APRIL 5, 2017

An image highlighting one of our fascinating blog posts

As Director of Enrollment at New Ventures West, a question I am often asked is, “Is this a training to become a life coach or is it a training to become an executive coach?” My answer is “yes ... and no.” Many people approach our training with the intention to become a life coach or an executive coach (and they do!), but they also become an Integral Coach.  

Become a life coach or become an Integral Coach: what's the difference?

One of the missions of Integral Coaching is to draw together that which has been disintegrated. This begins in the intake session, during which the Integral Coach does her best to learn as much as they can about her client and the client’s world. The coach is interested in what is happening at home, at work, with the client’s physical practices, in their social relationships, and in their spiritual life. The coach will be curious about the culture the client is living in, as well as how the client relates to their environment, finances, and technology. When the coach assess the client's development, it will be across a range of concerns and competencies, allowing the coach to form a full picture of this unique human being they have come to coach. The coach might go very far afield from the “issue” that brought the client to coaching in the first place.

It is only once a full picture of this individual has been formed that the coach turns towards that issue that prompted coaching. Now, with a full and vibrant understanding of the client, the coach asks themselves questions like: 

Why is this issue so difficult for my client?
What interpretation of the world leaves them unable to generate the solution to this problem on their own?
What skills and competencies would assist them in developing a more powerful interpretation?
What activities can I have them engage in that would develop those skills and competencies?

From there, a customized development program is created. It takes a vivid understanding of the client to be able to generate a program that will take deep root in a client’s life and flower. When we are able to do so, we can offer a client something that can shift their life in a way that is transformative.

The person-first approach is essential

When we train to coach a person in a particular area (for example, when we train to become a life coach and coach people facing career, personal, or professional conflicts, or when we train to become an executive coach working with people in C-suites) we risk training blindspots into ourselves. We risk learning to approach people as if they will always be in a certain developmental scenario, with a set of competencies, needing a particular approach. When we do this, we cannot see people as they truly are. We miss all the ways they are wonderfully strange and special, requiring unique developmental interventions.

One of the most important things I learned in my own training as an Integral Coach was “You learn to coach freshly each time you sit down across from your client.” This was a way of saying that we can't come to our clients—even ones we had worked with for months—with any preconceived ideas about what they need. Instead, our best approach is to develop our flexibility, awareness, and deep resourcefulness so that we can respond authentically in the moment to whatever arises. When I am able to trust in my capacity to do this, it feels like being held aloft on a great, warm, strong current.

Flexibility in your professional options

I invite you into the possibility of a certification course that isn’t about just becoming a life coach or becoming an executive coach, but rather teaches methodology that encompasses both—and more. Integral Coaches can (and do!) become life coaches, executive coaches, financial coaches, career coaches, relationship coaches, and beyond. If your goal is to become a life coach, training as an Integral Coach will offer you a rigorous methodology that prepares you for working with anyone so that you will experience tremendous flexibility in your professional options post-certification. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me or join a Free Intro Call hosted by a member of our faculty.

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JULY 18, 2013

An image highlighting one of our fascinating blog posts

Too many of us are waiting. Waiting until all our concerns and worries are resolved, we have financial security, our stock options vest, our children are settled, we have a strong relationship. Are you waiting for something?

Meanwhile, life speeds by, gaining momentum as we grow older.

Let’s get over our waiting and start now.

Everywhere one looks the world is calling for clarity, compassion, and commitment to the greater good. You have an irreplaceable contribution to make. You are a unique intersection of many conversations, relationships, human concerns, skills, virtues and insights. Each moment the world is inviting you, reaching out to you.

If you hold back, knowing what you know about the condition of the world and feeling what you feel about the suffering of so many people, you undoubtedly will pay a huge price. Perhaps you’ve seen some of the cost in your life, and in the lives of family, friends, colleagues and clients:

  • A sense of not fitting in, of not really having a place, a restless experience of belonging nowhere
  • A deep, hollow feeling that nothing matters: big triumphs and terrible failures don’t register; simultaneous busyness and numbness
  • A relentless background mood of resentment that appears as criticism, envy, belittling other’s success and, sometimes, hopelessness or despair
  • A searing, piercing experience of regret, one of the most painful emotions, that‘s accompanied by self-castigating thoughts and severe somatic contraction

On the other hand, when we do look inward to uncover our voice and become skillful in our expression, we have opened up the chance to have a hugely fulfilling life. It’s not that we will necessarily have fame and financial rewards—so much of that depends upon the vagaries of time and place—but what becomes possible is unifying ourselves inside and out.

When we begin to authentically express we find out in the act itself who we are, just like in speaking itself we find out what we have to say. Giving form to our voice establishes an inner unity that may at first be fleeting, but over time becomes more established and lasting.

The unity gets extended to the outer world because we already have that in mind as we formulate our expression and because we have to use the materials of the outer world: shared language, musical notation, paint, clay and so on. We may never receive the anticipated feedback we crave but the world has already met us by providing means for us to express. And the world is always changed by our expression even if no one else notices. Something new exists: a painting, poem, play, puppet, program, puzzle.

And of course our expression gives us individual, personal feedback in every case. How well did I give form to the feeling? How skillful was I with the selected media?  Did my speaking move people to take action? Did what I wrote bring compassion to a difficult situation? Even when we feel or conclude that our expression is being ignored, that’s not possible. We may not be getting the attention of our selected, important-to-us audience; nonetheless, we and the world have been altered.

I’ve been doing my best to lay out the case for bringing your voice to the world. Perhaps I’ve said some things that help you (it’s not lost on me that I’m attempting to demonstrate what I’m talking about) and perhaps you need no convincing or prodding. Maybe what you need are some practical steps. Here are some. Also the practice and book of the quarter and, as earlier stated, our next issue of Distinctions and two upcoming New Ventures West events will explore the topic more extensively.

Some ways to begin:

  • Always have with you a way to capture ideas, inspiration or something interesting. Twyla Tharp suggests this in her important book,  The Creative Habit. These small pieces can add up to a full expression as well as indicating to you what you’re paying attention to at the moment.
  • What situation, concern, breakdown, community, feeling, mystery, experience do you want to express something about? Explore whatever this is in great depth.
  • Whose expression do you admire? Find out why. What is affecting about it for you?
  • Set aside time to practice your expression. Speak up at meetings. Journal, write poems, shoot photographs, paint, whatever it takes for you to open up your expression by giving it your time and attention.
  • Read the book of the quarter, Art and Fear, and begin to work with your fear. In the end, in the middle and at the beginning, fear is what stops us even if it looks like something else.

In any case please stop waiting.

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