This week, a dear friend stopped me mid-sentence and exclaimed: “Beth, you’re an ideas editor!”
That’s language (a description for coaching) that I’d never considered. But my friend slowly explained that what I do isn’t just saying back what I hear and isn’t just asking a series of questions. Instead, it’s combining what I’ve learned in writing centers, through Reiki, and from years of mentoring writers and researchers. That is, coaching is holding up a mirror and reflecting back the possibilities for writing and life. It’s bringing questions into light and ideas into form. It’s channeling curiosity and commitment into meaningful conversation and into the transformations that flow from that conversation.
And this gift, this potential is exactly what my friend offered me when identifying the role of coach as “ideas editor.”
Coaching as Ideas Editing?
Life projects, like writing projects, are able to take shape when the ideas (or seeds of possibility) are spoken aloud. There’s such potential for manifesting through naming not only visions and desires but also critiques, challenges, and boundary-crossings. In other words, we can learn from and use both the “strong yes” and “hell no” as navigation tools.
Truly, coaching—whether focused on writing feedback, career discernment, energy healing, or commitment-driven living—can bring ideas into the world and help them take shape. Perhaps this is the work of an “ideas editor.”
So, What Exactly Is Coaching?
This language of “ideas editor” is provocative to me because coaching often eludes definition. It’s seemingly everything and nothing at once.
I often struggle to explain why I value coaching—and why I continue to see it bring about transformations—because it’s so many things. Through coaching (and mentoring and counseling), I’ve received not only encouragement, clarity, and immediate feedback but also guidance on how to act with purpose and commitment. At times, coaching has facilitated identity shifts and major life changes. At other times, it’s helped me build from where I am, putting down roots and allowing the work to take shape.
I consistently see that coaching serves many purposes—whatever is needed at the time—for the people who choose to work with me.
Just this week, for example, I’ve had conversations about a grant proposal, research project, and facilitation guidelines: all focused on unlearning whiteness and doing institutional equity work. I’ve also talked with tenured faculty about ongoing career discernment and considered how to respond to microaggressions that need both immediate and long-term intervention.
What I’m learning through each conversation is the value of holding space and being present with another person. Through embodied presence, ideas are more than cognitive: they become expressions of the heart, head, and hands.
Because coaching can be completely tailored, there’s no one-size-fits-all model. Instead, there’s potential for thinking BIG (for example, about what commitments are driving life decisions) and small (getting into the details of life, processing difficult conversations, and thinking about how to make change).
Coaching offers support in shifting perspectives, noticing and changing patterns, cultivating supportive practices, making meaning from lived experiences, and welcoming transformations.
This is work I believe in. It’s work that manifests the potential of an “ideas editor.”
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