IAC VOICE, Volume 4, Issue 42, December 2009, Circulation 13,354


From the Editor 

Are you tweeting yet? If you are, be sure to check out the new IAC Contributor's list so you can follow our feature article authors, columnists and IAC Board members on Twitter. Check it out at:

And if you're not on Twitter yet, Suzi Pomerantz has a great social media primer for you in today's feature business-building article.

While we're sad to see Angela Spaxman's last column as President, it's inspiring to read President-Elect Bob Tschannen-Moran's tribute to Angela and her work with IAC.

This month we're highlighting the New Coach Virtual Chapter as a member benefit, and Chapter Founder Doris Helge shares an exciting example of the kind of impact these groups can have.

If you had trouble finding any of your Christmas ornaments this year, or if you've gone out and bought new supplies because you forgot you already had them, you might identify with the Clutterbug Clients in our feature article by professional organizer Claire Tompkins.

In Tools for Coaching Mastery, Aileen Gibb introduces a tool from the field of transactional analysis, and explains exactly how she uses it effectively in her own coaching practice.

Shhhhh! Lead Certifier Natalie Tucker Miller has a very important message in today's Inside Scoop—Ask the Certifiers column. And in Coaching Moments, Janice Hunter shares a beautiful Christmas message and poem, and invites your support for an emotional situation in her own life.

Enjoy the issue, and please note that revised submission guidelines for the VOICE are available on the website, along with submission dates for all 2010 issues. I would love to receive your article submissions by December 14th for the January 8th issue, or by January 19th for the February 12th issue.

Please contact me with your article ideas and your feedback about this issue.

Warm wishes,

Linda Dessau, CPCC
Editor, IAC® VOICE
Email: voice@certifiedcoach.org

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From the President
by Angela Spaxman

Coaching is at a key crossroads within a maturing industry. Some see the need for additional standards, licensing and credentialing. They would use the new coaching research to codify the practice. Others see the need to diversify the practice of coaching, to facilitate the spread of the coaching approach into many realms in society and across the world. They would use the new research to innovate and increase effectiveness.

Our recent strategic visioning process has confirmed that the IAC is firmly in the second camp. We are here to help coaches do excellent work that brings them success. And we also aspire to bring coaching more fully into the world so that it can be of most benefit.

The IAC was born as the result of dissatisfaction with the trend of other coaching organizations. So it is inspiring to me to see us re-confirming our values now. I hope that other coaches who support this vision of coaching will join us too.

Help Us Set Our Strategy

While our direction is clear, how we will do it is unfolding every day. This week I summarized hundreds of ideas from our strategy sessions into 38 possible strategies. In January we will be sharing this draft and asking for your input again, to help us choose our priorities and gather more ideas on how to achieve our goals. Please join us. We need your ideas and support.

Strategy Call #4 (IAC members only):

Jan 12, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Eastern Time (01/12/2010) OR
Jan 14, 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time (01/14/2010)

Please click here to register for the calls or to receive the recordings.

This is my last missive as IAC President. I will turn over the reins to incoming President Bob Tschannen-Moran on December 31, 2009.

It’s hard to describe my feelings about completing my term as President. It is easy to relinquish the responsibility, which was heavy at times, as the role of President brought surprises often just beyond what I felt I was ready to do. Serving as President has meant doing what’s called for, and welcoming the challenge with pleasure and confidence. The role has brought me many priceless lessons and rewarding experiences.

My energy and commitment to the IAC remains strong as I move into the role of Past-President. I'm anticipating the pleasure of choosing new ways I can help move our organization forward from amongst the many great ideas before us. And as a friend reminded me recently, the IAC is not my cause, but our cause, so I know you will be with me too.

I want to say a huge and heart-felt thank-you to two other Board members who will also be stepping down. Des Walsh, our resident social media expert, has been consistent in his support as Chair of our Board meetings and in prodding us towards better web technology. Parker Anderson, outgoing Vice President, has been a wise companion for me as our longest-serving Board member. The energy of her support can be felt thousands of miles away. The IAC owes both Des and Parker an unpayable debt for their time and energy.

All my best for the holidays and the New Year.

Angela Spaxman
President, IAC®
Email: president@certifiedcoach.org
Web: www.lovingworkandleading.com

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From the President-Elect
Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC PresidentElect@certifiedcoach.org

A Tribute to Angela Spaxman

The closer I come to taking over as President of the IAC next month, the more intimidated I am by the prospect. That comes in no small respect from the incredible shoes I have to fill, of my predecessor Angela Spaxman. Wow! Angela has offered the IAC the perfect combination of hard work, wise counsel, eloquent expression and institutional memory.

I’m not sure what else Angela does with her life and work in Hong Kong, but one thing is clear: the IAC has been a heartfelt passion that receives far more time and attention from Angela than the organization has any right to expect. We have benefited greatly from her exceptional efforts and I look forward to continuing that tradition as best I can.

In the past year alone, Angela has been instrumental in:

  • Raising the visibility of the IAC,
  • Improving our organizational policies and procedures,
  • Creating the Mastery licensing program (currently with 26 licensees),
  • Launching a far-reaching strategy process that will serve us well for years to come, and
  • Initiating a website makeover process that will support the evolution of the IAC as a global leader in coaching certification, community and mastery.

It is hard to imagine anyone doing more in one year to launch us into the future. Thank you, Angela, for all that you have done, are doing and will do for the IAC.

I say "will do" because the best news is that Angela is staying on the Board of Governors (BOG) as Past President, as my special advisor and to work on a number of other projects. That will help us to preserve institutional memory and get the work done up to the high standards that Angela has set. With others on the BOG retiring and moving on at the end of this month, including our Vice-President, M. Parker Anderson, and our BOG meeting facilitator, Des Walsh, Angela’s continuing presence and work will prove to be especially important.

You can catch wind of what Angela has meant to this community by reading a few select remarks from those who know Angela best. The final comment, from our retiring Vice-President, says it best: "Thank you hardly seems to be enough."

"Angela is a paradox of laid back efficiency. And that ability to lead and get things done in such an easygoing way is a rare talent." ~ Tony Betts

"Angela's commitment to the IAC is evident in the visible positions she's held as Editor of the VOICE and President of the Board. What people may not know is that she had worked tirelessly for the IAC well before her name was ever printed in the newsletter or posted on the website. I've had the distinct honor to work with Angela on a variety of projects, and her dedication, vision, reach and insights have helped to shape the IAC into the global organization it is today. She continually reflects on her leadership and models a coaching approach that inspires others to do the same. I am one of the lucky ones who will continue to work with Angela on various projects while the IAC continues to benefit from her contributions." ~ Natalie Tucker Miller

"Angela has been supportive and encouraging with her guidance over this last year as I settled into my role as editor of the VOICE. She has helped me connect with the bigger work of the IAC as a whole. That has made a huge difference to the pride and investment I feel in my small part in that important mission." ~ Linda Dessau

"When I approached the IAC with an interest to volunteer, Angela was my first contact. In our very first conversation, she so clearly embodied the type of organization–one with integrity, compassion and vision–that I wanted to become involved with. As I’ve worked with and have gotten to know Angela better over the past year or so, she continued to impress me with her clarity of thought, her leadership skills and her capacity to make decisions that benefit both the IAC and the coaching profession in general. Not to mention that she’s a wonderful, caring, interesting person! It has been a pleasure and an honor to be on the IAC board with Angela at the helm, and I look forward to our continued professional collaboration for years to come!" ~ Sue Brundege

"The IAC will always be in particular debt to Angela for maintaining the continuity of highly dedicated and professional leadership set by previous Presidents. She was willing to step up and be President, when no one else was available to be nominated. What could have been a time when the BOG lost momentum became a time of consolidation and further achievement under her intelligent, imaginative and always inclusive leadership." ~ Des Walsh

"Angela stepped into the role of leadership both kicking and screaming and also with that thoughtful and calm manner in which she approaches life. She truly understood that her time was NOW to be an IAC leader and what a difference that has made to and for all of us. She has demonstrated a leadership style that is inviting and welcoming. She has shared her skills and talents in a broad-based manner and has never faltered when it comes to expanding her own learning and growth potential.

As a result, Angela led the IAC into new realms of possibilities across the globe. She truly made the organization international in scope. It is a real coup for the IAC to have had a leader such as Angela emerge from the ranks of volunteer into being a premier and masterful, coach, motivator and leader extraordinaire. Thank you hardly seems to be enough to say, however, thank you is said with heartfelt appreciation." ~ M. Parker Anderson-Mabry

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New IAC Coaching Masteries® licensed schools and mentors

Rev Training and Coaching Shanghai   United States No View Details

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IAC Certified Coaches

Congratulations to Gwyn Hayward-Ryan from Auckland, New Zealand and Sara Connell from Chicago, IL, USA who recently passed their Step 2 Exams and became IAC-Certified Coaches!

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Featured IAC Member Benefit: The New Coach Virtual Chapter

While all are welcome to join, IAC members can get recordings of the calls while guests can only call in live. Visit http://www.newiaccoach.com for more details or to join.

In the following article, Chapter Founder Doris Helge illustrates the benefits of collaborating with other coaches.

IAC Coaches Collaborate for Success
by Doris Helge, IAC-CC

Successful IAC coaches understand the power of collaboration. They know that every time a single IAC member builds a thriving practice, all coaches benefit. How? Coaching becomes more visible and more people comprehend the value of our services.

With billions of potential clients around the world, there is plenty of business for all coaches. Successful coaches refuse to be distracted by social programming that promotes competition. In a world that so desperately needs coaching skills, competition is an outdated paradigm that is crumbling like a clump of dried mud.

Thriving coaches are empowered by their confidence and their sense of personal responsibility. They know their talents, wisdom, experience and skills are a constant source of abundance and joy. They know they are always connected to potential clients and other resources. Because they are not functioning within a framework of lack or limitation, they're excited about collaboration.

All of this begins with coaching confidence. When you grow your coaching self-esteem, your heart spontaneously and effortlessly connects you with clients who've been eagerly waiting your arrival. Once these people discover you, they are drawn to you like bees to honey.

Edna Johnson is an excellent coach and a brilliant creative writer who graciously shares her wisdom with other coaches. With Edna's permission, here is a brief excerpt from a story she wrote recently after an advanced coaching class.

"My Aha! moment today was thinking about being a 7-inch frog straining to leap up a 9-inch step. I've sometimes felt this way about becoming a certified coach.

At best, a little 7-inch frog can only jump as high as 7 inches, so a 9-inch step seemed insurmountable. It felt like the effort to hurtle the step would exhaust the little frog.

Then I expanded my thinking using IAC Mastery #8, "Expanding the Client's Potential." What if another frog came along? The two frogs could play leapfrog and jump up the entire staircase. They would forget that it was supposed to be impossible to jump up the 9-inch stair.

They could make their goal an adventure and playfully explore the pond around the step together instead of feeling like they were individual frogs faced with an impossible task and endless work. They could be curious, like a good coach.

All of a sudden, I was no longer afraid regarding how to become a certified coach. The journey to certification isn't about jumping through hoops. It's a fun quest!"

Collaborative coaches are using their intentions to support each other to create a perfect circle of light around the world. We are helping each other leapfrog forward by using collaborative mastermind groups. We think of ourselves as tuning forks. When one coach sends supportive intentions to another and that coach does the same, a tone is created that is much more beautiful and powerful than the original coach would have had alone.

With an organized international group of IAC coaches, the power of "one for all" rapidly travels across the world. Each positive intention magnifies through group effort. The torch of light is given from one coach to the next and the next, growing stronger and more brilliant with every leapfrog forward. By the time the positive feelings boomerang back to the original coach, they are a thousand times stronger than the initial intention of that coach.

Pause for a moment and reflect on the magnificence of what so many IAC members are consciously co-creating. We help each other while we boost IAC's visibility and the entire profession of coaching. This is the loveliest and purest form of power on this planet . . . and it's all about collaboration.

So, please turn your attention back to IAC Mastery #8, "Expanding the Client's Potential." How do you think the momentum we are building can become even stronger? There are no limits. As described in the November 2009 issue of the VOICE, the IAC leadership actively supports the "one for all" approach.

I hope this article helps you feel deeply connected to an ongoing coaching support system that will help you shine your very special light on a planet that is hungry for your special talents. Just imagine what we can to do as a united force for positive change!


Doris Helge, PhD, is an IAC- and CTA-certified coach, coach mentor and founder of the IAC-licensed training school, Confident Coach Connection. She also created the New Coach Virtual Chapter of IAC, a mastermind that boosts coaching confidence and collaboration. Discover more at http://www.newiaccoach.com/.


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Clutterbug Clients: How Partnering with a Professional Organizer Can Help
by Claire Tompkins

Your coaching client comes up with wonderful, uplifting and life affirming goals they want to achieve with your help. But, as time passes, it seems the client isn't making or sticking with the desired changes.

Of course, dealing with obstacles is part of the coaching process. A skilled coach works to ferret out what’s behind those obstacles and helps the client overcome them.

In the case of clutterbug clients, though, a professional organizer might just be the missing link that could help your client move forward. Clutterbugs find it hard to focus on goals because they are easily distracted by their many projects and interests. They're reluctant to make decisions that would move them forward because that cuts off other equally wonderful alternatives.

Clients can be ashamed of their disorganization. This makes them feel unworthy of their own goals. Sometimes one of the most productive things I do for my clients is assure them that their clutter is not hopeless and that having too much stuff is a common situation when you live in an affluent society. I acknowledge the client’s feelings about the clutter and gently remind them that it’s still just stuff. No matter what story they have about it, clutter is made up of inanimate objects that they are the master of.

Change is scary, even good change. Clutter insulates people and protects them from change. Having lots of stuff around means there is always something to do, something to occupy their time and their minds. When a goal feels too scary, it’s easier to turn to sorting the stamp collection.

While I never insist that a client get rid of things, I do think it’s important that they’re consciously aware that they’re holding on to things for reasons that don’t make much sense, when they really stop to look at them. That’s a first step toward being able to make rational decisions.

Sometimes people are reluctant to address clutter because it's not as important as working on their life goals. Yet clutter creates a gnawing, guilty feeling that they need to clean up before they can go on to something more rewarding. That's why they're stuck. They put off tidying the studio because they want to paint. And then they put off painting because the studio is too full of clutter to move around. Each gets in the way of the other.

Physical clutter represents unmade decisions, paths not taken, promises not kept and potentials not realized. Reflecting on those choices can be paralyzing for some people. I encourage my clients to live in the present, where they can make changes. Change requires taking—or even making—opportunities today, rather than holding on to any possible opportunities.

Being disorganized is about more than having too much stuff or being messy. Even if there aren’t emotional issues involved, disorganization is distracting and time consuming, taking the client away from what’s really important.

Life coaches realize that movement in one area usually inspires movement in others too. When a coach and a professional organizer team up to help a clutterbug client, that synergy can help him or her make amazing progress.


Professional organizer Claire Tompkins specializes in creating customized organizing techniques for each client. By addressing their unique needs, she provides solutions that make their lives easier and give them more free time to do what they love. In-person and telephone sessions are available. Visit www.cluttercoachblog.com for more information.


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Why Social Media is Ideal for Coaches: Are You in the Game?
by Suzi Pomerantz

To grow your coaching business or practice, it is no longer acceptable NOT to be engaged in social media. That luxury has passed. If you were waiting for this "fad" to go away, it’s time for a mindset shift! Here’s why social media is ideal for coaches:

1. It's networking at its best: across all time zones, from the comforts of your own home and aligned with the best coaching mindsets of service, connection and contribution.

2. It's free: free marketing opportunities work in every budget, in every economy.

3. It's a platform to do what you do best: engage in conversation, share wisdom, and be truly global.

So what is social media? It is a series of online platforms that utilize Web 2.0 technology, which is basically anything that lets you interact and participate rather than just read. Blogs and wikis are part of social media, but in this article we'll just discuss social networks.

For coaches, the key uses of social media are to build your brand, increase your visibility and exposure, network internationally, share your wisdom, find service providers, have conversations with clients, prospective clients, and colleagues, and create opportunities for large-scale collaborations.

General Social Networking Strategies

  • Each site has its own culture, personality, etiquette, and communication protocols, so take some time to get to know each one before you dive in. Design your profile once and then customize it to fit each site.
  • If you have a blog, use a service such as Tweetmeme or TwitThis so it's easy for your blog readers to publicize your post on Twitter. You can also connect your blog to your social network accounts so each new post is automatically distributed to your network.
  • Be sure to connect your Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook to each other so each post is leveraged and shows up in all three places.

The Big Three Social Networks

There are literally hundreds of online social networks you can join, but these are the Top 3.

LinkedIn: This one is primarily professional, although to the extent that you serve as a connector of others, you may wish to include your broader community as well. The power of LinkedIn for coaches is in the Groups function (search for "coaching" and you will find many potential groups to connect with) as well as the Questions and Answers sections (position yourself as an expert by answering questions in your specialty area). LinkedIn has nearly 50 million users from over 200 countries, and has been around long enough to rank very high on search engine rankings pages.

Facebook: This one is primarily social, although many businesses are using both profile pages and Fan Pages to engage in conversation with clients and stakeholders. As a coach, I definitely recommend having both a profile page for you and a Fan Page for your business. If you have any products, you can also create a Fan Page for each product. Facebook has over 300 million people on it, and while that’s an outrageous number of people to try to target, especially for coaches, you can’t beat that kind of free marketing exposure opportunity!

Twitter: The power of Twitter is the ability to network and be in an online streaming conversation with 44 million people all over the world. Unlike Linked In and Facebook, relationships are not reciprocal, which means you don’t have to approve invitations to connect. People become your "follower" and you can follow whomever you choose: thought leaders, authors, celebrities, politicians, other coaches, executives, etc. Sign up for a Twitter account and secure that "real estate" in your name, your company’s name, and any brands or products you carry. Tweets are short posts of 140 characters, usually with links embedded. This makes tweeting very speedy.

The Big Three Coaching Networks

Because social media is so ideal for coaches, there are now many coach-specific social networks. Here are three that you might begin with, and all are free to join:

The Coach Exchange (tce): tce is an elite coach-to-coach network for showcasing talent and sharing knowledge, resources and vision. This is where coaches and opportunity meet!

The Coaching Commons: A non-partisan "big tent," under which coaches can freely create the future together in a non-commercial setting.

Leading Coaches’ Center: LCC is an online community center for executive coaches, where leaders play, learn, contribute and advance our profession together.

Coaching is about profound connections and social media is perfect for coaches because it is basically a set of tools to support and foster expanded connections! Get involved, get online and play in one or all of the social networks discussed in this article. You owe it to yourself and your future.


Suzi Pomerantz, MT, MCC is an award-winning master executive coach and author of Seal the Deal. She teaches at top coach training programs worldwide and co-founded ICCO as well as the Library of Professional Coaching. Suzi founded the Leading Coaches Center and invites you to connect! http://LeadingCoachesCenter.com


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This column is provided by an IAC Coaching Masteries®-Licensed School or Mentor.

I'm OK, You're OK: Transactional Analysis for Coaches
by Aileen Gibb

In his book I’m OK, You’re OK (AVON Publishing, 1967), Thomas A. Harris promotes the idea that transactional analysis (TA) is not just a tool for specialists, but a technique that many people can benefit from. As a coach I’ve found that one of Thomas Harris’ frameworks has been a hugely powerful tool for my clients–who have become some of those "many people" Harris hoped would benefit from his work.

When working with IAC Mastery #2, "Perceiving, affirming and expanding the client’s potential," we often hear that our client has assumptions, perspectives and unspoken beliefs that are holding them back. I call it the "programming" that unconsciously tells us one story, when our success depends on us living a more constructive, empowering version of the story.

One of the common scenarios I come across is the client who is giving up their personal power in favour of another person’s position or perceived power. I might expect to hear them use such language as "I can’t tell her that," "It’s not my place to point that out to him," or "I don’t think he’d listen to me on that point."

When I become alert to this as a pattern for the client, I will ask them to draw the following diagram on a piece of paper in front of them (this works equally well when coaching by phone):

I’m not OK
You’re OK

I’m OK
You’re OK

I’m not OK
You’re not OK

I’m OK
You’re not OK

Next I ask them to think of the situation in question and ask them which of the above squares they’re standing in as they look at this situation. Invariably, they will quickly realize that they are standing in either the upper left or bottom right quadrant.

There is usually an "aha" moment at this point. As soon as the client sees that this is what’s going on for them, their energy often immediately changes. "Gosh, I never realized that’s what I’m doing."

In the more therapeutic context this transactional model might be used to move into a counseling process for the client to analyse why they find themselves in this quadrant.

As coaches, we can let go of the need for such analysis and move our client forward by trusting that awareness is the first step to change. This will lead us to a future-focused question to support the client seeing their position differently:

"Which quadrant would you like to be standing in as you approach this?"

I have yet to come across a client who doesn’t want to step into the top-right "I’m OK, You’re OK" quadrant. I find that by this point the client has moved to being focused on self–and will almost unconsciously move out of any blame, victimization or defensiveness about the other person.

It’s one of those simple yet magically powerful coaching shifts that doesn’t even need to be named. A masterful coach will be aware of it and will hold it with empathy and understanding, trusting the client to step metaphorically into the top-right quadrant–thereby claiming more personal power.

Sensing and observing this shift, the powerful coaching question might be:

"What will it take for you to stand in that top-right quadrant in this situation?"


"What do you need in order to stand in that top-right quadrant in this situation?"


"What’s different when you stand in the top-right "I’m OK, You’re OK" quadrant?"

My experience is that the "aha" moment is often powerful enough to unconsciously clear a lot of the old programming, assumptions or beliefs. Once the client can see herself standing in the top-right quadrant it also becomes clear exactly what she needs or have or do in order to follow through to success.

I’ve used this tool many times in this simple way to help clients shift from a limiting belief and to feel more encouraged and empowered to take action–outcomes we expect to see in the effective use of Mastery #2.

To honour Dr. Harris and his work, I’ll often mention to the client that this tool came from the field of TA, though to be honest my client is generally so focused on their anticipated action or conversation that they’re not too worried about how they got there.

Months later, however, clients have told me that they still have that 4-square diagram on their desk or tucked away in their journal as a reminder to step into the top-right quadrant.

Thank you, Dr. Harris! I do believe many people are benefiting from your work and that it’s been a gift to the coaching field.



Aileen Gibb is founder and lead coach with IC International, dedicated to inspiring a better future in life and work. Her vision is to connect 100,000 people with their inspired future over the next 10 years. Email agibb@icinternational.biz or visit her new website www.inspiredfuture.org (coming soon!).


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by Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC


Can you hear it?

You might be surprised to learn what can be discovered in silence. In the kind of silence that is present when a coach senses that the most useful thing to say is…….nothing.

The following question and answer addresses two different kinds of silence. One is the quiet that presents itself in the old proverb, "Will my words improve upon the silence?"

The other addresses the verbal mannerisms that often show up in conversation as more habitual than conscious. Here’s a look at how coaches can offer more when they say less.

Q. What’s so great about silence? Isn’t it awkward to let a client sit there wondering what’s going on?

A. There certainly is such a thing as awkward silence and I’m sure we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. However, silence in coaching is not designed to leave someone hanging, or to use because you’re unsure where to take the conversation (which can indeed feel awkward for both the coach and client!). In the latter situation, in fact, full disclosure would be an appropriate response, as in, "I’m not sure where you’d like to go with this". Learning to become comfortable with a purposeful use of silence will provide more opportunity for growth than you might imagine.

So what’s so great about silence? The simple answer is that there is great processing that can happen when the noise around us ceases. In the elegant words of Byron Katie, "When I became quiet, they could hear themselves." In those words is an understanding that the voice of one’s own heart and mind holds the key to personal greatness. The client’s inner guidance and wisdom comes forth in profound ways when there is an environment that encourages this guidance. This also reminds us that, although coaches can and do offer their wisdom and knowledge, the knowing that comes from the client is what creates the shifts and sustainability that true transformation requires.

And now for the more complex answer about what's so great about silence.

Members, continue reading here.

To join the IAC, click here.

Do you have a question that you’d like to ask the certifiers? Submit your questions here: http://certifiedcoachblog.typepad.com/blog/ask-the-certifiers.html.

Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC, is the Lead Certifier and a certifying examiner at the IAC, as well as Past-President. She is Dean of Students and a Master Instructor at the School of Coaching Mastery. Natalie is founder of Ageless-Sages.com Publishing (www.ageless-sages.com), and creator of the literary genre, Picture Books for Elders™.


Please send your questions on the IAC Coaching Masteries® and the certification process to certification@certifiedcoach.org.

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"Coaching Moments" takes a thoughtful look at how coaching can be interwoven into our daily lives. 

May the sun bring you new energy by day; may the moon softly restore you by night; may the rain wash away your worries; may the breeze blow new strength into your being. ~ An Apache blessing

What does Christmas mean to you?
by Janice Hunter, IAC-CC

Is it a festival celebrated by folk of another faith? Is it the brightest light in a glowing season of gift giving and gratitude that stretches from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day? Or one special day that begins with a family feast of fish on Christmas Eve and the opening of a few gifts before you crunch through the snow to church on an icy cold day?

Do you barbecue at the beach under the sweltering midsummer sun or shop till you drop in a city full of towering skyscrapers?

Does the hype leave you feeling lonely and unloved, despite the dedication you lavish on others all year?

Or maybe the credit crunch has crushed the cheer from your spirit?

Which values shine and resonate most with you at this time of the year?

For me, it’s all about love, hope and home. It’s about making the world a bit warmer and brighter, about cherishing children and taking the time to honour the spirit of childhood, family and community.

My friend Maria is a very strong, passionate, life-loving person, a wife and mum, grandma and active member of our community. She spent most of last December in excruciating pain, waiting for blood test results. When she learned she had cancer, she spent Christmas week praying for a cancellation so her surgery could be scheduled as soon as possible.

While fairy lights twinkled on frosty trees, and glittering Christmas trees glowed in the windows of cosy homes, her house sat dark and undecorated, shrouded in shock and fear.

Every time I was tempted to snap at my kids or succumb to Christmas stressing, I thought of Maria, of how she longed to have many more Christmases with her husband and children and of how the only gift she longed for was life itself—life and more time to enjoy life’s simple daily pleasures.

The love of her husband, friends and grown-up family kept her strong throughout her surgery and treatments, and months later she was climbing hills, campaigning for awareness groups and giving thanks for the all-clear she’d been given.

I had planned to write a piece about how Maria’s courage, strength and fortitude have inspired me this year, but just as I was about to light a few candles and submerge myself in festive writing, Maria’s husband came to tell me the cancer was back.

She’s having treatment right now and there are no Ho! Ho! Ho!’s and sleighbells in my Christmas yet. There is only faith in an unfolding universe that I have no control over, and a heart full of love.

Wherever you are, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, please send Maria—and others like her all over the world—some silent prayers and wishes as she faces months of chemotherapy.

A friend of mine asked me today what a perfect Christmas Day feels like; I told her it feels like my heart has come safely home. I wish the same for you.

May you have a season filled with vibrant health, strength of spirit and a heart brimming over with love, compassion and empathy.

May you find hope in every twinkling light, warmth in the smile of strangers and a chance to share your gifts every day.

May you have the chance to create magical memories that money can’t buy.

No matter who you are or where you live, I hope you go to sleep each night with a grateful, peaceful heart.

Wishing you everything you’d wish for yourself…

As an extra gift for Christmas, I thought I’d leave you with Max Ehrman’s famous Desiderata, which is Latin for "desired things." I’ve carried a handwritten version of this poem around with me since I first heard it in the early seventies.

There are always passages that stand out a bit more brightly for me when I need guidance, lines that resonate with my needs. Try letting this beautiful piece of work guide you the next time you feel overwhelmed or need answers. Just read it silently to your soul and listen for the answers.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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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