Life and Career Design: Incorporating Your Personal Narrative

Tra Bouscaren

Over the course of my coaching career, I’ve increasingly been impressed by the transformative power of narrative as business coaching tool.

Having trained as an actor, and worked professionally, my training forced me to delve into my own narrative in order to understand my emotional, physical, and psychological life. As a business coach, my process has evolved over the years by drawing from a combination intuition, my actors toolkit and empirically supported interventions from positive psychology.

So what is your narrative? It’s your story, it’s all the pieces that make you, YOU! It’s taking the time to understand where you came from, the stories you tell yourself, and where you desire to go in terms of future goals.

One of my favorite tools to create the narrative is the Career Construction Interview, or CCI. The CCI is a series of questions used to create a Life Portrait from which we can gather themes and uncover blocks. We look at everything from favorite books and films, sayings, mentors, and early childhood memories. The culminating Life Portrait gives us a starting point from which to begin transformative change though awareness.

My favorite experience using CCI Questions occurred when I was teaching a theater history class as an artist-in-residence at Elizabethtown College. It was a mix of students from freshman to seniors. I asked each student to tell me a little about why they were taking the class.  During the discussion, one of the girls shared that she had recently lost her brother. We continued the discussion and talked about story and our connection to story. I asked each student their favorite children’s book. I went around the room and eventually got to the girl who had lost her brother. Her book was the Velveteen Rabbit. She told the story… that the boy lost the rabbit, but he returned in a different form. I asked her what that meant to her and she welled up with tears. “When something is gone, it’s never truly lost.”

The freshman in the class looked at me with jaw dropped and said,”Wow! That’s DEEEEEEP!”

Having worked as a business coach focused on artists for the last 10 years, my focus has been helping people merge their life, their art, their talents, and their career. The CCI has allowed me to mine the depths of my clients in order to bring authentic, lasting transformation. I’ve found that the clues discovered through working with the Life Portrait allow us to uncover the answers.

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