Welcome to the June issue of the IAC VOICE. I'm excited to announce that we are entered in the Best of Coaching Blogs 2010 content, hosted by IAC-licensee School of Coaching Mastery. Last year we placed in the Top 10, and that brought us more exposure and I'm sure has increased our readership. To succeed again this year, we'll need your support.
According to the contest rules, you can vote for as many blogs as you like, but you can only vote for each blog once during the entire contest.
How do you sum up hundreds of hours of work in six words? President Bob Tschannen-Moran tells us in another inspirational President's Message. Board of Governors (BOG) Secretary Susan R. Meyer keeps up-to-date with new additions to the Board and committees.
If you have been reading this column for any length of time, then you know that the IAC has been engaged in a long-range planning process for the past year. Both the experience and the resulting plan were exhilarating. I was impressed by not only the commitment of our members and volunteers but also by the creativity and diversity of perspective. We already knew that the IAC is a real gem. The planning process revealed how we might polish that gem to attract more attention to the distinct contribution we make in the coaching world.
In the past two months we have been working to develop a short, memorable slogan that summarizes our vision, shifts our perceptions and stirs our passions. Although it seems impossible to reduce a 10-page document and hundreds of hours of work down to a single sentence or phrase, it’s important to try and capture the essence of that work.
Coaches know all about that importance when it comes to our work with clients. We assist them to clarify and describe their visions in compelling statements. In his book, Inspire! What Great Leaders Do (2004, Wiley), Lance Secretan refers to this as our Why-Be-Do statements. Why am I here? How will I be? What will I do? Such questions are equally relevant and ultimately guiding for individuals and organizations alike. The IAC is no exception.
When it comes to such weighty and transformative questions, it’s important to think big, out-of-the box thoughts. Once developed, such visions serve as magnets. They pull us forward and give us energy for the journey.
Appreciative Inquiry, one of the disciplines in which I have some background, training and experience, refers to such visions as Provocative Propositions. To qualify, a proposition has to meet the following five tests. Is it:
Grounded: Building on the best of current reality?
Daring: Boldly stretching the status quo?
Desired: Reflecting what we want to move toward, not what we move away from?
Palpable: Sensing the future in the present, as if it was already happening? and
Participatory: Involving all relevant stakeholders?
It was no accident that our strategic plan meets those five tests. We worked hard to include every possible voice, to anticipate the future, to stay focused on the positive and to boldly go where no coaching association had gone before—without losing sight of the present moment. We didn’t want to develop a pipedream; we wanted to develop a passionate dream that would beckon us forward and move us into action.
To capture that vision in six powerful words has taken a bit longer to develop, but it has been worth the wait. Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. That’s a big difference and we were confident that we would know when lightning had struck.
That may have happened at the recent Conversation Among Masters (CAM) conference. Four of us from the IAC were in attendance; talking among ourselves and testing out various slogans with CAM participants led us to the following phrase: Expanding the Path to Coaching Mastery.
Many people have reacted to those six words with delight and enthusiastic support. They seem to capture so much of who we are, what we are about and how we are becoming through the strategic plan. With the development of a system of personalized learning agreements, instead of a standard path of development or scope of practice, the IAC is indeed expanding the path to coaching mastery. We welcome all who share the standards and masteries of our profession, however they get developed or expressed. That is the first and most obvious sense of the slogan.
But we don’t stop there. Expanding the path to coaching mastery also means that we are taking coaching mastery to the world in increasingly diverse, nuanced and evocative terms. We not only want to serve professional coaches with coaching mastery; we also want to serve clients as well as the world at large.
We believe that just about everyone would benefit if coaching mastery was a common language and the preferred method for facilitating learning, growth and change. Parents could use coaching mastery with children. Managers could use it with employees. And partners could use it with each other. There is no limit to how far this might expand and to how much good it might do.
As the IAC Board of Governors moves to vote on this slogan at our June meeting, I would love to receive your thoughts and feedback on the phrase. Does that sound like the IAC you know and love? Does that sound like an organization you would like to join? Can you get as excited as we are about the prospect of Expanding the Path to Coaching Mastery? Let me know by writing President@CertifiedCoach.org. And if you haven’t already done so, please join or to renew your membership in the IAC today.
May you be filled with goodness, peace and joy, Bob
Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC, is President of LifeTrek Coaching International. Together with this 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
As we continue to move forward on a number of fronts, The BOG is delighted to announce the approval of two new Board members, Karen Lim from Shenzen, China and Alberto Calderón from Mexico City, Mexico. We are also pleased that Alison Davis and Louise Le Gat will be working with the Licensing Committee and that Gwyn Hayward-Ryan from New Zealand will be working with Member Benefits.
Susan R. Meyer, IAC-CC 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. www.susanrmeyer.com.
How does one Recover from the Death of a Child? by Kim Ades
Her name is Lorraine. A few short weeks ago she was a stranger to me, yet I knew that she had just lost a child and was in excruciating pain. Her son, Hunter, was only 3 ½ when he died. Sam, one of my coaching clients, is good friends with Lorraine. As Hunter was approaching his last days, Sam had journaled about this incredibly brave mother and child, describing the torture Lorraine was experiencing.
I was only an innocent bystander, but after Sam sent me a video of this child helping his mom blow out birthday candles with tubes in his nose, only six weeks before his death, it was impossible for me to sit on the sidelines.
With five kids of my own, I imagine that there is no worse blow than the death of a child. I kept thinking about Lorraine and how difficult it must be for her and her husband to cope with such a significant loss. I thought about the wide variety of emotions that she must be feeling—from deep despair as a result of her loss to joy from the memory of such a sweet child.
As the owner of a coaching company that uses journaling as the centrepiece for coaching, I asked Sam to connect me with Lorraine so that I could offer to help her create an online journaling platform as a safe place to express all that she was feeling. At the same time, she could invite her friends, family and other supporters to journal as well. I suggested that journaling might help her heal—at least a little.
Lorraine accepted my offer and she has begun to journal. Her entries are brutally honest and heart-wrenching, and they demonstrate her fierce love for her son and her incredible strength as a mother. She is pregnant and expecting in a few months, and dealing with questions about whether this is her first child. Lorraine is using her journal to capture her thoughts and try to cope with day-to-day life after the death of her son.
Kim Ades, MBA, is the president and founder of both Frame of Mind Coaching and JournalEngine™ Software. Sign up for your own free online journal at www.journalengine.com, and read journal entries just like Lorraine’s. For more information about setting up an online journal for your clients, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
IAC Member Benefit: IAC members save 50% on customization and 20% on membership (use the coupon code on the IAC Members page).
How to Talk About Spirituality with your Coaching Clients by Angela Spaxman
“How can I cope with the fear and uncertainty of losing my job?”
“I hate my job and I don’t know what I want to do with my life.”
“How can I make a difference in a world with so much need?”
For the past 10 years as a coach, I’ve been involved in thousands of conversations that start with questions like those above. As I’ve supported my clients to find answers while also pursuing my own solutions to these same types of questions, I’ve gradually realized the power that spiritual practices can bring to these issues.
By spiritual practices I mean methods and beliefs relating to the nature of reality and different mind and energy states. But because spiritual words tend to be emotionally loaded and misunderstood, it is easy to create resistance and disconnection when we talk of spiritual things.
There are three broad areas of coaching where spiritual practices can help our clients.
The first is when clients are handling major challenges that cause them great stress and fear. They are seeking ways to reduce their anxieties so that they can make well-considered choices in difficult circumstances. All forms of spirituality have beliefs and practices to help people remain resourceful even under great stress.
The second area where spiritual practices can help is probably the most common situation that coaches encounter. Clients are seeking to understand themselves—their passions, talents, significance and purpose—so that they can make decisions about their career and life direction. These topics may seem to be about people’s skills, personalities and preferences, but exploring to the core of these questions leads to the ultimate questions about our purpose and the meaning of life.
Thirdly, clients who are making decisions about their life plans are often also wondering how to give back. In asking themselves how they can best help others, contribute to society or leave a legacy, they are searching for deeper answers that call into question their higher purpose. At the same time they are broadening their perspectives as they see clearly how giving back is really just giving to themselves.
I’ve identified five keys to having powerful conversations about spirituality with coaching clients, regardless of their religious background, spiritual beliefs or familiarity with any form of spirituality.
1) Accept and endorse it all
The first key to having powerful conversations about spirituality is to openly and fully accept and endorse your client's thinking and relationship to spiritual things, even if it is very different from your own. This may require you to expand your own perspective to be able to see the value in other mindsets and even to humbly learn from others’ perspectives with open curiosity.
For example, since I had a secular upbringing, I used to feel quite uncomfortable when my clients spoke about God and I could not bring myself to use this word myself. I allowed my own thinking to limit the perspectives I could hold about this very powerful word. As I’ve broadened my understanding about spirituality, I’ve found I can hear and use this word now without fear or judgment. I have opened up the possibilities for what I can discuss with my religious clients or anyone who chooses to use the word God with whatever very personal meanings they hold with it.
2) Witness pain and disruption with equanimity
It is often in times of great challenge and pain that our clients are most in need of spiritual support. Pain is often a necessary fuel for people to make the leap to higher levels of understanding and competence to face their challenges. Disruption is an important catalyst for growth. Knowing this, as a coach, helps me to stay with my clients and witness whatever they are feeling during times when they most crave support.
As they feel safe to dwell in the pain and/or joy they are feeling, they are more likely to begin to articulate the support they can feel at deeper levels and the inherent safety that exists in the universe. Being with them with equanimity may be all the help they need to connect with their own concepts of higher levels of support.
3) Listen for what makes meaning
Engaged listening is the biggest gift coaches give to their clients and is more important than ever when we speak about spirituality. Coaches who are able to hear their clients speak about skeptical investigative science, New Age magical rituals or devoutly religious practices can help their clients create more meaning and significance for themselves within their own paradigms, and expand in ways that serve them.
In addition, high-quality listening can help clients tease out their hidden values, talents, passions, preferences and purposes that are so vital to the aims of most coaching clients. By providing silence and deep listening, the coach helps the client to recognize themselves and their place in the world so that they can align with the most powerful flow of nature.
4) Expand your language
Coaching’s biggest gift to coaches is the expansion of language and meaning. By using our clients’ words, we expand our own meaning-making abilities, constantly broadening our view of life. The advantage for our clients is that they feel understood and accepted when we use their words accurately and sincerely.
A practical way to expand your language abilities is to translate your own spiritual beliefs and practices into words that can be heard by wide varieties of people. As an example, a coach friend of mine asked her banker client to do something physical that he thought was fun and relaxing. He didn’t know that it was a Nei Gong exercise, but he found it very helpful. By using language that he accepted, she was able to share a much deeper wisdom that would have been unavailable to him had she used her own language for it.
My aim as a continuously developing coach is to communicate cleanly in rapport with my clients on this very sensitive subject so that it can become a force within the coaching rather than a topic kept outside the relationship.
5) Invite possibility
The world of spirit is the world of the unexplained (or from a scientific view, the not-yet-explained!) so it is appropriate to welcome what we don’t know and experiment with ancient wisdoms and new science. We can use our client's upsets and challenges as opportunities to add supportive practices and to break through to new ways of thinking and being, as long as we are open to possibilities.
As coaches, we can also act as sources of possibility by widening our own experiences with spiritual beliefs and practices so that we can share them with our clients as appropriate. Deeper understanding based on our personal experience helps us explain the benefits authentically. And of course the lightness, balance and passion that spiritual beliefs and practices bring us will affect our clients in many positive and surprising ways.
In what ways do you share your most esoteric learning with your clients? How do you help them grow from a spiritual point of view?
Angela Spaxman was the Founding President of the Hong Kong International Coaching Community and is the Immediate Past President of the IAC. Angela has been coaching for 10 years. She is a Career and Leadership Coach for managers, professionals, business people and coaches. You may contact her at http://www.lovingworkandleading.com/.
As coaches, we're skilled in the art of conversation. Questions that ignite dialogue are the tools of our trade. Powerful, provocative or simply curious, our questions help clients gain awareness, focus their attention, clarify their thinking, process their feelings, decide on actions and reach their goals. Without conversation, we're not coaches.
But not all conversations are created equal. One that propels many coaches out of our comfort zones starts with the question, "What do you charge?" Palms dampen. Voices crack. Instincts shout, "Flee!" Despite our talents and training in communication, we're not our best selves in the money conversation.
We're not alone Search the Internet for "uncomfortable discussing fees," and you'll discover this condition also afflicts personal trainers, therapists, financial planners, holistic practitioners, dentists, doctors and, believe it or not, divorce lawyers. What do we all have in common? We all work with individuals in a way that demands and fosters relationships. We're helping and being paid for it.
And we're not selling concrete objects like cars, shoes or maple syrup that can be held, examined and compared before purchase. We're selling invisible, intangible, future states that are hard to explain and even harder to value. We're selling things like happiness, wellness, better relationships, success and freedom.
Few people are trained or even experienced in talking about money. In some cultures and many families, discussing money is almost taboo. It's certainly not dinner table conversation. For example, in a 2008 study, Canadians indicated they're more comfortable talking about politics, religion, their love life or their weight than about money.
In an informal survey of coaches in my network who are uncomfortable talking about rates, a third of the respondents checked, "I was raised not to talk about money." If we learned, as children, not to talk about money, we may have the impression there's something bad about it. We may truly believe money is “the root of all evil." Our beliefs about money, formed long ago, are layered with emotions we may not even be aware of. To be comfortable in a conversation about pricing—and to improve our overall relationship with money—we need to examine those beliefs, test their validity and rethink those that limit us.
Believe it or not One of those limiting beliefs is, "I don't feel good about selling." If that one's true for you, can you revisit and reframe it? Can you think of the sales conversation as coaching? That's something you're good at and can be good for the client. In a sales conversation, we're trying to discover what potential clients want and whether we can help them. The pricing part of that conversation checks for a match between what a person thinks it's worth to solve a problem or reach a goal and what we think it's worth.
Determining value is where discomfort enters the picture. It's hard to put a price tag on improving relationships, gaining confidence, finding joy in work and other outcomes of good coaching. What are these worth to a client? When we base our rate on coaching hours in a formula that starts with our annual income goal, we make the pricing story about us. We connect more effectively with potential clients if we make the story about them. What is the result of our coaching worth to them?
When we’re clear, in our own minds, about how clients benefit, we’re ready to tell the client story. And we can do it in an interesting, honest and confident way that lets clients see how they'll reach their goals with our help. We and they can be confident that our fees are appropriate. At first, we can only blend market research with our best guess. Time, practice and seeing how clients benefit let us price more accurately. That can address and perhaps evaporate another pervasive belief, "They'll think my fee is too high."
Getting to know you As with most conversations, the money conversation is easier to have with someone you know. That's another reason to believe the marketing guides who say “Choose a niche.” When you focus on a certain type of person with a specific need, you get to know them well. You become an expert regarding their needs and issues, and that will show up in every conversation you have with potential clients, building your confidence and theirs.
Your marketing can bring even more comfort to the money conversation by helping potential clients get to know you before you meet. If they've explored your website, read your blog or articles, attended your teleclass or heard you speak, they're already familiar with your ideas. They may have almost "sold themselves" on working with you.
Another option, though few coaches seem to do this, is to post your rates on your web site or brochure. When you do this, the person who calls about your services already knows what they're likely to cost. The discussion turns to their goals, whether you can help them and, if so, with which coaching program, options and start date.
Perhaps surprisingly, another common fear about the money conversation is, "They might say, ‘Yes,’ and I'm not ready." That's when it's good to remember that excitement sometimes feels like fear. Are we reading the sensation correctly? What's "ready?" Our clients do not care about the one million things that make us less than perfect. When they say, "Yes," to us, they have witnessed what they do care about: our ability to listen, to question, to challenge and to support them in reaching their goals. To be our best coach selves.
An anonymous survey respondent expressed it beautifully, "Coaching comes naturally and easily to most of us. Because it does not involve a lot of effort, we feel it doesn't have a lot of value. Just the opposite! Because it comes easily, it means we are incredibly skilled—and those skills have tremendous value!"
Sue Johnston, IAC-CC, believes real conversation is our most powerful tool. Blending experience in journalism, corporate communication and psychology, she founded It’s Understood Communication to help create better workplaces through effective communication. Sue is also the author of the forthcoming book, Talk To Me: Workplace Conversations That Work.
Can coaching mastery carry over from another profession? by Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC
Q: I’ve been coaching for several years, before I even knew that coaching existed. I have my Masters in Sustainable Community Development which, believe it or not, embodies many of the skills that it takes to coach. I would like to be certified. How much coach-specific training will I need?
A: The structure of the certification process at the IAC exists in part because its founders recognized that many coaches were coming to the profession as seasoned professionals in other, sometimes related, industries. Creating a process that honored prior experience and knowledge allowed more flexibility around training and preparing for certification.
According to the IAC website, “This certification process requires accomplished skill and a thorough comprehension of that skill. Although no one particular coach training method is required, it’s essential that knowledge and application of these skill sets are mastered.”
Sounds simple enough, right? As long as we don’t confuse “simple” with “easy.” Although there is a natural simplicity in high-level coaching skill, learning to interact with your clients in that manner requires time and practice. A lot of practice, which you may or may not have already had in your prior profession.
To determine if the approach you’ve been using is aligned with the IAC Coaching Masteries Skill set, a recommended first step is reading the Coaching Masteries E-Book, probably several times. Note where your current understanding of coaching aligns with the information in the book, and notice if there is any dissonance or any possible misunderstandings. Of course theory and practice can be quite different, but if you have been coaching for several years you’ll likely see if the measures are being met, if the key elements are present, or if you are falling into any “common mistakes” traps.
Thomas Leonard, the founder of the IAC, had many great suggestions for preparing for certification. He emphasized that regardless of background, some specific understanding would be necessary. Here is a slightly updated summary of his words:
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™.
Living the Masteries is a regular column where we invite coaches to share their experiences of Living the Masteries in their everyday lives. As we become aware of the Masteries and really understand them, they become like old friends. We bump into them in unexpected ways and in unusual places, just as this month’s story from Bonnie Chan, IAC-CC illustrates.
Tea Time by Bonnie Chan, IAC-CC
When I was studying in Japan in the 1980s, "ichi-go ichi-e" was one of my favorite Japanese sayings. 一期一会 literally translates to "one time, one meeting," or the reminder to "treasure every meeting, for it will never reoccur." Since then, I have practised this philosophy in my daily life by treasuring whoever I meet and each special moment.
The term is derived from Zen Buddhism and its concepts of transience, and it is particularly associated with the Japanese tea ceremony. In the context of a tea ceremony, ichi-go Ichi-e reminds participants that each tea meeting—each moment—is precious and should be treated with the utmost sincerity and respect.
When I encountered the IAC Coaching Masteries® in 2006, I was thrilled to see Mastery #4, Processing in the Present. The first line of its definition is "The coach is attentive to the client, processing information at the level of mind, body, heart and/or spirit…" It reminds me of the concept of "living life to the fullest for all we have is today" in the ichi-go ichi-e.
On the special day of 18th March in Shanghai (preceding the IAC's first International Coaching Conference), Natalie Tucker Miller and I had planned to attend coach Bronwyn Bowery-Ireland’s book launch party for her new book entitled "This vs. That." We had 30 minutes to spare before the party started, so we went into a tea shop to browse for a while. A man of about 40, who we believed was the shop owner, came forward, inviting us to sit down and taste some tea.
Although Natalie does not speak Chinese at all, he kept right on speaking to her. I was worried about them not understanding each other, so I jumped into their conversation with the intention of interpreting a little. In those moments, I noticed something very special: when you are totally present (which they were), fears or worries disappear and it’s as though the ability to communicate verbally doesn’t matter as much.
Before we took each sip of tea, we smelled it and paused to let it process into our olfactory system. The aroma of the tea synchronizes our senses, mind and soul, preparing to nurture us. Both the temperature and the taste were perfect. The man expanded our awareness of how to experience what the tea had to offer us. Natalie and I looked at each other thinking the same thing—are we experiencing Mastery #4? This man is indeed a good coach!
Bonnie Chan, IAC-CC, is an Executive and Mentor Coach at www.coachlite.com, and her Bonnie Chan Coaching School is an IAC-licensed coaching school. She enjoys bringing the IAC Masteries into her daily life, and is an inspirational teacher, helping coaches to experience and learn the Masteries.
Bonnie’s touching story illustrates how each moment is precious and deserves to be treated with sincerity, heartfulness and respect. This also applies to each moment of a coaching session. The coach (in this case the man in the tea room) encouraged his clients to experience the tea ceremony in the present moment, unencumbered by past or future concerns or even language.
It was important to allow their bodies to appreciate the nurturing qualities of the tea, their minds to experience the calming experience of taking time to be with the tea, their hearts to connect in the sharing of the tea and their spirits to soar as they took it all in. Mastery #4 awakens us to the importance of being present on those four different levels—mind, body, heart and spirit.
Bonnie highlighted the fact that when you are totally present in a situation, fears and worries disappear. This is a helpful message to both coaches and clients to just relax, be in the moment and trust the process—this is when miracles occur.
This is your column, it can only continue if you share your experiences of Living the Masteries. Please send us your stories of how the Masteries have enhanced your life, how you have noticed them present in your life or how they have helped you unexpectedly. You will inspire others by your sharing.
Alison Davis, IAC-CC, is a certifying examiner at the IAC, coach, mentor coach and founder of the IAC–licensed virtual coaching school Foundations for Living. Discover more at www.foundationsforliving.com.
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