In an era of diminishing human contact, broken traditional family structures and a changing work environment, individuals of all strides and circumstances are grasping for successful strategies to get through the complicated maze known as life. Prayer is essential. A balanced lifestyle that includes rest, exercise and a healthy diet are all part of the response to a hostile world but are there more answers?
Enter in Dr. Nicole LaBeach. As an author, entrepreneur and a licensed life and professional coach, Dr. LaBeach is providing essential, step-by-step solutions to debilitating problems relating to relationships, employment and attitude. Dr. Nicole has been providing her coveted expertise on empowering people, from celebrities to CEO’s, for over 12 years.
With two life-affirming books to her credit, “A Women’s True Purpose: Live Like You Matter” and “Choose Yourself: A Journey Towards Personal Fulfillment For Women”, Nicole LaBeach has demonstrated a deep desire to spiritually and psychologically uplift and invest in women, while nurturing beneficial relationships in the process. BlackGospel.com spoke to Dr. Nicole about fostering these positive exchanges under difficult circumstances within the home, the church and the work place.
Christopher Heron: Your life’s work is so closely tied to the interests of women, so I wanted to know why you have this particular burning passion for nurturing and mentoring women.
Dr. Nicole LaBeach: My passion really extended from my mother’s line of work. My mother was a hair stylist and barber for over forty years and growing up with her as an entrepreneur and having mostly a female clientele, she was what I would consider to be the first introduction to somebody helping and mentoring women, walking alongside them when they were doing new things in their personal and professional lives.
Watching the difference she was able to make with women really inspired me, so I think I naturally got the desire to champion people’s goals and help people reach the levels that they wanted to be in their lives. I think I got that naturally, but it was definitely nurtured by the success that I saw my mother have with so many women that came to her and confided in her for many different reasons.
Christopher Heron: From a male perspective, I find a lot of the life coaches empower women at the expense of men. What I mean by that is that some life coaches will undermine or demonize men for experiences women have endured. Is that a fair observation? And what is your particular observation with regards to the impact of men on women today?
Dr. Nicole LaBeach: I think you are asking a couple of questions. As a life, relationship, and executive coach the profession is well governed by the International Coaching Federation that has some very strong ethical guidelines of what it means to advocate and to help a client be accountable to their goals. So for me in business and in helping people in relationships and in their personal goals it’s not about in any way being unethical or demonizing one gender over the other.
It’s really about trying to help the client be as clear as possible about the goals they want to achieve, seeing if I believe that I can be an advocate and a help to them in those goals and then doing whatever is necessary to hold them accountable to the actions that are going to help them achieve it and in doing that its not my agenda—it’s their agenda. When a person feels whole and empowered and is not in a space of self-doubt or diminished value, they bring a lot to the table for everybody else that cares for them and that’s in relationships too.
So for me, it’s not about any gender issues, per say, it’s more about how the person feels about their values so that they can then do what’s necessary to try to go after their goals. Whether that be in their personal relationship with a mate, with their children, in their dynamic plan to start a business or whatever it may be.
Now the second part of your question, if you would allow me, I am going to restructure the question a little bit. I think any individual that experiences appropriate or inappropriate attachments to another individual that is supposed to be a part of their life like a young girl to a father or a young girl to a mother or vice versa with young men to their parents or someone you decide is a first love, when it is not appropriate, when it is hurtful or when it is not happening the way that it should in a trusting safe way, it tends to have the ability to cause some challenges in how the person understands relationships. So what I think is most important is when people decide that they are going to look at their lives, whether it’s men or women…and look at the attachments that were supposed to be appropriate, and if they are not, if they were negative, then trying to figure out what do they do to heal those wounds so that future attachments will be good.
Once that is taken cared of, it really does help the person have more positive interactions at work, more positive interactions with authority, more positive interactions with spouses and love interests and children and the whole nine, but it starts with the individual. The gender of the person really doesn’t matter. If a boy is not properly attached to his parents or a girl is not properly attached to her parents, it becomes a struggle for them in attachments, if they decide to date later on in life.
Christopher Heron: Excellent. On another note, a casual observer would see that women are the predominant constituency in Black churches across America. Is the church doing its part to bolster, empower, and elevate the spirit and mindset of women today?
Dr. Nicole LaBeach: You know, I think the church can do more because what women need to be able to see is appropriate, positive relationships with men and women in authority. Many churches are doing amazingly well and making major strides, so we give great credit to those that are trying to make sure there’s an integrated representation of men and women in leadership.
But those that have not caught onto that bandwagon are not showing a great model of what it looks like for men and women to work together in leadership capacities and work through the bumps and the hiccups and still have a godly agenda and still be on a Kingdom building assignment and be successful together because that’s what we’re asking for as a family.
We are asking for men and women to work together to model that for their children, so that we can be successful and from this model show that you too can be successful in a relationship. So I think there’s an opportunity there that we are not capitalizing on as much as we could and I think the forerunners that have done that are modeling it for some of the other churches that through tradition or whatever reasoning, may not have followed that path. So we are getting there, but we do have a ways to go.
Christopher Heron: Pastors are frequently men. They’re the spiritual leaders for the lion share of churches today. What do you believe these spiritual leaders need to do to improve upon relationships?
Dr. Nicole LaBeach: I do believe that pastors have a huge responsibility and many of them to their credit, seem to do a phenomenal job with limited resources, and they’re stretched quite thin because the need is so high. We have a challenge in the family right now because there is such a break down and there are so many homes that do not have fathers in them, but we know for many men there is an inherent need and desire to be seen as respectful or to be respected. The challenge we have is that we have a lot of struggle now with men being validated and feeling like they are able to carry large responsibilities because of things in the workforce and not having been raised by their own father.
I think that the shift now for pastors is to be able to help young men understand their rightful position, as it relates to physical understanding and support them in doing what’s necessary to become more solidified in their ability to handle responsibility, so that they would earn the respect that they desire and would gain the respect from their peers and from the women in their lives, to be able to thrive and lead in relationships.
It’s going to take a concerted effort of accountability, not only from pastors, but from men that are taking on the hard challenge of being men and all that entails. What I’m talking about is maturity, responsibility, integrity and accountability…men being able to say, “I can help you figure out how to do that. I will walk with you and hold you in a space of truth, I will hang out with you and I will stroke your ego and never address the fact that I know you have children, but I never see you with them, I never hear you talk about them, I don’t know where they fit in your life?”
It’s going to take pastors saying to the men very clearly, “I see you have a gift from God and you are in the male form. Therefore, what that means is your children need you and your DNA walking the Earth without you is not acceptable because you make a difference. So, what’s going to be your first step to make amends with those children you haven’t spoken to? Where are the mothers of these children and how can I stand with you to do the unthinkable, which is request forgiveness and step in and start learning how to father so that you can heal your own wound?” That, I think, is going to be the next step for the church to help bridge the gap with some of the damage and devastation we have in the family.
Christopher Heron: Excellent! BlackGospel.com is a music-centric website so I can’t neglect the impact of music on today’s generation. What do you believe should be the impact of Gospel music particularly on the African-American community and on overall pop culture?
Dr. Nicole LaBeach: We’ve got to be able to meet people where they are. There is no shortage of hurting people and music is definitely the universal language. If you don’t believe it, put some music on and watch a child, a toddler move to it and they don’t know words, but they know rhythm and they know sound.
So we’ve got a unique opportunity to create messaging that doesn’t go above the person’s circumstance but meets them exactly where they are and helps them figure out how to use that universal language to connect with God in a way that’s personal and healing for them. Secular music can do that. Gospel music can surely do that because messaging is on a single element in different forms. So I think we need to be deliberate about that and not negate the fact that the power of Christ through music is healing. It’s uplifting and when praise goes up, blessings come down. There’s no harm or foul in that at all.
Christopher Heron: I will conclude with one final question. We both know that our views of the world are deeply shaped by our upbringing and experiences accumulated over a lifetime. What was your life like growing up as a child? Were your parents present in your upbringing and healthy influences in your life? And secondly, have you had positive relationships both with men and with the church?
Dr. Nicole LaBeach: Okay, let’s go backward. I have a very positive relationship with the church. I have been pretty blessed to work with quite a few pastors on effectiveness, and leading, and how to ensure that the people are getting what they need out of the church as an organization and as a structure. I have great relationships with men, too. It’s funny—some of my dearest friends are men. I have had my share of struggles as well. It has not been perfect because I think what happens is as you grow up you try to break the patterns that you figure out as an adult—what’s not working, so I’ve got to shift something or change something.
Both of my parents were together in my childhood. The funny thing about it and some of the saints may say, “Oh no. They were married for over forty years and decided to get a divorce.” They are very much still an integral part of each other’s lives. As two divorced people, they support each other, they care for each other, they have a child together, me, that they had in marriage. And, though they do not have the covenant of marriage anymore, I think they have something that is quite unique in that they look out for each other, they respect one another, and they are very loving towards one another, though not in a marriage.
So I think from that, what I learned was the power of forgiveness, the power of staying in a committed situation, and then being able to understand that if you decide to change the dynamic, though painful, and not what was planned, you don’t become enemies. You see family as something that is chosen and you do what is necessary to be faithful to the context of your definition of family, even if you decide to change the dynamic.
I think that’s something that a lot of people can learn because people are getting divorced a lot quicker and it does teach your children how to engage when everything doesn’t go the way it was planned. So, I’m really fortunate for that experience I had and I’ve been able to help other couples in other situations who are in a new sense of family.
For more information on Dr. Nicole LaBeach, visit her official website at www.drlabeach.com.