Self-fulfillment-- Performance coach helps lawyers improve the quality of their lives

By Debra Talcott

Legal News

Before his death in 1970, behavioral psychologist Abraham Maslow suggested that perhaps only 2 percent of the world's population would ever achieve self-actualization--the state of being our best selves at what we feel we were destined to do. With the growing popularity of life coaching, however, more Americans are striving to reach that state of personal fulfillment.

Personal coaching, once the purview of elite athletes, is now accessible to the population at large, and people in various occupations are using this service to improve the quality of their work and personal lives.

"Coaching is a partnership, and I envision myself running alongside my client as he challenges himself to create what he truly desires," says Cami McLaren, an attorney and Certified Performance Coach (CPC) in Sacramento, Calif., where many of her clients are attorneys.

McLaren was trained as an ontological quantum coach, which she defines as "being with human beings in a way that creates sudden and significant (quantum) shifts of the greatest magnitude." McLaren says she and other CPCs coach ways of "being" (new ways to respond to life's challenges) and practices that are aligned with the best ways of achieving goals.

"As a performance coach, the first question I ask clients is, 'What do you want' because people are whole and complete and work perfectly in that they already have all their answers, but they don't always access their answers," explains McLaren. "This is what makes coaching distinct from therapy or consulting or mentoring - the client will always be the author of their own results and their own way of achieving their results."

McLaren earned her B.A. in English from California State University, Northridge in the San Fernando Valley and her J.D. from University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. She also has an L.L.M. in taxation from McGeorge.

"I have always enjoyed writing, analyzing, and arguing, so it was a very good fit for me to go into law. For the last 10 of my 16 years as a lawyer, I practiced predominantly defense-side employment litigation, including discrimination and harassment cases. The practice I carved out for myself is what has inspired me to coach attorneys as I do now," she explains.

McLaren says that when she was a practicing attorney, she was able to design her work schedule to be compatible with her personal life.

"In a profession where people are typically overworked and experience a great deal of stress, I was able to practice in a way that fit my schedule and my lifestyle. So I have personal experience creating something new in a field that does things a particular way, and I have a passion for assisting attorneys to balance practice and personal life."

McLaren says that, for her, attending the Resource Realizations 2007-08 coaching academy was the continuation of a personal growth journey.

"But after I experienced coaching intern clients and seeing the amazing change human beings can make to gain fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives from being with a coach for a short period of time, I realized this was far more satisfying to me than the practice of law."

After graduating from the coaching academy, McLaren was accepted for a position on the faculty for the 2008-2009 program, earning the opportunity to work with the academy's instructor, nationally-known leadership coach Barbara Fagan.

"Coaching that group of new coaches was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done," says Mclaren. "It is amazing to be with people as they work to fulfill a dream that allows them to make positive change in the world."

McLaren recalls an event not long after her own graduation from the academy that became life changing. She and her partner Stephanie Finelli, also an attorney, had taken their two sons, Graham and Connor, to an evening of "Shakespeare in the park."

"As we sat on the grass eating our picnic dinner and drinking our wine, I began to talk about the desire I had to create a coaching business and how much more satisfying this work was for me and how I felt my energy was divided between law and coaching. Stephanie and I talked for a while and decided it would be best for our family if I took the leap and followed my dream into this line of work. It has been challenging and immensely satisfying, and I believe I have modeled for our children what it means to follow one's passions in life."

In her website, www.believeandachievecoach.com/coachingspecifictolawyers.html, McLaren describes, in detail, how and why coaching is valuable to attorneys. She says coaching will assist the busy legal professional in several key ways: creating a more peaceful, efficient, and purposeful state of being, managing time, discovering fulfillment in work, improving communication skills, attracting clients and maintaining a working relationship with them, and resolving conflict.

"I will assist you in discovering what fulfills you in your work and getting in touch with what drew you to the practice in the in the first place, or, in some cases, in finding another area of law or a different career about which you are passionate," says McLaren.

McLaren typically charges a law firm a flat monthly fee for individual coaching with their attorneys. Her fee includes weekly hour-long meetings, a coaching plan that lays out the specific goals each attorney hopes to achieve, unlimited e-mail and telephone communication between meetings, and weekly updates to the office manager.

"I report on non-substantive matters, such as generally what we are working on and the tools I have given, but nothing that falls within the realm of confidential," McLaren assures.

McLaren concedes that people are sometimes skeptical about life coaching because the training and the profession are not regulated.

"Technically, one could simply say she is a coach and begin practicing. As such, the profession as a whole sometimes does not have a great reputation, as the public can sometimes experience 'coaches' that are not of the highest experience and education level."

That is why McLaren herself is proud to be affiliated with Source Point Training Company, founded in 2009 by Barbara Fagan and fellow trainer Lou Dozier, who have known each other since 1987 when both were involved with another transformational training company. Source Point's vision is to develop "coaches, leaders and facilitators of positive change." The firm's goal is to "bridge the gap between the old-school leadership paradigm and today's mastery-level architects of change."

"In the Source Institute, which is the incoming 2010-11 coach training class, I will be a contribution coach. This means that I will attend one weekend or more during the 9-month-long program in order to assist in training the students. Many contribution coaches are brought in so the students can experience many different styles of coaching," says McLaren.

McLaren says Source Point expects 30-40 students in the training program, which includes Coaching Fundamentals and Coaching Mastery. The complete program includes five three-day weekends of classroom training held in Tempe, Ariz. In addition to the onsite weekends, participants attend teleclasses and are required to perform 60 hours of intern coaching. Upon completion of the program, participants earn 141 Continuing Coach Education Units recognized by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

"Because I believe strongly in the work of coaching, I have taken the lead to create a scholarship fund for this first incoming SPT coaching class," says McLaren.

Typically, each class creates a way to fund a scholarship for the class that follows, but since this is Source Point's first class, and there was no established scholarship, McLaren has planned an e-Bay auction of items that have been donated by supporters around the country. Information on the auction is available at www.SourcePointTraining.com.

As a certified performance coach, McLaren enjoys seeing coaches in training as well as her own clients transform their lives.

"What we say in coaching is, 'a coach cannot take a client where the coach is not willing to go.' So being a coach is making a commitment to, as [motivational speaker] Tony Robbins calls it, 'CANI': constant and never-ending improvement."

That is why McLaren strives to help her clients gain self-awareness in order to move forward in new ways.

"Because the client finds his own answers, he is more likely to make lasting change and is empowered to create the results he wants long after our relationship ends."

Published: Thu, Aug 5, 2010

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