From the President

by Susan R. Meyer,

Coaches, Passion and Learning

For me, June began with two intense IAC meetings and two equally intense learning
experiences. This has me thinking more deeply about coaches, passion and lifelong

Learning Marathon

I spent four days viewing TED Global with five incredible women. As you probably
know, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Each presenter has eighteen
minutes to discuss an amazing idea, demonstrate innovative technology or display
or perform an artistic experience. This was the second of a two-event subscription.
One of my favorites from the fall event was Embrace
the Shake
. This time, I was inspired by this
’s decision to drive, and astounded by what we can learn by recording
sounds in nature that we would not otherwise notice. As I watched talk after
talk, I could not help but notice the passion each speaker felt. Even if the
topic did not interest me, the passion enticed me to listen.

Between sessions, we laughed, we debated, we dissected, we shared meals, we
enjoyed each other’s company. We created our own community of intellectually
curious women learning together. We supported each other and we coached each
other. Over the four days, we learned about many topics, but, perhaps more importantly,
we learned about each other and about ourselves.

Music, Music, Music

Immediately after TED, I spent two days on the Hudson River immersed in music
at the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival, a music and environmental festival.
Of the many wonderful performances, two left me thinking about how masters practice
their craft – David Amram and Josh White, Jr. Amram, now 84, has composed
more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works, written scores for Broadway
theater and film and is considered a pioneer of jazz French horn. He also plays
piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments
from 25 countries, and is an improvisational lyricist as well. White, 63, is
the son of a legendary folksinger, and was an acclaimed actor before moving
into composing and singing.

I wondered how they remain so young and vibrant. In both sets, it was easy
to see and hear the dedication of the artist. Their passion for music, for performing,
for delivering a message was clear. There was a playfulness in both performances.
There was evidence of experimentation. At one point, Amram was revising a composition
as he played. There was also collaboration. Both performers called fellow musicians
up to join them on stage in spontaneous collaboration. Both acknowledged the
influence of others on their own work.


Although none of us may have been coaching as long as Amram and White have
been playing, many of us are into, or beyond, our second decade in this profession.
So, I wonder, for myself and for all of us: what sustains us? Do you still feel
the dedication that you felt earlier in your career? Do you feel that flutter
of passion for your work?

I came away from those two learning experiences with what feel to me like important
factors in keeping that passion in my coaching:

1. Learning in Community

Coming together with others to share ideas always enriches my own thinking.
Communities of Practice are spontaneous groups that arise in organizations to
promote individuals learning together. We try to create opportunities to come
together within the IAC through chapters and through member chats. How can each
of us create these communities for ourselves? Can you form a TED group? A Mastermind?
A coaching triad? Join online discussions?

2. Experimentation

There are so many new things to try, so many techniques to tweak or tinker
with. In a conference presentation, past president Bob Tschannen-Moran reminded
us that constant experimentation and repeated approximations bring us closer
to the ideal. Every success is the result of many, many attempts that we too
easily label as failures. What can you try?

3. Collaboration

Sometimes, we’re very protective of our ideas, and often that works against
us. I’ve been reminded that there really is nothing new under the sun.
If that’s true, why not share? If you follow the history of an idea, you
often can see how that idea has been improved by the contributions of many people.
One of the beauties of folk music is that artists come together to collaborate
on songs and that each singer builds on and improves on a common base. Musicians
coming together to jam create marvelous new music. How can we do that as coaches?
Who are you jamming with? How are you sharing ideas and building incredible
new things?

4. Playfulness

It was clear that both the TED presenters and the Clearwater musicians saw
their work as play. They all were enjoying themselves and that joy was contagious.
Yes, of course, we do serious work and we help create serious and important
change in the world. And we can have a really good time doing it! How often
do you laugh with your clients? I laugh at myself, too.

What sustains you and propels you forward?



Susan R. Meyer, MMC is President of Susan R. Meyer, Coaching and Consulting
and of Life-Work Coach. She provides personal and executive coaching
and facilitates seminars on topics including life planning, emotional
intelligence, leadership development, communication, and coaching
skills for managers.

1 thought on “From the President”

  1. I am inspired by your post, Susan! I have often had similar feelings as I have watched the performance of a master – and often musicians as in the experience that you relate in this piece. I particularly appreciate how you have teased apart some of the factors that characterize the achievement and maintenance of mastery. These are critical practices for coaching and I really appreciate the efforts of all those in the IAC who contribute to these practices. Mastery is a social phenomenon.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top

IAC Login