Early Moments


After this post, I PROMISE I’ll get back to the business of writing about leadership and workplace relationships. Interestingly, I received more comments on Monday’s very personal post than most – and it was a departure from my usual stuff. Becky Robinson’s question “What moments in the past seven years have been your favorite?” really got me going. These are some of the other thoughts that great question prompted.

Here are some of the early “moments” I remember from starting out with my life’s work. I really hope they are helpful to you in some way.

Some of the early moments that strike me as favorites:

My first client, a blustery, bigger-than-life, swaggering, sort of leader, whom I didn’t think I could like. I’d been watching him in our community for awhile – he was well known and in the press often. This man hired me without question the first time I met him, on the spot. No questions asked. Driving home after that, I was scared, and thinking, “ohmigosh – I’m going to actually get paid for this. What the heck do I charge?”.  Obviously, I hadn’t planned for the unexpected!  (p.s., he was the person who taught me that behind blustering, there could be a wonderfully kind man with a good soul. Yes, I found that I liked him and valued him for who he was – I could get beyond my first impression. It was a great lesson for me in learning to find value in someone about whom I’d made a negative judgment).

My first big organizational client. They found my website – how is that possible? – and sent me an email note to ask what could I offer them? They had twenty high-potentials they wanted coached through their organizational development program and they signed on the dotted line, right after my first big pitch. I was nervous and scared, but managed to land the work. I subcontracted enough top-notch coaches to make the program work. The hi-po’s thrived from the coaching they received through Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. I still work with this organizational client and their program every time they run it – and I love it. The dedication of the individuals working in this organization to making themselves, their organization, and the world better – still surprises me. It is humbling to be able to help them to realize their own potential for greatness in that. I found new courage I didn’t know I had with this larger scale engagement.

My first City Manager client. I absolutely, positively, fell in love with the work city managers (and other local government managers) do; it’s the hardest job on the planet. He, and his colleagues in local governments all over the world, take more grief than almost any leader I can think of. They’re required to report to a political board and stay apolitical. They run an organization and make sure their locality is run well despite the deep criticism of the citizens at a time when funds to do their best are drying up. Most of them are dedicated professionals who believe in what they do and follow an ethical code to a “T”. They are “called” to do what they do and are passionate about it. I will always make room in my schedule for such clients even though more money can be made elsewhere; it’s just that important.

I could go on about the clients whom I’ve learned from, those who work harder than anyone should to make the world a better place. Those who knew the gift that coaching provided them and were able to ratchet up their game, or stay resilient, or learn to develop others in their organization or community.

But I won’t. I’m quite satisfied with the stories above – they are enough, because I have a calling. I am blessed to do the work I do and would love to hear about your own discoveries of your calling or passion. I think this topic has a lot to do with leadership!

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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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