Coaching, Inspiration, and Overcoming Limitations: A Discussion with Michele Risa
Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?
Michele: My coaching practice reflects many of my own goals for myself. I’m committed to living a magnificent life, so I guide those who are daring to do the same. I feel it’s time for us to move beyond the past, beyond limited beliefs that hold us back, which have become habitual. I really believe it’s time to learn how to create our lives and move from wherever we are to who we’re meant to be.
My main focus is to help awaken both the potential and purpose in global thought leaders so more of us can flourish and thrive.
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What do you think are some of the factors in modern life today that contribute to that limitation that a lot of people feel themselves in?
Michele: Our conditioning. We believe that what is on the outside is reality and we are victims of it, unable to control it. The reverse is true. Reality is just a simple out-picturing of our inner.
Once we truly understand and practice this, our life changes.
This is a time where everything’s turning upside down for many of us, and it offers us an amazing opportunity to realize who we are, what’s working, and what is not. We have the chance to flip it and really claim our ability to be a manifester.
It’s not the simple formula given in the movie, “The Secret,” but that’s part of the challenge and excitement. That’s why I’ve pursued this my whole life. Growing up, I was always excited to understand how I was who I was, how others were who they were, how the world was the way it was. All the suffering confounded me.
I delved into the brain, neurology, and biofeedback as an undergraduate at New York University and I continued at Columbia University. That fascination has led me to developing an actual process - from theory to practice to mastery. And like anything we seek to master, practice is critical.
If we wanted to be Serena Williams, we would not resist nor question the need for daily practice. Personal development is no different. For some reason, we think we can read a book or just attend a three-day retreat. I don’t believe that has produced the quantum leap of awakening and societal transformation that we really need. That’s why I offer a method to ignite our highest potential through practice, compassion, and growth.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of the relationship that you have with your clients, and on the flip side of that, for anybody out there reading this who’s interested in becoming a coach, what would you say is the most difficult, challenging, or unexpected aspect of coaching that you’ve had to tackle in your career?
Michele: First of all, within my own life, it’s lovely to see myself identify obstacles I didn’t even see and overcome obstacles I wasn’t able to in the past. Now many of the same obstacles are no longer an issue. As we grow and learn, we are able to, going back to Serena Williams, hit those balls that in the past we were unable to. That’s really wonderful, almost miraculous.
Also rewarding is watching my clients become free of their perceived limitations and shift from being a victim to being empowered, really flipping their belief and perspective. To see them learn — “Who am I and why am I here?” — and switch from just surviving to the joy of living with purpose and making a difference. We’re wired to do that — having that deeper, more meaningful purpose.
The coronavirus may also give many of us the opportunity to connect with that. I think it’s pertinent for me to also say that one of many insights that I offer my clients is developing the ability to see a benefit in any situation. I appreciate that it may be very, very hard to see, and maybe it’s nothing more than the benefit of getting stronger as a result of addressing this challenge. Or maybe it’s becoming more resourceful or seeing your perseverance.
As a result of the coronavirus, one message that everyone’s being given is to take care of yourself. Make sure you’re washing your hands, keeping your immune system strong. Eat healthfully. Hopefully, people know the importance of sleep. Stress would be another. We know that for most diseases, doctors now know that stress is a huge contributor.
I always look for what else might be there and ask, What if we all started taking greater responsibility for our own health and wellbeing? We may not only save our own life, but save each others' lives. If that were to happen, wow. What a shift that could be worldwide as we take on that responsibility.
The other is the financial impact. Not just within the stock market, but countries are closing down — even the Olympics, conferences, financial events, stores, and gatherings. This is creating a huge financial impact, and possibly, we will realize that more important than money is saving lives. Our own and everyone else’s. That we are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent.
This is an awful pandemic that will hit us, and may also enable us to learn and grow. We have the ability, as Viktor Frankl did in the concentration camps or Mandela did in South Africa, to practice how not to allow your mind to be captured or imprisoned. To learn how to change your state of consciousness.
We have the great ability to pause between stimuli and our behavior. To not react but respond. And in that space, to choose consciously how we respond to that stimuli and experience freedom. In so doing, we create a very different world.
[Related: 4 Ways To Get Results When Life Gets Crazy]
One of the most common challenges new coaches face is self-doubt. Some coaches call it Imposter Syndrome, where early on they feel somehow inadequate to take on the role of coach. What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stage of their coaching career and dealing with these doubts in their mind?
Michele: Number one, you need to start with yourself. I use every moment in my day to learn and grow. That never stops. It’s not a retreat. It’s not a seminar. It’s not a book. The commitment to your learning from life, constantly and moment by moment, is the best way to be able to offer insights to people. It’s truth based on what you’ve experienced yourself.
The beauty of coaching is honesty and the courage or confidence to admit that you’re human and don’t know. If you’re not authentic and honest with your client, they can feel something is off. You can’t pretend to be who you’re not. So be able to say:
Here’s what I know and here is what I’m not certain of. I’ll certainly look into that for you and see what more I can contribute. And if I can’t, I’ll provide you with resources that can support you.
I have found people’s reaction to be one of gratitude. Yes, maybe with self-doubt, you don’t have the confidence to say that. But I feel there really is no room for lack of integrity, authenticity, and honesty.
Be committed to learning more, finding like-hearted mentors and coaches that inspire you. If anyone reading this has been inspired by what I’ve said and this piques their interest, great! Let’s talk.
Michele Risa is the CEO of Collaborative Solutions Global. For over 25 years, she has supported influencers in their inner journey — reducing stress and struggles with health, uncovering joy within the heart, and shifting from surviving to creating a life that is a masterpiece.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Leadership Training | Executive Coaching | Personal Development | CEO
Collaborative Solutions Global
Tell us about your life outside your career: I am grateful for being alive at this time in our human history, being challenged by the many crises, and being inspired to contribute my unique gift with the gift of all others who, too, are eager to engage in this time of awakening, meaning and grace. Continue Reading
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