliveness versus Just Living mean to clients? After exploring this, the coach and client move to the next step which is setting the desired goal(s) and discovering if it fits with the clients’ values. Then, the coach strongly supports the client and works with them to create their OWN Unique Action Plan fueled with their Aliveness. Clients are supported to reach their desired goal(s) in each step of this journey.
Having a harmonious atmosphere between the clients’ values and their goal(s) help them to work on their action plan while being fully alive. Taking steps toward achieving the desired goal(s) can be smoothly and positively suitable and effective for some clients. However, some clients found they had some blocking issues. This provided a positive chance to bring further awareness about their blocking factors/underlying beliefs. Once those blocking factors were explored, clients were supported to recreate their action plan, or modify it or continue working on it, depending on each client’s desire.
In this case study, Nada, the coachee, became aware of the advantages of life coaching. After she understood what life coaching was, she was keen to discuss her issues around relationships and stress at work. Nada is from the middle class in Egypt and is very well educated. She wanted to break constraints and stereotypes around being not married, as she is around 35 years old. In Egypt, if a girl is not married at this age she is stereotyped as aness (which means she is not desired or wanted as she is above the age of marriage). The word aness is imposed by Egyptian society because social norms dictate that potential and ideal brides should be in their 20s. Adding to that, Nada was in a love relationship with a man who is similar to her age but he was controlled by his mother. And thus, Nada was frustrated with this potential groom.
Coaching Techniques: Power of Visualization
Through imagination, we can visualize the uncreated worlds of potential that lie within us.(Covey, 2004, p 103).
Visualization was used as a powerful tool (Visualisation, 2012) to support Nada to get a clearer vision of what she truly desires in love and a marriage relationship full of aliveness.
Nada was encouraged to visualize, at ease after the session, her life after marrying the person who she is in a relationship with, and on the other hand, visualize another man or potential groom, who she desires. In the next session, Nada surprised the coach with a quick action step she took as she broke up with the man/groom she was in a love relationship with. This is because when Nada visualized her life with him in the future as a husband, she found that their life would be manipulated and controlled by his mother because he lacks self-confidence. In this case, the visualization, as a coaching tool, helped the client powerfully and quickly to gain awareness and take action.
The Power of Positive Thinking and Being Alive
Because we already live with many scripts that have been handed to us, the process of writing our own script is actually more a process of “re-scripting,” or paradigm-shifting—of changing some of the basic paradigms that we already have. As we recognize the ineffective scripts, the incorrect or incomplete paradigm within us, we can proactively begin to re-script ourselves (Covey, 2004, p 103).
The coach also used several powerful questions to shift Nada’s perspective – or reframe her perspective in coaching terms, to support her to become an alive and positive person. She quickly responded to positive thinking and acting. This is because Nada decided to take everything that happens in her life from a positive perspective, as she began to feel and experienced the difference between seeing things from positive and negative perspectives.
Thinking positively helped Nada to detach herself from the external negative stereotyping and stigmatizing thoughts of others in the society about her age and her desirability as a wife. She began to feel Aliveness versus Just Living because Nada chose to be her authentic self. She defined what aliveness means to her versus just living in one sentence, “being liberated from the negative surrounding environment.” She was able to state this because she was supported to explore clearly her own values and how they are aligned to her goals.
Hence, Nada went through a supported discovery journey with her coach to assure that her values and goals are connected to her own definition of being alive in every aspect of her life. In other words, she decided to be alive in every moment. Nada became a conscious person about her thoughts and actions by getting coaching support in seeing life from a positive perspective and acting upon that. In addition, she became aware of what aliveness means to her and hence started taking positive steps toward herself, for example, loving herself, and detaching herself from the negative external aspects which
She used to face on a daily basis. Although Nada works toward all steps of her action plans, she sometimes sinks in a down, frustrated, and stressed mood which disabled her to continue being a positive alive girl. When Nada in this sort of mood, she does not want to be life coached, and her coach respects this in accordance with the vital Code of Ethics by the International Coach Federation (ICF: 2008). After these times when she is by herself standing up and facing these periods of down mood, she contacts her coach and is eager to continue the sessions.
The coach highlighted in this case study usually asks women about their Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (Dickerson et al, 2003) as some women go through difficult and challenging emotional and physical symptoms during this time which can have an impact on the coaching experience. Knowing their PMS timing and keeping this information in each clients’ file helps this coach to bring more awareness to women clients so, if they sink in a down mood, it is discussed as something common and understandable.
Women clients are encouraged to be committed to the sessions before their PMS period to begin an action plan to overcome this period positively. They are also encouraged to consult a professional licensed physician/ medical doctor if needed.
This coaching style was very beneficial to Nada. To overcome the latter situation, an action plan was created based on her request to work while she feels sinking in negative emotions and down mood during her PMS. At this point in the study, the coach introduced Nada to the concept of meditation. In the next session, Nada reported that she found practicing daily meditation an effective technique to bring physical and emotional relaxation besides spiritual awareness and inner peace.
The coach suggested at this time that she go to a medical doctor to help her as well. Suggesting seeking professional support from another profession is one of the IFC Code of Ethics (ICF: 2008). While following the medical doctor’s instructions and being coached, Nada is using the meditation technique often as tool during the times of sinking and dropping in a negative mood.
Nada’s tone after accomplishing any step in her action plan communicates the strong positive energy and positive vibes which she is sending to the universe. The coach observed in Nada’s tone more positive energy when she was acknowledged by the coach for her accomplishment.
This coach acknowledges Nada even when she is blocked to take any step in her action plan because knowing what stops you bring more awareness into your life and consciousness. Nada worked on many underlying beliefs to bring them to the surface and discuss them. Once she overcame those blocking underlying beliefs, she said, “I do feel that I am liberated from those negative beliefs.”
Nada and her coach are still working together to bring more aliveness, awareness, and achievements which she desires to reach via creating action plans around them. She said she wanted to expand her network to meet new people and mainly wants to find a groom that fits her desired criteria.
Therefore, she and her coach began creating a social map since she has good visualizing skills to create different network arenas where she can meet new people to socialize with. Nada was keen in taking positive steps to her action plan, and she added and worked on extra positive steps to her action plan.
Nada is a good example of how a person is “creative, resourceful, and the whole” (ICF, 2008) which is the essence of life coaching traditions and shows the positive benefits of coaching this Egyptian woman who, in the beginning, did not know even what life coaching was all about.
The purpose of this paper is to show how effective and beneficial life coaching is, and how the Egyptian women in this sample perceive life coaching. The author found that the same patterns found in Nada’s case study are appearing in a broader group of Egyptian clients. The author concludes that Egyptian women are open to life coaching once they understand it. While being coached, the Egyptian clients showed clear benefits from life coaching with respect to feeling Alive versus Just Living, and taking action in their lives. The positive results of being life coached were fruitful, based on their feedback provided orally in different sessions. While the results of this research are clear and positive, the results cannot be generalized to a broader audience at this time due to the small sample size.
Covey, Stephen. 2004. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Great Britain. Cox & Wyman Ltd, Berkshire.
Dickerson, Lori M.; Mazyck, Pamela J.; Hunter, Melissa H. (2003). “Premenstrual Syndrome”. American Family Physician 67 (8): 1743–52.
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The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2003. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/aliveness
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