I have my ACC!
I'm excited to share that I am an Associate Certified Coach! Ok, this is kind of a nerdy thing that many people outside of the coaching profession might not understand, but it's pretty cool! Here's the story:
In 2018, I went through an extensive training program through an organization called iPEC. Over about 9 months, I did over 300 hours of training that included in-person trainings, weekly webinars, peer coaching circles, mentor coaching, and testing. It was INTENSE, and it truly prepared me to become a coach. After I completed the program, I became a Certified Professional Coach in January 2019.
iPEC is an accredited institution through an organization called the International Coaching Federation (ICF). ICF is the organization that upholds the coaching industry standards. After going through a coaching training program, certified coaches can go through an additional step to become credentialed through ICF. As ICF says on their website, "ICF Credential-holders are part of a self-regulating group of elite coaches who provide accountability to clients and the coaching profession as a whole. They pursue and complete rigorous education and practice requirements that provide unquestioned legitimacy to their commitment to excellence in coaching."
There are three different levels of credentials through ICF: ACC, PCC, MCC. The ACC is the first step. In order to get my ACC, I had to have:
More and more clients, especially organizations, are expecting coaches to be ICF certified. And having an ICF credential demonstrates that I am committed to the ethics and standards that are expected in excellent coaches. I'm pretty proud of this, and grateful to everyone who helped me get here, especially my amazing clients. I'm looking forward to continuing my education and pushing myself to keep growing as a coach!
Career Transition: Where to begin?
In my coaching practice, many of my clients are considering a career transition. The most common question people come to me with is "Where do I even start?" Especially if you have been in the same role or with the same organization for a long time, or if the desire or need for change has come up suddenly, it's completely understandable why you may feel at sea. Knowing you can and want to do something new, you may feel daunted by all of the possibilities: "Where do I go? What do I do? How do I know where to begin?"
These are tough questions! And my role as a coach isn't to answer them, but to provide a framework for exploration so that my clients can discover the answers themselves. In my experience with my clients, I have found that the place to start is often in one of these four areas:
When I meet with clients, we walk through this framework, and while we will eventually talk about all of these areas during our coaching relationship, there is usually one of these areas that stands out. I find that having one place to start makes the whole process feel less insurmountable. And by starting at that one place, it reveals all kinds of answers in the other areas.
If you are contemplating a career transition, consider which of these places might make the most sense for you to start digging in. For instance, have you articulated your values? How would you use them to make decisions around what kind of career move would be best for you? And how would you ensure that you are living your values throughout your career? If you need a coach to help you explore these questions, I can work with you to unearth the answers that are already inside of you.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the things that stop us, the things that prevent us from taking the steps to get what we really want from life. There are very real things in our external world that hold us back: time, money, access, gatekeepers, systems of oppression, etc. These things can be frustrating and harmful in and of themselves. But we also face internal barriers that compound these external barriers that prevent us from moving forward. Our internal barriers are the messages going through our heads that tell us we are not good enough, or that we should be afraid, or that we should doubt things about ourselves and our abilities that we intuitively know.
There are a lot of ways that we develop these messages throughout our lives. We mess up. We make mistakes. We are harsh, unforgiving critics of our past actions. We start to look for all the ways these messages can be confirmed by our relationships and in our careers. We hear or interpret these messages directly or indirectly from people we know and often love. Especially for women and people of color, these messages are reinforced in the media and popular culture. They are institutionalized by what is taught in schools or what we learn in our jobs. With years of practice, we get really good at sending ourselves messages that we are not enough and too much at the same time. We are not smart, not good-looking, not worthy, not anything. We are bad people, bad friends, bad parents, bad at everything. We are too loud or too big or too small, too everything. Who do we think we are to possibly want something else out of life? Over time, we might even come to believe these messages to be true.
The difference between whether or not these messages are true is the difference between self-consciousness and self-awareness. We do ourselves a disservice when we confuse these two things or when we let our self-consciousness get in the way of developing our self-awareness. To me, self-consciousness is the judgmental assessment of our feelings, thoughts, and behavior. We over analyze and over think until we get stuck, can't move forward, and convince ourselves of all the things we can't or shouldn't do. We listen to the messages that are overly present in the external world until they are internalized and become what we believe about ourselves. We feel self-consciousness in our bodies like the ways in which we experience stress, and that can have long term impacts on our health and wellbeing. Self-consciousness actually blocks our ability to be in touch with our bodies and what we need. Symptoms of self-consciousness look like:
The thing about self-consciousness is that these messages are not always active thoughts. They are often hiding out in our subconscious. Rather than interrogating them as to whether or not they are true, we let them dictate our behavior so that we are passively engaging with life, rather than proactively taking steps to live the life we want.
On the other hand, Daniel Goleman and others have described self-awareness as the nonjudgmental assessment of our feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Self-awareness is tapping into what our bodies are telling us about what we are feeling. With self-awareness, we act consciously rather than passively. We raise our thoughts and feelings to a level of conscious reflection where we are able to pause and ask "Where did this message come from? Is it true?" And it's in that place in the pause where we get to choose how we react and move forward. We are now driving our thoughts rather than our thoughts driving us. Outcomes of self-awareness look like:
Over time, we can even replace those old messages that no longer serve us with messages that keep us proactively engaged in our lives. Increased self-awareness leads to greater efficacy and knowledge that each step we take is leading us closer to our purpose. The more we are able to pause and reflect on what we are really thinking and feeling, the more we are able to make conscious decisions for how to move forward, rather than letting our self-consciousness decide our behavior for us.
The next time you are feeling self-conscious, pause. Take a deep breath. Notice what message you are telling yourself in that moment. Reflect on where that message came from. Then really challenge yourself to think about whether or not it's true. Try this several times over a week or so and notice if you start to take different actions because of your increased self-awareness.
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with my amazing, fantastic friend, Lindsay Guentzel. Lindsay and I have known each other for a while now, and over lunch we talked about how to move forward on goals, especially when life gives you so many options. Lindsay is one of those people who sees opportunity in everything. She's got this incredible energy that she uses to make things happen in her life. In November 2018, she traveled to St. Thomas to volunteer her time to help with hurricane relief efforts. She shares her amazing gifts and love of cooking whenever she can. She tells stories and hosts conversations where people feel welcome, loved, and respected. She inspires me all of the time with her outlook and the action she takes to keep moving forward.
I was thrilled when Lindsay reached out to me to have a conversation on WCCO Radio about coaching. Lindsay framed it up to essentially ask, "What's the benefit of having a coach in your life who is helping you to stay accountable to your goals?" We had a fun conversation that you can listen to on the link above, and here are a few summary points:
One caveat I want to make in reference to the recording is the difference between coaching and therapy. Lindsay mentions how she sees coaching is like a mix of someone holding you accountable to your goals and unofficial therapy. Many people make a connection between coaching and therapy. Sometimes that happens because people have past experience with therapy so they compare it to what they know. Other people think coaching is like therapy because we're talking about things like feelings! But, therapy and coaching are not the same and are two very different things. Through my coaching training with IPEC, we talked about the difference between therapy and coaching:
I am not a licensed therapist. I am thrilled and proud to be a Certified Professional Coach! If you think you could benefit from any of the things that I talked about with Lindsay, reach out! I'd love to talk with you about what coaching can do for you.
You Can't Take It With You
This month, I've been coaching a young woman on the brink of a major career change. She has just found out that her job is being eliminated, and she's hoping to make a smooth transition to something new. She wants to find an organization that aligns with her values. She wants to make the right move and not just jump into the first opportunity that presents itself. We've worked on articulating her values, describing the kind of organizational culture she's looking for and thrives in, and what she wants to get out of a new role. Yes, of course, a paycheck is important, but she wants a career that is more than that.
In one of our recent sessions, she realized how much baggage from her current job she is carrying. You can see the heaviness weighing her down. She was never really given constructive performance feedback, so she's incredibly anxious about whether or how she'll know that she can actually do another job. She's already doubting her own ability before she's even started. That's the baggage she's holding onto that she picked up from her current employer.
When I work with clients who are holding onto things that they no longer want to carry, I like to do a little exercise to have them think about their baggage:
Now that you've filled your bag with something else instead of the heaviness that was there before, you are reminded of what's truly important to carry with you and what is just taking up space and weight in your mind, body, and heart. Inevitably, we move on to new situations (jobs, relationships, etc) where we accumulate some new baggage. When things feel heavy, it's a good time to do this visualization again. With practice, you become better at packing your bag with just the essentials. Each time you do it, imagine saying to the things you are leaving behind, "I can't take you with me." Then pick up your bag and walk in the future.
Beyond Executive Coaching
I'm pretty excited about this upcoming webinar from Nonprofit Quarterly- Beyond Executive Coaching: How Coaching Can Develop the Next Generation of Leadership and Accelerate Organization Change. Coaching isn't just for executives! It's a really effective tool for leaders at all levels of your organization. In fact, it can be especially effective for people in new positions within your organization, or with teams who need support in working towards a common goal.
One of my current coaching clients is new to his position. He has more managerial responsibility than he's had in the past and he wants to make sure he moves his new team forward strategically and with confidence. He is incredibly competent and a great fit for the role, so he's just really looking for guidance, someone to ask him the right questions and encourage him to take the next steps. This is a great use of coaching that has benefits that will ripple throughout the organization.
I'm also coaching with a group of female employees who are working in a predominantly male industry. They are experiencing both overt and implicit forms of sexism, and when it all adds up, it's frustrating, exhausting, and defeating. I am coaching them as a team to draw on the confidence that they already have and claim their power. They have a vision of having their confidence vibrate through the walls of their organization so that no one is confused about who runs the place. Team coaching can really have huge impacts for the whole organization.
If you have been thinking about coaching for yourself, an employee, or a team within your organization, contact me! I'd love to talk about the opportunities with you. If you still aren't sure, sign up for this July 18th webinar from Nonprofit Quarterly to learn more.