Professional Coaching Certification as a Pilgrimage

I recently spent some time in northern Spain walking the ancient Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James). The Camino is a pilgrimage that has been walked for hundreds of years by people with a wide range of motivations from spiritual, to life transitions, to wanting a cultural experience. At the essence, all pilgrims are seekers. While some may be attracted by the adventure or the landscape, inevitably we all encounter an inner journey — a journey into the deeper parts of ourselves that get revealed in the solitude, the challenges, the tribulations, the support and the learning that emerges along the way.

This experience reminded me of the Professional Coaching Course, a year-long journey that people embark upon for varying personal and professional reasons with the sincere intention to learn to be of service as a certified professional coach. This decision to engage in the world through professional coaching certification is like saying yes to a pilgrimage.

There are three primary elements that form any pilgrimage: 1) the intention or calling, which is our inner motivation for saying yes to the journey, 2) the journey itself, which has some milestones to guide us along the way, and which is enriched by the challenges and learnings that are found in the experience, and finally 3) the destination, which is not only the physical space to which we arrive, but is also the destination that we find newly and freshly in our own hearts.

“To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim.” —Mark Nepo

I came to New Ventures West back in 2005 seeking a life of deeper meaning and a career where I could support others in “achieving their goals and reaching their potential.” I knew little about what this meant back then, but I trusted the sincere intention of this calling. I had held leadership positions in the past where I learned that the more fulfilled people became, the better outcomes organizations would have, and the better our world would be. As I embarked in this adventure as an Integral Coach, I discovered that it was not just about the tools but also about how we are with each other: less about achieving and more about becoming. But how do we become more human? How do we become more of who we are meant to be and contribute to the world in our very unique ways?

Michael Mead says: “Our very mortality hides within it a divine seed, planted at the beginning, waiting throughout each life to be enlivened and flower forth.” I believe this is exactly what Integral Coaching is, and what the year-long training for professional coaching certification at New Ventures West is about: the very exploration of how each of us can become more human, more alive, and more capable of responding to the needs of the world from our own very unique location. Yes, we become Integral Coaches, but we become much more than that. We become enlivened human beings who are more in touch with our unique gifts to the world and are committed to bringing them forth in support of our own humanity.

This has been my journey, my pilgrimage, and the best part is that it is not over. I continue to learn, to unfold, to discover ways in which I keep becoming more human and more in service of the way in which life wants to shine through me.

Cynthia Luna is a Professional Coaching Course leader and Managing Partner at New Ventures West. She is also a founding partner at LF Leadership, and a guide on The Leader’s Journey, a program for professionals on the Camino de Santiago.

New Ventures West