I am another "genius" who has never been on Jeopardy. In other words, I have all the answers in the comfort of my living room. But I have never submitted myself to the rigorous process of getting on the show. Why should I risk my reputation as the person who “should” be on Jeopardy?
The fact is, I’m a college dropout who has not submitted to a formal testing process for any kind of credentialing for over 30 years. I passed the FCC test for the 3rd Class Radiotelephone Operator’s License with Endorsement for Broadcast in 1966. I got my New York State Regents High School Diploma shortly thereafter. I aced the test for a Tennessee driver’s license in 1973, and since then, nothing. Oh, I was evaluated aplenty. You can’t be a television news anchor, newspaper columnist, and radio talk show host without being judged by just about everyone you encounter in the course of a day – viewers, listeners, ratings books, focus groups, an ever-changing cast of management.
But actual t-t-t-tests of any kind? I’d rather sit on the sofa and beat Ken Jennings.
I didn’t recognize my procrastination for what it was – reluctance to fail.
Why should I submit myself for evaluation when my clients think I’m a terrific coach whether or not I have a credential?
That fear of failure stalled me in getting my IAC Certification, and if I hadn’t promised to get it, I bet I wouldn’t have put myself through the process. Promised? Yes, when I accepted a position on the IAC Board of Governors, the invitation was conditional upon my becoming IAC Certified as soon as possible.
I went to two Coachville Intensives led by Thomas Leonard (and former IAC Board chair Susan Austin and IAC Board member Dave Buck) and I felt prepared. I studied my IAC study guide. I practiced in triads and with my coaches. And still I put off taking the written test many times. Finally, I booked a full day on my calendar, studied the day before, and spent several hours completing the written test. I passed. (Frankly, I don’t like the test and am actively campaigning for changes.)
If you’re putting off taking the test because you think you need to study more – and you’re pretty familiar with the material – just take the test. I don’t think studying more or harder gives you a leg up on this test. You’ll see what I mean when you take it. You can start, and IF YOU FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY, you can stop and come back to it another day. I did not trust myself not to click something and lose hours of work, so I kept written track of my answers and did the whole test in one sitting. If you learn something from taking it, God bless you. I didn’t. Anyway, you’ll either pass or you won’t, and if you do, as we say in Noo Yawk, fuggedaboudit. If you flunk, wait the time limit and try, try again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to jump through this hoop. It’s like your driving test. In New York, my friends routinely flunked their first, and often their second and sometimes their fifth road test. No big. Once they passed, they were on the same level as everyone who passed the first time. It simply does not matter how many times you take the test, so get started!
My fear of failure went into overdrive for Step Two and Three. I put off taping practice Step Two sessions for my coaches to evaluate. I did get a handful of clients to sign and return the release forms. And then Coachville announced Certification Weekends at the end of 2004. That’s it, I thought. Register for Boston, but try to get certified before then so you don’t have to go! I missed my deadline, and showed up in Boston in “frantic” mode. In one of the coaching sessions, someone talked about her fear of failing to pass the test. I recognized my own frazzled, fearful self. I realized suddenly that if I couldn’t be calm, do my best, and enjoy the process, I didn’t deserve to be certified! A masterful coach is not seeking external validation but is learning from the process. We don’t want IAC Certification to be a cheap credential – if the certifiers don’t think a coach is demonstrating everything necessary for certification, then the masterful candidate accepts the notes graciously and gratefully, recognizes the perfection, and tries again.
Even the people who did not pass Step Two and Three felt the learning process of that weekend was valuable beyond measure. Each candidate had two opportunities to coach live and to be a client. Eight people in a group, certifiers’ comments on every session. Do the math – you can imagine how much we learned about masterful coaching from each other and from our certifiers. It was some of the finest coaching education I’ve ever received. If I didn’t come away with my certification, I thought, I would at least come away with a renewed passion for excellence and some deepened and new relationships.
I passed. And in my final evaluation, Dave Buck pointed out that the proficiency I demonstrated the least in my coaching sessions was “Designing Supportive Environments.” Dave observed that my own life is a monument to Do It Yourself Without Enough Support. His revelation changed the way I organized my life from that day forward. It was a crossroads moment that is helping to define my future. In all, I got my IAC Certification, I received some world-class coaching that emboldened me, got some thoughtful feedback that changed me, made some acquaintances who inspire me. What was I so afraid of?
If you’ve thought about your IAC Certification, there will never be a better time to set a deadline for yourself and try. You have nothing to lose but your imaginary Jeopardy championship.
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