Coach Interview Series: Melissa Lewis

by Brandon

Melissa Lewis

Life Coach, Author, and Massage Therapist

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Melissa Lewis. Melissa is a Life Coach, Author, and Massage Therapist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the author of The Angel Wears Prana: The Journey of a Healer.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Melissa: I was a massage therapist for 22 years before I started wellness coaching. When I wellness coached, I coach for a top five Fortune 500 company. I worked there for three and a half years and served over 5000 people. I did the standard wellness coaching with diet, nutrition, and tobacco cessation.

I found myself being more unique than some of the other coaches. I would happily take on more challenging cases because I enjoyed it. It wasn’t the same easy thing every day and I found myself drawn to a fair amount of stress and tobacco coaching calls. To me, that was an indicator that I was working more through my heart. I didn’t just want the easy coach conversation. I wanted to help people.

I also wanted to learn along with my journey, because every coach needs to realize you got into this business because you wanted to grow. Every coach grows by coaching other people.

That job ended, and I went on to open my own life coaching practice. One thing that I do with my coaching that not a lot of coaches do is tailor everything that I do to what the client needs. It’s very easy for me to do that now because I’ve done it for so many people. It’s actually harder for me to work in a strict format because a lot of people don’t need particular aspects when you make a format. That’s what I do differently because of my intuitive abilities. I skip over things that don’t need to be addressed because I can hear and see and feel that the client is already past that point. They don’t need to work there.

I’ve moved on to a higher level of coaching. I am actually coaching people who are more on a deep inner journey themselves. These are coaches that have decided that after many years of coaching, they’re onto something new. Maybe they’re going to go into a very specialized kind of coaching where you’re working with deeper aspects within people. Maybe you’re not just working with weight loss or you’re not just working with your typical life transition. These are people that are going through big life transitions or are trying to do a much higher performance or bigger things than your average client.

That’s how I’ve evolved into being this kind of coach. I enjoy doing the regular coaching, but there’s a progression in everyone’s life where they are pushed to move on and I moved on.

There’s a lot of coach programs that tell you, “You have to do it like this. You have to follow this exact process.” And in real life, sometimes you have to bypass that. […] There are a few circumstances where I disregarded that coaching advice and I listened from my heart. You have to be wise enough to know when that very precious moment comes around where you work through the heart, too.

NCA: In working with your clients, what would you say is the most rewarding part of that process and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Melissa: The most rewarding part is being able to connect with someone that I don’t know who can literally feel that I am trying to help them. I’m not just a coach. I am not just in it for the money. I’m not just in it to tell them an answer. If you’re really getting down to that person’s level and hearing what their frustration is, that is rewarding to me because I’m going to a new place that that client probably doesn’t have anyone else in their life to reach them on that level.

Providing that insight and perspective to another person’s unanswered questions is a huge reward for me because I didn’t have someone to do that for me. Now, I can reflect that back and do it for other people.

Allowing my clients to move to that next stage in the way that they need to, sometimes that means giving up on the regular goal that the person even came to coaching with because that’s not what’s important now. Or allowing that person to really feel like they can make their decisions and move to the places that they need to move without feeling judged that they’re doing it wrong.

The feedback that I’ve heard most out of my coaching was that I provide a nonjudgmental space for them to do whatever it is that they need to do. Maybe they need to quit coaching. Maybe they need to take a break. All of these things that a lot of coaches try to convince people they don’t need. This is what a really good coach does. It allows them to make the decision in the time that they need to do it. That is very rewarding. That means that you have made the space that that person actually needed.

The most challenging aspect to me in coaching is that most people who need a coach say they don’t need one. I don’t like convincing people that they need it. We all need it. We all need guidance in some way. We’re all missing a sign somewhere. It’s just what life is. There’s a lot of resistance to that because those human egos, they’re tricky.

Coaching sometimes is telling clients, “Okay. You really didn’t have no options. You had four. You chose none, and none is a choice, and it’s okay.” The coach is someone who’s going to keep you wanting to come back to the path somehow, in some way.

There’s a lot of coach programs that tell you, “You have to do it like this. You have to follow this exact process.” And in real life, sometimes you have to bypass that. The coaching says not to do it this way, but I’ve coached so many people that there are a few circumstances where I disregarded that coaching advice and I listened from my heart. You have to be wise enough to know when that very precious moment comes around where you work through the heart, too.

NCA: Can you think of a mentor or a coach in your own career who was the most vital to your success and in what ways did this mentor help you thrive in your career?

Melissa: I do not have any one mentor. I learned from the people around me and the situations around me. A lot of times, I have learned from other coaches sitting around me because I sat in an office with all coaches. I will learn from their conversations and then I would ask and get more knowledge.

As I evolve, the teacher evolves around me, whether it’s another coworker, whether it’s somebody putting videos out on YouTube, or a book. Books and libraries are my number one mentor in life because they’ve brought me so many different perspectives over the years of my life.

NCA: 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?

Melissa: Who gravitates towards you is literally determined on a whole different level. The people that you’re coaching, you’re supposed to be coaching. You do your best and you learn your lessons and then different people will be attracted to you. It’s a learning process, but it’s a perception process. You do your work until you feel like you’ve evolved to the next stage.

Whoever is drawn to you is who you need now. That is your affirmation: “This is who I should be talking to because they are drawn to me and they’re wanting to work with me and that’s who I have.” It’s your own journey to get that confidence inside of yourself and to know when you’re moving on to the next stage or the next level of challenges that you’re helping people with. It’s your physical reality. If people are coming to you and wanting and needing and paying for your advice, you’re in the right role. And if you’re going to move on to a new stage, you’re going to have to do your growth to attract a new type of person.

Develop your own intuition. Develop your own confidence. Develop your own trust. Once you start seeing that manifest in the physical life outside of you, that’s really where your sparkle comes in. That’s where you start really realizing and feeling and knowing what you’re good at. Through your own trust.

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