Natasha, Matt and Julie all joined Sphere in January 2019 as part of the Sphere for Teams program. Almost 1,5 years later, our Founder and CEO, Devon Brooks, had an opportunity to talk to them about their experience and journey with Guides on Sphere. Each of them has their own story, peppered with ups and downs, unique challenges and unexpected wins. However, one thing connects the dots. They all found peace and more compassion for themselves through working with Sphere Guides. Something we can all use a little bit more of, always.
Listen to the full interview here, or scroll down for interview highlights:
How might you have described coaching before you had the experience?
Natasha: "For me, coaching was never something that I would have considered that I needed. The word "coaching" was stuck in the realm of "You get coaching if you want to do something with a business; or if there's something wrong with your life."
Matt: "You always think about it as something that certain people have access to. And, you only get to graduate up to a point where you can get access to coaching."
Julie: "I really wouldn't probably know where to start because I have never done it before. I think the closest thing that I would have associated it with is business folk. Like a bunch of leaders in a room, who are getting leadership coaching with someone facilitating that."
How would you describe coaching now after working with a Sphere Guide?
Matt: "It changed from being in this mindset of perceiving coaching as something that wasn't accessible. To something that's almost necessary to reach that next level of performance."
Natasha: "For me, it's been really beneficial from a personal perspective. Just getting my thoughts organized. Just having someone to talk to about the things that aren't usually significant enough. Things that you feel like you need to vocalize. It's someone who is just helping you solve things yourself."
What did it feel like when you met the Guide that you wanted to work with?
Natasha: "What was surprising to me was that I actually found a black woman on the platform, who I could speak to. Who could understand how I was feeling. Who I could be honest about the things that, honestly, I couldn't even be honest, initially, with people at home.
Having someone to speak to, who could understand me, who was neutral, who I could just chip away at the little things and then see the bigger picture. That was amazing for me. And again, it's something that I didn't know I needed until I found that person. I was like, wow! This could be just great for me."
Matt: "It feels really good to have somebody who is looking at the problem-solving side of it, not from the perspective of: "I want what's best for you individually as a person, because I care about you as a family member or as a friend", or "I want what's best for you professionally because that's what's going to benefit my business, as a supervisor or a manager".
It feels really good to have somebody who's almost floating around all those scenarios and knows how to adapt to whichever one is most relevant to you at the moment. It just feels like multiplication of your own efforts in a lot of ways."
Julie: "During my second Meet session on Sphere, the Guide was able to pick out some things about myself that I had never even thought about. In the quick 15-minute Meet session, she was so bang on. And she just got me to another level that I didn't even have an awareness of at the time. So it made a real impact on me right away."
How often do you work with your coach?
Natasha: "I try every week. And it's not necessarily what I thought at first. I would do it every week because I felt I needed it. But now it's just great. I look forward to just being able to chat with her. And sometimes there isn't really anything to drill down to. And sometimes I start off thinking there's nothing, and then something always comes up. So every week has turned out to be a really good cadence for me."
Matt: "The way that I've always looked at coaching is, whether you're working with one or many coaches, it ends up looking a little bit like a personal board. Let's call it a Board of mentors.
For me, it ends up being once a month. It's usually a quick check-in. Like, "Oh, what do I need to actually go forward? Or where can I use that perspective?". Sometimes it's once a quarter. Then, it's usually a longer session. It's more about: "Okay, here's everything that I'm looking to unpack for the next little while". And then we touch base every month on what that ends up looking like. So, it just ends up looking like a big project. But it's a cadence that seems to work really well for me to feel like I'm sorting things out on my own. But also having that sounding board on a regular cadence."
Julie: "When I first started, it was weekly. I was working through some things, some strategies that I had come up with, and then we would come back to it next week. There was a lot to unpack for me from when I first started. And so it just felt necessary to have that weekly check-in.
My sessions were an hour-long, and every time I had a session, I'd think about things while I'm speaking. I get epiphanies while I'm saying them out loud. I'm not really much of an analytical thinker. So I just really benefit from talking it out and sound-boarding with someone else. That's really helpful.
Since I'm back in Mexico, I've been seeing my coach a little bit less often. Probably every three weeks to a month. Now it feels a little bit more appropriate to start seeing her again, now that I'm pregnant."
Devon: "Having two young kids, I can quickly find a number of excuses. I can push it back and push it back. So I just gotta think: "This session is happening. This is my time."
What we have observed is that there is this sort of arc that changes. It's so interesting because that's where we really can see and witness that. That's how our brain benefits and makes long-lasting changes from that annual cycle of observation, reflection and implementation and observation and implementation. And again and again. And it doesn't matter whether your cadence is 30 minutes a week, every week, or whether it's once a month for an hour or two hours quarterly. It's all about finding that right cadence for you."
Why do you book your next session when you book it?
Matt: "To be honest, it's usually because my coach will fire off a message to me and just say: "Hey, just wanted to check in and see how things are going?"
Julie: "Frequently, it's like, something that's come up, with a specific person or some situation at work, that prompts me to think that I could really use a sounding board. I could really use some guidance here on:
How to view this situation? What am I missing? What could I be doing better? How can I look at this differently? Am I crazy?
Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you're not alone. Whatever normal is a setting on the dryer, as my mom likes to say."
Natasha: "I find it really helpful to have the app where I can send a message to my Guide. I find it beneficial just to be able to send her a note and say, when we meet on Thursday, this is the thing I want to talk about. It's also good for me to be accountable. Not to run away from it or forget about it. When I've sent it to her, it's out there. And it has to be dealt with."
Devon: "Like put a pin in it. Not forget that at this moment, at a boiling point, I need to address that with myself."
Natasha: "Often with three kids, work, everything, things move so quickly. I can forget a thing. Just being able to remember to come back to things. It feels good."
Devon: "Those are exactly the things that set us up to be exceptional leaders, making time for those conversations, and making a note or even calling ourselves out to our Guide via messaging in the app and saying:
"Hey, you know, this thing happened. This is what I want to talk about. I want to make sure we cover this."
What is a new feeling or information about yourself from working with a Sphere Guide?
Julie: "It helped me realize why I act in the world, the way I act. When you know why you show up in this way, it just gives you a sense of grounding. The ability to call yourself out on things. And then find compassion for how you act in the world.
I was able to realize that sometimes we imprison ourselves. We're our own prison for ourselves.
Being able to have the awareness in the moment and just step out and say: "Oh, you're doing this again, are you doing this because of x y, z. Then you're able to step out of that moment and maybe act differently and have more choice. That's something that I've really learned, and it's just given me peace and more compassion for myself."
Devon: "Even the best coaches have coaches. When we're onboarding Guides to our ecosystem, one of the things we ask in our vetting is: "Who are you Getting coaching from?". Understanding that regardless of our level of self-awareness, it's always going to be going from self-awareness to self-regulation. And that is a constant dance that we do."
Matt: "I think for me, the most significant thing maybe over the last six months, in particular, has been that 80% of the things that I think are problems are not actually problems. I always look at life as a series of tasks, lists and goals. And I think it drains you at a certain point to be doing that all the time.
So working with a Guide included a lot of letting go and reprioritizing things that are more important. And less about trying to solve specific problems."
Natasha: "My manager always asked me: "What do you want to do?" And I never know what to answer. So I was going to use Sphere to answer that question. The way that we worked it out with my Guide made me realize that I am more powerful. That I have more capabilities at work than I realize, and I give myself credit for."
Who should get coaching and why?
Natasha: "I think everybody who has a voice and speaks to people should try it. I consider myself pretty calm, pretty grounded. I know how to deal with things. I am organized. Everything is fine.
But I just didn't realize that I needed it before I did it.
I feel like everybody needs to have a sounding board to think things out loud to someone. There is always benefit in having somebody else outside of your usual points of reference. Someone to speak to, to anchor you, to guide you."
It takes time to find a coach, that's why at Sphere your first sessions are free. So sit back, relax and meet with as many Guides as you need. You only start your membership when you find a Guide that's right for you. Start for free now.