Living the Masteries

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 and use them, we realise just how powerful they are and how, used effectively, they can truly make a lasting difference to the world.

In Living the Masteries this month, Alison Davis shares an article sent in by Ed Britton.

The Synergy of Mastery

The IAC Masteries are at risk of being misread. While necessarily described in nine distinct characteristics, coaching mastery is in fact an artfully integrated whole, an entity in itself. Masterful coaching is trusting, develops potential, is engaged listening, is deeply cognizant of the present, seeks to be expressing and clarifying, and is intention, possibility and support building. Yet, masterful coaching is not simply built of these elements; rather these elements describe characteristics of holistic, purposeful communication.

Masterful coaches advise that intentionally striving to include each of the nine masteries in a coaching session is the "kiss of death."i A collection of the masteries is not what masterful coaching is—any more than a box full of all the right parts is a television.

As we engage in a coaching session, we co-create a deeply artistic expression with our client—a synergistic blending of all that coaching is. This expression can be described in terms of the nine IAC Coaching Masteries®, yet the whole is something much more.

The study of the Chinese language has helped me to learn something of mastery. A foreign language is learned on at least four levels—we call them recognize, recall, apply and synergize. The first skill of recognizing or hearing language can be achieved relatively quickly, while to synergize—to construct language while in active communication—takes years to achieve. I believe that coaching mastery is the same. Masterful coaching is synergistic—creative and artful—and appears only after extensive practice and reflective evaluation.

The word "co-creation" emphasizes that a coaching session represents a partnership. While much has been said and written about the coach's role, there is but sparse exploration of the client's role. The client, nevertheless, has the most influence on the successful outcome of a coaching conversation. We would do well to ask ourselves, "What are the masteries associated with being an effective coaching client?" And, "How can we develop responsibility and expertise in our client?" The client, after all, is an essential half of the synergy.

In the pursuit of our art, we persistently seek unity and harmony in the masteries. We develop and support our coaching clients as they mature in their own proficiency. And one day, a session "just clicks," as all nine masteries waft from the words, creating a fresh and compelling future.

Ed Britton coaches expats and their families who live and work in China, as they adjust to a unique and sometimes challenging cultural setting. He lives in Xiamen, Fujian province, just west of Taiwan, with his wife and two teen-aged sons. They are originally from Vancouver Island, Canada.


This is your column. It can only continue if you share your experiences of Living the Masteries. Would you be willing to share how you have been inspired to see new possibilities for yourself and your life or how you helped others do this by your use of the Masteries? Please send us your stories—you will inspire others. By your sharing and by talking about the Masteries, we create an echo chamber where their power takes on new meaning in the world.

Send your contributions to Alison Davis at, so she can share them for you in the Living the Masteries column in the VOICE each month.


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



iJean Gran in Sharing the Certification Journey, edited and complied by Janice Hunter. This resource is free for IAC members – click here (you will need to log into the IAC site), and all VOICE readers can download it for only $2 – click here.

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