This is the question I always had for years.
I would hear about it here and there, but was never satisfied with the answers I got until I came face to face with it.
Like any other profession, there are guidelines that drive it and make sure all protocols are followed.
As an individual who has always been in a space of giving advice, counseling, and guiding people, specifically young people, I now realize how much I had a way to ‘impose’ my beliefs on people.
In the long run I started noticing how all these people started drifting away from me even after giving them what I thought was the best advice. Little did I know that it was me imposing my beliefs, methods, behaviours on them that pushed these people away. I started writing a lot about my upbringing and shared it with the world. Writing helped me realise that the world is being inspired by my organic life story without imposing it on them, but something was still missing.
I had no peace until I came across a life changing opportunity, presented to me by my mentor, Cristina Campofreddo. She offered me an opportunity that changed my entire life, not only that but changed how I viewed coaching.
In the beginning, I was so overwhelmed with excitement and thought that I will be a coach the next day. She took me through the basic introduction and allowed me to understand what coaching is.
I remember vividly our first interaction, she gave me a coaching session that changed once again the way I viewed coaching. I sat there waiting to tell what I should stop doing and what I should start doing.
While I waited, questions were thrown around and I felt something special being evoked in me.
Right there I knew there was something powerful about coaching. There was so much excitement, and I was beaming with Joy at the end of the first session. My training was also a coaching session.
From the first few sessions, I can say that a lot has changed, I have improved in my life at work and outside work.
I can pick out one thing that I will forever be grateful of. With this, I learnt that also as coaches we get coached. To test if coaching really works, I took our practice sessions seriously. I brought to the session’s real-life situations, and I can look back now and confirm that there are huge changes. I remember vividly choosing to change my eating lifestyle, joining the gym, and changing my entire healthy lifestyle in general. In the process, I joined the gym, changed my eating plan, and lost 17 kilograms. Just by this, I saw the power of coaching.
What was interesting was that I do not remember Cristina advising me or telling me what to do. But all I can remember was questions that I did not only answer for the sake of the session, but they evoked something within me. From that moment onwards, I became aware of the power that coaching brings especially when it comes to partnering with the client compared to what I have always thought coaching was. I always saw or thought coaching was imposing one’s beliefs or what we think might work for the client. I was challenged and I must say that it took me time to peel off that layer of wanting to advise, counsel or guide. It later became easier as I saw the great results in my own life and journey.
I have always viewed coaching as giving advice or guiding the client, little did I know that it is partnering with the client by evoking awareness and offering tools to the client in the form of Powerful Questions.
My journey has been more than an eye opener, not about offering the partnership to the client alone but also I got coached too.
The results are evident.
Along the way when I started having practice sessions, I felt boxed and limited by trying to follow a particular structure that I had created in my mind. For some time I struggled until I was exposed to the ICF core competencies.
In the beginning this looked like rules that govern the session but I later learnt that these are simple guidelines that help the coach to stay in line with what is expected by the ICF.
Giving the client the space, ability and time to decide what they would like to explore in every session, without sweating or telling them what to do, I realized how special and delicate this profession is.
Just like in any other profession, I learned how important it is to be present while performing a session. This was a mind blowing experience as it has also helped me improve my presence in any conversation I engage in outside coaching.
The respect given to every student in the program makes one wanna be part of this journey. As a coach in training, I have discovered that to coach ‘the right way’, one has to let go of taking control of the session, letting go of assumptions and allowing the client to use the awareness within them to guide the conversation.
Along the way I struggled with connecting to classes, during the difficult era of COVID-19 it was uncertain if I would ever carry on with the training.
My Mentor Coach Cristina never gave up on me, she kept on encouraging me to utilize any chance I had to attend any class scheduled.
I had the privilege to meet up with other buddy coaches and that enhanced my skills. I am currently surrounded by amazing human beings who have created this family and are always ready to help one other.
My journey is surely not ending here or anytime soon. I want to see the young and the old taking up and using this tool that is Professional Coaching to better their lives especially in the continent of Africa.