An Unexpected Path to Becoming a Coach

by Paul Boehnke

As a music student in college, I was learning a piece of music that was pretty difficult. There was one tiny 4-measure section of the piece which was particularly difficult. After spending forty minutes on just that tiny section, it definitely became easier to play. But the most interesting thing is that while I was practicing those notes, I was thinking about something else going on in my life at that time. Something that had nothing to do with the music.

Fast forward five years and when I played that piece again and got to that small section, the thoughts I’d had while practicing came screaming back to my mind. I was shocked. Those thoughts were five years old. They had nothing to do with my life now. Why was I thinking them again?

I realized I’d practiced those thoughts along with those notes. Clearly, if I could learn to practice more helpful thoughts while I rehearsed, I could produce more powerful performances and shorten the learning process to boot. And that’s what I did. I got good at training my brain to think what I needed it to think when I needed it to think it.

Fast forward a few more years and I noticed some roadblocks had crept into my life. My career seemed to have hit a plateau. My relationships only went so deep and I felt a little isolated. There was a critical voice in my head constantly saying, “No.” “No, you can’t do this. No, you can’t do that. No, you’re not good enough to do that.” Those messages had crossed my mind so often and for so long they’d become a habit. A habit that was now interfering with my life.

I realized that if I turned my thought training skills I’d perfected as a musician to taming the negative inner critic messages, I had the power to transform not only my life, but the lives of others as well. That’s when I knew my next path would as a life coach.

Oddly enough, my time as a musician turned out to be the perfect preparation for becoming a coach.

Being an artist is about much more than just mastering the tools of one’s art. At its core, being an artist is about mastering oneself so that who we think we are doesn’t get in the way of creativity flowing through us. Mastering myself, my thoughts, habits, beliefs, fears, motivations, was one of the most satisfying parts to me of being an artist. This is what I loved about teaching music too: helping my students uncover their own fears, habits, and beliefs and freeing them to allow creativity to flow through them. This is why my transition to coaching was so seamless. The work I’d done with myself and my students was the perfect preparation for coaching. All I needed were some specialized skills.

My coach training brought a level of knowledge and skill that supercharged my ability to help others. When I combined that training with what I’d learned as a musician about training my mind, I also had clarity about what I would specialize in with my clients.

Now as a certified life coach, I help people transform the voice in their head from a critic to a cheerleader. Instead of arguing for their limitations, that voice now champions their potential, and they’re able to reap the benefits of a powerful career and relationships that come from engaging their full potential.

The path to becoming a coach is as varied as those who coach. I know former actors, marines, entrepreneurs, HR professionals, teachers who have all transitioned to coaching. Coaching has allowed me to share my particular gifts and background in a way that has a real impact on the world. It can do the same for anyone. What do you most want to do with your one, beautiful life?

Paul Boehnke (ACC, ELI-MP) lives in St. Paul, MN and coaches clients all over the world. He is also the creator of the online course Conquer Self Doubt that helps people overcome self-imposed limitations.

Previous post:

Next post: