Big Question: Are you interested in becoming a Coach?
One of the feedbacks I gathered from the email survey (December 2014) was this: a number of CJ readers are looking to transition into becoming a coach. Some of you are interested to run a thriving coaching business (including online business).
My No.1 reason for starting Coaching Journey was to journal my own evolving journey as a coach (the insights and lessons I’ve gained) and to serve people who are seeking to begin their own coaching journey. And those who are already on their coaching journey are welcome to ride along!
So, I’m going to start writing on a new series ‘How To Become A Coach’, which I will keep adding contents in the months to come. And to help you understand where I come from (more importantly, to see if I can add value to you), I’ll begin by sharing my own story.
This is going to be a longer post than usual, so you might want to grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable before reading.
Job vs Passion
Before I became a professional coach, I had felt that I was living two parallel careers for many years – the job I was supposed to be doing and what I would really love to do and make a living out of it.
Back in my high school years, while my teachers would be teaching in a formal class, I was more interested in my own informal learning, I’d always have a book (spiritual, personal development) under the desk which I’d read. And in my University years, I was enrolled in an Engineering course but when I was in bookshops, I’d be in the ‘Self-Help’ and ‘Spirituality’ section.
I grew up following a certain career direction pointed by people who loved me. They had the best intentions for me. But secretly, I was more interested in the vast infinite knowledge world of the human potential, the mind and motivation. I was deeply curious to see what I could become if I work on developing a shy and timid guy like me.
‘Self-Help’ Doesn’t Help
I was a voracious reader and read many of the best ‘Self-Help’ books I could get my hands on, since I was a student an into the adult working world.
Instinctively, I was still the same guy who had massive potential (according to many people) but didn’t show much in real life. I didn’t know how to show my best self the world.
If ‘Self-Help’ books could really help, I would have become someone else a long time ago. Something was missing. Could it be the understanding? The application? Or something else? What was it?
In my career, I just did what I was told, hardly motivated, working on jobs to pay the bills. Lets put it this way, those jobs didn’t make my heart sing. I quit job after job, and some of them I was actually quite good at it. And in one of them, during the last month, my boss told me one thing which I’d never forget, “This is my advice for you on your next career move: Don’t hesitate. You have been hesitating on giving your best.”
Although I was the top sales manager (broke the company records) then, I understood what my boss said. My head was more than up to the challenge but my heart wasn’t in it. It was obvious to him. The nature of the job was incongruent with my values and strengths. Something was missing.
The search continued.
A Leader Who Changed Everything
I had worked with many leaders at work and non-profit organizations. Most of them loved to give advice, tell me what to do, fix my weaknesses and all that sort of stuff which I consciously and unconsciously resisted. I didn’t know why back then.
About ten years ago, I had the privilege to work with a leader for a few years. He was different from all the other leaders I’ve worked with.
His approach was different, deeply engaging and moved me out of my comfort zone. No one had engaged me so deeply one one one before. No one provoked my thoughts with so many powerful questions. The thing was, he didn’t direct or tell me what to do. He allowed me to be who I was. He gave me the permission to do whatever I wanted.
I felt empowered. More importantly, I felt that he honored who I was and my innate potential. I felt safe to come out of my shell.
He knew how to get the best out of me. And he did.
His leadership and engagement style completely changed the way I viewed human development and motivation. After he left, I asked myself, “What did he do to me?” In all honesty, it wasn’t very much but it made all the difference to me.
It’s Called Coaching
It was later when my curiosity led me to a few coaching books and the realization hit me, “Oh! That was called coaching. So that was what that leader was doing with me.” He wasn’t a coach by profession but his approach of engagement had all the powerful core elements of coaching.
That was it! I never stop finding out more about what coaching is. I also came across this quote by Michael Neill (aka SuperCoach) which I really love:
“If a stick is floating down a river and gets stuck, it doesn’t need years of therapy. It just needs a little nudge and then it will get back into the flow of the river.” ~ Michael Neill.
You see, what I needed wasn’t therapy: someone telling me there’s something wrong with me, that I need to improve and fix my weaknesses (Self-Help). I didn’t need someone telling me what to do with my life (we all hate that, don’t we?). Those well-intention advice simply didn’t work. What I truly needed was the timely little nudges that probed my self-awareness, helped me to get out of my own way to go back into the flow of my best self. I would then know what to do will my life.
That was it! I never stop finding out more about coaching. Inevitably I got myself enrolled in a professional coaching certification accredited by ICF (International Coach Federation).
Becoming A Professional Coach
I had one goal in mind as I was studying coaching formally: I wanted to make a living as a coach. I wanted to turn pro.
I practiced coaching with friends I knew, on a pro-bono basis. I’ve a few paid clients in between. I knew that wasn’t good enough, but was enough to help me on my journey of coaching mastery.
I was in the process of continuous learning. I read more coaching books, signed up for online programs, and I started Coaching-Journey.com. I served as a committee in my local coaching community: Malaysian Association of Certified Coaches (MACC), and learnt from my fellow coaches.
In the midst of all of that, I did struggle with my own limiting beliefs: “Can I really become a professional coach?”, “Am I good enough?”, “Do I have the necessary experience and track record?” I’ll write more about that inner struggle in a separate post.
I kept learning, practicing, writing and putting myself out there. Most importantly, I kept serving people. I had a few coaching clients and projects along the way, but they weren’t enough for me to make a full-time income.
One day, I had a big break which I did not plan for. In brief, because I kept making myself visible and serving people, I was offered an unexpected opportunity to work as a performance coach by one of the participants in my coaching workshop. I had a steady amount of coachees, both locally and in a neighboring country. With that, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a professional coach with a full-time income.
Coaching From The Inside-Out
In my evolving journey and learning, I stumbled upon The Three Principles (Mind, Consciousness and Thought) or also known as the inside-out nature of the human experience.
The understanding changed the way I live and work. Basically, it changed the way I view everything. It was like an awakening for me – a psychological freedom.
For me, coaching is like the vehicle and the inside-out paradigm is the direction I work in – pointing people towards their innate wisdom, clarity, resilience and well-being.
In short, I’ve now understood the nature of human experience, that the mind only works one way – from the inside-out.
All my life, like most people, I had been trying to find outside-in solutions to fix problems of the inside-out nature. Of course they didn’t work!
I’d realized this fact for myself: we live in the feeling of our thinking. We experience our thought constructed reality as the world, with or without realizing it.
When I first heard and read about the Principles, I rejected them. I thought that the ‘solution’ was too simplistic. I felt that my intelligence was insulted. Probably, it was because of all the training and ‘Self-Help’ stuff I’d adopted for decades. It wasn’t easy to let go of them. Imagine a guy preparing all his life for an epic journey, and his teacher tells him to leave all that behind – they are of no use. That he has got his preparation all wrong his whole life. I was a little offended, to say the least. Or in denial. You see, I’d invested too much to throw everything away!
Having said that, I was curious and wondered why reputable and brilliant coaches like Michael Neill and Jamie Smart would go all in, embracing this inside-out paradigm as the only paradigm. They were previously from the NLP domain and were doing very well.
As I stayed in the conversation and listened deeper, I began to had some understanding. I also began to understand how my intellect was actually an obstacle to allow deeper insights to surface in my consciousness.
As I was more open to the possibilities of the inside-out paradigm, I began to have profound experiences in the way I felt and performed out there. I saw the possibility that maybe (just maybe), the inside-out paradigm could be true after all. And then I finally saw it! I consciously saw that my thinking was the one making up my world – both the good and bad. I saw where my experience actually comes from, how it works and the nature of Thought. To borrow a metaphor from a famous film, it was like being ‘unplugged from the Matrix’.
I didn’t realize how deep I was in until certain undesirable events happened to me, and my experience of them were completely different from how I would have had years ago before I understood the Principles. That’s when I realized I’d embodied the understanding quite deeply.
I used to think that throwing away all the knowledge and training I’d invested all those years would be a big waste. Now I think that it’s actually a huge relief. Ahh, the freedom and unspeakable joy! The search is over!
Bonus: The Principles helped improved my marriage tremendously as well!
The understanding of the Principles helped me see through my deepest fears as a coach. I didn’t really have to deal with them as they dissolved, like how shadows disappear when the light (my understanding) is switched on. My insecurities vanished. Sometimes they return, but I just don’t take them seriously anymore. Because I’d realized that my insecurities don’t exist except the thought of them.
I can now coach with less in my mind – more clarity and less interference.
I’ve been writing about The Three Principles for a bit in previous posts, especially on the Principle of Thought. However, they aren’t something that can be grasped intellectually. People tend to understand it in different levels.
Stay with in the conversation with me as I explore deeper in future posts.
Coaching Questions For You
If you’re interested in becoming a coach:
1) What’s your story? Where are you in your journey?
2) What resonated with you in my story?
3) What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve gained in your evolving journey so far?
4) What compels you to look in the direction of Coaching?
5) How has anyone got the best out of you?
6) How can you serve people best?
Feel free to share your stories and comments below. And let me know what you would like me to share in this series.