Coaching Podcast: Meaning. Connection. Intention
The Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. This transcript of Episode 1 of the Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast explores connection, meaning, and intention.
John: Hey guys, what’s up? Welcome to our very first episode of The Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast, and we are going to talk about everything life coaching. So if you’re a life coach or if you’re interested in life coaching or if you’re being life coached, or if you just want to tune in to learn more about life and techniques and how to better your life, this is what this is about. So, I want to introduce my co-pilot, my partner Noelle.
John: So Noelle is bona fide life coach and I met her years ago. Why don’t we do — let’s start with intros. So Noelle, let’s start with your story as far as your life coaching journey, how you fell into life coaching, why you gravitated toward it, etc.
Noelle: Absolutely. So my journey towards life coaching started with a really personal experience. I found myself in my early 20s, really depressed, I was in a marriage that just wasn’t working for me. I had put on a really really significant amount of weight and I felt like I was just kind of missing life, that life wasn’t I thought it would/could/should be. And very slowly and kind of without a map, I started to dig out all on my own. Just to give you a sense of that trajectory, it was probably around 2006-2007 that I really got to a point where I felt like I had enough. And my marriage ended. I ended up getting super healthy. I ended up learning how to take care of myself. I went back to graduate school for coaching because I felt like there should be another way to help people like me who really needed help at that time. I then went on to two more masters programs, then a PhD, and then I walked away from all of it to come on board with John and become the CEO of our company called JRNI. And I really have to say that, coming from a positive psychology perspective, coming the perspective of grabbing life by the balls as it were and saying, “I’m not going to settle for anything less than an exceptional experience on this earth” is what allowed me to get to where I am today and to become who I am today, who I happen to really like.
John: I like you too and I got to say that — I know Noelle personally and professionally, and one thing that I really respect about you Noelle and admire is that you’re not just someone who talks the talk but you actually walk the walk. So when it comes to positive psychology. I’ve never — in all the years that I’ve met you — I don’t think I’ve ever heard one negative thing come out of your mouth. I mean there’s been hard times, there’s been feelings, there’s been of course struggles and all that, but talk about optimism and really taking the tools that you’ve learned in the world of positive psychology and applying into your own life. You’re an excellent example of that. And I’m not just saying that because we’re on a podcast, I would say that to you on the phone.
Noelle: I appreciate that. Let’s get into your story. How did you end up here?
John: So I also want to remind you guys and this reminded me. So, thank you Noelle for being so transparent. That’s going to be the temperature here. It’s going to be a no BS — let’s cut all the fat and get straight to real s***. And I’m excited to create that kind of dialogue about life coaching. I went down a different journey and that’s why I love me and Noelle being Starsky and Hutch. I went down the clinical route. So I came from the screenwriting world, entertainment, it was through feast or famine, I went through a divorce, decided to be a therapist. I was actually talking to my own therapist and he said, “If you can’t make movies, what do you want to do with your life?” and I said, “I want to do what you’re doing. If I can’t move people by the masses, I want to do it one at a time.” So I became a therapist and it was long, it was difficult, it was expensive. And when I was finished, I was kind of left standing alone confused and injected with fear to really try to help people the way I want it to because the therapy clinical route kind of turns you into a robot because of a lot of should’s and rules. So that’s when I decided to call myself a life coach and I started to help people in unconventional ways using the Internet — which I think is a standard now and a super powerful tool — and webcams. And I started meeting people to go around on a hike or inside a crossfit box or around lakes. And I just thought like [inaudible] talking about life, so let’s do life while we’re talking. And I learned that people really resonated to that, they thought it was refreshing and different — that a therapist was doing things that he wasn’t supposed to be doing. So then I really gravitated toward the idea of life coaching and I thought, “You know what, there needs to be some kind of course or program, school or academy that can teach people how to help people in this new way and empower them to be uniquely them.” And so I started to [inaudible] course and when I first started it, I just taught every class and of course it got overwhelming. And then I felt like me teaching every class is like playing with one crayon and I thought we need a box of crayons. So we put the team together, Noelle came on board, and now it’s pretty badass. I’m so proud of it because it’s now thriving and we’ve already graduated over a hundred life coaches and it’s legit. I’m really proud of what we built.
Noelle: Oh me too. I’m proud of what we built and I’m proud of the people. Our catalysts talk about walking the walk. I’ve never met a more altruistic group of people who are actually out there in the world like seriously moving and shaking and changing lives. I feel like the field of coaching is misunderstood. I feel like most of the public doesn’t understand what the point of coaching is. And the point of coaching is to literally help people create the lives that they want to live and help people become the best possible versions of themselves. And there’s nothing else in the world out there that does that. Therapy doesn’t do it, traditional medicine doesn’t do it, going to a healer doesn’t do it — it’s coaching. Coaching is what gets you to the best version of yourself.
John: Yeah, I agree 100%. And what’s cool is, coaching wasn’t really accepted — it was kind of a joke five or six years ago — but now it’s legitimate and so many people are coaching and making the crossover. Also, a lot of therapists and people from the clinical world, social workers, they’re all kind of coming over the fence because they feel restricted there. So now they’re coaching and I think it’s amazing.
Noelle: Oh yeah and if you’re a therapist or social worker — John and I both have clinical backgrounds — it’s an excellent way to make supplemental income and it’s an excellent way to have a blended practice, to say “I wear two hats.” There will be times where I’ve been in a session or I’ve said, “I’d like to take off my therapist hat and put on my coach’s hat for a minute.” Because it’s a different orientation of thinking about the world — it’s a create it concept versus a fix it model.
John: Let’s tell the difference between life coaching and therapy so people could know.
Noelle: Oh sure. So therapy is based on the medical model which is a disease-based model which basically waits for something to be wrong before you tend to it. And when you go to a therapist or if you are a therapist, you have to give a diagnosis code. You have to assign something to someone that kind of signals some level of brokenness and then you work from there based on your theoretical orientation. With coaching, you meet the person where they’re at. You meet them where they’re at and you believe that that person in front of you, no matter what their walk of life is, is completely capable of personal transformation. And you partner with that person one-on-one, heart-to-heart, motivator-to-client, to strategize game plan and build a path forward. And the most important thing of being a coach is that motivation piece of creating the space for someone to ask the big questions in life and creating the space for someone to establish a belief in themselves that they didn’t have before.
John: So also, I want to remind you guys that therapy is taking someone from suffering to baseline, and then life coaching is taking that baton from baseline to flourishing. A lot of people are afraid to life coach because they feel like, “What am I going to do if someone has some kind of personality disorder or something clinical?” And in that case you just refer them to a therapist, that’s not your job. Life coaching isn’t therapy. You don’t need a clinical degree or anything to become a life coach.
Noelle: No, but you do need some sort of training to become a life coach. There’s technique involved, there are ethics involved, there’s boundary setting. It’s a really specific discipline — it’s a beautiful discipline. The theory behind it just feels so good all around. And we’re going to get into a little bit of that today. Do you want to move in to more meaty, delicious stuff?
John: Our meat and potatoes. And what we’re going to do is, as we do more episodes, we’re going to cover so much and we’re going to rotate different life coaches and I really want this to be anyone who’s interested in life coaching and they want to geek out on it — I want this to be it.
Noelle: Yeah. Or if you want to change your own life. You can take these theories and these techniques and apply them to yourself. And I bet you, you’re going to want to try them on other people. So buckle up!
John: Alright, so we’re going to talk about meaning, connection and intention. Those are three very powerful words. They’re also kind of what our company JRNI hangs on.
Noelle: Yes. We are the meaning, connection and intention people. We’re also the place to come get coach training and to come find a coach. We train our own coaches, we’re evidence-based. The concepts of meaning, connection and intention are from the world of positive psychology. One fun fact that I love about this stuff is that if you’re going to order them, connection to others is really the foundation. When you make a connection to other people, it gives you meaning. It allows you to discover your own meaning and your own purpose.
John: I think a lot of people get stuck and get depressed because they don’t have any sense of meaning. When you don’t have meaning, you lose traction, you feel invisible. And so having a sense of meaning through connection is really huge, it’s everything.
Noelle: Yeah. So I’m just going to jump ahead of here. What is meaning to you, John? What is meaningful to you personally? What do you think meaning is?
John: Today, meaning for me is something that is — the two words I see is fulfillment, something that fulfills me. Whether we’re talking about relationships or where someone is at in my life, all the different type of relationships — am I being fulfilled by that? And also the word whole. So yeah, that’s what meaning means to me. What about you?
Noelle: For me, meaning is my why. Meaning is how I connect to a deeper sense of self. I actually had a really awesome conversation this morning with someone who asked me if I had always utilized my strength and my capacity to love others. So when I talk about strength, I’m talking about character strength — this comes from positive psychology. And my number one character strength is my capacity to love and be loved. When I engage in that, when I engage in loving other people, it fills me up. It brings meaning to my life. And this person asked me, “Have you always been this way?” And the answer is yes. But i didn’t realize until I was an adult that my capacity to love other people is actually a strength — it’s actually my superpower. And so when you orient your life around your authentic strengths, that’s where you get meaning from. That’s how it grows and how it builds.
John: Yeah. I love what you just said about love. I think a lot of people think love is something that you kind of give away and you want something in return. But this idea that by loving, in your case, it gives you empowerment and a conduit.
Noelle: And it’s what I do professionally too, it’s who I am as a coach. When people work with me, that’s pretty much what they feel — is a deep, f****** love coming from me and believing in them. I think that when you’re thinking about becoming a coach, if you look to your character strengths, it’ll tell you a lot about yourself and how you want to orient yourself in terms of your brand.
John: Well let’s back up a little bit. What is positive psychology?
Noelle: Sure. So positive psychology — the concepts are actually really ancient, but it’s really kind of [caught on?] in public consciousness and from a place of scientific study starting around the 90s. Martin Seligman is called the father of positive psychology. He used to be the head of the American Psychological Association. And one day, he caused a brouhaha by standing up in the middle of a massive conference and saying to a room full of psychologists, “Guys we’re getting it wrong. We are doing a disservice to humanity. We have been looking only at suffering and easing pain. But there is a whole other side to life and it’s flourishing, it’s joy, it’s love, it’s happiness, it’s laughter, it’s achievement, it’s contentment. And we haven’t been studying it, measuring it or figuring out how to help people get there.” So positive psychology, the whole science of it is based on helping people get happy. And it’s a different construct than therapy — therapy gets you from suffering to baseline, and then you’re just there. And then positive psychology and coaching gets you from baseline to flourishing and happiness.
John: Right. And I think the world is now more interested in from baseline to flourishing.
Noelle: I hope so. It’s a different way of orienting your mind. And a really cool thing about positive emotions and optimism is that they’re actually like vegetables. John, I think I remember telling you this years ago when I first figured out this theory and I was completely freaking out that positive emotions were like vegetables. When you feed yourself, you can’t just have one carrot and call it a healthy day. You have to consistently eat healthy. And if you consistently feed your brain and your body with this positive stuff, you change your brain chemistry. You literally change the freaking chemicals in your brain and that in turn changes your lens and you become an optimist versus a pessimist.
John: I love that. I love the whole vegetables analogy. I could relate to it — for someone who needs to eat more vegetables and knows what it feels like to not have vegetables. To translate that into the mental-emotional sphere — I see how important it is to practice positive psychology.
Noelle: Absolutely! And it takes work. That’s why having a coach is important and that’s why life coaching is important because it takes work to get into a positive mindset. It’s a practice. Think about Olympic athletes, they have coaches for a reason because they need to train properly and they need to get into the right mindset. It is no different for all the other humans out there. You need a coach to help you get into a positive mindset and train properly.
John: When you said a few minutes ago, the word brouhaha, it reminded me of — yesterday, I was hanging out with someone, I told ‘em I was going to paint the town. I think you and I keep saying things that really [inaudible phrases]. I’m saying that I know it’s kind of off the subject but it’s not, because Noelle and I — we really believe in being us. So whatever that means. And so me bringing that up, it’s very me, it’s very random, it’s very silly. But it’s who I am. And the reason I’m saying this is — as a life coach, unlike a therapist, you are encouraged to be you. [That is where your power is?]. That’s what makes you potent.
Noelle: Yeah. And I think you’re encouraged to be you and you’re encouraging others to be them. I think at this point in my life, I would [inaudible] and die if I had to go backwards with authenticity. With wearing my hair crazy long and crazy hippie dresses to the office. And just being able to say what comes to mind, whether it’s a theory or a string of curses.
John: I got a say because I’ve lived both lives. It’s so freeing. When you are not allowing yourself to be you, when you are exchanging your truth for membership or if you are very afraid to be you — whether it’s at work, relationships or everything — you’re wearing shackles around your feet and everything is an uphill battle. For me, after my divorce, I decided to just be me. It was easier at that time because I had nothing else. But when I started to decide to just be authentically me, express myself, let myself be heard, and whether people like me or don’t like me — it doesn’t matter, I’m not concerned with that, but I’m concerned with just living an honest life. That changed everything and it allowed me to swim. And I think it positioned me to run toward my purpose because when you’re in that state, you’re closer to who you’re meant to be than when you’re being a false version of you.
Noelle: Oh yeah. And I’m really glad that this is a really nice segue into talking about connection. Because I think so much of what you were talking about just now — becoming yourself, being yourself, not caring if others like you or didn’t like you, and just really adhering to that — we have no choice but to be impacted by other people around us. We live in a world, we live in a society, and connection to others can go both ways. It can [detract?] from your solid self or it can build you up. And it’s really important when you’re thinking about connection, when you’re thinking about forming connection, to be evaluative of the people who are around you — how they treat you, how they make you feel, if you’re adopting habits that they may have that might not be good for you — this is something that I deal with clients, I call it a web of influence. And my coach, way back in the day, did this with me. She taught me that technique and I passed it on. It’s actually sitting down and mapping out the five people who you spend the most time with and analyzing — is this good for you, bad for you, do you need to make changes, how are these people supporting your dreams, how are they supporting your habits, and what do you want out of connection. I don’t think people ask that enough. What do you want out of your connection?
John: No, we don’t. What we do is we fall into relationships and we create our tribe, not based on what we want but just what we gravitate toward — which isn’t always healthy — or what’s available to us. So it’s like, “I’ll take it.” — he or she wants to be my friend, “Okay cool, I’ll take it.” And I think it’s really important to connect with people that just are going to sharpen you and pull you out of the quicksand and make you the best version of you.
Noelle: Yeah. At this point, I think you and I are both pretty healthy people in terms of how we live our lives. What do you look for in connection these days?
John: So with connection — for me, it’s all about showing yourself, vulnerability. I don’t need my friends to be perfect or whoever I’m dating to be perfect. But I do need them to be honest and I do need them to be vulnerable. I need to be able to see them — so, they’re not two-dimensional but they’re actually real people. I think that’s huge.
Noelle: Yeah. So for connection you look to have the whole experience of good, bad and ugly. Like realness?
John: Yes. If you only see someone and they’re always presenting themselves in just the good — because no one is just the good, there’s all sides to all of us. And if we only see that, the connection won’t be as deep as seeing everything — their insecurities, their flaws, their struggles, and also of course the dreams and the positive stuff too. I think that’s what makes connection beautiful and deep — is the whole character arc, all the colors of people, and our conditions and what we go through. Not just the black and white.
Noelle: Oh yeah. You know I think in so many ways, whether it’s from a mental perspective or a physical perspective, especially in relationships — dating relationships, romantic relationships — people try to hide their vulnerability. They try to hide their flaws, they try to appear one-dimensional because that’s the world that we live in — little stupid Facebook pictures and projections out there. And we forget that we’re living, breathing, complex, flawed, messy people with aging bodies and lives that have been difficult. I think that’s a great point to talk about how to bring that to the [fore?].
John: So if you’re listening and you’re thinking about your own life, that is a part of this conversation, is for you guys to — as we’re having this dialogue — reflect on your own life. Ask yourself, who you’re connecting to and how that’s impacting your life. Whether it’s good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, think about your own personal connections and the meaning that they have for you.
Noelle: Yeah. And also, take it a step further and sit down and think about what you want it to look like — what you want your ideal environment to look like. For me, I need humor, I need silliness in every relationship and every environment. Like in the office, we just implemented a morning dance party routine. True story. Because it feels so good to get some giggles going first thing in the morning. If I had never taken the time to think critically about what feeds my soul, this wouldn’t come out. John, you know me pretty well, I’m pretty weird. But thank God that I have an environment where I can just let it fly like that and say, “Hey I’d like to start the day with a dance party.”
John: Yeah. And I got to say that if you don’t have an environment, you go find one or make that. You created this environment. [inaudible] gravitate toward it but that’s what this [inaudible] environment that you chose — for you.
Noelle: Hell yeah. This is the environment that we are all actively designing together because we’re a coaching company.
John: So we talked about meaning. We talked about connection. Let’s talk about the final piece, which is the word intention. What does intention mean to you? How does that apply to what we’re talking about?
Noelle: It’s like the dance party, right? Intention is taking both the long view — of where you want to end up in life and what you want it to look like and who you want to be around you — and then having the guts to [takes?] very small but intentional action steps every day to build your life brick after brick after brick until you get there.
John: Intention is everything. And also, intention with other people, intention with your heart, intention with what you’re doing — does it line up with what your passionate about, your purpose, or is it off-center? I think intention really is kind of the rudder or the guide into which direction your going to.
Noelle: Oh yeah. And I think where intention can go wrong. I’ve seen this time and again with coaching clients. And if you’re thinking about becoming a coach, this is a really important thing to look for and a really important thing to ask about — whose intention are you serving? A lot of people do s*** to serve others instead of themselves. Whether it’s going to law school, like I did to please my parents for a minute and then dropping out, or whether it’s dressing or acting a certain way because you think it’s what your partner might want instead of actually figuring out what you like. Don’t mistake someone else’s intention for your own. It’s a trap.
John: Yeah. Great point. So guys, think about meaning. Think about the meaning in your life. Think about the connection. And think about your intention. All of them.
Noelle: Yeah. If you combine those three things, you cannot go wrong in any capacity.
John: I love it. I love that we’re starting the first episode with those three words. I think it’s [powerful? perfect?]. Imagine if meaning, connection and intention are pistons of your engine, and they should all be pumping. So if one piston’s out, it’s going to affect your engine, it’s going to go slower. So when you actually visualize the power of meaning, all the meaning in your life, the connections, the valuable connections, the healthy ones, the ones your getting so much out of, and then your intention. All three of those pistons are pumping, I think that it’s only going to move you forward and make you better.
Noelle: Oh hell yeah. That was a great visual. I like it. It felt really forward-moving.
John: Well you had the other visual, so I had to because we’re so competitive. [inaudible] try to outdo you. Alright guys, we’re going to keep these podcasts also in a shot glass. We like to do everything kind of in a shot glass and super kind of streamlined. So we’re going to — in our next episode, we’re going to start taking questions and we’re going to continue this dialogue about life coaching.
Noelle: Yeah. And before we go, I just want to mention that we’re actively seeking coaches who want to join us, who want to join our company — and we train our own coaches. So Catalyst Life Coaching Intensive, find us online, book a call with me, let’s keep talking. And I hope you tune in next time.
John: Yes. Thank you. We are like the fight club of life coaching. But instead of punching people in the face, we are hugging each other and loving.
Noelle: I was going to say there’s better be some f****** flowers in there.
John: Alright guys, be well and be a powerful catalyst. And we’ll talk to you next time.
Ready to make a leap into your next chapter? If you're ready to learn more about how to become a life coach, take a look at The Catalyst Life Coaching Intensive with over 500 graduates, co-founded by John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux. Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.