Mastery in the Mountains


by: Aileen Gibb

If you are participating in a Path to Mastery Triad, you will I hope, have discovered how rich and rewarding the triad relationship becomes. I have participated in my Path to Mastery Triad with Sue Johnston ( and Ed Britton ( for more than a year now and we’ve enjoyed many delightfully challenging and insightful coaching moments together.

What a blessing, therefore, to finally meet in person! There was no way Ed and I, both located in western Canada, were going to miss spending time with Sue, visiting from the east of the country. As befits the coming together of inspiring minds, the March sun shone unusually warm as we dined amid the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains. The setting was magical. The lunch was hearty. The French coffee and pastries were divine. And the conversation was grand and all too short.

Sue shared with us the richness of her Agile Training Program. Ed spoke of the rich diversity of his work with new Canadians from many different cultures. And I told stories of playing bigger to create high-value coaching results with my executive clients.

As if this were not enough to inspire our shared learning, we inevitably got to juicier questions around coaching and in particular the IAC. Coming as we do from a deep respect and appreciation for the powerful and distinct approach the IAC and the Masteries play in the coaching world, we debated (again) the differences between the IAC and the ICF. We reinforced our collective appreciation for the authentic value created by the IAC approach to certification of what we might call “real coaching”, independent of any one training school, quantifiable coaching hours or commercial drivers.

With Sue currently tuned in to the ICF process, which in the words of Ruth Ann Harnisch (in the recent IAC webcast, which is a available to members online) seems to be ever more rigid, I appreciated the affirmation that by pursuing and participating in the IAC, I find myself in an environment which continues to align with and inspire my own coaching values and approach. We acknowledged and empathized with the challenges of running and sustaining the IAC as a volunteer organization and shared deep gratitude for everyone who continues to make that happen. How, we asked ourselves, might the IAC strengthen its impact on coaching and continue to fulfill its original vision and intention? Being the coaches we are, we listened into the conversation space for ideas that were pushing forward: and we heard first, how important it is for the IAC to expand its reach across North America and be recognized for its distinctly different, yet vital, role in the continued growth of the coaching profession. Secondly, in considering how the IAC might continue to distinguish itself, we found ourselves in an edgy, imaginative conversation about whether we might even find an alternative to the word “coach” – which we all three felt doesn’t fully encapsulate the power, impact, energy and excitement of what happens in and emerges from a masterly conversation.  We didn’t come to any final conclusions, although we did have some fun making up some crazy new words with the use of an online app!

Our day together was all too short. We concluded with a stroll down Main Street, Canmore – the town where I live, which Sue had not visited for over thirty years, and which Ed was exploring for only the second time.  Sue exclaimed at how much had changed. Ed expressed curiosity and appreciation for aspects he was seeing for the first time. Even in this social setting, we could see how the Masteries shape us personally and connect with how we look at the world.

We can’t say whether, or how, our triad’s conversation may filter out from the mountains and into strategic conversations either for the IAC or for coaching in general. What we can say is that, in your Path to Mastery Triad, if you make space to explore these bigger questions, and if at all possible meet in person when the opportunity presents itself, that our collective voice will emerge with a positive, sustaining and unstoppable force in service of our clients, our association and this profession which we are privileged to be part of.

Here’s a photo of our smiling faces, with the majestic mountain backdrop I get to appreciate every day. I wish your triad an equally enriching, inspiring and edgy conversation.



(From left to right: Aileen Gibb, Sue Johnson, Ed Britton)



Aileen Gibb has coached with leaders around the world, is a master facilitator of teams and group learning, a best selling author and a TEDx speaker. She coaches high energy, quality, fun, creative leaders and entrepreneurs from her home amid the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada and especially loves to hold individual and group coaching intensives in that awe-inspiring location. Aileen is currently working on two book projects: the first A Little Book of Great Leadership Questions and the second a collaborative project with Dr. Susan Meyer and Natalie Tucker Miller on integrating the IAC Masteries into a framework for TopLine Leaders. Aileen can be contacted

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