Bringing Purpose To Trailing Spouses With Coach Jodi Harris

World Tree Coaching turns five this month. For its globetrotting founder, Jodi Harris, it’s a time to celebrate what she has achieved and, as she prepares for another expat placement next year, to reflect on the strong sense of self and of home required to run a global business.

Growing up in a small town in Texas, Harris, 41, longed to explore the world, so moving from country to country for her husband’s job has always part excitement, part joy. But as a trailing spouse, she soon realized that her experience abroad wasn’t just a fun adventure. She was facing a number of challenges, too, not least the difficulty in pursuing her own career. Knowing that she wasn’t the only one struggling, she decided to start a business to help other expats develop their ideas and turn their life abroad — no matter how short it is — into something beyond just an experience.

After stints in Washington DC, the Dominican Republic and Madagascar, she arrived in Tokyo in 2013, making it her family’s longest expat assignment so far. Naturally, Harris’ experience living as a globally mobile person appealed to the city’s large expat community and her business bloomed. Savvy Tokyo sat down with her to uncover how she runs her business and what other globally mobile people can learn from her experience.

Why did you set up World Tree Coaching?

I was a clinical social worker in the United States and really loved my work. When we went overseas for the first time, I worked for a non-profit organization in my field, but it was really difficult to get passionate about the job for two years and then have to abandon it. I started researching ways that I could transition into something more portable. Coaching seemed flexible, so I decided to train as a coach and start my own practice.

Why did you retrain?

I recognized that coaching was different from therapy and it was important for me to learn those differences. I never wanted there to be a question about whether I was providing therapy or coaching.

It’s about helping clients get into a position to reflect on their automatic thoughts.

I took a nine-month coaching course recognized by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Then I received my ACC credential from the ICF, which involved doing coaching, an exam and reports of my coaching calls. It was a hard process, but I like the accountability. I think the certification makes me a coach who creates standards for myself and what I want to be.

What does coaching involve?

I ask clients what they want to work on. Typically, they have a big goal they want to achieve by

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