Barbara Sher and me

How come I decided to be a Barbara Sher Life Coach?

It all started with a book with an ugly yellow cover.bok I could do anything

Let me explain:

In the first year of the new millennium, I was not doing very well. In fact, I was deep down in the worst personal crisis I so far have experienced. In December 1999 I had had a major burnout. I had to leave what I until then had considered my dream job, and I could see no way of ever getting back to my profession again.

As long as I could remember, I had been a high performing person, and the last ten years of my life I had spent studying to and working as a landscape architect. Just a few years after leaving school I had now, in spite of the at the time very difficult job market, gotten this highly attractive position. Most of my friends where in the same field, and for vacations and weekend trips we would visit some nice parks or gardens, not to relax but to “study them”. It wasn´t just a job, it was a lifestyle and, honestly, just about my whole identity. Now I was not going to do that anymore, and I had no idea what to do instead. I didn´t even know who I was! (to make it even more difficult, I couldn´t stand to meet my landscape architect friends either, since hearing them talk about their work made me feel even worse)


I tried to consider new educations to jump on to – but everything felt wrong. At this point, a friend borrowed me the book mentioned above, from an american author called Barbara Sher. The intriguing title “I could do anything if I only knew what it was” certainly struck a chord by me! And, in spite of it´s somehow shrilly cover, the writing was warm, kind and comforting – and often funny. The more I read, the more my horizon opened up for the possibilities out there. I didn´t have to decide “what to be when I grew up” again – not today, and not any other day. I didn´t have to get yet another long training before I could have a job I liked. The exercises in the book helped me to see all that I already knew, and to understand who I was and where I came from. They even helped me make peace with my past!


Ever since then, I´ve been something of a Barbara Sher missionary. Getting back would still be a long trip for me – in fact it took me something like 2 years to recover – but the lessons learned from Barbara Sher gave me the courage and guidelines to start trying again. And every time I met someone else who was struggling, I would give them advice from the book, or try to convince them to read it. (If you want to know more about what I’ve been doing since, feel free to look into the “hard facts”-section)


Some years later I found “Refuse to choose”, which was as mind-blowing as “I could do anything..” and inspired me to fully embrace my identity as a scanner and try to create a “scanner friendly” lifestyle. Unfortunately I didn´t succeed very well at the time, and today I know exactly why. (I´ll get to that in a moment!)


2010 my husband got a very good job offer in his hometown Frankfurt in Germany. Even though I had no idea what to do there (I did´t even speak German at the time) we decided to take the leap and move there. Soon after our decision I got pregnant, and so, since we wanted two children as close as possible, my “future carrier” was solved for a while, I reckoned.


When our son was just a few months old, I stumbled on a flyer saying Barbara Sher was coming to hold a workshop just around the corner from our new home. Even though my future plans for the next years where crystal clear, I decided to attend to the workshop – just to see this person who had had such an immense effect on my life.


I guess I should have known better… Once again, my life was going to take a new quick turn. During the workshop I became aware that what I always just had been taking for granted (and, to be honest, sometimes considered to be one of my problems) – my instinct always trying to help and find solutions for other people – was actually one of my super powers.

I also came to realize what I had somehow managed to totally miss out , while reading Barbara’s books. The single most important tool for success: To have good support! No wonder my projects so often had failed: I was trying to do them all on my own!

When I discovered that this lady was going to lead a life coach training in my new city, starting in a few months, it felt like destiny.

portrait Barbara Sher and Ann-Sofi Eriksson

Barbara Sher and me

It still would take me some time to decide to actually go for the training, since my plan had been to be a stay-at-home mom for a few years. (When my oldest daughter was a baby I was always stressed out about working and studying at the same time, and I didn´t want that again. ) But in the end I decided it was a chance of a lifetime, and that I would regret it if I din´t jump on the train. And so I did.

Looking back, I´m very happy I took this decision. Sure, it was stressful sometimes, since I didn´t have daycare for my baby, but everything I got more than compensated for that. The training in itself was wonderful, of course, and I learned so much, but just as important was that with my new class mates I found my new tribe, my own context in Germany that wasn´t depending on my husbands contact.

And, best of all, I have found a job where I can use all my experience, talents and interests – and THAT´s a bliss for a scanner!


PS: To be honest, being a stay-at-home mom would probably have driven me crazy sooner or later. Even though I truly love being with my children, and consider them my greatest gift, I also need to use my brain in other ways, learning, interacting, solving problems, creating. And I need to feel that I have a place in the world, also outside my home. Now, when they go to day care during the days, and I have time to do my work, I can fully appreciate being with them when we are together – and enjoy every minute 🙂