Beauty queens win titles. Brilliant actors receive awards. Gifted singers sign record deals. Talented sports professionals win trophies. Great chefs own busy restaurants. Skilled businesspeople earn promotions, a raise or climb the corporate ladder. Original artists have exhibitions and eloquent authors get book deals. Most industries have ways to acknowledge and validate work well done. Awards and accolades are a big part of our society. There are reality shows developed around our obsession with winners and losers. Sports fans are religious about keeping score of who is the better player/team and why. But what about those working in the helping profession? How do we assess and evaluate work well done?
Relationship Coaches, counsellors, therapists and psychologists work confidentially behind closed doors. We hear all about practitioners who have behaved badly, been unethical or failed miserably to help. Bad news spreads like a plague. And what of those who are making a positive difference to their clients’ lives? Sometimes we get referrals but much of the time clients keep their psychological and emotional support private. It’s like eating an awesome meal that no one will hear about or listening to a gorgeous voice that will never be shared. We work in a vacuum. A sealed, confidential vacuum.
When I opened my new Facebook page ‘The Relationship Architect’ recently I originally had the profile of ‘Business/Services’ until I saw the title ’Accolades and Awards’. I could have mentioned the amazing feedback I have had from clients and the numerous testimonials received about positively changing people’s lives or turning marriages around but I don’t think that is what they meant. Unfortunately, this is not a vocation that hands out trophies for work well done. There is no public acknowledgement. Transformational work is invisible to most. Only those whose lives are directly affected know of the value of this service. If you have an ego that enjoys external affirmation, this is not the career for you. And so, for my page I chose ‘Blog’ instead, feeling sheepish about not having received a trophy for my ‘product’.
And then I received the following email from my client:
“Thank you so much Shelley. Your support and affirmation really makes me feel alive and energised again. I finally, after almost 2 years of “stuckness”, feel like I CAN create an inspired life where my passion, purpose and desires can authentically be fulfilled again. In the simplest terms – I feel like I matter again. I know that the journey ahead is going to require courage and commitment from me but I’m strong enough and have enough courage to take it on with the baby steps. Things are not going to fall into place tomorrow, but with a sound philosophy, plan, and maybe even a couple of mistakes along the way, I am confident that I am going to make it. My gratitude goes beyond any fancy words I can imagine to express. I feel very blessed to have you as my coach, your help has been like an angelic intervention, thank you again.”
Wow. What a privilege to receive those words. I feel blessed to do the work I do and grateful I have the skills to help someone in that way. Will my ‘success’ ever be in the public domain. I doubt it. Testimonials and positive feedback is the only measure of success for a coach. Knowing I am facilitating positive change is my reward. Those in the helping profession work silently and invisibly. No ceremonies, tributes or “bravo’s”. So to my client who I know will be reading this: THANK YOU! Fancy words cannot express how much I appreciate your affirming, validating and encouraging words. You evaluate and assess whether I am talented or skilled at what I do. I am excited to receive this award, an email of thanks, so thank you for taking the time to write and express your gratitude.
P.S. If you are on Facebook, it would be wonderful if you could ‘like’ the page ‘The Relationship Architect’ so that you can follow my blogs and other inspiring images and discussions on how to create a life and relationship you love. It would also be wonderful to hear from you too- in the ‘comments’ boxes. Thanks so much.