Over the coming weeks, I’d like to share with you my insights from my own next-level transformation that I’m in currently.
It seems like a great opportunity to give practical examples of using the tools and techniques I teach, and I know I find it more helpful seeing how things work in real life, rather than just on paper!
It won’t be a, “Hey, look at me, I’m doing this big amazing thing!” type of report, nor will it be Instagram-worthy, polished and perfectly edited. It will be much more of a, “This is the reality of what actually happens behind the scenes when someone puts themselves in the arena and works towards a change or uplevel”.
So, where to begin?
Well, the truth of it is, I am finally officially learning to coach!
Or, more precisely, I’ve finally found the right International Coaching Federation (ICF)-accredited course that will allow me to get my Professional Certified Coach qualification and close a loop that’s been open in my head for….ooh… about 8 years now.
It’s taken a fecking long time for me to make this decision, and actually it’s been against the advice of most of my own coaches and mentors, and although I can see their reasoning, it’s something that I’ve wanted to do.
Initially however it was for the wrong reasons, which is why I think my coaches were against it and now, finally after 8 years more of self-development, I’ve made the decision for the right reasons!
When I left Vets Now and joined Vet Dynamics to become a veterinary business coach with Alan Robinson, I had already been informally coaching in my previous role of Head of Customer Development with my own team, having been taught by the then-MD of Vets Now who was himself an amazing coach.
One of my first questions to Alan was, “Do I need to go and do a coaching qualification?”.
He advised me to do one if I wanted but that given all my previous HR, leadership and management training and experiential coaching that I didn’t need to from a practical perspective. He then taught me all his own methods as well.
As a vet however, it bothered me as in our profession we tend to heavily evaluate and measure each other by whether you have done a Cert or have the qualifications, plus I wanted to ‘prove’ my ability.
Coaching is an unregulated industry and anyone can call themselves a coach and practice coaching however, so it’s not the same as vetting, medicine or psychotherapy where we’re bound by legal and professional bodies.
There are also about a bajillion different ‘coaching’ qualifications out there, most of which are not accredited, and they vary hugely in price and quality.
There are only a couple of global coaching organisations, the ICF being one of them, who offer fully accredited coaching certification training. As you would imagine, the investment for the latter is a few thousand pounds which I definitely did not have at that time!
Over the 4 years I was at Vet Dynamics, as I warmed to my craft still further, I started getting some amazing shifts and transformations with my clients. I confirmed to myself experientially that I’m not half-bad at this coaching lark, and could identify it as a ‘Zone of Genius’ even if I was baffled by the positive feedback and full of impostor syndrome!
That’s not me blowing smoke up my own bottom, but a turn of phrase from the very helpful book, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks and teaching people to find their own Zone of Genius us something I now do with my clients.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was running my own coaching and mentoring company at Vet Harmony. Surely NOW I must need a coaching certificate of some sort, right???
However, my business coach at the time and my mindset coach, both of whom are hugely successful 6-figure business owners and AMAZING coaches with whom I’d invested a few grand myself, were saying no – not really.
Their opinion was that my CV, my roles, my combined experiences and proven track record with clients was enough.
Interestingly, in 4 years of running my own business not one single person has ever asked me about my ‘official credentials’. This fitted what my coaches were telling me, that people generally want to know, “can you help me?” and they are making their decision as to whether they like and trust you based on more than just the letters after your name.
I still felt pretty vulnerable however without one and agonised over the decision a LOT.
It wasn’t that I doubted my ability to coach to a high standard, as going solo and seeing the results I was achieving with my own private clients gave me all the evidence I needed that my methods were highly effective.
Additionally, as we do a significant amount of ethics and professionalism very similar to the ICF Code of Ethics as part of our veterinary degree, I knew that my ethical moral fibre was all present and correct as well in terms of doing no harm, protecting my clients, when to refer etc.etc.
So what stopped me from just going out anyway and dropping £4k on an accredited program?
I’m sure the logical among you must be thinking why not just do it anyway?
Several things really.
I didn’t want it to be just a hugely expensive tick-box exercise as I literally couldn’t afford it financially.
I looked through the 56 elements of the gold-standard coaching course that a few of my peers had done and cross-referenced each one back over my own training courses from the previous 9 years and I could pinpoint exactly where I’d already learned the techniques.
Also I coach very holistically, drawing from many different disciplines across coaching, mentoring, training, CBT, neurolinguistic programming, EFT, energy work and many others, and the right combination for each client intuitively presents itself to me when I work with someone.
I don’t coach by numbers and I’d received feedback that people who’d experienced a few different coaches liked the feeling that I don’t coach to one set model, and yet for the very structured course I would need to learn to coach to a formula to pass the exam and something about that just didn’t sit right with me.
Secondly, my mindset coach was helping me to see that although 20% of my drive to take the qualification was about credibility and security for my clients, 80% of it was at that time about managing other people’s perceptions of me.
Or from comparisonitis with other coaches rather than being able to step fully into and value my own unique contribution and way of working.
Definitely NOT the right reasons for dropping £4k on anything!!
When Brene Brown talks about our relationship with our own intuition, she cites two red flags that show that you’re NOT tapping into or trusting your own intuition and they are polling people or “bull in a china shop” rushing of a decision simply to obliterate the discomfort of the uncertainty.
I did a fair amount of polling people – inspiring, wise and successful people – during that time, wanting them to validate my need to get the qualification to feel like a ‘proper’ coach and I kept getting the same frustrating answer.
“Do it if you feel the need and if it makes you feel better, but you don’t NEED to do it. You are enough already.”
I knew there was actually a valid part of my desire in there – I love learning and achievement as I know many of you will too, plus it signifies to people that you’ve achieved a certain standard.
So I needed to deal with the 80% part that was about not feeling good enough.
That was about fear of rejection, smallness and needing external validation.
So in January 2020, with no clue of what was about to hit us all, I finally set down my internal debate of should I/shouldn’t I and invested in some deep healing work and a new coach.
I worked harder than ever on self-belief and releasing limitations, acceptance, surrender, trust, letting go of the need for certainty and reconnecting with my intuition.
As so often happens when we finally let go of trying to control everything, lo and behold, the universe conspired to then bring to my attention an ICF-accredited training course right on my flipping doorstep down here in Devon!
The irony of the title of the course was not lost on me either: The Intuitive Coach. 😀
All the other courses I’d seen were in London or other big cities, with big class sizes and several groups running through the year.
This one is just me and 7 other amazing women, and the lady running it is an ICF Master Coach the like of which I’ve never experienced before.
Content-wise, the courses I’d seen previously had set skills I knew I already had, or they were very structured with more different types of tools and techniques to learn.
This one is about going beyond tools and using other ways of intuitively connecting with the client to help them find out who they truly are which is right up my street.
There’s quantum physics involved, energy work and all sorts which I know probably all sounds a bit ‘woo’ but it’s definitely where I’ve been heading personally for several years now, so to be able to officially learn it, received ICF accreditation and weave it into my client practice alongside all the more left-brained business and coaching tools feels super-exciting!!
So, to bring this rather long missive to a close, I want to summarise the key learnings I’ve taken from this 4-year decision-making process in case any of the above resonates and is useful for you:
Uncertainty over a decision is bloody uncomfortable and often we want to do anything we can to make it go away!
However, tuning into your inner voice – even when it’s tiny and you don’t entirely trust the messages coming from it or understand them yet is VITAL.
If we’re willing to be patient (and I realise not all decisions allow for unlimited time), sit with our thoughts, trust that solutions are out there and trust in our ability to find them then we are much more likely to end up making a mindful decision that is more in alignment with who we truly are.
Definitely don’t make decisions (especially expensive ones!) based on not feeling good enough. Invest the money instead on working on your self-belief until you fully understand that your self-worth is not up for evaluation and you know that you are inherently ‘enough’ just the way you are. Or at least be a few notches further along your journey towards knowing this truth.
Don’t make decisions designed to control or manage what others think of you.
I see this all the time with some clients who are contemplating doing a CertAVP and yet on questioning them, it’s not truly serving what they actually want for themselves and more coming from a feeling that everyone else is doing one, or it’s “the next logical progression” and a limiting belief that we must be constantly becoming more qualified in order to have value.
Patience!! In today’s society, everything is instant and our willingness to take time and not feel like we’re somehow ‘missing the boat’ is there as a constant cultural pressure.
It takes courage to step outside of that and dance to the beat of our own drum which may be faster or slower than other people’s.
Or to stop the incessant drive to want everything to happen immediately, which is often a manifestation of the “I’ll be happy when” syndrome.
Gratitude practice and mindfulness help us with that – to enjoy the life we have right now and to be able to experience and enjoy the present moment, even in the face of the not-knowing of a lack of a definitive decision about something in our life.
Phew!! Didn’t think this was going to be such a long one – forgive me and well done if you’re still reading. Let me know by hitting reply if this has resonated and what your own experience of sitting with an unmade decision has been for you, I love reading your emails.
I hope this has been helpful and in a couple of weeks I’ll be sharing the interesting effects that starting the course actually had on me, that I wasn’t entirely prepared for!