Transformational men’s coach
Marie: Hello and welcome to the Empower world coaching and leadership podcast. As you know my name's Marie Quigley and today I'm bringing a really inspiring guest to the show. He's someone I have known for over eight years and I know he's making a real difference in people's lives. This man is from Holland. He has previously worked as a chef across three continents in many five star hotels. He's now working as a transformational coach and he's been doing that for almost a decade. He's transformed the lives of hundreds of people through workshops, retreats, coaching journeys, his videos and writings on social media. This man is passionate about people, sports, personal growth and learning new skills. And over the last three years his focus has been working with men, as he himself was called to do the work on himself first. Having learned and trained with some of the world experts on masculinity, men and relationships, Jacob Melaard now assists men in their hero's journey of life. Jacob welcome to the show.
Jacob: Wow! Thank you Marie. That's been some introduction. Yeah it is eight years. My God. How time flies.
Marie: How time flies and how lovely to be reconnected with you again because yes we met eight years ago and we felt a real instant connection to the work we do together, we had some beautiful conversations and beautiful explorations of potential between the two of us. And then life happened and moved you in a different place, a different direction. And recently we came together again.
Jacob: That's right.
Marie: Maybe it would be interesting to share how we came together again. For the purpose of our listeners, you know there's no such thing as coincidence right?
Jacob: I believe that too. It's so cheesy right. Everything happens for a reason. It's true though for me and my world that really is true. And how we got reconnected was because you're in a transient country where people come and go, you know you make friends. And because most of your listeners might know probably know that you are in Qatar and I lived there as well. I haven't lived there now for five years. So we met and then I moved on and you started creating new networks around you. And whenever you leave youre like “I'm going to keep in touch” but it's difficult to continue that contact. So I was scrolling through my whatsapp list and I wanted to reinvigorate some of the connections that I had that I sort of watered down and lost. So your name come up and I thought I need to write some more and see what's going on with her. And that was a week ago I think and now we're talking. It's fantastic.
Marie: Yeah. And I love the fact that you did that. So what you said to me was you went right back to your beginning of your connections and you set a goal for yourself to reach out to some people. And I think it really struck me when you spoke about that, about how important some people are in our lives and how it's lovely to reconnect with them again.
Jacob: Hmm yeah. But what was interesting for me with that, you know it was kind of an exercise because I thought you know, I want to go all the way down to my whatsapp because the last message you send is the one on the top. So, who haven't spent time with for the longest time? And you realize how we can sometimes live on autopilot for such a long time and just, because it's out of our awareness, people dropped down the list even though they are beautiful and they're fantastic to continue you know having contact with. So yeah, it gave me some insights into how actually in terms of your connections that you have, it does need a bit of effort or it needs a bit of attention to maintain those relationships. And I know with you we were laughing because it was like within 30 seconds was like I just feel as if I spoke to you last week and that's the beauty of it. And that's the beauty of continuing those kinds of relationships and just going back in it. And I must say and I think I shared it with you, I felt a bit uncertain or there was some, wouldn't say anxiety, but I was like “oh is Marie going to judge me? Is Marie going to think I want something from her or is she thinking I'm going to sell it or something like that?”. And it was actually, it was liberating actually to do it and then to get your response and you're not the only one. You know old friends and old connections from the past have rejuvenated. And that's, that's beautiful for me because I love connecting.
Marie: Thank you for sharing that Jacob, you know there's so many ways we could go down this route, down this conversation today. What strikes me most is this relationship that you talk about but also more importantly as coaches our relationship with ourselves. And I know you've been, in the past five years and maybe even longer, you've been doing a lot of work on your own journey and hence this podcast talking about the hero's journey of a male coach. Because your masculinity and the work you're doing as a male in this industry I think is really important to talk about. So let's move into that part of your journey. What would you like to share with our listeners in relation to your masculinity in this world?
Jacob: Masculinity these days seems to be quite a hot topic to talk about and you notice that people talk about ‘toxic masculinity’ and then people go into discussions of toxic masculinity even exists because any… For me it's like living in a balance between your feminine energy that you hold and the masculine that you hold and show up with that particular energy that is needed at the right time. So people think that masculinity is all about being tough and hard and you know, carrying on. Femininity is soft, it's you know, it's only love, fluffy and that would be too easy to put it down to it. There needs to be a balance and yes masculine energy has certain traits and feminine energy has certain traits. But it's about a balancing act between those. Because if you go too far into a masculine energy and you're too driven and too organized, too tight, you know, there's no flexibility. That doesn't work. Same as if you have no structure, no let's call it discipline, no framework, no container. Also it doesn't really work. So you need a healthy balance of both of those. And i've been learning that within my own life, within my relationships but also within my work because I realized that a lot of time I showed up not in the way that was particularly useful. So I was very soft when a bit harder structured approach was needed. And at times I was very “oh this is how we need to do it” and a more flexible approach was needed. So to play in that field, to play between those two energies. That's what I learned. And that fascinates me as well.
Marie: Yeah and actually Jacob what comes to me is this is also a question for female coaches, you know, balancing that softness with that toughness, That challenge, because there is room for both. And actually there must be room for both to really work effectively with the client, You’ve got to meet them where you are but you've also got to bring the two elements together to both nurture and challenge.
Jacob: Absolutely and what is the challenge and what is a misconception a lot of times is that women are feminine and men are masculine. But the masculinity and femininity are energies. So we both have them, so in most female’s core they are feminine, but not all of them. Some women are masculine at core. They have masculine traits that they feel much more comfortable with and same with men. There are men that are more comfortable with feminine energy that are in their core more feminine. And it's about understanding that and knowing when to shift into a more feminine energy or shifting into a more masculine energy. So when I do talks, I do it talks about, you know, the balance between masculine and feminine energy and I need to continuously say to people it's not man - woman, it's not male - female. It's feminine energy - masculine energy and we both have those and they need to be balanced as much as possible in order to, you know, in terms of relationships, creating great new things because you need both. You cannot just be… it's like the yin and yang. Like you need… You need hot and cold, you need up and down, you need, you know, hard and soft. It's one of those. It's the black and white, and then dancing with that.
Marie: And how does that balancing that those integrating of the yin and yang and the black and white… how does that impact the work you do?
Jacob: Well when you learn about these energies and when you see how they play out in your life, you start to get insight. So you get insight into yourself but you also get insight into the other person. So for example, few years ago I was and still am to some degree you know, there is still a part of me that is sometimes afraid of saying what needs to be said in a certain way. And I was at a retreat and we learned about loving command. Which was, “We were going to speak in a certain way” which for me was very masculine very tough, very strong and we were practicing with female participants and we had to say certain things that I thought would be offensive, that in my world were going to be upsetting to this woman, if I would say such a thing to her. And so we did the exercise and you had to practice, you know, practice your tone of voice, practicing your body language but also practice how you bring that feeling into you stands. What is a masculine presence? And when I spoke with that masculine presence this woman got weak at the knees even though I thought she was going to break down and cry because of what I said. And she's like “oh this is because feminine energy needs a masculine energy and a masculine energy needs a feminine energy”. So it's really fascinating to for me to see out my own stories, my own, you know, ideas and then to actually be confronted with well it's not like that it's just a story that you tell yourself. It's just a story that you tell yourself. If you speak this way or if you say this in a certain way you will be upset or they will be crying. It's actually that they love it. They want more of that. Not all the time, you know, but at certain times… again it's the balancing act- knowing when to. And for me that has been that has been a game changer but I'm still working with that. I'm still practicing that because it's, you know, over 40 years of, you know, wanting to make sure I say the right thing. And now the last couple of days I'm like speaking the truth.
Marie: And what does that look like when you're working with people when you're coaching people, Jacob? How do you translate that into empowering others in the coaching partnership?
Marie: Well what I found in this journey that I'm going through that I work with is, there are so many things that we keep in the dark for ourselves, like the shadow, Carl Young talks about the shadow anything that we that we want to hide or that we project onto others or that we feel ashamed of. You know, when you bring that out in the open and not in the open as in putting it on Facebook or having it printed in a newspaper, but having it voiced out by yourself, that there is something that you are ashamed of, or that you know you're not good at, or that you don't enjoy doing… when you are able to voice that and shed some light on that part of you, that's transformative. Because there is so much energy going into keeping that hidden that once that is out even if it's out for you. It frees you up. So one of the best examples it's from Betty Ford. She wrote 'The Dark Side of The Light Chasers' and that's all about the shadow and she gives the example of that imagine that you walk around with a grapefruit in your hand all day long and you cannot put it down you have to walk around it but you have to do it in a way that people won't be able to see that you have a grapefruit in your hand. And obviously that's going to take a tremendous amount of energy. We're constantly thinking about that. And those are the same things with what we keep in our shadows. So we are constantly making sure that nobody sees it, nobody hears, nobody who notices anything about it. Nobody will know that I also sometimes think this or feel this or believe this. And when you have voiced that out even to just one person. And then in this case, it would be me as a coach because I would be asking about that. It's just liberating because now I was on this big "secret" is out... “Awwwhh” we can breathe, right? And then you know, also alongside that is a lot of somatic work. So, breathing, being aware of the body because we tend to be us, I say we but I mean I. Live up in our head a lot. Again as a masculine trait, masculine energy is thinking. So thinking a lot “is this right?”, you know thinking “oh I really want to sort everything out in my head, forget about my body” and I'm like “OK let's take a deep breath. Oh my God. I'm actually really tense”. Just playing with those feelings inside your body and directing energy and focus to certain parts of your body because sometimes it's just, again, my interpretation- the body needs to be seen and felt and it yearns for that. And it calls out for that. And to pay attention to those parts of your body and it could be “Oh yeah. Stomach or tenses in my shoulders” or just paying attention to that and really working with that is really liberating. So it's a combination of both. Then people say “Well so OK so now I noticed this this grapefruit I'm carrying around and I see it and I feel this tension in my body now what?”. Now when they show up with their wife at home they're not as tense. So they see that they are better able to hear what she's really saying. They understand that the kids are three and they're jumping up and down so they're not going to lash out but rather think “Oh isn't it great like this tension is gone?”. So it ripples out even though you would say “OK. So now I still don't have a solution”. But you have a physical solution and you have a solution in terms of shedding some light into darkness. So there's no need for energy to go there anymore.
Marie: Wow, that's beautiful and we at Empower World are totally on board with what you're saying. We believe that you know, where you fear to go you, must go. Because when you put the light on your fears or your saboteurs or your insecurities or the beliefs that you're holding that aren't serving you. When you put some light on then they can't live anymore. In fact I think it's Brene Brown that says when you are in shame, it grows exponentially when you hide it. But when you put light on, it can't survive.
Jacob: Absolutely. And you know when you mentioned shame. It's one of, For me personally, one of the biggest things that I work with for me. And that also shows up with the clients I'm working with. Not initially, people will not come saying “Oh I feel so ashamed about it”. But it all, nine out of ten times, it boils down to I feel so shamed or I feel so not enough or “I feel so bad about myself”. And yeah shame is holding us back from so much. And when we just shed light on it dissipates, it releases its hold. Like I know in the coaching world and I'm a coach as well. There are times where you don't have clients and you feel like a failure and you think “nothing's working, it's not working for me, it works for everybody else. It's not working for me”. And if you recognize yourself in that “I'm sitting here holding my hand up because I am also like that”. There are also times for me where I don't have clients. And I think “what I am even doing here?”. And “OK let's go in. What's happening? What do I believe about that? What does this come from and what why am I feeling so anxious about even acknowledging that or just saying that?”. Because I have an idea that I need to be perfect or if I'm a good coach that means i've got x 100 clients or I'm making six figures or all that jazz. What works for me is to get off social media, get off the mainstream media where they tell you buy this product and you'll get seven figures in three weeks and all that B.S. don't believe that. It's not true. It's just going in and feeling what needs to be felt. Acknowledging what's going on. And yes of course, at some point you're going to take some steps. You got to pick up that book, you’re going to make that phone call, you're going to send that message to the person at the bottom of your whatsapp list and then you move forward. But yeah I mean most of your listeners are in the coaching world. There is no greater power in acknowledging way or that at this moment even if it's to one person, even if it's to the reflection in the mirror and say where I'm at is here and I feel like this about it but I'm still ok, yeah I'm still worthy of being here.
Marie: Beautiful. I mean a lot of the leadership work that we do with coaches and with leaders, and we also have leaders who listen in, is the greatest leaders know what they feel and they know what it looks like. When they can name an emotion, They know what that looks like. If they touched it what does it feel like? So using all of our senses to explore what is really happening for me right now, what I am making up about this situation? What is true and what am I lying to myself about? And really exploring the internal work. Its Always about the internal work.
Jacob: Yeah and it's true. It's very hard to grasp our, hard for me. I can only speak for me. But it can be very hard for me to do acknowledge that even “No it's not about me I'm doing it. I've done all this work or I'm doing all this. I'm sitting here meditating for hours and that still is the” but it is always me in the end. But it can be really hard to acknowledge that or to stay with that. And you know my suggestion or my offering is to stay with it and to stay with stay with the body stay with it. “Okay what am I feeling? What am I feeling right now? What comes up for me? What's that voice telling me in my head?” It's always telling me this and that? It's not good. So okay, Great. That voice is there fantastic. Whatever. It can talk. I'm just not going to act on it. Just not going to do what it says. Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat Pray Love and big magic she writes a lot about creativity and writing and inadvertently I believe also she writes a lot about life leadership. That's how I read her books and she's got this really funny video and she even writes about this in the big magic as well where if she goes onto a creative adventure, she wants to write a new book or create a program of some sorts. She literally put some chairs down and she looked at one chair and said “OK this is my sister creativity” and then the other for a chair she points and says “OK this is where fear sits. And fear, You are invited to come into my camper van on our journey and we're going to have fun and you're just going to sit in the back and scream like crazy and tell us that we're all going to die because that's your job. You're very good at it”. And so she makes it as an “Yeah of course this fear is voice this critical element that we all have within us. Let it be there. Bring it along. You can come, you can scream, you can shout. You can tell that it's all wrong whatever and that's perfectly fine. We're not going to act on it. I'm going to do this thing, with what my heart gives me, with what my creativity tells me, with what my love tells me”. And 99.9 percent of the time whatever fear is telling us, is not true.
Marie: I think as human beings we go to the fear because we've allowed it to become so loud and we're never going to get rid of the fear its part of being human. And it's a great thing to have, it keeps us safe. And it also came for a purpose to protect us. So when we can recognize that those fears, the saboteurs, whatever we're hearing… its initial purpose was to keep us safe. Then we can just take it by the hand as, you said, Elizabeth does and ask it to come on that journey with us. I know I do a lot of work with my clients on their own Saboteur's and getting to know them befriending them, getting curious about them is as essential as knowing what our internal leader the wisest part of us. What that wants for us. And so once we befriend or Saboteurs we can choose to turn the volume down because. We are in charge of that. And we can turn the volume up on the wisest of ourselves.
Jacob: Yeah. Absolutely.
Marie: And what you spoke about, this “hero's journey”. I think Joseph Campbell; He wrote that the cave we fear to enter is where we must go.
Jacob: That's right. Yeah.
Marie: And it reminds me of Luke Skywalker In Star Wars. When he was going into the cave to face Darth Vader and he said to Yoda but “I need to protect myself. I need my light saber, I need all this protection to go into this to the cave!”. And Yoda said “No you only need yourself”. Because the shadow side of ourselves, as Darth Vader was to Luke, is himself.
Jacob: Absolutely. All the movies you see the Hollywood flicks they're all a version of the Hero's Journey. So life is OK. The main character is somewhere. Now they're drawn to something or they're being pushed into some sort of situation. They find some sort of support at some point. They find a mentor or a leader or a teacher. Hit rock bottom. This is over. No way out. And then they come out and then they come back to life's good again. Like that's almost every movie. Like name one movie that isn't the hero's journey. But yeah. And it's especially the Star Wars saga, you know there's peace, now everything falls apart because we're about to be destroyed. We fixed it. Right? And it's life. And for me, it's comforting to know that wherever I'm at it, will always change. So i've been to a silent meditation retreats for ten days where I just did meditation nothing else. Couldn't write. Couldn't read. No phones. No outside. Nobody to talk to. And what I learned there is that they called it “Aniche” which is “everything is always changing”. So when something happens, don't get attached. It's just happening. So it's really difficult because we are again, conditioning is like “oh we need something we want something now its happening. Oh my God. I want this again” but it's like “OK” seeing for what it is. You sign a big business deal, you sign up a five figure client or whatever. That's great right. It is what it is. This will change. But I got a thing that I want a tattoo on my arm which is “it will change”. Because it will. As same as like when you're in despair or when life doesn't seem worth living, to know- this is just temporary. This will change and nothing is good or bad. That was the other thing is… the two things that I learned everything will change and equanimity. Nothing is always the same. So nothing is good or bad. It is what it is. And remembering that, are the two greatest things for me. Because I know wherever I'm at that, even if… I whatever I experience if it's good or if it's bad or if it's indifferent… it will change. Always. And it's comforting to know that for me because it's all good.
Marie: Yes, the only constant is change. The less we struggle with that the more peace we are with whatever it is here. Even if it's challenging.
Marie: So Jacob, It sounds like you've done some deep work on yourself and Jeanine and I believe that the best coaches do their own work first. How, knowing that you have done your own work. How is it you support your clients without guiding them? As coaches we are there to support and create support them to create awareness. We're not there to guide or tell them. What is it you do to support your clients? How do you work with clients in this hero's journey?
Jacob: Oh I think it's a bit of a mixture of whatever we so far have discussed. So working with your shadow, working with the body, what's happening, looking at trauma that you've had may have experienced in the past. And again people think “oh trauma is a, I never had a massive accident or I never experienced any abuse. You know I don't have any trauma”. But we all go through trauma, we all experienced trauma. You know something that's very small to us now is huge for a 5 year old or a 6 year old. And we all have those experiences, so we all are impacted by our previous experiences of life and what I do with clients is that I just dive deeper into their selves and like “why is it that you want this or don't want this anymore? What is stopping you? And what's at the core of this?” Rather than having another quick fix or another little process. It's more a real ‘going in’. I find it hard to put it into words. And you probably know, because it's at an energy level where you go, you know there's a question asked and you can see people like wanting to answer it. “OK so what is it? What is keeping you from answering this question?” And then so then you dig a little bit deeper and getting the client to feel safe enough and to feel safe enough to express. Because that is for me, where the real gold is. This is the expression of what is really alive, what has really happened in our lives and how we can feel that through our bodies. So not just intellectually understand “oh this has happened to me in the past that's why I'm doing this”. Somatically, it's still in your body so you still need to do something with that and then actually having it transformed into something that is holding someone back and do something that's actually in aiding something forwards. So and what that looks like is real fun conversations with lots of laughter, lots of unexpected tears also and lots of silence. Because in my belief and you wouldn't think that because i've been talking a lot, but I think one of the biggest forces in coaching is silence. Because we are so bombarded all the time already with noise from the outside through all the senses… is to just sit and be quiet. And there is, again if I refer back to the 10 days meditation, I sat with 70 people in a room for 10 days not looking at anybody, not talking to anybody. Complete silence. When the morning I walked into the dining hall where we were allowed to talk again, it was like there was the end of that 10 days, I started crying because it was so evident to me that it was instantly I was going to project everything again. I'm going to go outside. For 10 days I was like with me and I was like a holy molly explosion of all sorts going through me while in silence. But it was just phenomenal to experience that. And as soon as I heard all these people talking and also I knew I was going to be talking again and I was going to get back my little technology disk that I'm going to look at for hours on end and I got really emotional because it's almost as if that really close connection I created over those 10 days was now going to be let go of. So yes that sitting in silence is and some people call it meditation. It's phenomenal. And if you can do that while being witnessed, that is for me, beyond powerful. Like I remember a coaching session with a woman I spoke to twice a few years back and we were in a group and we were like Oh we do like Buddy coaching or we were getting to know each other. And I got on and she's like “so what do you want to say?” And I'm like “I don't know what I want to say?” And she said “why don't you just sit down and close your eyes and when you want to say something then tell me”. And I sat there for 50 minutes and I started laughing and crying and then I open my eyes and I said “thank you very much”. And that was it. It was amazing because there was so much coming from that. In terms of realizing how I talk to myself the voices, I'm hearing the things, I'm feeling that the judgments, I have the stories I tell myself everything. So sitting in silence and not make it as it needs to be like I hear people say I had a bad meditation and I had such a great meditation, again it's always changing as always. Oh you're only thought about baking cookies in meditation. One of the things that I just think about I should be thinking of flying through the forest. No, no. You thought of cookies. It's good right. It is what it is. Tomorrow you do it again and yeah. Did that answer your question at all? I think I did that answer your question.
Marie: I think it did. I'm trusting that it did. And yes silence is such a fantastic tool to support people to go into their own journey of self-discovery their own hero. And as coaches I just want to clarify for those coaches listening in, we aren't therapists. And I know Jacob recognizes this but I want to clarify for those listeners. So we don't go into trauma but we recognize what's happening right now in our lives and how we can look at it, create awareness and create different ways of being and doing, in order to move forward.
Jacob: Yeah that's a good caveat to mention. Yes. So I am trained in working with certain trauma aspects and I incorporate that with my coaching. What we all say, right, work within your framework of skills and make sure that if you can add value and you can handle what the client comes with, to take it. And again if you can't and think you have to or “I need the money” or whatever shadow is coming out. And there is no greater power in telling a client “Listen I'm empathizing with you. I see your challenge. I see your problem. I don't think I'm the best fit for you but I might know somebody that I can refer to” and you may think well “I got no clients or I need the money”. This will bring you all the money you need because you will be even more confident about yourself because you know where your boundaries are at this time. And then at some point you've done it or you have practiced or you learnt it, you're learning a certain skill. And now it's being presented to you and you're like i'll take this on because I can. But knowing where your boundaries are, not fear based, but oh actually I sat with this and this is not right for the person in front of me. There's great power in that.
Marie: There certainly is and that's part of the hero's journey of being a coach is recognizing your capabilities and your ability to support and empower others and when you see something rises from a client that is not within your remit, is to forward them on. Have a referral network so that they can continue to do the work.
Jacob: Absolutely. And having said that that doesn't mean to say that you have to completely send them away but say “listen I really can work with you on I don't know. Getting clear on what you want. All right. Know grading a step on how to get to where you want to be or whatever. But this part what you talked about that could be a trauma element. There's a really good therapist I know call her and together we can”. Again you create fantastic ways of working with others as well. Create a nice referral network. But most importantly you help the person that's sitting in front of you because that person will not be served by you giving your heart and your soul but you don't really know what's going on or you don't know how to serve them best. Your best way of being in service is to say “this is not within my scope”.
Marie: Exactly. I work with a number of clients who have a therapist as well as working with me as an executive coach. And it is a great way of partnering with another professional.
Marie: Jacob we could talk all day about this and maybe we'll have you back on to explore other aspects about this hero's journey that you're on, that we're all on actually because the pursuit of mastery is never ending. .
Marie: So as we wrap up our program today what thoughts or words would you like to share with our audience in relation to the hero's journey to support them to go into that cave and explore who they are.
Jacob: What words? Well what comes up for me is “you have one life”. And many of us, me included, live as if time is limitless. We have an abundance of time and we have we have a limited amount of resources. That's what we think. There's a limited amount of money that I can make. Whatever limited amount of connections I have. And I invite your listeners, you, Marie and also myself to swap that around and to realize that the only thing that is limited is our time and someday we will leave this physical body. And when we do, can we then think and feel, yes i've lived it up. I really squeezed every last bit of juice out of this and to help you with that, you are already worthy you are already good enough to be on this planet and wherever you're at this cycle, it will change and get support, get help, reach out because I believe connection with other people and connection to self is what makes life worth living. And it will help you live a fuller life.
Marie: Thank you Jacob and that brings us full circle back to where we started with connecting to eachother. And most importantly to ourselves and integrating that masculine and female energy within us all so that we're able to show up in the world as we truly are.
Marie: Yeah thank you Jacob, It's been such a pleasure to chat with you this morning. I trust our listeners are going to get heaps of information as they process and think about what you've shared today. Thank you so much for your time, your energy and being who you are. Listeners, we really appreciate you listening in. If you like this podcast we'd love you to share it. We'd love to hear any comments you have about it or any questions you have for Jacob. Jacob before we sign off where can our listeners find you?
Jacob: You can go to my website which is at Jacobmelaard.com or drop me an e-mail. At [email protected] Find me on Facebook. Facebook is a place where I'm at regularly I have a page but I rather do it on the personal page. So find me there. You got any questions, I'm happy to carve out some time if you mentioned that you've come through the podcast. We'll schedule a bit of time and we get together. So yeah feel free to reach out.
Marie: Thank you so much Jacob. Have a wonderful day everyone.
Jacob: Thank you. Bye.