I’m going through the Co-Active Coach Training Program this year, which is training me to be a professional coach. I’m sharing this because I’ve already started looking for people to practice on, and will do that more over the year. So when I ask for volunteers you can read this post for context.

My father is, amongst other things waaaay too-varied to describe*, a professional, certified ICF coach. What this means in plain terms is I grew up with a person in my life who asked really good, open-ended questions, was interested in where I was coming from, and helped me work towards a life that felt like a fit for me.

His questions, and the non-judgmental attitude he embodies (we all have something to strive for!), helped me gain confidence as a human, and modeled a form of listening and support that I’ve learned doesn’t grow on trees.

He coached not in the formal way of having a coaching practice, but as part of his career, which was spent working in education reform and innovative program development in NYC and across the globe. He’s always been more interested in how he can bring people together from different backgrounds, to transcend expectations society has of them, than “just” sitting down and coaching. But he’s extremely gifted at it. In fact, his tragedy (don’t we all have one) is under-valuing this great skill of bringing out the best in people. His gift (and don’t we all have one) is thinking beyond the parameters of organizational structures.

So, coaching was in my life, just not named as such. I assume that by spending so much time being talked to in a helpful and open-minded way, that I learned to do that for others. But I’m aware that it’s not just a mode, but a skill-set that can be taught. Even if you’re good with words, you can still learn a lot about how sentences work. This felt like a skill-set I wanted to hone.

I did some research last year into training programs. One felt like a cult, so that was out. Another I liked—until the hard-sell at the end, which undermined their message of “you know what’s right for you”. And CTI, the one I selected, felt like the best. It’s in-person with intensive weekends and feedback. It has an excellent reputation. It is backed by scientific research. It’s been around for a long time. And at every decision point I had plenty of options: to try it, to get my money back, etc.

As of this writing, I’ve been through two of the five 3-day weekend modules. These go through May, 2019, and then I have the option to spend the next five months in a certification period. I could also wait and do that piece early in 2020 (or never), and I’m deferring that decision for a while.

During the whole process I am also being coached: it’s a part of the program. Which I have to say, is pretty fucking awesome.

Do I want to be a life coach? That’s not the goal, no. But I think the skill will be beneficial:

  • Coaching individuals and teams in the technology field;
  • Working with people who want to change their lives;
  • Making me into a better listener for my friends & family;
  • And giving me a tool-set if I ever DO throw it all up in the air and say, hell, I’m a life coach.

Coaching, as I am learning, is not advice, nor is it consulting.

Advice: in my opinion, you should do this. 
Consulting: I am an expert in X,Y,Z: let me show you what to do. 

Instead, it’s about forming an active relationship (indeed, a Co-Active relationship, hence the name) and through that relationship helping your coachee clarify the things that resonate with them the most. From this point, you help guide them to action. And the action? That’s geared towards building the life that brings them the most joy and resonance. Whatever that is. I would say that the skills we are learning are steering skills: the work itself—the goals, actions, values—is done by the client.

Of course, steering clear of advice-giving and consulting is hard (I’m realizing how much I like giving advice!)—and that’s why the training is a full year. Learning the method is predicated on practicing, getting feedback, and practicing some more. And to top it all off, coaching is also not managing or consulting, so part of the journey is learning when coaching is not called-for, b/c what is really needed is direct guidance. Coaching is a different modality that can be used in specific contexts.

So, over this year I will reach out sometimes and look for people interested in a sample session or two. They’ll be free to start and then nomimal fees.

You can ask me anything about it and I’ll share learnings along the way.

* One of his adventures had to do with helping to ratify a constitution in Kenya. But he doesn’t talk about himself much: you have to pry it out of him, so I couldn’t tell you much more than that.