What's Your Higher Purpose?

If you work at Zappos, a life coach will help you reach it.
January 24, 2014

Augusta Scott moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas seeking a change in her life. Today, as Zappos.com’s life coach, she’s helping others to make their own personal transformations.

“I had no plans to become a life coach, but that’s what Zappos does for people. If you have aspirations, Zappos will help you take that journey to find out what you need to get there.”

In a ball cap turned backward and an oversized Oxford shirt with the Zappos logo, Scott talks to me in an office furnished with the usual desk and chair, as well as a throne, red carpet and crowns and scepters for Zappos team members with whom she works. The royal treatment is intended to emphasize that the time they spend with Scott is all about them, their goals and needs. Everything is confidential, positive and nonjudgmental. “If they don’t get their homework done, there’s no judgment. It’s more about what got in the way,” she says.

Before joining Zappos in 2007, Scott’s work experience was varied. Her most recent job had been with a collections agency, which she hated.

Like every other new employee at Zappos, regardless of the position they will ultimately hold, Scott started in the call center. She realized the culture was special. “The core values were so different—they were not just a plaque on the wall but something people would talk about in every conversation.”

She immediately became engaged, seeking to learn more and to grow personally and professionally. When the life coach position was posted, she applied and got it. She then took courses and training, becoming certified by the Coaches Training Institute.

Scott’s coaching starts with monthly goals workshops for a maximum 20 people. Anyone at any level of the company is eligible to participate. Those who choose to go forward with coaching will meet with Scott for 30 minutes once a week for four weeks. Goals may be professional or personal. Many relate to weight loss, although Scott prefers “weight release” because “if you lose something, you usually go find it—I’m really big on language and the power of words.” Other common themes include financial issues such as creating a budget, saving money, maybe going back to college, as well as professional growth and advancement or figuring out a different career path.

Scott describes the transformation: “You see that team member realize how powerful they are, and how resourceful they are. They realize they can accomplish anything they want. They already have inside of them what they need. They’re not broken. They’re completely resourceful and whole, but they may not know how to remove the inner obstacles, the inner saboteur.”

In addition to helping people identify what they want to achieve, and creating a plan with action steps, Scott helps people identify what’s impeding them and ways to change bad habits. Some common issues include anxiety, procrastination, fear of failure, self-doubts, even a lack of humility.

Here’s an exercise she uses to combat that inner saboteur:

1. Where does your saboteur live? Is it fear, self-doubt, procrastination?

2. Name the saboteur. Usually it’s something that prompts you to feel some way (inadequate, angry, small, for instance).

3. To combat that saboteur, come up with something that is so positive and so powerful to you that when you say it or think it, you are actually challenging your saboteur. Let’s say its name was “small,” then you would come up with something that makes you feel bigger than that, more powerful than that; something personal that really gives you strength and courage. It could be a word, title to a song, line in a poem or someone’s name (your mother, your child, maybe a teacher or coach), but it should be positive.

4. Then pull that trigger against your saboteur. “That’s when you get your push-through,” Scott says.

Scott gives an example of a Zappos team member who wanted to be a doctor all her life, but her score on the Medical College Admission Test was too low. Her inner saboteur was a feeling of inadequacy. Through coaching, she came up with a trigger from Marianne Williams’ A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

The woman realized she was not inadequate, but possessed everything she needed. The problem centered on her study habits. She made some changes and scored high enough on the MCAT to get into any school she wanted.

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