by Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC
A few weeks ago, after Dallas, Texas received more than 30 centimeters (12 inches) of snow in a 24-hour period, I heard on the evening news that 49 of the 50 states in the USA had snow on the ground. If you guessed Hawaii as the lone holdout, you would be right. It was pretty unusual. People in the USA head south in the wintertime to places like Texas to get away from the snow, not to play in it. But that’s exactly what happened: kids and adults alike threw snowballs, made snow creatures and lay down to create snow angels.
Growing up in northeast Ohio, I lived through plenty of snowy winters. On one occasion, we had enough snow for me to make an igloo at the end of the driveway. I cut out windows, made seats, and turned the place into my own snowy castle. It was great fun that generated the kind of full engagement that comes with getting lost in the project at hand.
Today, thanks to the pioneering work of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, we know that experience as "flow"—those moments when we lose track of time because we are fully absorbed in a challenging activity that is perfectly suited to our skills and abilities. It is neither too difficult (producing anxiety) nor too easy (producing boredom). It is just right, producing a sense of focused attention and timeless fulfillment.
That’s how I felt while I was building that igloo; I was so intent and was having so much fun that I lost all track of time and temperature. I remember being cold, wet and satisfied by the time my mother brought me out a cup of hot chocolate. I sat at my little snow table and enjoyed the view out my snowy window. Even in elementary school, I took great pleasure in setting my mind to a task of my own choosing and getting things done.
I mention all this because I am experiencing some of those same dynamics in my work with the IAC. This "labor of love" is proving to be a very enjoyable and fulfilling experience indeed, both for me and, from what I can tell, for many of my colleagues on the Board of Governors as well as a number of our volunteers and members.
The conversations regarding our long-range planning process, website redesign, certification process, first global coaching conference, local and virtual chapters, licensees, member benefits and coaching research all stand out in my mind as spectacular examples of people getting things done, learning and having fun together. More than once I have gotten into "flow" while having conversations and even email dialogues with colleagues, friends and prospective members. The IAC appears to be on the verge of leaping forward to playing a much bigger game and making a much bigger contribution.
We see that in so many ways. First and foremost, however, is the sheer creativity that is emerging around our many areas of interest. We’re not yet ready to unveil our new design, but we are heading in a very exciting direction that no other global coaching organization (and we now know of at least 12) has yet carved out for itself. We are standing on the shoulders of our founder, Thomas Leonard, to once again stake our claim to innovation, diversity and mastery in coaching.
Then there are the many new members who are joining the IAC. In January, we attracted a total of 67 paid members, including 36 renewals and 31 new members. That’s a dramatic increase over the month before and a slight increase over the prior-year period. Simply put, as we move in the right direction with our vision and programs, our member numbers are following suit. I have no doubt that they will increase even more as the year goes on.
If you are reading this and if you are not a member of the IAC, I would encourage you to join today. Your membership may not only help you get into "flow," like it has for me, it may also empower you to contribute to the future of coaching and to the evolution of our world in surprising, delightful, creative, impactful and life-giving ways. That is my wish for us all.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC, is President of LifeTrek Coaching International. Together with his wife, Megan, Bob has written a new book titled Evocative Coaching (Jossey-Bass, July 2010), which incorporates the IAC Coaching Masteries® in a coaching model designed for leaders and coaches in K-12 schools. www.EvocativeCoaching.com