Life Coaches Keep People on Track

Flagstaff, AZ – On a popular T-V reality show called Starting Over six women who want to make a change in their lives live together in the so called Starting Over house to focus on their goals. Two life coaches and a psychologist, famous for their self help books and motivational speeches, use creative - and sometimes extreme -- exercises to help the women reach those goals. On a recent episode life coach and founder of the Fearless Living Institute Rhonda Britten has put a woman named Lisa in a large cage to make a point.

Starting Over: So you're sitting here in jail and this is Lisa's life because you continually recreate your past. You were molested for years. You were abused for years and then you continue that pattern. You're a 40-year-old woman who says she wants to come to the Starting Over house to grow up and become independent but then you haven't been willing to do that. But the molester is still running your life. The abuse will stop when you stop choosing abuse. (sobbing)Are you really willing to change? Aren't you the one picking men who abuse you? Aren't you the one picking men that leave you on the street corner? (fade out music)

As we know reality TV isn't always the most accurate representation of everyone's life. Flagstaff life coach Norm Shrewsbury says he helps people who are emotionally stable achieve career success, a balance between work life and personal life and better relationships. He says that's the difference between a life coach and a therapist.

Shrewsbury: You would go to a coach if you want to make a change in your life and you're not sure how and you would go to a therapist if there's some pain in your life and you want to overcome it I'm not trained to deal with emotional issues.

After being a professional photographer for a long time Shrewsbury decided about six years ago he wanted to make a career change. He says life coaching came naturally.

Shrewsbury: It's the first calling I've pursued as opposed to a job. I've probably done it almost all my life when I was young I was the person people always told problems to and asked questions. I realized it could be a career and also make a difference in the world. That's what really inspired me.

Unlike fields such as psychology and social work, there's no established academic curriculum for becoming a life coach. So Shrewsbury got a couple years of training at Coach U, an online program. One of the requirements was having his own life coach experience. Working with his life coach Shrewsbury has fulfilled nine out his ten life dreams. He became debt free, purchased his dream home, experienced his Caribbean island fantasy and he met the Dalai Lama.

He's also fulfilling his dream of motivating others to fulfill their goals. He
's hired by corporations and professionals but many of his clients are entrepreneurs.

Shrewsbury: Entrepreneurs are great technicians. They got into it because they
're good cook, good with cars or good artists but they don't really know how to run a business. In fact that management part they hate. They own a business not a job the job's their focus so I help them broaden the picture and over time be more financially successful with less stress.

Darcy Falk is a case in point. She's a Flagstaff fiber artist, which means she creates abstract wall hangings out of pieces of multi-colored fabric. She went to Shrewsbury about six months ago for organization help.

Falk: I've changed a lot about how I do business how I think about my business. It's been pretty huge.

Falk says Shrewsbury has helped her streamline some of the business routines at her gallery so she has more time to create.

Falk: What I've been working on is developing systems for my business. I do art walk every month how do I set up for that

Shrewsbury helped her inventory everything she wanted out of her career and personal life and set goals. Then he holds her accountable for her personal deadlines. Falk says it is hard work.

Falk: There's some of us we've made great strides on our own. At some point I realized I needed support for some of the things I wanted to do. And that's what Norm has helped me with. He's given me support and helped me focus my intentions on the best things I need to be spending time on.

(Sound of sewing machine) At home in her studio Falk says one of the things she's been spending time on is making her work space more inviting.

Falk: Part of my coaching was what's getting in your way of productivity one of the things was my studio was a dark cave -- a place I didn't want to be. We opened up this ceiling. Bright light all this natural light coming in here is a result of my coaching. It's kind of a metaphor for what we did in my brain too opening things up

While bright and open, her studio is still a bit chaotic but Falk says with Shrewsbury's help she's finding structure.

Falk: I've learned that structure can be very freeing.

Falk says she'll continue working with Shrewsbury for a year, then she'll try to take what she's learned and incorporate it on her own.

For Arizona Public Radio I'm Laurel Druley in Flagstaff.