In 1990 my life-long pattern of workaholism finally caught up with me BIG TIME! I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. For two years, I had been working 18-hour days, six days a week. Not only were the hours crippling, but the job itself (in residential real estate management) was full of impossible deadlines and unrealistic profit expectations. I got to the point where I was shaking so badly that I couldn’t hold a teacup in my hand for fear of spilling the tea or dropping and breaking the cup.
Instead of checking myself into a hospital, I tried something else: I bought an airplane ticket, flew from Detroit to Portland, Oregon; rented a car and drove an hour and a half north to the coastal town of Seaside. There, I walked the beach for a week, thinking.
In the quiet of my solitude, with the sound of the ocean waves in the background, I heard: “Fran, it is time to put yourself in the center of your life.” It became clear to me in that moment: I had nearly killed myself trying to fix, resolve, manage, and control the circumstances of my life and work. I was making things happen, oh, yes indeed, but I was living my life dependent on the approval of others versus trusting my inner wisdom. And I was worn out, totally depleted.
Without a backup plan, I gave notice to my employer, moved to San Francisco, and took a year off to heal. I practiced listening to my intuition and acting on it. I started putting my own needs first instead of last. I took the time to really discover the essence of who I was – and how to live more congruently with my vision, my purpose, and my values. I called this my “inside-out” process. Rather than let the outside world dictate my happiness and self-worth, I created it from the inside.
During this time, I also began networking and sharing my own transformational “inside-out” process with small business entrepreneurs in a way that helped them achieve greater life and work satisfaction, fulfillment, and prosperity. The culmination of this experience was a process I created, called Living Your Vision®.
Also through networking, I met Laura Whitworth and Henry House, co-founders of the Coaches Training Institute, a leading coach training program. They invited me to participate in their pilot coaching course, which I attended out of a simple desire for further growth. What I didn’t know at the time was that I could be instrumental in facilitating others’ growth – not just my own.
My resolve to pursue coaching as a career was cemented when Laura said to me: “Fran, if you already work with people, these skills are transferrable.” The coach training I received only validated what I had already been doing intuitively. Thus, I launched my coaching career that now spans over 20 years, with recognition for being one of the pioneers of the coaching profession.
In 1997 I founded the Academy for Coach Training (ACT) in Bellevue, WA, integrating the Living Your Vision process into the foundation of our coaching skills curriculum. This allowed every student coach to experience their own transformation as the first step in learning how to facilitate personal transformations for others. ACT was one of the first schools to be accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession and establishing the coaching principles and ethics for the profession.
Since then, I have leveraged my coaching expertise with my “inside-out” approach, focusing on executives, organizations, and entrepreneurs, and facilitating their personal transformation and growth as leaders. I also serve as a mentor for other professional coaches and am proud and grateful that this can be my legacy to the coaching profession.