By Charity Schaulis

“Lead with your core, Mom”, my adult children prodded as they passed me on the trail up to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park in Utah. Where is my core? I️ thought to myself as I️ wiggled my belly in hopes it would engage. I️ rolled back my shoulders, elongated my spine, tighten my belly- sure enough! There it was, my core! And everything lined up, my back tension released and I found new strength in my step.

Focusing on my Goal

I️ kept hiking. Yes, the kids were faster. But I️ was determined to get to the overlook point at the top of Angels Landing. I had been working out on the elliptical machine at the YMCA for months, bought special hiking gear for the family, bought myself new hiking shoes. But I had to pace myself. This hike was a marathon not a sprint. And the destination was only part of it. My ultimate goal for the trip was to enjoy every moment in gratitude for my family.

I could hardly catch my breath. Still I continued, legs aching, despite my improved alignment. Good form led to improved endurance, but my body was still taking a beating. Where was my gratitude in the midst of this sheer pain?  Then my husband had to stop. I had a choice. Was there any value in taking a rest? If my goal was to enjoy the time with my husband and kids, it was an easy decision. I stopped and looked around me. It was beautiful! The red dirt in contrast with the green foliage and brilliant blue sky! The beauty of creation, the joy of having my husband by my side, even with my kids far ahead on the trail, overcame me.  I have so much!

Finding my Core

Leading with my core strengthened my step and gave me energy. Likewise, embracing my values, exploring my purpose and discovering my calling is like finding my life’s core. Choices are easier to make when I know my core values. Perspective illuminates which step to take and direction is clear. Starting the hike knowing my aim was to enjoy this time with my family and to make it to the top helped me keep moving towards the top, but also let me take the rests I needed to accomplish both goals.

I see these same principals in action as I coach people. Coaching clarifies your purpose so your next steps become clear. Leadership Coaching empowers you to move forward in your life, utilize your strengths, gain perspective and meet long term goals. As a coach, I love guiding people on this trail of life, maximizing their potential and celebrating when they reach their goal. Often the destination was perspective, and new equipment needed for the journey that can be picked up again.

Finding my Joy

Back on the trail, we reached a clearing, a plateau. Many people sat on the hard red rock overlooking the valley. Up head was a narrow “trail” of solid cliff. To get to the top of the ridge, one had to climb the 12” wide vertical path of rock. It was only wide enough to go one direction, so people had to stop and wait for groups to pass by, cleaving to cliff. People with shoes with a smooth sole were heard sliding, slipping down the cliff. Not me. I had those fancy hiking boots! I had the right tools! My foot step was secure. And I wasn’t afraid of the height.  I️ engaged my core and found my stride. My focus pivoted from pain and fear to gratitude.

About an hour later, I received my reward. There were my girls at the top, waiting for me, enjoying the view. My heart aligned. And my joy was right in the midst of the trail.

Lead from your core.

Charity Schaulis is an Associate Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation and the Executive Director of HopeNet, a faith-based nonprofit organization renewing hope by offering coaching, counseling and Christian care services.