As a kid, I was always the little one hanging around bigger kids, especially my older sister’s friends. How annoying that must have been for her! And how fascinating that was for me! When she started taking acting classes, her group of friends was a fountain of discovery! While my dancing classes were very strict in terms of technique and discipline, the acting world seemed as an invitation to be free to experiment every personality corner and express it; see what shows up and how that impacts yourself and others. Then, learn how to connect to something deeper inside and make a conscious choice for what or how you want to reveal!
Learning could be so much fun! It was also very hard at times but everything they did there had a meaning!
“Is this meant to tick a box or do you have a point?”, “You say you want to empower us, but your approach is bringing us down, maybe you can find another way to teach us this or that!”, sounds familiar? At one point maybe all of us raised these questions relating to learning, I know I did – my whole school. Challenging the system or the process, while searching for meaning and alternative ways of learning. For me, after growing up in a communist learning system, where questions like those above were considered defiance, I knew what I wanted to discover in a learning process: purpose, relevance and engaging methods to create experiences that really develop potential. I went on to build a career in learning and development, studying psychology and marketing, constantly looking for ways to meaningfully connect to people and support lifelong learning.
Professional training done well was interesting, relevant and fun! However, people are often expected to attend a course and simply apply the learning. Still, no extra support and empowerment from a manager, mentor or a supportive community is rarely behind success stories. The direct manager plays an important role but still, what specifically do they have to do? Their people may have the knowledge, may know what to do and even want to do it but something keeps them from consistently putting it into practice. So, how to really support someone to develop their potential?
About 5 years ago, coaching showed up again in my life. Little did I know or expect that it would change it significantly! On every level!
It was exciting to see how coaching can really connect people to the most important things in their lives and the energy that comes from that. One thing that clearly surfaced was that the best leaders and mentors who most contributed to the development of others were applying coaching principles:
- the power of good questions that stimulate,
- the real out of the box thinking that brings new perspectives into play,
- the faith in the people being coached that they are creative, resourceful and whole.
What a great way to support learning, formally or informally! So here is how learning to become a coach started for me.
Building coaching skills on an L&D foundation may seem simpler or faster compared to having other professional backgrounds.
Surprisingly though, it may actually feel harder:
- so much to unlearn
- so much to question oneself
- internal saboteurs come to life
Having gone through a second coaching school and consulting with 6 different groups of alumni, here is what came out as mostly supporting learning, building confidence and drive to apply:
- The learning method can really make a big difference to the whole journey,
- Going beyond general principles into a variety of tools is extremely helpful for two reasons:
- addressing specific situations: internal saboteurs, habits, motivation, making important choices, relationships, aspirations, etc.
- Having the flexibility to choose what works best for you, finding your own authentic way
- Empowering mentor feedback throughout the journey makes you grow wings
- There is great power in a community of practice: it supports, consolidates and facilitates the application of learning.
The impact for me? I completely shifted two important relationships in my family, started living a healthier life (applying Kaizen principles to reincorporate sports in my life), becoming a kinder, more supporting wife and parent and hopefully also a more empathic leader.
So often people mention that the biggest impact in their lives came from a teacher in their early education. Wish I had that in my formal school years. But I am still fortunate to have found them in my late thirties in my coaching education.
What makes trainers, teachers, mentors really stand out and have a lasting impact on their audience?
- Being purpose driven
- Sharing their experience without holding anything back
- Role-modelling everything they are teaching
- Having a mindset of helping you become the best version of yourself, while investing you with their trust, opens up so many growth possibilities.
If you are a teacher, mentor or leader, please remember how important these things are!
As a continuous learner, I leave you with the question that we received at the end of every module in our coaching school:
Through your learning and discovery, who are you becoming?
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