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Case Study: From Stuck and Unhappy to a New and Exciting Path

How does Emotions Centered Coaching work?

Here is a real-life example from a client, Laurel. (Yes, that is her real name. This article and her testimonial are published with her approval.)

Laurel was referred to me by a longtime friend. He could see Laurel was unhappy in her current job and needed change. Part of that unhappiness was feeling stuck. She was miserable and she wasn’t sure how to enact change.

We met and Laurel shared her conundrums:

  • She was beyond frustrated with her work environment, yet she took pride in being an important contributor to the small company’s success.
  • She was often told how great she was performing, yet in her last feedback session her boss unloaded on her in an unprofessional way.
  • She had dear friendships with work colleagues, yet there was an overall environment of distrust and lack of empowerment,
  • She had frequent victories and accomplishments, yet her professional growth was limited.

Sounds like an easy solution, doesn’t it?

From the spectator stands we all scream, “Run, Laurel, Run!!”

Some of her friends gave her this advice.

But here’s the thing that coaches know.

Clients only adopt and follow their own advice.

Coaches believe in our clients’ resourcefulness and ability to act on their own behalf.

Sure, she heard the voices of “Run, Laurel, Run!!” from her friends and within herself. But Laurel isn’t a quitter and when she moved, she wanted to have confidence in where she was going.

At our 1st session we explored the emotions and their messages behind her assessment of being “stuck”. Some of the emotions and their stories included:

  • Obligation: “I have no choice but to do this.”
  • Doubt: “I am unsure.”
  • Pride: “There is more to be done here and I know I can do it.”

Laurel had lost her grounding. Her sense of who she was and what she wanted to become.

She knew in her heart and bones that she was far more capable than her current situation, yet she had stayed there.

I wanted Laurel to make the changes she wanted to make. She just needed a guide to support that journey.

We decided the action from session one would be to practice the emotion of Dignity.


Everyone in some way questions their worthiness, their “lovability”, and their inherent goodness.

Dignity is the emotion that says “I am worthy. I am a capable human with undeniable basic needs. I deserve a certain level of respect and care.”

In most cases, these statements are not a conversation we have with others; they are a conversation to change the narrative of what we tell ourselves.

So, Laurel went on “Dignity Walks” after our first session.

With her posture firm and upright, her gaze on the horizon, and her breathing deep in her belly – she focused her internal messaging on what she deserved as a capable professional.

A huge difference from someone you can imagine with the emotions of obligation and doubt!

She was beaming at the start of our next session. Her sense of self-worth and brilliance was returning.

And yet, even though her internal conflict was much less, she was still in the same situation with the same dysfunctional relationships.

There was an urgency for action. And she doubted her ability to have the needed conversations and point herself in the right direction.

Our next emotion to work on was ambition.

The emotion of ambition has the message “I believe life has possibilities for me and I’m going to go get them.”

Ambition gets a bad rap because it is often associated with selfishness. But the fact is that without ambition we would struggle to define what we want and then take the actions to get it.

So, we focused on creating what Laurel really wanted in her job:

  • Freedom to act and create.
  • Professional challenge and growth.
  • Recognition in her professional community.
  • A supportive work culture.

Then we talked about the emotion of Ambition, focusing on actions to get what we want.

Laurel went on “Ambition Walks” after our second session.

The embodiment of Ambition is much more energetic than dignity, Breathing is higher and faster, eyes are focused on the prize, we lean slightly forward looking for possibilities and opportunities.

Before our third session I got a call,

“Ken, I’m accepting a new job with an exciting company that provides me with the opportunities I want. I’m getting a raise of over 25% and they want me to start at the beginning of next month!”

Wow! I didn’t see that coming so soon! We did the exuberant Zoom Happy Dance together!

I’ll never say we all lived happily ever after. Life doesn’t work that way.

But there was a distinct pivot to a new and exciting path.

And our 6-month check-in was filled with enthusiasm and gratitude for what is possible when we open ourselves to change.

Here is what Laurel had to say about our coaching engagement.

“I want to thank Ken for all the support this past year. He truly saw me through the darkest time in my professional life. What an incredible gift!

I felt like I had been stuck in a tough situation for a long time. I felt valuable and appreciated by the firm, but my growth and creativity were being crushed and my personhood denied. In summary, I had lost my grounding. I believed I was capable, but often found myself in no-win scenarios, unsure of how to proceed despite being once proud of my decision-making abilities.

Ken helped me to regain my confidence and direction for taking action. He was the perfect partner and guide for me to become more in touch with my emotions and move through my barriers. It’s now 6 months since my job pivot and I couldn’t be happier.”

I want to give a note of appreciation to master coach and teacher Dan Newby and the School of Emotions where I received my Emotions Centered Coaching certification. I am certain his teaching helped me to coach Laurel in her breakthrough to a new job.

Interested in what coaching and emotion-centered coaching can do for you? Let’s have a chat to see if we want to go on an adventure together.

Ken Roseboom

Ken Roseboom is the President of Thinking Partners. He partners with leaders to increase impact, create aligned teams, and deliver better results. He leverages the Alignment process, assessment tools, expert coaching, and years of front line leadership experience to support his clients.