IAC VOICE, Volume 4, Issue 40, October 2009, Circulation 13,272
October 8, 2009
From the Editor
Well, we're all "back to school" now and busier than ever. That was certainly the common theme in my conversations this week. I hope you'll take the next few moments as a well-deserved break, to soak up the wisdom, celebration and inspiration in today's issue of the VOICE.
President Angela Spaxman has more comments about the ongoing Strategic Planning Process, as well as news about other exciting IAC projects you can get involved in. In a separate note, IAC Board of Governors Vice-President Parker Anderson invites both experienced and emerging coaching leaders to step up and make a real difference.
This will be the last installment of Inside Scoop – Lessons from the Certifiers. Watch for its rebirth next month as Inside Scoop – Ask the Certifiers, a new forum to have your questions answered. For today, though, IT'S ALL ABOUT NINA.
When she submitted this month's Coaching Moments piece, Janice Hunter confided that it was this type of article that more than once has prompted a well-meaning coach to write and ask her, "Janice, are you working with your own coach?" to which she would reply, "I write first and get coaching later."
Personally, I love how Janice uses her space in the VOICE to write out her immediate experience. With that, she teaches the rest of us that it's okay for coaches to be human, and that it sometimes takes longer to find our way into the coaching moments and mindset of a challenging situation.
Submission guidelines for the VOICE are available on the website, including submission dates for our upcoming issues. I would love to receive your article submissions and ideas by October 19th in consideration for the November 12th issue, and by November 16th in consideration for the December 10th issue.
Please note that due to the volume of submissions we cannot guarantee your article will appear in a specific month.
I always appreciate hearing your feedback about the VOICE.
As you know, we are now about half way through our Strategic Planning Process. As the process continues, I am so thankful that we decided to do it with your involvement and with a focus on the distant future.
We are creating a clear and distinctive vision of what we want in the long term and with no limits to our scale of influence. With this foundation, we can create what is most important to us and make much better decisions along the way. By starting with the end in mind, it is much easier to set our priorities now and to design our systems to support what we want, while staying aligned with our resources and focus.
What's becoming clear so far is:
We see coaching being used in all aspects of society worldwide.
We see that coaching itself will change and develop as it reaches further into the world.
We see the need to embrace innovation and diversity in coaching.
We see the value of collaborating with other fields in order to advance coaching's reach and effectiveness.
We want to expand and improve our certification and development processes.
We see the importance for the IAC to be a model organization that expresses the values of coaching as a worldwide movement in innovative ways
I'm reminded of how easy it is to lose sight of the future in our daily efforts to achieve our current needs. If we focus only on our professional credibility, our independence, our financial sustainability, and other similar goals that are born of day-to-day pressures, it is easy to lose sight of what is most important and what we most want to create for our profession and for the world at large. It is only with the foundation of clarity about our highest desires that we can create the association, the profession and the world that we want.
And it is very inspiring to see that our members are motivated not just to have rewarding careers as coaches, but also to create a beautiful world where the value of coaching is maximized and available to all who want it. This is something worth doing.
I also sincerely hope that with your continuing support and the clear thinking of our Board of Governors and other volunteers, we can create an organization that is worthy of the values of coaching.
In the next stage of the process, we will further refine our plans and priorities. Your involvement is most welcome! Please click here to listen to the past recordings and/or register for the next ones.
In other news from the Board, we are currently shortlisting from dozens of proposals for a major website makeover. Our website will be easier to navigate and will have enhanced features for the coach directory, member interaction and more. If you have expertise in copywriting, design or IT and would like to contribute your knowledge, please contact me and I will fill you in on how you can help.
We are also planning our presence at the December International Coach Federation (ICF) conference in Florida. Will you be there? If you'd like to support us in preparing for this event, please contact me.
Volunteer Opportunities for Worldwide Coaching Leaders by Parker Anderson
The IAC is calling on the LEADER in YOU to step forward and serve.
Are you ready to deepen and further your commitment to the IAC, to the field of coaching? Right now, the IAC Board of Governors is looking for both experienced and emerging leaders to take a big step forward and join the Board. For new members, service on the Board begins in January 2010 and the length of service is for two years.
Serving on the IAC Board of Governors allows you an opportunity to work with an extraordinary group of individuals who excel in the field of coaching, believe in ensuring the highest quality of standards for all coaches, and are committed to providing coaching excellence to all coaching clients.
In general, duties and responsibilities require each member to:
Attend monthly virtual Board meetings
Take the lead in an IAC committee (e.g., membership, volunteers, strategy, nominations)
Maintain and raise the standards of certification
Ensure and support our professional code of ethics
Bring their individual ideas and innovative strategies to the coaching profession worldwide
The current IAC leadership team is both strong and global, with talented leaders from Hong Kong, the United States of America, Australia, Israel, the United Kingdom and China. We are eager to continue this long tradition of global participation by encouraging future leaders from around the world to step forward and share their skills, knowledge and talent.
To apply, please submit your resume along with a cover letter indicating your interest in serving on the Board. Please also provide three references (professional or personal), including name, mailing address, phone number and email. You can send your applications or questions to Parker Anderson at email@example.com.
Are you a new IAC member working toward your IAC certification?
Have you recently gained IAC certification and now you want to build a thriving practice?
If you answered, "Yes!" to either description, you have a new resource available! Beginning on Monday, October 12, 2009, you will be able to attend virtual monthly meetings by telephone, where you can:
Connect with other IAC members who have similar needs and challenges
Share your successes with other IAC members
Trade client referrals
Provide or hear coaching demonstrations
Find coaching practice buddies
Share practice-building tips and hear what works so you can build your own thriving practice
Enjoy the warm support of a group of peers with a vested interest in nurturing your professional growth and taking steps to help you get your needs met
Boost your confidence regarding certification and building a thriving practice
Gain valuable, cutting-edge information in a convenient, supportive mastermind model that is structured for safety and success and where every participant's input is valued
Quarterly events will include a speaker about one or more issues raised during the monthly events. Special attention will be given to confidence-boosting and practice-building issues because these are two of the most common concerns for new coaches.
The IAC GroupSite Forum will be used to assist with communication. When you sign up to receive information about this group, IAC will notify you about meeting times and the bridgeline number.
To be as fair as possible, meeting times will be rotated so that members in as many possible locations around the globe can attend at least once a quarter. For example:
The first monthly meeting will be Monday, October 12, 2009 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time.
The second monthly meeting will be Monday, November 16, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Your group facilitator
Doris Helge, PhD, IAC-Certified Coach and Mentor Coach and Founder of IAC-licensed coach training program, Confident Coach Connection, has volunteered to be Lead Facilitator and the primary contact person. In addition to coach training, Doris has a long history of conducting mastermind groups that empower participants to achieve their goals.
Take advantage of this opportunity
IAC wants to address YOUR needs and concerns so that our organization is even more meaningful and even stronger. This will be YOUR group in the sense that the group will evolve over time in a way that is responsive to participants' needs and desires.
Coaching Non-Profit Leaders to Find Their Strengths by Alex Carter
New non-profit leaders generally bring to their new positions a deep knowledge of and commitment to their organization’s mission and goals, as well as specific skill sets in programmatic work. However, their tool kits often lack specific executive skills such as strategic thinking and personnel management. In addition, some new leaders lack confidence in their ability to perform at a high level in their new positions.
I’ve found that the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment can be a valuable tool in helping new non-profit leaders identify and develop their unique talents as they grow into their new roles.
New leaders face unique challenges
New non-profits leaders face the same challenges as their more-experienced colleagues: fundraising and resource development (even more of a challenge in the current economic climate); programmatic oversight; and communications, among others.
But new leaders also face additional hurdles. Primary among these are managing the staff and board, and the transition from “rowing” to “steering.” While they were once task-oriented in a specific program area, now they need to be more focused on the overall organization.
Coaching new non-profit leaders
New non-profit leaders are especially well placed to benefit from coaching. A good coach offers a new leader tools for growing into the job, helps the executive director (ED) develop and pursue her or his personal and organizational goals and serves as a sounding board for processing events, interactions and crises.
This last function is crucial. The coach is often the only person in the ED’s professional life who wants nothing from them other than their success. In a recent six-month check-in about our work together, one of my clients said that the space to process and “vent” was probably the most useful to him now, when stresses are many and growing. He also noted that my ability to provide a “reality check” helped him feel less isolated.
The StrengthsFinder assessment
One of the first things I ask my new ED clients to do is to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. This tool builds on massive research by the Gallup organization on workplace productivity. Gallup identified 35 “strengths,” or areas of natural talent, ranging from “Achiever” (driven to succeed) to “Woo” (very social, great at winning others over). Gallup found that employees who were able to work from their strengths were significantly more productive than those who did not.
This was a major finding for corporations, who typically spend much time and energy on addressing weaknesses, rather than strengths. Gallup also found that developing an individual’s strengths was much more likely to result in increased productivity and worker satisfaction than any amount of time spent redressing weaknesses.
It’s useful to think of strengths as “default settings.” For example, someone with the “Context” strength will approach a problem wanting to know its origins and history before acting, whereas someone with “Strategic” strength will be more apt to see the forward implications of how the problem is handled.
Precisely because strengths are “default settings,” we tend to downgrade their importance or uniqueness. But no two people possess the same strengths configuration. And an awareness of their strengths, and how they interact to shape their ways of working in the world, gives my clients a unique way to shape their particular leadership styles. We can also identify those areas where they might need more support, or should consider delegating, as they grow into their new positions.
Outcomes of StrengthsFinder for non-profits
When Abby was appointed as ED of a youth advocacy organization, she was not at all sure she was up to the task. She was following in the footsteps of a strong founder, and doubted she could replicate his successes. Abby took the StrengthsFinder and found that she has significant Strategic strength. She has been able to draw on this strength to lead her organization to significant legislative victories, including securing funding for her constituency during a statewide budget crisis.
Other clients have increased confidence in their ability to function at the senior level. Dan, who had extensive mid-level management experience, had some difficulty with the transition to leadership of a transitional housing organization. Dan’s Connectedness strength actually became an obstacle to effective management. He had such a strong sense that all humanity is connected and that each person is of intrinsic worth, that it was difficult for him to exercise authority in situations of conflict. Once we were aware of this pitfall, Dan and I worked to develop an understanding that conflict need not involve disrespect. His ability to manage situations of conflict has improved, along with his confidence in handling them.
Dan was so enthused with the StrengthsFinder that he asked for me to do a training workshop with his entire staff. This was a fascinating afternoon, in which we discovered that most of the staff shared a Connectedness or Belief strength, reflected in a deep belief in the organization’s mission and the high staff morale and retention. The training also revealed an organizational need: there was a noted lack of Communication strength. The staff all knew what they were doing was important, and why, but had trouble communicating outside the organization. That led the group to enlist a volunteer marketing and communications expert, which in turn led to improved fundraising results.
A strong and confident ED is perhaps the most important element in the success of a small- to mid-sized non-profit organization. And non-profit leaders need support as they make the transition into their new roles. The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment has helped my ED clients gain insights into both their strengths and limitations as leaders and managers. In addition, entire teams and organizations have achieved similar positive results using the assessment.
Alex Carter, Your Nonprofit Coach, specializes in helping new Executive Directors become outstanding managers and leaders, while keeping their sanity. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Achieve Your Business Vision with a Simple Plan by Carma Spence-Pothitt
Do you have a vision for your coaching business? Do you see it accomplishing great things? Helping a lot of people? Providing you with the income and lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of?
If you are like most coaches, your answer to these questions was, “Yes!” But you might also feel a little frustrated because you aren’t achieving that vision as swiftly as you’d hoped.
So I ask you: Do you have a plan for achieving your vision or are you just winging it?
Many coaches don’t plan for their success. Part of the reason is the false belief that a business and marketing plan is only needed if you are seeking outside funding. Another false belief is that you have to create a large, complex, traditional business plan.
This is simply not the case. To move your coaching business toward your vision, you only need to create a simple, flexible plan comprised of these five key parts, which you should be able to fit into about three pages:
1. Vision Statement The vision statement is the big picture of your business, stating where you see your business in three to five years. It creates a mental picture of what the business hopes to become or achieve, and states it in the present.
The problem is, too many coaches fail to create a clear vision, instead, creating one that obscures their path. Your vision statement should be as specific as possible on whom your business serves and what you provide them.
2. Mission Statement The mission statement zeros in on the present and looks out to the future by only a year. It declares boldly to the world what makes you and your business unique. It defines the purpose of your business, as well as the values and ethical principles by which you aspire to conduct business. It is an explanation of why the business exists and the path it will take to achieve its vision.
Of all the coaches out there, why should someone hire you? Here is where you can bring together your skills, experience, passion and special characteristics to form a mission that is distinctive to only you and your business.
The mission statement also focuses on the results your business brings about for your clients. What do your clients get out of working with you?
3. Objectives The objectives section is all about measurement. By what markers will you determine your success? Will it be a sales figure? Quantity of clients? Products developed? Your objectives must be clear and precise.
One way to create clear, measurable objectives is to follow the S.M.A.R.T. methodology:
Specific–be precise and relevant to your business.
Measurable–assign a specific measurable value.
Attainable–can you achieve this goal?
Realistic–similar to attainable, but more specific to your business.
Timed–include a date by which you will achieve that objective.
Objectives are the milestones you must arrive at to achieve the success you’ve outlined in your plan.
4. Strategies The most important part of your plan is the strategy section. This is the meat, where the rubber meets the road. This section clearly lays out the activities you need to focus on to move your business toward the success you’ve envisioned. This is where you describe how you will accomplish your objectives.
For every business model, there are some traditional and appropriate strategies you can use. However, you can’t implement them all at once. You need to select which ones will give you the highest return on your investment in the current stage of your business. For example, in coaching, some common strategies include free “get acquainted” sessions, article marketing and public speaking.
Take a look at the strategies available to you and select no more than three to focus on for the first year. You can always re-evaluate and change your decisions when you check in with your plan in three to six months, after having enough time to see if those strategies proved fruitful.
5. Action Plan Your action plan is your roadmap to success. It states those activities you will engage in over the course of a set period of time. Each of these activities must support the other parts of your plan.
For example, if you selected article marketing as one of your strategies, and “grow your list by 500 names” as one of your objectives, steps in your action plan might look like this:
By Nov. 15, I will complete keyword research and select 20 keywords to focus on for the coming year.
By Nov. 30, I'll have written 50 headlines for the articles I want to write, based on my keywords.
By Dec. 15, I will have written a resource box template that points readers to a specific landing page where I collect their name and email address in exchange for a relevant incentive.
By Dec. 31, I will have written 50 articles and began submitting them one per week to EzineArticles.com.
The larger strategy and objective of adding 500 names to your list using article marketing was broken up into smaller tasks with specific due dates that are realistic.
Monitor Your Progress Don’t stop once you’ve completed your plan. A business and marketing plan is a living document. You should refer to it at least once a month, at first, to monitor your progress and ask yourself these questions:
Have I moved forward along my action plan? If yes, do I need to add more actions? If no, why not?
Do I need to re-think my objectives? Do any of them no longer serve my vision or me?
Have I changed direction or deviated from my plan? Why? Out of fear? Or of greater clarity?
By revisiting the plan regularly for the first six to twelve months, you enable yourself to fine-tune it and make sure it is in alignment with your core values and your realistic capabilities.
Carma Spence-Pothitt has more than 20 years of marketing and public relations experience and has helped a wide variety of clients with their promotional activities. If you enjoyed this article and wish to learn more about the topic, take her free e-course at http://www.planyourbusinessvision.com.
Confidence Keys for IAC Coaches by Doris Helge, Ph.D., IAC-CC
Here's the "Does the chicken come first . . . or the egg?" question for IAC coaches: Which comes first, the confident coach, IAC certification or a thriving practice?
Inadequate confidence will bar even the most talented coach from marketing their services or submitting excellent MP3s for IAC certification. On the other hand, you've probably known some very confident, uncertified coaches who were less talented but more successful in business building.
If you're tempted to grinch, "Life's not fair!," take comfort. Our level of confidence is as malleable as a soft ball of clay.
Most coaches who crave IAC certification know it's essential to remember the map to Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous venues for musicians to perform. A musician jumped into a New York City cab with an eager request, "I play the cello. How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" The wisdom in the cab driver's response is equally relevant for IAC coaches, "Study. Practice. Study. Practice."
The keys to masterful coaching include studying the IAC Masteries, taking advantage of quality coach training, practice, and seeking and warmly embracing constructive feedback.
There are also shortcuts on the road to the level of confidence required to become IAC-certified and enjoy a thriving coaching practice. Some of the shortcuts are based on neuroscience and others on spiritual principles.
Take advantage of neuroscience
The science of brain imaging has confirmed what many of us have sensed intuitively. Changing your mind (your beliefs) and manipulating your body can physically rewire your brain. This is why scientists call our brains "plastic."
Each time I read that the human brain has 100 billion neurons that are connected to each other in 40 quadrillion ways, I'm amazed at the power of the personal computers we cart around on our necks. Thinking about something causes synapses between neurons to fire, creating or reinforcing a neural network.
If I say, "Don't think about a pink elephant," you instantly think about a nonexistent animal. Each time I remind you, "Stop thinking about a pink elephant!" you strengthen your new neural network about something that has never existed. Thoughts are things.
We can also program confidence. You are probably aware of the power of mental imagery. We can use multisensory visualization to enhance our self-image as a competent coach and then elevate our performance.
The process can be simple. Examples: Monitor your body posture so that it represents how you want to feel. Use solution-focused language. Delete the word try from your vocabulary. Employ proven multisensory processes that create "confidence loops" in your neurology. The body-mind aspects of this knowledge are in line with IAC Mastery #4, Processing in the Present.
Connect with your source
Learning good coaching techniques that embody the IAC Masteries is essential. Yet, technique alone doesn't develop the level of confidence related to masterful coaching. If a coach has mastered technique but lacks heart and soul, interactions with clients will sound mechanical and can even appear to be heartless.
For example, the coach may methodically ask all of the right questions related to Mastery #9, Helping the Client Create and Use Supportive Systems and Structures, but fail to notice that the client is frightened or lacks the enthusiasm necessary for follow-through. The coach may sound like an accountability drill sergeant.
Likewise, it's very difficult for a coach to engage the level of intuition referred to in Mastery #4 without connecting with their spiritual intelligence. Their coaching will lack the joy, playfulness and curiosity that are spontaneous when the coach trusts the process of the client's and the coach's life––the co-creative process. All of this is directly related to our spirituality.
In coach training, self-doubt is often the elephant in the living room. Practice can enhance confidence but not until coaches deeply connect with their spiritual side, including their innate intuitive edge. Coaches develop unshakable confidence when they fully integrate their life purpose and own their greatness. They develop seemingly magical strengths and gifts that were previously hidden from them.
Since every coach will interpret their spirituality or Universal Intelligence in a unique way that serves them, they can connect with their version of their Creator or Source before each coaching session. When coaches ask themselves questions like the following, feelings of inadequacy are usually replaced by a new wave of confidence.
"How can I be of service?"
"What does my client really need right now?"
"How am I learning and growing during this experience?"
Infinite possibilities for coaching confidence
Many IAC coaches feel seriously challenged when they ponder, "How can I cover all of the IAC Coaching Masteries® in a 30-minute MP3?" "How can I build a thriving practice when the world already has so many coaches?" Confidence is a major key to success…and it can be arranged.
Doris Helge, PhD, IAC-CC, is an IAC- and CTA-certified coach, coach mentor and founder of the IAC-licensed training school, Confident Coach Connection. Discover more at www.ConfidentCoachConnection.com.
From Sali Taylor, IAC-CC, former Lead Certifier for the IAC:
It is a pleasure to be asked to honor Nina East’s enormous contribution to the IAC over the last five years! Nina has been one of the leaders in the coaching field practically since its inception. I knew Nina first as one of the stellar teachers at Coachville. Soon after that, Nina, Karen Van Cleve and I were in the first round to pass the IAC Part 2 exam and together we became certifiers for the recently created IAC.
I worked closely with Nina from 2004-2007 on the Certifying Committee and as Certifying Examiners. In addition to scoring candidates for certification, we met almost weekly to help refine the standards for certification scoring at the newly established IAC. At first, while we were using the 15 Proficiencies, we worked jointly with Coachville. Nina had worked closely with Thomas Leonard, Coachville founder, both on his R&D team and to help craft the study guides for the 15 Proficiencies. Nina knew this material forwards and backwards!
Besides bringing her great knowledge of the material to our Certifying team, Nina also provided a teacher’s style, a mentor’s mastery, a finely tuned ear and a wonderful ability to articulate the strengths and deficits of the coaching recordings she listened to. Scoring was always a labor intensive activity, but with Nina, things moved along pretty quickly. Yet, if there was ever any doubt or difference in scoring, she was always willing to re-listen to the recording to be absolutely sure we had given the candidate the benefit of a further review.
After our International team completed the Coaching Masteries®, Nina helped refine them and craft the scorecard, as we compared and re-scored the earlier candidates’ passing tapes using both the old Proficiency method and the Masteries prototype. That process took many, many months to complete, but Nina followed it every step of the way, committed to making sure we had the most comprehensive, workable, clear, accurate and equitable system to measure coaches’ performance.
If that labor of love wasn’t enough, Nina then willingly stepped into the Lead Certifier’s role, hosted calls to help present the new material to the IAC members and then helped craft the study guides for each of the nine Masteries.
She then generously shared her insider’s view in her monthly commentary on each Mastery, still available in back issues of the VOICE. Such largesse of knowledge, creativity, coaching mastery, mentoring skill, teamwork and generosity of time and spirit will be sorely missed. We wish Nina much joy and happiness on her next undertaking. Whomever she works with will be blessed, indeed!
From 2004-2007, Sali chaired the IAC Certification Team. As a Certifying Examiner, she advocated for and led an international group that developed the Coaching Masteries® for the IAC. Sali is a coach and artist in NYC. Her art was in the 2009 International Women Artists’ Biennale in S. Korea. www.RealSoulutions.com
From Karen Van Cleve, IAC-CC, ACC, IAC Certifier since 2005:
The lifeblood of any volunteer organization is its volunteers, and the IAC is no exception. What does seem to make the IAC exceptional in this category is the quality of the volunteers. I am continually impressed with the caliber of the people involved in the IAC. And among this stellar group of volunteers, one stands out in my mind as an exemplary role model: Nina East, the outgoing Lead Certifier for the IAC.
I have had the blessing and good fortune to work with Nina since 2004, and to work under her leadership on the Certification team since 2006. She would never seek the limelight, but as she “retires” from the Lead Certifier role, I’d like to shine the light brightly on her accomplishments. Nina has been the heart and hands of so many important changes to the certification process and quality.
When Nina stepped into the Lead Certifier role, we were still “Navigating Via Curiosity” and “Recognizing Perfection” in our certifications using the Coachville Proficiencies. With the release of the IAC Coaching Masteries®, we had to figure out how the scoring with the Masteries would compare with the Proficiencies. As described in Sali's story, the team listened to a range of recordings using the Masteries and compared them to the Proficiency scores to ensure consistency and accurate use of the new model. During that effort, Nina, as always, elicited the wisdom of the team, kept clear communication with the IAC leadership, and willingly shared her time and talents to uphold the highest integrity of the IAC certification process.
The next big challenge for the team was to bring on new certifiers. Rather than follow the simplistic process that had previously been used, Nina led the effort to implement a rigorous new search and training process. Three certifier trainees went through countless hours of preparation to qualify to serve on the team.
Last year a new challenge was presented – licensees! Nina became the interface for questions about the Masteries, including definition, interpretation and clarification. As with everything else, Nina brought her exceptional communication and analytical skills to make that new process a success.
The philosophy of the IAC Masteries is to continually reflect the highest and best representation of coaching skills. Nina made that philosophy come alive over the course of several weeks by reviewing all of the proposed feedback from certifications, certifiers and licensees. Nina single-handedly compiled and incorporated these refinements, then worked with the team and ultimately the Board of Governors to officially update the Masteries. This is the kind of dedication that helps the IAC’s certification process to be so relevant and rigorous.
Anyone who volunteers their money and time is a special person. Someone who steps up to serve in the way that Nina has served the IAC, especially as the Lead Certifier for the last three years, deserves a hearty “GREAT JOB!” and “THANK YOU!” I know I’m not alone in my awe and gratitude for Nina’s efforts. If you feel so compelled, please pass your appreciation on to Nina by commenting on the IAC blog!
Karen Van Cleve, IAC-CC, ACC, has been an IAC Certifier since 2005. She is the President and Owner of Live Well Coaching and is also a Results Coach for the Robbins Research Company. She speaks on a variety of coaching topics, her favorite of which is “Do It Yourself Brain Surgery™.” Karen provides personal coaching for a wide range of clients. Her website is www.KarenVanCleve.com.
Sea breezes, books and minerals by Janice Hunter, IAC-CC
How often do you coach someone who’s come to you overwhelmed, stuck or overweight? Someone who’s spiritually sluggish, washed out and weary?
Chances are, you’ll have worked on what’s anchoring them in their past and what’s blocking their energy, the flow of prosperity and creativity in their lives. You’ll have investigated what they’re clinging to, afraid of letting go.
For me, it’s been books. Currently, as we prepare to lay a new wooden floor, all of my books are packed in see-through plastic storage crates, dozens of them in the attic, and six or seven clogging the dining room. But do you know something? After years of squeezing between piles of books on sofas and bookcases, I feel as happy as a kid with new wax crayons. I have that lightness of spirit I feel on holiday, in rooms with lace curtains billowing in a sea breeze, revealing tantalising glimpses of a beach full of promise.
When the new wooden floor is laid, and the last skirting board nailed in place, not one single book will reappear on a shelf unless it is insanely useful, destined to be re-read or so precious it gives me an energy surge just thinking about it. I don’t need books to remind me – or show others – who I was, who I am, what I know or what I enjoy.
I turned fifty last month. For forty-five years, I’ve been devouring reading material; novels, text books, course books, magazines and more recently, online text. I have clusters of books from every phase and every career: dictionaries and text books in nine languages; tomes on astrology, feng shui, art and garden design; books on translation, linguistics and creative writing; files of coach training printouts and dozens of homelife coaching and personal development books.
I adore reading. I adore books. So why am I on the verge of a cull? I need my energy more. Most of my books are no longer inspiring me; they’re depleting me and anchoring me in the past.
I no longer cast astrological charts or speak Greek every day. I passed my coach certification and no longer mentor, or critique exam tapes. If I haven’t absorbed the basics by now, I’d rather revise them in some fresh new format.
I’m tired of dusting books I don’t read, and as my collection grows, it strikes me as bizarre to contemplate extending my home to house books.
Until recently, the thought of parting with them was unbearable. So what happened?
The menopause, my dad’s heart attack, my kids’ puberty and my own illness happened.
My life, for six months, has felt clogged and bogged down with tolerations. Even as I tackled them, kaizen style, one at a time, I accrued more than I dealt with. Sick of missed deadlines, sleepless nights, hair loss, infections and depression, I summoned the strength to arrange appointments with a consultant and my local doctor. Determined not to have my concerns dismissed, swept under the rug of age, parenthood and caring for an elderly relative, I asked for blood tests.
My inner child, my coaching voice, my intuition and every member of my spiritual team, desperate to crawl out from under the weight of overwhelm, were screaming:
What do I need?
What’s stopping me getting it?
What am I getting too much of?
What am I not getting enough of?
What will I gain when I get the balance and flow back?
When I visited the consultant, I simply asked him to help me find out what I was deficient in. Such a small question, but my silent sigh convinced me it was the right step, the right question, like a perfect pebble dropped in a deep pool.
While I was waiting for the results, I had my seasonal September craving to get clean and clear. I rode it like a cresting wave, surfing my way through packing, recycling and binning my possessions, blessing and letting go of anything that no longer energised me. I knew I’d reach the shore battered and sea-tossed, but it was worth it.
Out went patterned, grubby rugs, shabby faded curtains and sagging fake wood bookcases.
In came a shaggy wool rug, freshly painted cream walls, soft cotton slip covers and snuggly throws and cushions, all in natural textures and the colours of serenity and sea shores: sun baked terracotta, warm sand and sea-tossed pebbles, driftwood and shells.
My books, photo frames and ornaments are still safely stored until I decide their fate.
Right now, I need spiritual space more than belongings, fresh air and clear surfaces more than books and objects. I need time with my loved ones more than the memories that keep me anchored to lost loves and the empty shells of lives no longer lived.
My blood test results came back and I smiled. Due to malabsorption, I’m severely deficient in major minerals, including zinc. Zinc deficiency can cause sleeplessness, depression, skin problems, hair loss, infections and a lack of appetite – for food, love and life itself. I was right to have insisted on tests.
Now that I know, I can work on my zinc. It’s easier to ask myself “How can I get and absorb more zinc?” than “How can I fix my entire life?”
One banana, one handful of seeds, one step at a time works for me, as long as it’s a step that takes me in the right direction.
Janice Hunter is an IAC certified homelife coach who lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She created and co-wrote Sharing the Certification Journey: Six IAC Coaches Talk About Their Journeys, and her blogsite, www.sharingthejourney.co.uk, provides soul food and support for coaches, writers, parents and home-based workers.
Janice has compiled all of her Coaching Moments pieces from the last two years into a free 46-page ebook, 'Coaching Moments: A Collection of Articles about Coaching in Everyday Life' which can be downloaded here or from her site.
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