By Denise Kotula
Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times
Mel Brooks is brutally honest. The emphasis is on the word “brutally.” Her self-actualized job title, slash, nickname is “The Fixer” She is the kind of person you find if you are lucky when you must face the most difficult challenges of your life and desperately need to change. I say “find” because if you don’t realize you need her, you’ll never find her.
Even then, she must choose to work with you. She doesn’t accept everyone. She looks inside you, right to your core, and determines if you have the will to change. She needs something to work with. And change on a grand scale is never easy. Her goal for you is transformation.
To work with Mel, you must be willing to face the truths about yourself. You can hide nothing from Mel, and she won’t let you hide it from yourself. She will read you like an open book. She starts by helping her clients make small but still substantive changes. But eventually, you get to the Big Uglies – those things inside your personality that not only hold you back but bring you down.
Mel chooses clients who dream big but can’t find a way to make the dreams happen by themselves, or who have hit rock bottom and don’t know how to climb back up, or who deeply desire to make a big change in their lives but don’t have a clue how to start, or even know what the change may look like. They just ache.
The excitement of making some substantive changes in yourself and feeling that change happens inside yourself (and the reward of having others notice those changes) is exhilarating. This is the point where most business and life coaches stop and say their work here is done.
But Mel won’t stop there. She’ll push you off a cliff and watch you fall to Earth. She knows you can’t really get where you want to go without that fall. There are days when Mel walks like she’s wearing cement boots, tired and drained and exhausted when she’s pushing harder than her clients think they can bear. It’s mano - a - mano. Some break. That’s when she carries her sadness in her shoulders. Her reward is with the clients who get back up and fight.
Mel is a workaholic. She is driven to fix her clients. Her commitment to them borders on obsessive. Part of that, I believe, is because she is intuitive. She feels it is a great gift, and she does not want to waste it. She cares deeply about people. She is a compassionate soul. It’s not just that she can empathize with people, but that she can see what’s good in them when they can’t see it in themselves. She attracts clients who don’t want to just skate by in life. They want to live large.
Mel places the utmost value on honesty. She is forthright herself. But most of us get by with our Big Uglies by lying to ourselves and others about the underlying truth. And boy, does she hate it when her clients lie to her.
I’ve never felt closer to anyone than I have, at moments, to Mel. I’ve never felt better in my life than when I could feel the transformation. It’s like feeling how I was always meant to be. I’ve also never felt more devastated than having to face her wrath or her iron fist as she brought me back down to Earth. It can feel so cruel. You can feel destroyed. She can be unforgiving and relentless when she feels you’ve disappointed her. She knows who you’re really disappointing is yourself.
This is why Mel does not allow herself to become friends with her clients. Few friendships could ever survive what it takes to transform. Without the ability to be brutally honest with them, few of her clients would transform. She is willing to accept that as part of her role.
I believe Mel knows her purpose in this life is to transform souls. It sounds like such a pleasant thing when you hear a life coach talk about changes they help their clients make. But Mel is fighting to give you more. She’s like a lion roaring. Fixing a person is not easy or pleasant and may not result in gratitude. That takes a warrior.