An Interview With Life Coach Patrice Ford Lyn
Patrice Ford Lyn is a certified professional coach. She has worked in organizational development for more than 20 years and personal transformation and wellness for more than eight years. Patrice creates a safe space for her clients to explore their deepest truths and transform their lives.
We got a chance to talk with her about her work as a life coach, navigating life as a black woman, and how she encourages people to get support.
DG: What made you want to be a life coach? How did you get started?
PFL: People who have known me for a long time will tell you that I have always been a life coach. It is who I am naturally. However, I didn’t think of myself as a coach until one weekend when three people, in three different conversations, said to me, "You're a life coach."
I am a big believer that when the world sends you signals, pay attention. So I decided to look into life coaching. The work is intuitive and I find it deeply rewarding to support people in stepping into their greatness and new possibilities for their life. I started my company in 2010.
DG: Do your clients normally seek you out? How do you take on new clients?
PFL: The vast majority of my clients come from referrals or personal interactions. For example, I had a group coaching series on setting boundaries and someone from the class said, “How can I become an individual client?" We had an initial consultation and decided to work together.
Many clients are referred to me by previous/current clients and friends. When they talk to someone who who seems stuck, they say "You should call Patrice." The funny thing is I can’t tell them whether or not that person called or if they became a client. That is the way confidentiality works.
DG: What type of approach do you take with each client? I know that each person is different, but what happens during their first session?
PFL: I start with an open-ended question like “What’s leading you to consider coaching?” And from there, it is a very fluid discussion based on what they say and a few standard questions that I have. People share as much or as little as they want. Based on that discussion, we decide if we are going to go on this journey together.
DG: When I met you, it felt like I was talking to an old friend. Is that how you connect with your clients, kind of making them feel at home, like they're just having a chat with a friend?
PFL: A client recently said “My husband asked me what it was like to have a life coach. ‘And I said’, “it feels like having a coach, a therapist and your best girlfriend all rolled into one.” I imagine for everyone it is different but maybe some version of that.
PFL: It is my intention to create a safe space for people to be vulnerable. That means it can’t feel transactional (I ask a question, you give an answer - like an interrogation). Instead it is a compassionate and insightful conversation. Because of that, people feel safe enough to share their needs and fears.
DG: What advice would you give a woman who is hesitant, to be feel comfortable enough to seek out help?
PFL:. I would say it's okay to be scared, but it's important to be courageous. Nobody goes through this life unscathed. Getting help is a form of survival.
DG: Oh yeah. Because I feel like black women and women of color-- we work in survival mode all the time - 24-7. I feel like we're in survival mode, even though we may not necessarily feel like it at the moment, but I feel like that's kind of 24-7 in our brain.
PFL: It's not just in our brain, trauma lives in our body so there's a way we're running even when we don't need to run. Someone may attain financial stability or even prosperity, yet find it hard to accept or enjoy their financial success because of their previous experience of not having adequate financial resources.
DG: So what is something kind of general that your clients tell you after they've had their first session?
PFL: They express their gratitude for having a space where they feel seen, safe and supported. Sometimes they share their surprised at how quickly I was able to them unpack their feelings in a way that gave them clarity and direction.
DG: You spend so much time helping others and helping people figure out themselves, how do you decompress? What is your pause button and your self care look like?
PFL: I meditate and practice yin yoga in the morning and I am mindful about my emotional state - so that I can re-center faster. My wife also reminds me to take care of myself. In addition, I have a beautiful community of friends who take pleasure in helping each other thrive. Having community is deeply restorative. It's actually one of the most important determinants of our well being. It is so important wrote a blog about it.
DG: Black women we have to fight against stereotypes and assumptions all the time - down to our attitude, to how we approach things, and how people perceive us. As a bisexual woman of color, how do you push back on these stereotypes when people meet you or try to make assumptions.
PFL: It depends on the day and the situation, Sometimes I don’t acknowledge I have heard them. Other times, I don’t take the bait - So if somebody says "Oh, you look so young" (inherently questioning my credibility which happens to black women frequently) I might say, "Yes I have great genes." I don't mention my two Ivy League degrees, my 20 years of professional experience, and nine years of training because I have no desire to “convince somebody” to work with me.
PFL: If I am bothered, I might check the person, realizing that in order to speak my truth I'm going to have to say something that is disruptive and inherently challenges their power. In some of those spaces, there have been other black women who show up so I am not doing all the emotional work. I remember one incident when a black woman probably 10 or 15 years older than me said, "In the spirit of Audre Lorde, I just want to second what my sister said." And I thought to myself "Thank you, God" because it can be tiring. I am also intentional about supporting other women when they step out to speak their truth.
DG : Last but not least just to wrap this up, what are three things that you would tell a black woman or a woman of color who felt lost and just needed to be lifted up?
PFL: You're not alone. There are people who want to show up for you. They will hold space for you to explore things that are challenging and help you to create the life you want. If you're not ready to talk to somebody, there are online resources like the 94 Percent or my Facebook group - Catapult Community Conversations. For example, recently, I shared a resource on seven things to remember when you feel like you aren’t good enough. Finally, use an initial consultation to help decide if the person is right for you. It is an important relationship and you need to feel comfortable. You want to make sure that you feel heard and you feel held. If you don’t, find someone else.
DG: Definitely. Definitely. Well, thank you so much, Patrice, for your time.
PFL:It’s my pleasure.
DG :I know this information is going to be so helpful and is going to really touch a lot of people. So I thank you again for doing this. And I can't wait for everybody to see this.
I had my own session with Patrice and it was invigorating. I see a therapist on a regular basis but working with Patrice helped me to looks at things from a different perspective.
You can reach Patrice by checking out her website at www.catapultlifecoaching.com or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.