Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Brave and the Weak

Posted on Thursday, March 08, 2012 by International Coach Federation

Tears in his eyes: is he a failure?

Tears in her eyes: she has nothing but doubts by now.

Be brave - that’s all they hear. Stop whining. Go and get a job. Whatever job. Just be back to your old self, earn decent money, support your family, buy a bigger house, travel. Come back to our tribe of working-hard fellows.

Hungary’s economy is down, leaving many excellent professionals without a proper job for months. Coaching them (sometimes for free) means a lot to me. A lot more than skill-coaching a well-to-do manager, polishing his nearly perfect carrier. Outplacement and career-change coaching is challenging, full of surprises and insights for both parties in the process. On the one hand, it’s well structured: we talk about goals, strengths, CV, networking, negotiating salary. On the other hand all these “hard stuff” must be aligned to the actual phase of the job-seeker’s state of mind and emotions. How could we possibly work on how to use power words in the CV when the client is struggling with existential crisis?

I believe we have to be able to support our clients to be weak. To not know. To be desperate. Everybody around them expects them to be strong and brave, whatever happens in their life. It’s a man’s world, you have to play hard. Weakness is for losers. Nobody is interested in your real feelings about not having had a job for months. Smile, be confident and positive to be acceptable.

I remember loosing my mother unexpectedly two years ago. It was also a crash course on duties around funeral and stuff, like in a bad dream. After the funeral suddenly I was expected to be back in business as usual. The allowed period of weakness was over, two weeks had been already wasted anyway. Be brave! A year later I realized how much time and energy I had wasted by trying to be brave and finally let myself be weak.

I respect the weak. Being lost requires a lot more bravery than fighting. As Dante put it:

“In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.
Ah how hard to say what a harsh thing was
that wood savage and rough and hard
that to think about it renews the fear!”

Only in the state of not knowing, of being lost, of stumbling in the fog, will shift happen, transition be realized. How much easier is to jump from one company to another, to leave a spouse for another - and continue the same mistakes, the same road that has never been really our. And how much dedication and energy is needed to stop for a minute, even for months if necessary and re-evaluate our life, accept all our mistakes without which we wouldn’t be the same valuable person that we are today. It takes courage to stop and face our life, to be able to gaze in the mirror and accept what we see. We might be disintegrated, lose sense of direction - we might lose control. Yet this is the moment of grasping real control over our life. Good news is that after the darkest hour, the hours or weeks spent in our inner cave alone, the road turns upward again. From the time ‘wasted’ in weakness and doubts, a new and stronger-than-ever courage will arise. Tears of despair will be replaced by tears of happiness and pride. And there we are, coaches, to support our clients in the dark wood. We believe in them, we’re proud of them. Because they are braver than anybody we’ve ever met.
Dóra Hegedűs, ACC,
past president of ICF Hungary
Dora is an ICF certified business and executive coach, relying on her business expe-rience in corporate finance and PR, and her leadership experience at NGOs. Her clients recommend her as eye-opening and focused professional with un-conditional acceptance, humour and strong presence. She's member of the Hero's Journey Project, and one of the founders and trainers of the Business Coach Acade-my. She's is founder and past president of the Hungarian Chapter of ICF. She's member of the Steering Committee and co-chair of the Marketing Subcommit-tee of the ICF Global 2012 Conference. She's facilitator of the roundtable of the coaching associations in Hungary for self-regulation. To get in contact please vis-it or follow  @coachDora.


  1. Unconditional acceptance of client wholeness indeed! Thank you Dora for this beautiful expression.

  2. Thank you Dora , a really moving piece so relevant to many people today .

  3. Thanks Dora, very inspiring thoughts and an invitation for us just to be...

  4. Dora, Thank You very much, I'am in a work transition and this is a great chance to make a turning point in my life, redifining life chalenges.
    Best regards

  5. Dora, I admire Your ability to follow common sense in a dirty reality.
    Warm regards


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