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  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

The Best Coaching Advice I Ever Received

Boxer with Coach

“Gina, have you focused on your own life as much as you’ve focused on mine?”

Man hanging from a heart drawing

The Coach

My soon-to-be ex-lover.

The Scene

The deck of a friend’s house overlooking a pool party.

My Focus

He never showed up on time for our dates. I’m not talking a few minutes. I mean 30 minutes, an hour. Two. Always charming in his “reasons.” When I went to his apartment one time to pick him up for a night out we had planned a week earlier, I found him naked. In a deep sleep. I wore a carefully selected outfit; hair and make-up pristine.

“I’m a lot less ready than I look,” he said. Then: megawatt smile. I spent the entire dinner trying to “understand” him. Why he couldn’t, wouldn’t show up as promised.

That date ended with us feeding each other spoonfuls of Pho at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant and afterward, well…

I know, I know. Why didn’t I kiss his cheek, return his key, jump in my Toyota and drive myself to dinner?

This Moment In History

2004. I was one year into my return from a three-year sabbatical taken from my corporate life to jumpstart a writing career. Saw some progress – a freelance column in a local newspaper; smattering of bylines in national magazines; an essay published in The New York Times. The dream, though, was to write books. I had several ideas and working manuscripts brewing. I kept up with the twice-monthly newspaper column but minced toward the long form.

Roller Coaster

The reason? “Stress,” I said, from the corporate day gig and grinding out columns at night.

Down time equaled chill time: drinks with the girls; ballroom dancing; Netflix; a lover to give me what I needed.

No time to work my book author dream. Whew! I was busy.

Woman Sitting In Therapy

What Happened Next

I asked lover to go with me to therapy. I know. I know. So many lightbulbs went off for me in that single therapy session, I could swear I was on the red carpet at the Grammys, Adam Levine carrying my purse.

Sad Woman Drinking Coffee


To that moment on my friend’s deck at the pool party. Then, an earworm: “No wise man has the power/to reason away/what a fool believes he sees,” crooned Michael McDonald.

He doesn’t want to be in this. Why am I working so hard?

Life Is Short Do Stuff That Matters Quote

The Best Coaching Advice I Ever Received

Whether with lovers, clients, friends, consultants, family, employers or vendors, when I find myself doing most of the showing up in any relationship, I never hold the other party culpable.

Instead, I act on my ex’s stellar advice: “Gina, have you focused on your own life as much as you’ve focused on mine?”

Man Looking At a Beautiful Mountain

What You Focus On Expands

During the past 15 years that advice has been one of the most

  • head-clearing,

  • self-motivating,

  • action-oriented reality checks


  • gets me back on track,

  • pinpoints what needs improvement in my world and

  • funnels momentum toward my goals.

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