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Do you like who you are becoming? After two different conversations I had yesterday, I have been thinking about this question.

In the first conversation, an authentic dialogue started organically between two strangers over lunch. The young man who talked to me shared his vision and mission. He was inspiring, and his goals touched me deeply. He also shared his struggles with navigating some challenges in life. I provided some coaching and mentoring. We both enjoyed the conversation. I can see the brightness of his future from the person he is becoming.

An hour later, I had an email conversation with a casual acquaintance.  The conversation was disappointing, as I felt discredited and dismissed by the other party in response to a request I made. In general, a request can be accepted, declined or negotiated. Any of those responses can be clean and clear if there is no negative emotion associated with them. However when emotions are involved, the reactions don’t always land well.

When a person stays in a toxic environment for a while, he learns to protect himself with the tactics that his environment practices; blaming and discounting others, bragging about something not in place or exaggerating something beneficial for him. I see people practice these tactics to get ahead in organizations. After a while, they become a person without authentic relationships. If they happen to be leaders, they create toxic environments for their direct reports.

People usually have a cohesive story about who they are, and they might not be able to see who they are becoming clearly. To help clients see their defense mechanisms and their impact on others, a professional coach guides clients beyond their stories to elucidate who they really are so they are able to choose who they are becoming.

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