I first started reading Martha Beck’s advice column in Oprah’s O Magazine a few years ago.
She’s a life coach, and while I had worked with life coaches myself over the years, and people had suggested I’d make a good coach, that wasn’t my goal at the time. But I liked her honesty, her sense of humor, and her frank admittance of her own neuroses.
Little did I know that in the fall of 2011 I’d be chatting with her on a coaching call, and have her tell me that my life story, of overcoming trauma and becoming happier as I age, was the story of a shaman.
“You’re a shaman,” she said, in a very matter-of-a-fact kind of way, and I got goosebumps all over my body. On some level, my soul resonated completely with this, and I felt it in every cell of my body.
I knew I had healed myself of some deep wounds over the years, with the help of many incredible teachers and friends, and I felt destined to help others heal and be happy.
Martha and Me
I felt like I understood Martha, and now it seemed that she understood me.
Like me, she was a Harvard grad (she had three Harvard degrees in fact) and a “recovering perfectionist” who had learned to live in a heart- and soul-centered way, after spending years of her life in an arena completely dominated by intellect.
The work she did with others, and the work she’d done on herself, had helped her to create an absolutely magical life as a best-selling author and globe-trotting life coach, after she had the courage to leave academia. Martha was an inspiration to me, and I found her advice columns uplifting.
Fast-Forward to A New Goal
Fast-forward to January 2010. I was hosting my first live workshop with my friend, Bianca, on “Creating Your Best Year Yet” It was a self-empowerment and goal-setting workshop for women, and we’d thrown it together in just a few weeks and managed to line up 35 awesome local women to participate.
We helped the women to capture long- and short-term visions for their “best lives,” meditated, did role-playing exercises, and helped them to create worksheets featuring their top ten goals for the “best year yet.” We closed the afternoon out with a sacred circle in which each women held a stone in the shape of a heart in her hand, and shared from her heart the dreams she most wanted to make come true.
I had been wanting to host workshops for a while, and in the fall of 2009 was up until 2 a.m. one night thinking about the possibilities of what kind of workshop I could teach. The very next morning, Bianca had emailed me to say that she’d been wanting to do goal-setting workshops for women.
I took it as a sign from the universe to roll with it. Bianca had created some content already for the workshop and I added more. She wasn’t sure how and where she wanted to host or market it, so I took charge of that aspect of it.
She created all the materials and binders for the workshop. As it turned out, we worked beautifully as a team.
It felt great to inspire a roomful of women and to help them find to write down goals that were truly from the heart. I knew I wanted to do more of this, and I set the intention for myself of leading and/or co-creating another dozen workshop that year.
I would realize that goal, in part through bringing my spiritual teacher Nithya Shanti to town, and hosting and creating workshops for him.
And I decided to go out on a limb and start doing some “life coaching” for women as well, creating a program the following fall the help women “Live Their Most Luminous Lives.”
I was just doing the coaching on the side, working with the tools I’d learned from my own life coaches over the years, and from heaps of self-development books and courses, and my own work on the spiritual path.
I wasn’t sure yet if I wanted to turn it into my full-time business. It still felt like an experiment.
Loving What I Do
I quickly found that I loved working with women to set goals that inspire them, and seemed to really have a knack for it. The women I worked with had miraculous things unfolding in their lives, after finally speaking lifelong goals out loud and beginning to pursue them.
I finally decided that maybe it was time to get more serious about this as a goal and to get some more training under my belt. I researched life coach training programs for a while, but the one I kept feeling called back to was Martha Beck.
Her program was eight months long, and it was a several-thousand-dollar investment. I compared prices and content of different programs, but ultimately my spirit felt drawn to the Martha Beck course.
It just felt right.
I was lucky enough to have my parents offer to pay half of the tuition, as a birthday present, and I would pay the other half. In June 2011, I got rolling with my Martha Beck life coach training.
This Mystical Magical Life
I had read some of Martha’s books and now I dove in and read the rest. I loved it that this woman with the Harvard credentials was fearless and sharing stories in her books about some of the inexplicable things that had happened on her path that felt mystical and magical.
My life was like that. Every time I have really gone after a goal that I want with all my heart, whether or not the goal maps out the way I thought it would, magical things have happened in my life.
Teachers appear when I need them. Apartments fall into my lap. Money shows up when I need it. Connections arise.
When I am pursuing goals for love, and have my heart really in it, it’s always been astounding to me to see what shows up.
I loved it that Martha was willing to write about things that were spiritual, borderline mystical, and that she’d managed to build an amazing career this way with several best-selling books.
I know the course was the right one for me mostly because of the other people who were drawn to it: our “Tribe.” I partnered up with a coaching buddy names James, who turned out to be British, charming and handsome, and quite simply the most extraordinary man I’ve ever encountered, someone who has packed about 100 lifetimes of living into this life so far.
It was a “Tribe” of people who live from the heart, who wanted to make a difference in the world. When we met in Phoenix for a training weekend halfway through the program, it affirmed what I thought: these were, indeed, “my people.”
We continued learning together over phone and Internet sessions until this past February, when the classes wrapped. Now, I am completing this part of the journey by taking my Martha Beck life coaching certification exam.
Last week, I submitted my proof of 20 paid coaching hours that is needed to take the certification exam to become an official “Martha Beck Certified Life Coach.”
I will need to take a written exam (I am given one week to take the test, and it’s open book – phew).
Then, I get the chance to coach a Martha Beck coach in a 20-minute oral exam. And then I am an official Martha Beck coach.
Of course, I’m nervous about it and also know that I can do this. I’ve always been a good test-taker, this material all intuitively makes sense to me, and I feel that I will rise to the occasion.
I love to watch goals develop from idea to dream coming true in my clients’ lives, and of course it feels great to make something become “real” in my own life. This will be a huge step in building out my own coaching business ~ I’m excited to see where it takes me next.
I love this magical life.
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.