Blog Post: Struggle Is Needed 



Sometimes coaching can be a frustrating, challenging, and tiresome job.  I experienced many of the pains of coaching all in one week recently: 

  • Two no-show clients. 
  • A client who came ready to complain, but not ready to work. 
  • Partners and vendors who seemed hell-bent on making my job harder, not easier. 
  • Technology woes that included multiple issues with my meeting platform, Zoom. 
  • A scheduling glitch that had me double-booked with two very important clients. 
  • A marketing event that cost me $500 attracted twenty-seven of the wrong people.   

If it sounds like I’m complaining, it’s because I just did.  But the purpose of this post is not to air my frustrations.  Instead, it’s to celebrate and appreciate the obstacles that trip us up, slow us down, sidetrack us, and stress us.  Why celebrate?  Because friction is needed. 

Dr. Adam Fraser is the author of Strive: Embracing the Gift of Struggle.  His research backs up something we all know intuitively: having a meaningful life is far better than happiness.  But he doesn’t stop there.  He says happiness is not found in having lots of free time, being on easy street, or finally getting a big achievement. Instead, we humans are most fulfilled and feel best about ourselves when we are striving towards a difficult goal that involves struggle and discomfort.  And the most miserable, least fulfilled people have low levels of struggle, too little challenge, and too much comfort.  

Well, dang.   

Seriously, the news from Dr. Fraser is not bad news.  It’s good news because it gives us a new metric for evaluating the quality of our life and work.  A challenging week (see my bullet list from earlier in this post) is not the path to misery if it is in service to something that matters.  And coaching matters. 

One of the points Fraser makes in Strive is that we are most proud (in the good sense of the word) when we overcome something hard in life.  What are you overcoming?  You’ve heard of a gratitude list.  Maybe it’s time to create a difficulty list.  Capture your challenges.  Record your struggles.  List your losses.  Do this not as a way to stir hopelessness or demotivate yourself.  Do it as a way to count the cost and to highlight the value of striving.  

The value of striving can be a lesson for our coaching clients, but this post is not for them.  It’s for us, the coaches.   

You and I are striving for a meaningful goal: clients whom we help set and reach meaningful goals.  You and I are making our clients’ lives better through coaching.  And IT IS WORTH IT.   

Coaching is hard.  It’s hard to get clients.  It’s hard to stay sharp.  It’s hard to bring your best session after session.  Sometimes certain clients are difficult.  The list goes on and your list might be different than the next coach’s list. 

While the struggle is real, the struggle is also necessary, and it is good for us.  Thank God! 

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