Up close and personal

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Rebecca Johns of Bigfork provides personal and professional development coaching to clients across the Flathead and around the world. (Courtesy photo)

Outdone with small talk and bored with face value, Rebecca Johns of Bigfork has made a career of getting to know people and helping them do the same for themselves.

Johns offers leadership development and personal development coaching, which differs from counseling, therapy and life coaching with a goal of answering deep, self-identifying questions with both practical and personal results.

Her workshops and programs focus on helping individuals and small groups find clarity and support while developing personal and interpersonal skills.

“Who I am as a person is deeply curious, fascinated by who we are and what we do and why we do what we do and what drives us,” Johns said.

After years spent teaching, facilitating, training and coaching, that curiosity led her to a career that once made her roll her eyes.

Around 16 years ago, Johns had left her career of 25 years as a special education/kindergarten teacher and was working as a consultant for universities, attempting to train large groups of teachers to teach by using a generalized model she felt did not work.

During a phone call with an old friend, Johns voiced her frustrations with the system she was using, expressing her desire for a more personal, focused approach.

“You’re trying to be a coach,” her friend told her.

“Oh, for God’s sake,” Johns said upon hearing the term “life coach.”

Still, Johns said she wanted to know more and hired her own coach for some interactive learning.

Soon after, she made the leap to Vancouver, British Columbia and northern California for an intensive three years of training to become a certified coach.

During those three years, Johns developed the ability to listen deeply and ask powerful questions, skills on which supervisors tested and graded her.

“Back then, people perceived coaching as transactional, which means we have goals, we make action plans and we go somewhere,” Johns said. “The way I’m trained is it has to come from inside. It’s more of a transformational approach, which means something inside you shifts for the sake of something that matters to you, and if it doesn’t then ‘getting there’ isn’t going to mean anything.”

As a schoolteacher, Johns said she found that, at a young age, children exhibit an inquisitiveness and intuition that help define how they see and interact with the world and people around them as well as how they see themselves.

Over time, she said, external social conditioning inhibits people’s ability to ask deep probing questions about their personal values and potential, limiting their perception of what is possible.

When adults begin to feel uncomfortable and unsatisfied in their stagnant state, they go looking for answers.

Johns aims to help find answers by asking questions.

“I believe from my experience that we know it when we’re not in alignment with ourselves, where we’re just acting and doing what we think we’re supposed to. Something inside goes ‘damn, this is just off,’” Johns said. “[Clients] come saying, ‘Something doesn’t feel right. I’m not satisfied. I don’t feel fulfilled. I feel stuck.’”

“My role is to ask questions and do that exploration. Where do you want to go? What do you believe about ‘the way it is,’ what you should or shouldn’t do, who you should or shouldn’t be?” she added.

Through work with clients all over the world, Johns said that she has discovered that everyone everywhere wants the same fundamental things: safety, freedom and to be with the people they love.

Over time, Johns said, people tend to lose sight of what they find important inside their culture’s expectations and become overwhelmed.

Today, Johns uses her training to coach individuals and teams in fields ranging from healthcare to education to big business to government, training them to reach outside their conditioned comfort zones and look deeper to rediscover what their individual values and talents.

Some people she said have epiphanies when performing one of her simplest exercises, which requires people to face each other one on one and give each other one minute of their time to talk and then listen about something that matters to them.

Through that exercise, Johns said some people realize how little time they spend actively listening to others and how little others listen to them.

That desire for connection, Johns said, can get lost when people spend so much of their time trying to fit in.

“We’re not here to fit in. We’re here to express who we’re here to be and offer our talents and our skills and our way of being in the world,” Johns said. “If we’re here to conform and fit in, then we lose that expression and people suffer.”

Johns focuses most of her programs on helping people expand their thinking, to help them ask and answer questions that push them out of their “sandbox on the beach.”

“How do I focus? How do I know what to say yes to? What do I choose? How do I choose? Those are the big questions of the next generation,” Johns said. “Coaching is about finding out who you are and what you are here to do.”

Once people start taking steps toward personal growth, Johns said they can begin to look into, consider and connect to others on a deeper level as well.

For more information about Johns’ work and programs, visit http://www.rebeccajohnscoaching.com/ or call 406-837-2029.

Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or mtaylor@dailyinterlake.com.

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