As our year-long Coaching and Mentoring with Head, Heart and Soul programme, certified by the Association for Coaching, approaches its second module, we asked a participant and one of the facilitators to reflect on the journey so far. We’ll be doing the same reflection in between each module, so keep your eyes peeled for more in February.
The Participant’s Perspective: Jennifer Potter
As someone who has been coaching others for over 15 years, it comes as a surprise to me that I’m drawn to participate in the one year Oasis Coaching and Mentoring Programme. And of course it’s also not a surprise, because it’s run by Oasis.
If I know anything by now about Oasis, it’s that they do things differently. And their different aligns with how I like to learn, through getting your hands dirty, getting stuck in and deep reflection on self as much as the client. Everything is underpinned by a Whole Person approach, a philosophy I totally align with.
Because my initial coach training came ‘whilst employed’ it never came with a qualification. As I decided to become self-employed I focused my personal development on the newer programmes, adding in NLP and psychometric profiling among others. It’s been a constant dance with imposter syndrome – that I’m somehow not ‘certified’ as a coach, despite none of my clients ever asking if I am, and getting repeat business and happy clients. And as I wonder if I’m doing this programme in order to get the official certificate once and for all (and put that gremlin to bed), I know in my heart that I’m really motivated by other things.
Seeing my coaching practice with fresh eyes
I’m curious about where I’ll go next with my coaching business. I know my style is frank, open, warm and challenging. Sometimes playful, sometimes deep and sometimes can feel therapeutic (clients’ words not mine). I don’t follow a set formula anymore, more of a hybrid of styles due to my own journey of self development and my degree training in acupuncture which focused more on the whole person than any other course I’d completed. I know I’m drawn to take the whole person approach further and to be able to go even deeper with my clients where it’s required and welcome.
I’m also drawn to explore the edges of my current practice but with fresh eyes. What can I see about the impact of my coaching work and what can I not see? Where can I take the overall offering I have to give the world, to a new level or a new audience?
The importance of community and learning
And I’m also reminded after our first module of the importance of community and learning for me. Knowing I’ll be coming together on a regular basis, with a room full of wise individuals looking to do good work in the world and curious to learn about self and others, is my happy place. If I’m not learning or evolving I am indeed not alive.
I was blown away by what an amazing group of people the programme has attracted (and relieved). Such wisdom, such a desire to ‘do it right’, such experience, such variety of experience. I’m relieved I’m not the only one with coaching experience, no one feels like a beginner. There’s an openness, a desire to do good work, to care for people, to learn. I feel relaxed.
I was blown away by just how much ground we cover in three days and have time for practical sessions and getting to know each other too. I wondered if I’d find connecting with the foundations of coaching boring but I don’t. I really appreciate the space to reconnect with the principles from this wiser, more experienced stage in my practice and see how I now feel about them, if there’s any change. Generally there isn’t (for this module), other than a renewed sense of excitement for old but familiar tools.
It also acts as a good opportunity/motivation to prioritise an update to my client contract process and t&cs as well as a review about whether the way I contract in works for me now in the same way it has. I realise it does for personal clients but I want to change the way I contract with business clients.
Our helping journey
I’m particularly excited by the exercise to explore our ‘helping journey’. Considering people who have helped us, inspired our own journey in some way, beliefs and ways of being that both helped and hindered our ability to show up as a helper of others. I gain new insight about my journey, my motivation and how I arrive at this time in my life and I re-meet familiar crossroads that were decided one way or another and brought me here today.
I leave the first three days, happy, tired and grateful. I’m also feeling a tad overwhelmed by the idea of the homework and figuring out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing in between other than practising with a volunteer and writing my journal and reading more. I feel odd about doing a volunteer client. I’m noticing that I’m trying to drop down into beginner eyes to see the process afresh and wondering how that will be for me with my volunteer client and existing clients. I’m curious about whether I’ll uncover any bad habits I’ve formed and whether I’ll able to be kind to myself as I explore what lurks underneath.
Mostly, I leave feeling like I’ve been held by a really loving curious space and how grateful I am to have this one-year learning journey ahead of me with these lovely people.
The Facilitator’s Perspective: Glyn Fussell
I have always been fascinated by the process of trying to understand others. When I was a child, I was the avid reader of ‘problem pages’ and the sage advice given on readers problems by Agony Aunts (it was usually Aunts not Uncles, who in my childhood at least were consigned to more practical issues like how to grout tiles in the bathroom!) I poured over the ‘problems’ that were presented, wondering what I would say in response, how I could help someone with such an issue. All very suspect!
As I have travelled through my life, I have made different forays into the world of helping. I trained as a bereavement counsellor, started training as a psychotherapist and then, 18 years ago, joined a group of business leaders on a programme to train as a coach.
Engaging with myself
I learned so much at that time and since have had a successful career coaching and mentoring some amazing people. However, the course I did, whilst equipping me with a fantastic range of skills and theories, did little to engage my own human responses to who I hoped to help. When sitting with another person, wanting to learn and grown or struggling to move forwards in their lives, I became very aware that theories and skills were often not enough to meet another person where they really are. This kind of meeting required me to engage with myself. My feelings, my hopes and fears, my approach to conducting relationships and, fundamentally my own willingness to learn.
These realisations were part of the impetus for developing Coaching and Mentoring with Head, Heart and Soul. The programme is an acknowledgement that really effective coaching and mentoring is not something that is done to someone. Rather, it is a genuine relationship; an alliance where a person’s development and growth is facilitated and learned from both by the client and the coach.
This is the fourth such programme we have run and it is a pure joy to do. The programme attracts those who as well as wanting to help others are genuinely interested in developing themselves to be the best that they can be. They come to the programme having enjoyed success in their own particular fields of work. All come with their own questions about the future and a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
A process of realisation
It has been very interesting to see the wonderful process of realisation that the group has gone through on the first module. Moving from wanting to establish a robust and clear toolkit for their first meeting to gently realising that simply providing space and time for another person to unpack and to be listened to can be more than enough. For those who have spent their lives being paid to have answers this can create a particular kind of tension!
This particular group is already grappling with really meaty questions such as how you can help a person without feeling the need to ‘fix’ them! These are really useful aspects to consider and there is space and time on the programme to give questions like these the attention they require in service of developing really effective and sustainable coaching.
It is a privilege to help participants access their own skills and wisdom whilst learning new ways of facilitating the learning of others.