"If the Relationship Doesn't Serve You... Let it go!"

 Tracy D. Holloman, MA, ACC, CPC, ELI-MP

As human beings we have the need and also the desire to have relationships and we work to build those relationships over time. Whether they are personal or business relationships, they all serve a purpose in our lives. But what happens when the relationship is abusive, causes you to doubt yourself, or deprive yourself of what you desire and maybe even causes others to doubt or dis-trust you because of it. It doesn’t serve you. As a coach, I work with individuals seeking greater satisfaction and fulfillment in their lives. I also work with business owners to help them achieve greater satisfaction in their businesses so that they achieve greater bottom-line results, and the one thing that that the life and business coaching have in common are the relationships and how they serve.

I recently began working with a pastor of a church who was very involved in the neighborhood and helping it to become better in terms of parenting and providing transferable skills to children through some of its programs. She hired me to help her become a better leader of these efforts because her board members were doing all of the work and she felt that she didn’t contribute enough to the cause. So, I met with her to determine what she wanted to change and why; we agreed on the terms of our coaching agreement and how it would be facilitated and when, location time, etc. Cost was reduced because she was retired and most of the work she did in the community came out of her own pocket. I thought this was very admirable and courageous of her to go full throttle with change in a community by going into her own pocket. One of the early problems that I recognized however is that she lacked time management skills and failed to show up for our very first scheduled meeting. You see, she didn’t want the board members to know that she was being coached and she didn’t want her husband to know either, so we agreed to meet at a neutral location, but she forgot. So I rescheduled the meeting for the following week and, she failed to make that appointment as well. When I called her to talk about it, she became angry and insinuated that I wasn’t a legitimate business because we were meeting at a restaurant instead of her office [my office is 30 minutes away] and mind you, she asked to meet at the restaurant. When she finally arrived 45 minutes later, I asked her if she wanted to move forward with coaching or she we could try again later in the year since it seemed that she really didn’t have time to be coached. She agreed that she was lacking time management skills and needed help but insisted that we meet the following week for coaching at her office. And mind you, I didn’t charge her for the first two meetings even though I could have.

We met the following week and I quickly realized, she didn’t want to be coached, she wanted me to tell her what to do so that she appeared to be smarter at her board meeting. I didn’t feel like I had coached her. I didn’t feel like I provided value to her life.  I figured, I would really attack the coaching by giving her an assignment for our next session and reminded her that this was coaching, not me giving her advice and that next time the session would be very different.  When the session was over, she didn’t have the money to pay me, she didn’t have a check and wanted me to follow her to an ATM machine to get paid. I felt demeaned and demoralized but, I did it anyway to get paid for what I did provide which was my knowledge and expertise. But that’s not what she hired me to do.

Was she achieving the results that she as looking for?  Was I doing her a disservice by doing the work for her? Absolutely. Was I being true to myself by being the coach that I know I am? Absolutely not. Was it worth feeling demeaned and demoralized? Absolutely not? You see, this coaching relationship was doomed from the start and served neither me, or the pastor. She failed to respond to my confirmation phone messages two days prior to our next meeting [she refuses to use email] and the day of our session about one hour before, she finally decided to respond so, I politely ended our coaching relationship and offered her a resource to find a new coach. She was angry and proceeded to tell others in the community about her experience (or what she thought it was) and made the mistake of telling my business partner’s father about it.  I thought that it was unprofessional of her but I realized that I had made the right decision to end the relationship because it didn’t serve me or my business and that what she wanted me to do would not benefit her either (not in the long-run anyway).

So often we enter into relationships whether professional or personal that generate this very type of catabolic energy, leave us feeling inadequate, as though we failed; they stress us out. And while it’s easy to say let it go, actions speak louder than words. You have to want more for yourself and having someone in your life whether personal or professional that zaps your energy, self-confidence and self-esteem is not a relationship that serves you. So let it go!

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