Two years ago, a friend asked me whether I wanted to be her Philia partner. Despite never having heard of ‘peer coaching’ and not really feeling I needed it, I said yes. Yes to a journey without which I would not be where and who I am today…
In the spring of 2018, Lina and I started the Philia e-course and weekly peer coaching calls. Even though the previous months in my life had been very rocky, I felt at peace – without a pressing question or a problem to solve, nothing I needed to put into perspective. At least that is what I thought. In any case, I would not have gone to get certified paid coaching.
At the beginning, we agreed to test Philia for the 20 weeks’ duration of the e-course and then see. And here I am today – over two years and 84 peer coaching calls later and counting – and my life has changed in four meaningful ways thanks to Philia. Here is how:
Empowered to take bold decisions
Remember I said I didn’t really have anything to address when starting Philia? Well, a little over a month into the journey, I quit my open-ended job – without having a new one yet in sight but convinced that I needed a change.
What is special about Philia is that the coach you have by your side is a friend. Lina has been part of my life since 2005 and is thus also available in between calls and beyond the e-course. This unique setting allowed me to discuss things very openly very quickly. In addition, several insights from the e-course (e.g. the welcome reminder about the ‘growth mindset’) empowered and supported me to take that bold decision of quitting my job – bold for me as a rather risk-averse person.
A space of trust and vulnerability
Lina and I share the same home town, Bremen, and a connection to Northern Germany. Yet, we pretty much have always had a ‘long-distance friendship’.
During these last two years, I have shared things with Lina that I would have otherwise kept just to myself. Because admitting them to myself already required some courage. The e-course content – such as listening without judging, the art of providing feedback – and the set-up of the weekly call – during which each one of us has around 18 minutes of uninterrupted talk time, followed by a few minutes of feedback from the Philia partner – have allowed us to create our very own space. In spite of us being in different cities, even different countries, we share a space of mutual trust, which in turn allows us to safely open up and to be vulnerable.
Now, we feel more connected to each other than ever before and our friendship (or ‘Philia sisterhood’ as we call it) has grown deeper. Lina would even say that the Philia hour is one of the most important and precious ones of her week – as it is for me.
Established habit of self-reflection
In preparation for the weekly call, we individually fill in our progress sheet consisting of the week’s successes, barriers, progress on our goals, aha moments, etc. At the beginning of the Philia journey, I would fill in the sheet shortly before the call looking back at the past week. Today, I continuously add bits and pieces to the Philia sheet as the week progresses and self-reflection has become an established habit and an even more solid part of my life.
Being kind to myself
In the short minutes of feedback that follow my uninterrupted weekly talk time, Lina has kept highlighting one thing over the last months. “It’s so nice to hear how much more kindly you talk about yourself and the issues you struggle with”, she says and I hear the smile through the phone.
While kindness to oneself may be a subtle change, it is a powerful and important one for me that I will keep nourishing – as well as continuing to practice self-reflection, to allow myself to be vulnerable, and to take bold decisions whenever necessary.