08 Apr My Journey as a Coach
I am very proud and delighted to have received my ACC certification from the International Coach Federation yesterday! It is exactly 18 months since I enrolled in a coach training program in Singapore. I am filled with a sense of joy and achievement, and the firm belief that I have found my calling in life!
While sharing my news with family and friends, one of them suggested I capture my learnings and make them available to other aspiring coaches, to enable their journey in some way. I believe that every coach’s journey is unique, and so, as we say in coaching, I am sharing my learnings without attachment, for whosoever may benefit from it.
Why venture into coaching?
Coaching was not so much a ‘career choice’ for me, it was triggered by the deep need to do something more personally meaningful, after 30 years of corporate life. I was introduced to coaching by a dear friend, who had made life changing choices after being assigned a coach, when he was a senior corporate leader. A conversation with his coach was so inspiring, that it made up my mind instantly, that coaching was the way forward for me. What resonated strongly, was the fact that it would be a natural extension of my personal journey of growth, self awareness and greater connectedness with self.
The purpose for venturing into coaching is important, because it is a highly self-driven profession, and requires one to constantly keep one’s motivation high. Every step you take needs to align with your purpose, as that is what lights up your path and shows you the way.
A good training program matters
It was providential that I took my first steps at the Neuroleadership Institute, where, in a beautifully enabled environment, I learnt coaching concepts that opened up my mind and heart! To be honest, I wasn’t very aware of the multiple options I had for coach training… I just went with the experience of a trusted friend and coach, and it worked well for me.
My advice to aspiring coaches would be, to research the website of the International Coach Federation (ICF) thoroughly, to enhance your understanding of what it takes to be a coach, and how to go about selecting an ICF approved program. And speak to other coaches about the pros and cons of the training they attended, while making the final choice. Do not be misled by self-styled training schools that are mushrooming by the day, and who guarantee to ‘get you there’ instantly!
‘Be a coach’, before coaching others
My personal journey is an important part of my being a coach. Early on I realized that the coaching competencies are, in fact, very useful skills to have in our day-to-day lives, in order to have effective relationships, find satisfaction at work and in life, and most of all, to be good human beings.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the world’s No 1 coach, and a person I admire greatly, has identified 3 qualities as ‘must have’ when he chooses a client to coach: courage, humility and discipline. In my view, we as coaches need to exhibit the same qualities in ourselves, viz courage to start on a new journey, the humility to keep learning and growing, and discipline to keep at it despite the ups and downs.
A network of well wishers is a blessing
As I write this, I am overwhelmed by the huge supportive role played by my family and friends in encouraging me, appreciating big and small milestones, and even bringing forth my first few clients!
Many of my clients today are people and organisations I have known in my earlier roles, and the network I have built over the years. I am grateful to all those stepped forward to support me when I needed it most, and for their continued belief in me.
I sought out a few senior coaches early on, and used them as a sounding board on how I wanted to proceed. I also joined the ICF Mumbai chapter and benefited greatly from interacting with other coaches, to understand the evolving space in India.
A lifelong journey of mastery
Janet Harvey, a globally renowned coach, refers to coaching as a lifelong journey of ‘artful mastery’. I believe that this is indeed so, and a coach needs to constantly work towards mastery of the art and science of coaching, as well as mastery of self.
I have had the privilege to attend many webinars from ICF and other coach forums like WBECS to enhance my learning. So much so, that it is a joke in my family, that if I am absent at the dinner table at 8.30pm, I must be at a coaching webinar! I have also attended some wonderful events of ICF Mumbai, that have helped me grow my knowledge and awareness. Every interaction with an experienced coach has brought forth suggestions on new avenues for learning, whether it is books, websites or articles on the Internet. Coaching draws from many other fields, like psychology, neuroscience, ontology, change theory, spirituality etc and every exposure increases our ability in some way.
For a new coach, however, there is no learning without doing, and no progress without practice! It really helps to take up a variety of coaching opportunities to hone your skills, with regular clients, pro-bono coaching with NGOs and any other avenues you can find. Most importantly, select a great mentor coach, one who can observe and gently critique your coaching style, to help align with the ICF coaching competencies.
Business development through evangelising
For an independent coach, business development skills are a critical ‘must have’. Coaching is at a relatively nascent stage in India, and corporates and individuals are just about beginning to understand what coaching is and the great results it can achieve. Our role as responsible members of the community, is to be ambassadors and evangelists, and present coaching for what it truly is: a powerful tool to make organisations and the world a better place!
A presence on social media helps clients ‘see’ the person they are likely to choose as coach. I would advocate a well-defined LinkedIn profile and an expression of your coaching philosophy and experience in some form, on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or your own website.
You become your own inspiration!
Every interaction with a client brings new learning for the client as well as the coach. And as you weave it back into the fabric of awareness that is building around you, inspiration just flows! My friends say that I am a ‘driven’ person, and my response is, that I have found new inspiration at the confluence of self-growth and my clients’ progress.
As I have moved forward on my journey, new paths have opened up for me, which I have taken to, very naturally. One of them, is coaching in the social sector, where I have met amazing individuals who are striving to make a real difference in our society.
A journey that started tentatively, has gathered great momentum and conviction, and I am excited to let it unfold, in whatever way it will! In closing, I quote Rosamund Zander, author of “The Art of Possibility”, whose words resonate strongly with me:
“In the measurement world, you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold.”