Sometimes I know when the ‘last session before a big event’ will be. The client I referenced in last week’s blog, Celebrate Good Times, had shared her test date with me months in advance. Other times, a client comes to a coaching call with urgency and surprise. One morning, a client began our call by saying, “My boss just told me that I’m presenting on a panel next week in front of some of our top-level executives. I’ve never spoken in public before in my life. Help!”

Whether it is scheduled in advance or not, these ‘week before the big event’ sessions have a special quality to them. The client is facing a reality that the time for practice, training, and study is nearly done. For some, their experience of anxiety is beginning to escalate or is already elevated. As the coach, I am aware that this is the last time my client and I will connect before the big event. The work we do together during our call, in many ways, will set the tone for how my client chooses to use his or her time in the final days and hours before the event.

As a coach, connecting to my intuition is always important. While I’m listening to my client share information, I’m also listening to my intuition for cues and clues about which avenue of inquiry will most empower my client. In ‘the week before’ sessions, I tune in to my clients at a level that goes beyond the anxiety or urgency they may be experiencing. These conversations often yield some of the most transformational moments in the coaching process.

In the ‘week before’ session I had with the client mentioned in last week’s blog, I chose to follow my intuition and do something I rarely do in individual coaching sessions. I shared three personal vignettes. One story was about how I passed my driver’s test when I was seventeen. Another story was about how a coach of mine had dynamically led a seminar after being kept awake for most of the night before. The third story revealed some of the fun, unconventional strategies I use to get my own energy level up before I present to audiences. I connected the stories to each other, and shared them with my client to illustrate how powerful we can be when our toolbox is full.

The following week, when my client shared her numerous successes, she referenced one of the stories I had shared. The day before she took the test, she took one of the strategies I had shared and made it her own. Her strategy added levity to her process, raised her energy level, and connected her to a supportive friend. In short, my client created exactly what she wanted to experience during her final stages of preparation.

There is not one ‘right way’ to do final preparation before a big event. Each client has a different set of needs, a different vision for what she wants to experience, and a unique way of relating to me as her coach. In the same way a sports coach connects with the team in the locker room right before they walk onto the court or field, the ‘week before’ session allows both client and coach to connect and focus deeply on what matters most before the client goes off to play a big game.