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Vicky Biggs Pradhan: How Crises Make Us Rethink Our Lives

Summary:
I am now a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. I posted “Co-Active Coaching as a Tool for Maximizing Utility—Getting Where You Want in Life” at the beginning of that journey. Because of my day job as an economics professor and side job as a blogger, I can’t take on any more coaching clients at this point, but I have met other coaches that I can recommend. The Co-Active Training Institute does a ten-month long Leadership Program as well as training in being a co-active coach. Among other things, the Leadership Program is a very intense interpersonal experience; after the first six-day retreat I already know the other sixteen members of my “tribe” very well. Victoria

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Vicky Biggs Pradhan: How Crises Make Us Rethink Our Lives

I am now a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. I posted “Co-Active Coaching as a Tool for Maximizing Utility—Getting Where You Want in Life” at the beginning of that journey. Because of my day job as an economics professor and side job as a blogger, I can’t take on any more coaching clients at this point, but I have met other coaches that I can recommend.

The Co-Active Training Institute does a ten-month long Leadership Program as well as training in being a co-active coach. Among other things, the Leadership Program is a very intense interpersonal experience; after the first six-day retreat I already know the other sixteen members of my “tribe” very well. Victoria Pradhan, like me, is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, and someone I think would be an especially good fit as a coach for readers of my blog. I had Vicky coach me for a session in order to get a good sense of her style. She is both extremely logical and very emotionally perceptive, and works hard to get to the bottom of things.

I asked Vicky to write a guest post so you could get a sense of her yourself. Also, it is traditional for coaches to offer a free sample session, so it is easy for you to see from your own experience what a powerful coach Vicky is if you have a free half hour. E-mail Vicky ([email protected]) if you are interested in trying out the idea of having a coach. I am also happy to answer questions about co-active coaching in the comments section.

I should say that in “diet and health” I include mental health and soul health. The coronavirus crisis is trying to our souls—but maybe in ways that can lead us to dig deep and get new insights on our lives. Here is Vicky:

The coronavirus has required the human race to slow down in ways I never thought imaginable.

In early March our nation was focused on presidential candidates, environmental policy, and the growing tech-lash. Within two weeks we were sheltering-in-place, fearing for our health and regularly checking in on loved ones. Many have lost their jobs. For some, the isolation, deep fear and abundance of free time has created the perfect storm of uncertainty.  For others, who are fortunate enough to have kept their job, it’s been a time to slow down, reflect, reevaluate and contemplate what is really important. 

I recently had a chance to reevaluate my own life while being in isolation for seven months. What I learned was unexpected and it’s helping me to cope during this unprecedented time.

While on vacation in the countryside of France, I was leaving a charming cottage we had stayed at when I accidentally hit my head against the low door threshold that was made out of stone. This misstep changed my life forever. In a blink of an eye, or in this case, a bonk of the head, a severe concussion ensued, and my vision blurred, my ability to concentrate vanished and even the most transactional conversations with my husband and kids became impossible. I spent the remaining week of our trip in a dark room, resting alone before returning home to San Francisco.

With concussion recovery, most neurologists insist on strict cognitive and physical rest until all post-concussion symptoms have subsided. However, in recent years, new research has emerged which challenges this approach and instead suggests returning to daily activities within a few days of the incident allows for a more expedient recovery. Regardless of what I believed in theory, I quickly learned there was no negotiating with my body. By default, my brain chose cognitive rest which meant isolation in a dim, quiet room with no visuals, audio or mental stimulation. It came down to turning off all screens, closing books and turning off podcasts; anything that required my brain to focus. It was a matter of days before I sunk into a deep depression. Anxiety took over, as I lost my executive functioning skills, ability to find words, drive a car or even care for my children.    

Prior to this incident, I was labeled an overachiever. I worked myself too hard and held myself to unrealistic standards; this is what made me successful, or so I thought. Having spent twenty years in the music streaming and tech industries building teams during start-up phase and beyond, I took great pleasure in tackling big challenges so I could prove myself to others. With a husband, two kids in two different schools, a seat on a board and roles as an active volunteer, my world felt like one big box that needed to be checked. That is, until, I experienced being coached by a professional Executive Coach. I was captivated and I knew within a couple sessions that this is the path I would pursue as the next phase of my career. I decided to complete a year-long coach training program. Just as I was about to complete my professional coach certification and launch my own coaching practice, it all came to a screeching halt with the concussion. My vision of being a coach, which was two years in the making seemed to melt away.

By week four of my recovery, I was angrier than ever.  I refused to accept that my life was on hold. I would lay in bed hour after hour doing math equations in my head to see how far I could get. I would rehearse the various principles and contexts of the coaching model. I’d make plans, with my eyes closed, about the places I would visit after climbing out of this dark hole I was stuck in. I fought my reality every step of the way. This newly found depression was uncharted territory for me. I felt new levels of loneliness and desperation for normalcy as I watched my family drive away for short road trips, witnessed my team at Reddit carry on to new heights without me, and saw my coaching clients move along to find other coaches as they needed support in their own lives.

At my lowest point, I turned to my coach. During this time of stress and despair I was truly seen by her. No judgement, no formality, just unconditional support; the kind of support I hadn’t felt before. She encouraged me to surrender to my recovery, and I’m proud to say, I did. Once I surrendered, I had the space and capacity to explore where I’d been and where I wanted to go.

My coach helped me find the courage to investigate the areas of my life that I had boarded up and didn’t permit anyone to access including myself. She held up a mirror so I could see how I was abandoning myself in order to achieve goals and tasks intended to please others. We also covered value clarification which taught me that making resonant choices both professionally and personally can only be done if they are made in accordance with my values. Conversely, conflict, unrest and dissonance almost always arise when I’ve ignored a value, which would ultimately take me off course.

For me, being present and living in the moment has always been a value. I discovered that I was not honoring this value by holding onto a belief that I once I “arrive” at my destination, I would be more fulfilled and ultimately a happier person. “Arriving” in this case meant becoming a certified coach and forming my own coaching practice. I learned that arriving doesn’t exist, as everything is impermanent. I only have today. And, today I can choose how I want to show up in my life. While in silence I continued to be open to recognizing other patterns and used various tools that I had previously ignored to help me stay present and being to change some patterns. Mindfulness, meditating (even for 10 minutes a day), journaling, and turning down the volume of my inner critic are just a few things that helped me to ground myself and take steps towards transformation. Having made a full recovery, I continue to be committed to these daily practices.

Concussion recovery was the sole topic I wanted to cover with my coach, however, like many skilled professional coaches she was able to look at me as a complete, whole person.  She wasn’t there to examine one compartmentalized issue, she could zoom out to see the whole picture. With each new day, I slowly regained my cognitive functionality and by month seven I was back on my feet; however, I had an entirely new way of looking at my life and the way in which I approach it. My outlook included gratitude, humility, and the desire to be in service of others finding their path or returning to it.

Today, we find ourselves in uncharted territory. We are having to make sense of the unimaginable while doing it in isolation. There is an overwhelming feeling of fear, desperation, and sadness. From where I stand, it’s almost as if our nation is recovering from a massive concussion. We are having to surrender. Surrender to the end for quite some time of normalcy in our lives. My hope is that we find the silver lining in this unusual time by looking inward and to find our strength by digging deep within ourselves. Each of us must decide if we are on the track we intended to put ourselves on. Whether on your own or with the support of others now is the time to refocus our lens and get clear on what is important in our lives.

Here is some contact information:

Vicky Pradhan, [email protected]

V2 Executive Coaching, www.v2executivecoaching.com

Vicky is the founder of V2 Executive Coaching. She is a certified Co-Active® Coach, CPCC, who coaches entrepreneurs, executives, founders, creators and musicians on their mission towards something bigger than themselves. Her clients are passionate and aspiring towards more fulfillment, stronger leadership, better communication and in some cases more self-acceptance. The one element they have in common is they’ve identified there is a gap between where they are right now and where they want to be. 

Vicky brings nearly twenty years of experience in the tech and music streaming industry to her coaching practice. Her journey began at CBS Radio where she held positions in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. She then entered the tech industry and spent several years at Google then went on to lead brand partnerships teams at both Pandora and Reddit, as start-ups. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University, where she specialized in Business Management. Other certifications include Creative Resources® Facilitator, Decker Communications® Communicate to Influence Program, Co-Active® Coach Training and is currently participating in the Co-Active® Leadership Program.

For annotated links to other posts on diet and health, see:

Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

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