Living the Masteries

by Alison Davis, IAC-CC

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, 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.

Please send your contributions to Alison Davis email


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


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