Thank you for your interest.  I would love to hear from you. You can contact me directly or fill out the contact form below. Please indicate if you would like to set up a complimentary session to experience what it is like to work with me, have your questions answered, and see if coaching together is a good fit.  

Amanda Baker Wright, JD, ACC, CPCC
(339) 707-0173
bakerwrightcoach@gmail.com

 


Arlington, Massachusetts
USA

(339) 707-0173

Amanda Baker Wright

Resources

External Eyes and Ears

Amanda Wright

Recently, a client of mine forwarded me a TED Talk that I had watched before but was eager to see again. “Want to Get Great At Something? Get a Coach,” was presented by Dr. Atul Gwande, a surgeon, public health professor and author of one of my favorite books, Being Mortal.  The TED Talk itself is well worth the watch and I am including it below.

Even as a renowned surgeon, Gwande reminds us that for many professionals, it’s not about how good you are now, but rather how great you have the potential to be that matters. Echoing a powerful theme that brings many of my clients to coaching, in his Talk, Gwande asks us to consider how professionals get better at what they do.  In other words: how do we transcend from good to great?  Dissatisfied by the more traditional, pedagogical view that “a professional is someone who is capable of managing [his or her] own improvement,” Gwande experiments with hiring himself a coach to observe him in the operating room.  The results, as he shares in his Talk, are profound, and yet not surprising for those of us familiar with the power of coaching.

With the effect of helping him significantly improve, Gwande describes his coach as his “external eyes and ears, providing a more accurate picture of [his] reality.”  As a coach, one of the greatest privileges granted to me by my clients is to serve as their “external eyes and ears,” bringing another level of awareness to their lives as they build on their strengths and navigate their vulnerabilities.  As Gwande experiences first-hand, it is through the coaching process itself – one of active observation, deep listening, and clear communication - that clients have the freedom to explore, improve and unlock the very greatness of their own potential.

Curious to learn more about how coaching can help you improve?  Contact me for a free 30-minute conversation.

Susan David: The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage

Amanda Wright

Susan David, psychologist and author of the wonderful book, "Emotional Agility," offers this powerful TED Talk, sharing how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. 

How Mindfulness Empowers Us: An Animation from "Happify"

Amanda Wright

I have been thinking a great deal about mindfulness lately, especially the power of recognizing our inner fears without trying to fight or succumb to them.  I love how this traditional tale, brought to life by animation, captures a somewhat abstract idea and reminds us of our own power "to choose what will strengthen and bring us into action and ... what we will gently let go of."

Thoughts on Creativity

Amanda Wright

balloons.jpg

As a child, I was often praised for my unbridled imaginative play.  It was not uncommon for me to write, act, sing in, and choreograph my own productions (in which I was also in charge of set design!).  I was drawn to the performing arts and had many opportunities throughout my youth to sing and act in a variety of school productions.  To this day, these memories hold a certain magic of their own for me, and I still feel a jolt of excitement whenever a curtain rises.

I stopped seeing myself as “creative” around the time I got to college.  Ironically, I chose this college based on its strong performing arts reputation,  and yet it only took a few dead end auditions for me to disqualify myself as “the creative type.” 

From where I stand now, I want to reach out, shake my younger self, and let her know that no one should be talked out of thinking she is creative.  So often, this self-labeling is a product of external messages that we distort and internalize (e.g. “I did not get the part and therefore I am unworthy.”).  This form of self-sabotage is too common, and its message is hurtful and limiting.  However, it took two pivotal events in my life – one personal and one professional – to transform how I now think about creativity and my relationship to it. 

First, I am raising two playful, curious and imaginative children who remind me every day that we as human beings are innately creative.  My six year old does not think twice about drawing a picture to give to a friend, and my four year old will simply dance around our living room regardless of whether or not she has an audience.  I know this uninhibited form of expression will inevitably abate as they get older, but for now I feel privileged to routinely bear witness to their pure creative selves.

Second, my training and experience as a coach has taught me that being creative is an intimate affair; an expression of one’s core self.  It is as much about being as it is about doing.  This realization inspired the design of our workshop, “Ignite Your Creative Self!” and also fuels my work as a coach.  Each day, I have the joy of working with coaching clients to discover their utmost creative selves and harness this power to activate meaningful change in their lives.

Now, when I think about my most creative moments – whether performing on a stage, developing an idea at work, or letting my imagination run wild with my kids – I see that they all have one thing in common: the unapologetic presence of my authentic, joyful self.  It is in these enchanted moments, void of self-critique, that I feel my creativity ignite and anything becomes possible!

Back-to-School Transitions: Jitter Glitter and the Power Pose

Amanda Wright

Today I sent my oldest child, our precocious son, off to Kindergarten.  There is no doubt that he is bright, eager, and excited for his first day.  I know that he will make good friends, learn new things, grow in unprecedented ways, and have a ton of fun along the way. However, I would be lying if I ignored our collective jitters leading up to today.  There have definitely been moments this summer that I have observed our confident, social, and goofy kid become quiet and reclusive as the reality of starting a new chapter of his life sinks in. 

There is something about this back-to-school experience, and the feelings it conjures up, that reminds us of the inevitable challenges and “unknowns” that accompany any major life transition.  “Back-to-school” is just one of many rites of passage (a/k/a transitions) we encounter on our journey through childhood and into adulthood.   And as with any transition, it helps to know we are not alone and that we can directly affect the impact that the transition has on our lives.  There has been so much research and insightful writing about transitions, so rather than re-invent the wheel, I have chosen to share three resources that I recently discovered and have found most helpful during this back-to-school season.  Enjoy!

TED Talk:  “The Power Pose” (Amy Cuddy)
http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves.  Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, shows how "power posing" - standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident - can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Blog Post: The Two Words That Suck Our Power Away (Deidre Maloney)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deirdre-maloney/self-empowerment_b_2323093.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS for the Soul

A blog piece on how reframing the question “What if…?” to “How can I…?” will put the power squarely back in your court.

Jitter Glitter (origin unknown)

Last week, at Kindergarten orientation, my son’s new teacher gave each child a poem on an orange piece paper with a small packet of green glitter attached with a staple.  My son was instructed to place the packet of glitter – labeled “Jitter Glitter” - under his pillow the night before his first day of school.  After googling “Jitter Glitter,” it appears that many teachers have used some version of this concept before, and yet my son and I were truly struck by the comfort and levity that this ritual provided.   The poem reads:

Jitter Glitter

The night before school is exciting and fun,
There is always so much that has to be done.
Your clothes are all ready; you backpack is, too.
Your class is full of interesting things to do.
So many questions going through your mind,
So many different thoughts of every kind.
Sometimes teachers and kids get the jitters down deep,
And that makes it hard to fall asleep.
This magic glitter is a present for you,
To help you be rested and ready for school.
Place the glitter packet under your pillow in bed,
The night before school starts when you lay down your head.
This glitter will help you sleep through the night,
And wake up feeling fresh and bright.
I’ll place the glitter under my pillow, too.
I can’t wait for tomorrow because I’ll get to see you!

The Power of Knowing What You Need: IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!

Amanda Wright

I recently celebrated another birthday.  The day itself was rich with color, singing, and dancing.  I was surrounded by amazing people , ate delicious treats, and received some of the best gifts I could imagine.  I know this description conjures up a big birthday bash, but let me back up.  I actually spent the majority of my birthday weekend in a hotel meeting space right outside Boston Logan airport.  This was the fourth consecutive month I had spent an entire three-day weekend in an intensive coach training.

To be honest, I approached this birthday with the same trepidation I experience in most years; there is always this internal struggle between the fear of drawing too much attention to myself and feeling totally let down by others.  My inner-critic, or Saboteur if you will, goes something like this:  “No one really cares it’s your birthday.” “Why do you care so much anyway?” “Why can’t you be like most people and not get so worked up over one day?”  “Grow up!”  “You sound completely spoiled and ridiculous!”  And then comes this embarrassing, cringe-worthy image of myself as a child, captured on an old VHS video buried somewhere at my parents’ apartment:

Zoom-in on awkward ten-year-old Amanda, about 20 minutes before her birthday guests are due to arrive.  She is so excited that she cannot stand still, and bounces from one leg to the other.  She looks at the video camera with a huge silly smile and declares, “It’s my birthday!”  Pause. Awkward birthday girl moves closer to the camera, and giggles: “It’s my birthday!!” Another pause. This time, awkward birthday girl moves so close to the camera that the cameraman actually has to take a step back. Again she states without apology: “It’s my birthday!!!”

Fast forward 27 years minus one day, and, in front of the entire group, one of the trainers asked me how I would like to be honored and celebrated on my actual birthday the following day.  Feeling uncomfortable, I laugh off her question without providing an answer.  But the leader (who is also an experienced coach) does not let me off the hook.  She reminds us all of the power that comes from knowing what you need and articulating it to others. 

Luck would have it that the focus of our training weekend is how to be present, and go deeper, with a coaching client who is stuck with uncomfortable feelings.  The concept is that if we can explore these feelings, rather than avoid them, then they lose some of their power. From there, we have more space to find a place of resonant choice and articulate what we want.   So here was my chance to examine some powerful questions:  What did I want and need for my birthday to have meaning?  Why was “this ask” entangled with embarrassment and anticipation of being let down?  What was it about the awkward ten-year-old version of myself that I found so hard to acknowledge?

By the end of the day, armed with new coaching tools and a different perspective, I was able to state the following to my colleagues and our trainers: “Tomorrow, it would be nice if you would acknowledge my birthday when you see me … and I always like getting hugs …. and I really like sweets.”  It was easier to say than I had expected, and I thought I recognized some relief and excitement on others’ faces as they heard from me what I wanted.  Later that evening, I had a similar conversation with my husband.  I told him that going out to a nice restaurant would feel exhausting to me after a long weekend of training.  Instead, I wanted to spend time with him, and our kids, and thought it would be nice if he cooked us dinner.  Oh, and a bottle wine to share for after the kids went to bed!

So here is how it all played out:

-       The morning of my birthday, I woke up before the others because I had to leave for training by 7:30am.  I received some delicious, sleepy, “happy birthday’s” from my husband and kids, and drove off feeling blessed.  I knew I would get to celebrate with them later, and that they loved me.

-       I felt happy and peaceful on my drive to the airport hotel.   I knew that my birthday would be recognized in a way that had meaning for me.  I also realized that I was going to spend the day with a group of people I absolutely adored while learning and doing work that makes me feel alive.

-       When I got to my training, there were smiles, hugs, birthday donuts and flowers.  During the morning break, I was ushered aside by one of the assistants and then invited back into the room where my friends and colleagues serenaded me with a birthday song and dance … and beautiful cupcakes!

The rest of the day was focused on wrapping up our training.  As the day went on, I was struck by all of the “gifts” in the room.   The gift of knowing what I needed to feel honored on my birthday.  The gift of being present with a group of colleagues who come prepared to share their authentic and vulnerable selves each time we convene for trainings, and then use this power to transform their own lives and the lives of others.  And lastly, the gift of reconnecting with that ten-year-old version of myself and seeing her as a vibrant, dynamic, and precocious girl that knew how she wanted to be celebrated on her birthday.

Lessons Learned From the Spin Studio

Amanda Wright

“On Thursday mornings, I have spin class,” I mention casually to various acquaintances.  And then I delight in their reactions:  “Wow, I’ve heard that’s really intense!” “I tried that once and hated it!” “I don’t think I could do that … can you really keep up?” 

Of course those who actually know me know there is nothing “casual” about my decision to take a spin class.  In fact, when I first joined the gym and was shown the Spin Studio, I slyly remarked, “you definitely will not see me in there,” and backed away from the blasting music and smell of sweat.  In truth, however, I was quite curious about the energized and loud woman with a commanding presence at the front of the room shouting out instructions to a group of sweaty cyclists who seemed to be loving it.

As a life coach, I try to understand what motivates people, what keeps them in resonance, and how to keep them engaged in the face of challenge so that growth can occur.  This particular spin instructor - we’ll call her “Delilah” - seemed to have the answers, and so after a month of gym membership, I took the plunge and joined the class.

Below are some coaching lessons I have learned from Delilah in the Spin Studio:

1. Love what you do.

You cannot fake this.  Delilah’s passion for an intense aerobic workout is evident in everything she does.  It feeds her energy (which appears to be boundless!) and is infectious among those in her charge. 

2. Be present with those you coach.

Delilah does not sit on the sidelines, yelling out instructions for others to follow. No.  She is in front of the class, on her bike, demonstrating every movement and instruction that is given.  As a member of the class, you know that she is sharing the experience with you and is physically and mentally tuned into the energy of the room.

3. Have fun and be funny.

When things feel tough, it is easy to get serious.  But when I get too serious about a task at hand, I tend to lose momentum.  I admit there are moments when my quads are aching, my butt hurts from the bike seat, and my gaze falls to the ground.  This is too hard.  I can’t do this.  But then Delilah starts singing to the music, or cracks a funny joke, and I feel my energy rise as a smile spreads across my red and sweaty face. 

4. Know when to challenge and when to let recover.

Delilah knows that in order for us to take on a challenge (e.g. pick up the speed, increase the resistance), we need space to recover.  Although I consistently workout much harder than I would if I were going at my own pace, I never feel as though a challenge is insurmountable if Delilah encourages us to slow down, take some deep breaths and rehydrate.  It’s amazing what can then be accomplished!

5.  Captain of the team.

Having never played team sports as a child, I feel giddy when Delilah refers to the class as her team.  “Come on team,” she shouts, “you can do this!”  I look over my shoulder and see my classmates spinning along and all of the sudden I feel part of something bigger.  The group’s energy rises as we propel ourselves forward.  We believe in our Captain and she believes in us.

Coaching for the Ultimate Coaches: Parents of Young Children

Amanda Wright

At its essence, coaching helps individuals focus on setting goals, creating outcomes, and managing personal change so they can live the life they want to live.  As a parent of a five-year old and two-year old, I cannot think of a better audience for coaching than parents of young children.

Words like “change” and “transition” mean many things to different people.  However, no group understands the power of change like parents of young children.  Each day, the dramatic changes in my kids’ development leaves me feeling both exhilarated and exhausted all of the time. 

Paradoxically, while I am often hyper-focused on the changes taking place in the lives of my kids, it is harder to give adequate attention to the massive changes that have taken place in my own life since I became a parent. Changes in my lifestyle.  Changes in my career.  Changes in my biorhythms.  Changes in my marriage and friendships.  Changes in my ideas.  Changes in my activities.  The list goes on and on…

Due to lack of time and energy, there are times I’ve chosen to sidestep dealing with these changes, or have tried to just accept them as “the way things are.” Yet the profound impact these changes have on my life make it impossible to avoid dealing with them.

Through coaching, I am learning to work with these changes in a way that is aligned with my values and how I want to live my day-to-day life.  I am quickly discovering the excellent platform coaching creates for parents of young children who can undoubtedly benefit from the goal-oriented, time-sensitive, and action-focused process.

If this resonates with you in the way it has resonated with me, let’s continue the conversation and see how coaching can benefit you!

Are You Curious?

Amanda Wright

Being new at something, especially something that we want to learn, naturally sparks our curiosity.  As the mom of two young children, I cannot help but conjure up the image of that familiar little monkey, Curious George, whenever I think about what it means "to be curious;" a theme which has come up quite a bit lately.

One month into the launch of my coaching practice (and all of the changes in my life it has triggered) has me thinking a lot about how curiosity can deepen our learning and forward our action.  Based on the Co-Active coaching model, the cycle of action and learning over time leads to sustained and effective change; a common goal we work towards in any coaching relationship.  Below is a brief description of three places I found Curious George staring back at me this past week:

CTI Training

Last weekend was my first Co-Active training course and one of the core skills we learned and practiced was how to be curious.  Such a simple concept in theory, but one that is easily lost when we try to "do something right" and get distracted judging ourselves and others.  Unsurprisingly, my first couple practice sessions resulted in moments of frustration and self-doubt as I tried to analyze what my partner was saying and offer her solutions.  However, an amazing thing happened once I stopped trying to "do" and allowed myself to listen and wonder.  Seemingly simple questions - "What was that like for you?" "What else happened?" "How do you want to feel?" - opened up our conversation in a way that allowed my partner to understand her situation differently and create future action steps that would lead to a effective change in her life.

Touring Preschools

A few days later I found myself touring a couple neighborhood preschools that we are considering for my daughter this fall.  While I am well-versed in various preschool environments, and interact with children of this age range on a daily basis, I saw something different this time.  Perhaps it was the freedom to quietly observe without the distraction of one of my children vying for my attention.  Nevertheless, I noticed how almost every activity - big and small - was set up by the teachers with the intention to nurture the children's curiosity.  And it is remarkable how effortlessly children utilize their natural curiosity when presented with the opportunity.  They are masters at it, which probably explains their obsession with Curious George at this age.  Several times, I watched children approach a project or task with no judgement or self-doubt.  Just a sense of wonderment and experimentation.  "What a precious gift," I commented to one of the program's directors, "to provide an environment for young children to learn through exploration."  When does this natural ability start to fade, and why?

Yoga Class

I recently found a yoga class at my gym that I've been going to on a weekly basis.  For me, yoga is a place where I can go and tune in on myself.  This week, when the instructor asked us to be curious about where we were in a certain pose, I thought about it in a whole new way.  First, I conjured up an image of my buddy Curious George playing around with different sensations and movements in his little body.  Then, I let go of my judgement ("am I doing this right?" "do I look ok?") and started paying attention to what my body and mind were experiencing. "Wow, this is different!" I thought to myself as I shifted my weight and felt my breath expand.

I know that in a few years, Curious George will probably lose his centrality in our home life as the kids get older and discover new things.  However, as an adult, I am reconnecting with my old Simeon pal, and rediscovering the power of being curious.  I hope we can all keep his spirit alive as we move forward.