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ICF Credential vs. IAC Life Coach Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

certified_coach_goldribbon.jpgI interviewed my friend and colleague, Donna Steinhorn, IAC MMC, ICF PCC, on the difference between ICF and IAC life coach certification. Unfortunately, the recording was no good, which is one of the of the many reasons that attending live is always the best policy.

The feedback from coaches who attended the interview has been awesome. So I'm going to add a few highlights here, in case you missed it.

The two organizations, themselves, are of course, the ultimate authorities on what they do and they change their policies from time to time. So if you're looking for highly detailed info, visit their respective web sites. The ICF's is coachfederation.org and the IAC's is certifiedcoach.org.

Donna has been deeply involved in coach training and certification for many years and is one of only a handful of coaches who have both ICF and IAC coach certifications, which is why I chose her for this interview ~ that, and the fact that Donna is fun to talk with.

Both Donna and I have been on the coach training and certification bandwagon for eternity (Donna is a member of SCM's Board of Advisers) - and we're both rebels, so we have a shared skepticism, as well as support of these two leading professional organizations and their respective credentialing processes.

We began our conversation by noting that there are limitations to both ICF and IAC coach certifications. Each has its own coaching competencies (or masteries, as the IAC calls theirs). Each definitely has its own coaching style, which you need to be able to demonstrate. Neither style encompasses every possible way to coach brilliantly; they're just doing the best they can.

So why are there two professional coaching organizations and certifications? Actually, there are zillions of them - some completely bogus - but these currently are the most respected. Oddly, the same man, Thomas J. Leonard, the 'Father of Professional Coaching', founded both the IAC and ICF. Thomas founded the ICF in 1995 and later, the IAC in 2003, just before he passed away.

ICF credentialing, as it's called, emphasizes coach training, mentoring and experience, as well as an online test and demonstration of coaching skill. Thomas sought to streamline the process of certification with the IAC, which emphasizes the results of coach training, mentoring and experience, rather than the documentation of it. This makes the IAC certification process a bit simpler, but it's by no means easier, because coaches need to demonstrate masterful coaching skills. Only about 25% of coaches who apply for IAC Coach Certification pass on the first try.

The ICF has three levels of coaching credentials: The Associate Credentialed Coach (ACC), The Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC), and the Master Credentialed Coach (MCC). The IAC currently has only one certification, the Certified Coach (IAC-CC), but from what I've observed, the level of coaching skill required by the IAC is roughly comparable to the ICF MCC. (UPDATE: the IAC added another 'intermediate' level of certification, as well.)

Finally, the ICF has two pathways for credentialing: The portfolio route allows you to get your coach training anywhere and the accreditation path requires you to study at an ICF accredited coach training school. The IAC doesn't require demonstration of coach training, just the results of it: masterful coaching skills. I know most IAC Certified Coaches and I believe all of them have had substantial coach training and/or mentor coaching. Donna says there may have been one coach who passed without being trained.

I asked Donna if there were any hidden costs to getting certified by either organization. She mentioned the mentor coaching requirement by the ICF, which would cost you about $350 - 400 per month, but Donna doesn't consider that a hidden cost, since all coaches need to have their own coaches at all times. Personally, I don't think anyone needs a coach every minute of their life, but coaches are foolish if they don't work with successful coaches of their own. I worked with two excellent mentor coaches while I prepared for IAC Coach Certification.

What, in Donna's opinion, is the best benefit of getting certified? She considers the coach directory on the ICF website, which only lists ICF credentialed coaches, to be by far the best benefit, because it brings her a steady stream of potential clients. We agreed that the IAC would do well to offer such a benefit to its own membership.

Finally, which coaches need certification most? Donna says corporate coaches and perhaps executive coaches, since companies usually want to see credentials. She doesn't believe life coaches need to be certified, but I've seen anecdotal evidence that clients are screening life coaches more carefully than they used to. Even new life coaches are telling me that potential clients ask about training and certification.

School of Coaching Mastery's Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program prepares coaches for ICF credentialing.

So there you have the Readers Digest version of the ICF Credentialing vs. IAC Life Coach Certification interview.

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Topics: certification requirements, coach training, coaching clients, ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, IAC Certified Coach, certified coaches, Donna Steinhorn, IAC, certified coach, coach credential

5 Rookie Mistakes New Life Coaches Should Never Make [Are YOU Making These?]

Posted by Julia Stewart

New Life Coach

In my career as a coach trainer and mentor coach, I've known some amazing coaches who changed many lives, but I've also seen some embarrassing rookie mistakes and made a few, myself.

Some mistakes keep popping up on my radar, so here's the blog post i think about writing whenever I see one. I hope it helps!

5 Rookie Mistake New Life Coaches Should Never Make:

1. Using a personal email address as a business address. The address you use with family and friends, such as FredWilmaAndPebbles@aol.com,  may fail to address the bedrock issue in business credibility: your professionalism. Don't communicate that you're an amateur by using a family address. And MissFancyPants1986@hotmail.com may be your flirty way of expressing yourself on eHarmony, but it's TMI for business. Use your name and no one else's, or use your business name. Alternatively, tell people what you do with your address. One of my first was, ICoach121@optimum.net. Of course, having your own web address is a bit more impressive. Another early address I used was coach@YourLifePart2.com.

2. Getting a website before you're ready. A professional-looking email address is a must. A website probably can wait. In the meantime, a robust profile on one or more coach directories will do and/or social media profiles or pages. In fact, these  provide feedback on what people respond to, so it's an awesome way to learn what will work for your website. Otherwise, you're likely to have a site that doesn't really represent you or your business. I knew a new coach who lived on Maui, whose coaching was about building thriving relationships, but the main image on her website was a single leafless tree in a frigid winter landscape. What? Most successful coaches take between a year and three years to get their first website. Get to know your business self, your clients, and what communicates what you do, effectively. No rush.

3. Quitting your job at the wrong time. I've had coaching students who quit their jobs the week after they joined my school. I love their confidence and commitment, but they tend to struggle. Coaches take between 3 months and 5 years to fill their coaching practices. With Coach 100, it takes between 6 months and a year. That's a long time to go without a full-time income. On the flip side, I've known coaches who hung on to their jobs too long. One excellent coach had a quarter of a million dollars in financial reserves, but still too nervous to make the leap. A big part of what coaches do is help clients get over the fears that prevent success, so get your own coach, if you're feeling stuck. On the other hand, if you're ultra-risk-adverse, consider coaching within a large organization, if that helps you feel more stable.

4. Not getting your own coach. How can you call yourself a coach, if you've never been coached? More to the point, how will you know to make smart rookie choices, if the only coaches you talk to are other rookies? You need your own coach, period. Think of it as a business deduction. Find your coach here.

5. Not getting training. There are still a couple of old timers who tell rookie coaches that they don't need training, but that's not fair to rookies. 20-30 years ago, there was no training, but a few talented people invented coaching, anyway. The rest of us have Thomas Leonard to thank for putting coaching on the map and starting the first coach training school and international coaching association. Like having your own coach, getting coach training flattens your learning curve, helps you make smarter choices, and contributes to your success. Coaches with training become successful quicker and are less likely to quit the profession. Don't take my word for it. Ask your coach.

Don't make rookie mistakes. Get the free Become a Coach eBook:

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Topics: coach training, become a coach, Free, Coach Training Programs, Life Coaches, Thomas Leonard, Mentor Coaching, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, coach training program, FIND A COACH

Coaching Tip: The Last Motivational Tool You'll Ever Need

Posted by Julia Stewart

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Ah January, the beginning of a new year. It's the month to make resolutions and the busiest time of the year for the fitness industry. This is when you're most likely to be bombarded by motivational tips, tools, pep talks, speakers, posters, efficiency hacks, apps, books, coaching programs, etc., ad nauseum.

When I went to Flickr just now to find an image for this post under the keyword, "motivation", all I got were a zillion motivational posters like the one above. Have you ever wondered why there's so much motivational junk out there?

Because it doesn't work.

For instance, one the motivational posters I just saw has a formula on it: Sweat + Sacrifice = Success. Oh. Didn't that just solve everything for you?

No, me either.

If 99% of existing motivational junk was worth anything, the issue would be solved by now and you and your friends wouldn't be searching for better ways to accomplish what you need to do.

Up until now, if you truly wanted motivation, you had to get another person involved, like a personal trainer. I used to be a personal trainer in Manhattan and one of my clients dubbed me, "Motivation for Hire", because I showed up at her door every night whether she wanted to exercise or not (usually not). I got her healthy again and she felt virtuous when I left, but she paid me about $20,000 per year for that motivation.

I'm going to clue you in for free.

I'm going to share with you a tool that upgrades motivation so much, that people literally can do what they want, when they want, and still get more accomplished than they can with any other approach.

Yes, really.

I learned about this tool from the Father of the Coaching Profession, Thomas Leonard, who was one of the most prolific people I've ever known and he did whatever he wanted when he wanted. When I first tried doing whatever I wanted when I wanted, I had a blast and accomplished more on my To-Do list than ever. In fact, I mentioned that to the client above and she said, "If I tried that, I'd never get anything done."

Back then, I couldn't explain how it worked, but now I can.

The difference is to orient your life around what is uniquely you. Another way to say it is to build your life around what matters most to you. Most people think this will be difficult, or that they will fail, but the opposite is usually true. It certainly was for me.

Thomas called this TrueValues, but I call it your unique values, because it only works when you focus on what matters uniquely to you. Building your life around your unique values is transformative, joyful, meaningful, growth-oriented, and one of the great secrets of success.

It's not just motivating; it's inspiring.

If you have the integrity to identify and live what is uniquely important to you, you will never need another motivational tool, because you literally will be able to do what you want for the rest of your life. In fact, I suspect the reason you have trouble motivating yourself to do what does not matter to you, is because deep down, your heart is telling you your life is passing and you're not doing what you were designed for.

How to discover what's uniquely you?

Look at what you're driven to do now and ask yourself if it's a harmonious passion or an obsessive passion. If it's a harmonious passion, ask yourself what's most important about it to you? Keep asking until you have 10-20 answers. Then look at those answers and notice which ones resonate with you. Cross the others off the list.

Decide which of those harmonious reasons are the most important. You should end up with 3-5 of them. Now start making choices based on what fits those 3-5. Your life will begin to improve. When your entire life is oriented around your top unique values, you'll be able to do what ever you want when you want.

If you'd like some help with this, find a coach, below.

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Topics: Thomas Leonard, Values, FIND A COACH, personal values

Top Ten Coaching Tools that Can Help Your Thrive in an Uncertain World

Posted by Julia Stewart

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Does it seem like the world gets crazier every day? Are you worried about your future? Are you wondering what you can do to survive and thrive? Would you like to help yourself and others flourish tomorrow and beyond?

Hyper-complexity is the word for what you’re experiencing and uncertainty is its inevitable companion.

Both can be your friend if you let them. The truth is there have never been more opportunities to thrive. Complexity virtually promises that. Become someone who sees possibilities early and knows what to do with them.

Here are ten coaching tools that can help anyone thrive in this hyper-complex world:

  1. Be curious. A wise Zen master once told me that we really don’t know what’s going to happen. That seems obvious, but we tend to forget it. If you’re feeling anxious about the future, you’re futurizing (a.k.a. worrying about scary future scenarios). What if you were curious instead? A major side benefit of curiosity is that you notice opportunities before they become problems. How to become more curious? Learn to catch yourself making assumptions. You do it all the time. Then make uncertainty your friend: Don’t decide how things will be. Wonder instead. Be mindful. Be grateful. Wonder what the possibilities are. This is one of the keys to #10, by the way.
  2. Be informed. Find the best sources of information and connect with them often. Avoid addictive, manipulative, or frightening sources, such as cable news, infomercials, click bait, propaganda, social media, high-pressure sales, etc. They confuse and exhaust. You need energy and clarity to stay abreast of hyper-complexity. Subscribe to one or two high-quality newspapers, because great information isn’t free. Get more education and training. Become an expert in at least one field and hang out with other experts. Become an insider, because information is power.
  3. Be prepared. The founder of the coaching profession, Thomas Leonard, believed in assisting clients to afford risk by increasing their reserves. What are reserves? They can be almost anything the client perceives they need more of from postage stamps, to information, to sleep. When people have reserves of practically everything they need, they become calm. I experienced this after 9/11 when I worked in Manhattan. The threat of attack was everywhere and unnerving. I had no control over it. But I could control how prepared I was, so I created a terrorist-attack reserve in an old gym bag with water, food, goggles, you name it, and kept it in my car for months. Terrorist threats continued, but my fears evaporated. A fun way to do this is to shop at Costco, or another big box store, with the question in mind, “What will I need most in the zombie apocalypse? A lifetime supply of toilet paper? Clean drinking water? A katana?” But go deeper. I have friends with solar homes, who are investing in Tesla batteries and going “off grid”. You can go off grid in financial ways, too. Have multiple income streams, more assets than debts, an emergency cash reserve, more insurance. Kidding aside, whatever future catastrophe scares you most, get ready for it now. You may never need your reserves, but the peace of mind they provide is something you'll need everyday forever.
  4. Be well cared for. Too many wish others would care for them. That’s for babies. Although your significant other can care for you, learn to care for yourself. Your health is a perfect place to begin. If your energy and wellbeing aren’t what you’d like, work with a physician or alternative care professional to get into perfect health. You may need to change your diet and exercise. Don’t let that stop you. When I was a personal trainer, my most loyal clients told me that they hired me to look better, but they stayed with me because they felt so much better. In other words, it was worth it. Right after 9/11, they told me about an unexpected benefit: They were strong enough to walk down 40 flights of stairs. You never know when you'll need your good health, but do care for yourself in fun ways, too. Listen to good music, play your favorite sports, engage in hobbies, or find work you love. Optimum wellbeing is your goal, because it improves quality of life regardless what happens.
  5. Be growing. No matter what happens in the world, you can be your best and be getting even better. It’s fun and inspiring and it helps you meet unexpected challenges. Increase your spiritual practice, become a better person, get more training or education. Practice your best skills and learn some new ones. For many, constant improvement is an important part of happiness. For us all, it’s part of getting ready for anything. We know technology will eliminate up to 50% of jobs in the next couple of decades, including some professions. The winners in this work revolution are those with the skills that will still be needed most. Coaching, by the way, entails skills that so far, elude robotics and artificial intelligence and the most successful coaches are those whose personal growth is most developed. In fact, it’s part of our job description. How’s that for a new marketable skill?
  6. Be independent. The world around you may or may not come crashing down, but your personal world can continue to thrive. Become self-employed, for instance, and never fear another layoff. Never wonder if your employer will find a way to deny your retirement benefits. Never worry if you can find another job. What skills or expertise do you have that others would pay for? Service-oriented businesses are relatively easy and inexpensive to start and usually you can charge much more than a traditional employer would pay.
  7. Be well connected. Those who balance independence with connection are likely to succeed best and those who are most independent need connection most of all and are freest in choosing it. Thomas Leonard liked to say, “You become who you hang out with.” Hang out with successful people. Hang out with those whose personal growth is most developed. Hang out with people who are creating a better world and are optimistic, curious, and kind.
  8. Be guided by what matters. When you’re clear about your unique values, your choices get simple, even in a complex world. You may know who you care most for, what you’ve been told to value, or what you think you need to do, but hardly anyone is clear about their unique values. Those of us who are, have a powerful advantage. We can orient our lives around what matters most to us, rather than what scares us. That instantly upgrades both the meaning and joy in our lives, helps us pursue our passions, and succeed most easily. But knowing your unique values isn’t as simple as it may sound. The best way to discover yours is to work with your own coach, or take the Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths course.
  9. Be wise. Wisdom helps us stay centered in a storm, so learn from every mistake. Upgrade your spiritual and personal growth. Hang out with wise people. Know your unique values and you will instantly upgrade your wisdom. But wisdom tends to grow gradually. We are one of the first generations that has an opportunity to possess wisdom while we’re still healthy. That’s an enormous upgrade. Welcome the challenges and problems that will make you wise.
  10. Notice opportunities. If you want to make friends with hyper-complexity and uncertainty, use all the tools in this post: curiosity, information, preparation, self-care, growth, independence, connection, values, and wisdom to help you see what’s coming faster and notice the opportunities for you to contribute, succeed, and thrive. Add one more: positivity. Research by Barbara Fredrickson shows that those who are more positive, notice opportunities for greater good, than those who are worried, trying to solve problems, or generally are negative. The first nine items on this list will help you engage positively with uncertainty. By doing so, you’ll notice the good that’s coming to you. You can also help those around you. Ultimately, you’ll help the whole world.

Coaches have been using these tools successfully for decades. They are as timeless as they are powerful.

If you’d love to learn powerful coaching tools and join a profession that is high-paid and growing, and you’d like to do so quickly, the Certified Competent Coach course is starting soon. Become a certified coach in eight weeks and learn more tools for success.

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Topics: Coaching, Thomas Leonard, Become a Certified Coach, Barbara L Fredrickson, certified competent coach

How to Put Gratitude to Work in Your Life

Posted by Julia Stewart

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Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, or National Gratitude Day, as I like to call it.

We talk about practicing gratitude as if it is nothing but a nice thought, word, or feeling; a pleasant way to practice mindfulness. But it is much more than that. Gratitude is also a way of life. It's way more powerful when you live it, rather than just list it.

We have many years of research from positive psychology giants such as Robert Emmons, Martin Seligman, Barbara Fredrickson, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Dacher Keltner.

Positive Psychology researchers have fine tuned what we understand about the power of gratitude.

We know, as a result, that gratitude practices are among the most powerful in shifting a life from languishing to flourishing. But not every gratitude practice is created equal. Habitually listing what you are grateful for everyday turns out to NOT be the the most effective way to express gratitude.

However, living your appreciation for what you have been given by your family, community, and country is powerful for you as well as for all those around you.

Don't settle just for wellbeing; create the magnificent life that is meant for you and others.

As the beloved American President, John F. Kennedy said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

What would it mean for you to live by your gratitude? How would your life change? How will you change the lives of others?

Here are a few ways I try to do this:

  • I was blessed with a great Mom. She gave me the gift of knowing, beyond doubt, that I was unconditionally loved from the very beginning. It's something that can never be taken away. She loved all children and loved giving to a particular charity called, the Smile Train, that uses virtually all of its donations to repair cleft palates for impoverished children, who will be bullied at school, or kept home because of their appearance, and may never find a job or spouse. She felt blessed to be able to change the lives of little ones. Now that she's gone, I give to this charity in her name, knowing that I am truly making a difference. It feels wonderful and it is wonderful for many others, as well.
  • I was also blessed to be a student of the late, Thomas Leonard, who was known for his integrity and generosity in establishing coaching as a genuine profession. I pay it forward by teaching his principles to my students and by helping to move the profession forward by incorporating the latest research in positive psychology, neuroscience, and emotional intelligence into the coaching tools we use. Experience early Thomas Leonard with the free ecourse based on his original writings about the Principles of Attraction.
  • And I'm am continually blessed by the incredible caliber of the coaching students, volunteers, and staff at School of Coaching Mastery. They are the true pioneers of positive psychology coaching. Their success means the success of many others who come in contact with them. I frequently thank them by adding new content, resources, and benefits to the Certified Positive Psychology Coach program.
  • And of course, I'm blessed by the over 20,000 readers who visit this blog every month. I try to include useful content in my posts and in the posts of our talented guest writers. To you, I want to say thanks today, by offering you a discount coupon good until the end of this year, for $100USD off any course or coach training program. That's more than 50% off the Best Practices mini-course. Plus, the keystone course of our positive psychology coaching around the "strange attractors" (a.k.a. the little things that make a big difference), Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths, begins this coming Monday.

Use this code to save $100USD: Gratitude2016

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Topics: gratitude, Thomas Leonard, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching

A Brief History of Positive Psychology and Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

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Two fields, positive psychology and coaching, have radically expanded how we think about personal growth. They've taught us that human beings have far more potential for happiness than we previously thought. Both began in the 1990's, but until recently, they developed largely in parallel. Now they are directly influencing each other and a new profession, positive psychology coaching, has emerged. It's time to look back at how it all came about...

Both positive psychology and coaching reached back millennia for inspiration from western and eastern philosophies, as well as other ancient wisdom traditions, including some indigenous influences. In addition, 20th Century influences sought to describe what was best and highest in human beings and how more people could amplify their personal development, success, and wellbeing.

The most notable difference in the development of positive psychology and of coaching was that positive psychology always had a strong academic and research basis, while coaching had its beginnings as an innovative entrepreneurial service. Research into what actually works in coaching came later.

Positive psychology and coaching each have a "founder" or "father", respectively. For coaching, it was Thomas Leonard (1955-2003), a former financial advisor, turned coach, who founded what many consider the first professional coaching school, Coach U, in 1992. Thomas later founded the first not-for-profit professional association and certifier of coaches, the International Coach Federation (ICF) in 1995.

The recognized Father of Positive Psychology is Martin Seligman (1942- ). An address Seligman gave, while president of the American Psychological Association (AMA), is often cited as the official advent of positive psychology. Under Seligman's leadership, several initiatives proceeded over time, including the founding of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) at UPenn in 2003  and the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) in 2007.

This short blog post can't cover all the achievements of these two great men, nor does it include all the contributions to both coaching and positive psychology by many other brilliant pioneers, but you can learn more by clicking links throughout this article, which will lead you to my references.

There were two 20th Century giants who seem to have had an impact on both positive psychology and coaching. They were Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970, and Viktor Frankel, 1905-1997. Maslow, himself a former president of the AMA, is referred to as the "Grandfather of Positive Psychology" by positive psychology professor, Tal Ben Shahar. Maslow may have even coined the term, "positive psychology", which appears in his 1962 classic, Toward a Psychology of Being (highly recommended). More important is Maslow's theory of self-actualization, often referred to as, needs-based psychology, which states that all humans have physical and psychological needs and that as we meet these needs, we grow and develop. The ultimate state we can attain via needs satisfaction is self-actualization, which is characterized by authenticity, flexibility, and even humor.

Viktor Frankl was born in Vienna and became a psychiatrist and neurologist, but during World War II was interned by the nazis in a series concentration camps, including the infamous, Auschwitz. He survived the war under dreadful conditions, which he later wrote about in his best-selling, Man's Search for Meaning, 1946. Frankl concluded that those who survived the nazi camps did so because they had something to live for: the need to see a loved one again, the desire to help a friend, or in Frankl's case, the passion to write his book about Logotherapy, literally the psychotherapy of meaning. According the Frankl, one cannot become self-actualized without becoming self-transcendent, or growing beyond oneself and one's own ego, which requires that we find meaning by helping others. Seligman later identified "meaning" as one of the most durable pathways to happiness. Echos of both Maslow's and Frankl's theories can be found in Thomas Leonard's Needs and Values.

Maslow and Frankl were especially important in their time, because the second half of the 20th Century marked a turn toward identifying, diagnosing, and curing mental illness, almost exclusively. Psychology's original purpose included psychopathology, but also the psychology of healthy people, and the study of genius. Seligman and colleagues were intent upon rebalancing the field of psychology to include the positive, as well as the negative, and their ultimate goal is to do this so thoroughly that "positive psychology" becomes obsolete, as a separate field.

Positive psychology and coaching are a natural fit, because positive psychology researchers and coaches ask similar questions: How can people become happier, more successful, and enjoy greater wellbeing? In other words, how can people Flourish, as Seligman would put it.

Although it's likely that early coaches and coach trainers drew from research into human potential, such as positive psychology, they usually didn't reveal their sources, which created a "guru-like" image for some and allowed others to make unfounded claims. Eventually, this caught up with the reputation of the coaching field and it was time for coaching to grow up and become a true profession.

By this time, the positive reputation of coaching had also grown. Clients, organizations, and researchers we curious how coaching was changing lives. Research into coaching started to boom and the Institute of Coaching formed in 2008 to foster research into coaching, positive psychology, and emotional intelligence.

One particularly notable researcher is Richard Boyatzis (1946 -) of Case Western University, who is associated with coaching, leadership, and emotional intelligence. His books, such as Primal Leadership, offer sophisticated evidence-based tools for coaching.

In 2007, Robert Biswas-Diener (1971 -), of Portland State University, published the first notable book on Positive Psychology Coaching and he has become a leader in positive psychology coaching research, writing, and teaching.

Today, there are numerous university programs in positive psychology and some in coaching. There also are a few short positive psychology coach training programs. The Certified Positive Psychology Coach program is currently the only positive psychology coach training program that includes the full 125 credit hours required for the ICF PCC credential. It was launched in 2014 and 75-100 additional hours will be added for the new master CPPC version in 2017.

If you'd like to learn more about positive psychology coaching, download the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook, below.

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Coaching, ICF, Thomas Leonard, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Institute of Coaching, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Martin Seligman

What's the Difference Between a Professional Coach and an Entrepreneurial Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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What's the difference between a professional coach and an entrepreneurial coach and why does it matter?

I recently received a couple of emails from someone on my mailing list who asked questions such as these. He took issue with a lead-nurturing (a type of marketing) email he received from us in which I frankly advise new coaches to get good coach training and reputable coach certification.

The writer identified himself as an entrepreneur, who offers coaching as one of his services, so I answered him in language I thought he would understand:

I said we were very clear who our ideal student is and he probably wouldn't resonate with our messages, since they are targeted at people who want to become professional coaches, rather than entrepreneurial coaches. I wasn't interested in arguing the relative merits of professionals vs. entrepreneurs, so I neglected to add that I have a strong bias toward professional coaches, for whom training and certification are a must, as opposed to entrepreneurial coaches who generally rely their reputations, experience, and instincts, to coach. That, by the way, is why I started a coach training school that certified coaches.

A coach used to be considered half professional and half entrepreneur, 15-to-20 years ago, and the Founder of the Coaching Profession, Thomas Leonard, was a perfect example. He started multiple coaching schools and professional organizations, in his lifetime, but was a classic entrepreneur who embodied the creativity, drive, productivity, and ongoing dialogue with his customers, that entrepreneurs are known for. That said, his major contribution to coaching was the turn toward professionalism and he embodied a stellar reputation for integrity, ethics, quality, and service that went way beyond profits.

The two photos above show, on the left, a professional coach who displays an openness and willingness to serve clients. On the right, shows an entrepreneur who's burning with his vision for designing a successful business. Both may be useful to coach with depending on what you want to work on. Neither is automatically better, but the professional coach is more thoroughly defined and has qualities that can be more easily recognized and evaluated.

Since Thomas' death in 2003, a leadership vacuum opened up. Much of it was filled by entrepreneurs who were focused more on marketing and sales gimmicks that drive profitability, than on helping clients grow and reach their goals. There are still a few good entrepreneurial coaches, but unfortunately they are increasingly outnumbered by scam artists and well-meaning wannabe's who may give bad advice.

I've known quite a few people whose lives have been transformed for the better by working with professional coaches. I also have known a handful of people whose lives have been ruined by entrepreneurial coaches. That doesn't mean all professional coaches are great, or that all entrepreneurial coaches are bad. Sometimes the opposite is true. It just isn't that simple, but over the years, I've moved away from the "half-professional/half-entrepreneurial" approach to coaching in favor of primarily being a professional and I advise my students to do the same, because it appears increasingly that professional coaches tend to deliver better results for clients and professional coaching is also a better model for coaching success. 

I've been clarifying the distinction between professional coaches and entrepreneurs with my Coach 100 students for over a decade and realized that it could be helpful to many of our blog readers too, so here goes.

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Whether you are a professional coach or entrepreneurial coach isn't really an either/or choice; it's both/and. Because coaching is still not regulated, so there is tremendous freedom for practitioners. But at the same time, it's the professional side of coaching that is driving much of coaching's positive reputation.

If you're looking for a coach, you may want to use the above table to determine how professional your potential coach is. You have a bit more knowledge and power, because professional organizations define what you can expect. Also, if your coach is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), you can file a complaint against a coach-member who fails to uphold the ICF's Code of Ethics.

Remember that lead-nurturing email from above, that advises good training and certification?

Recent research by the ICF found that coaches who get good training are more successful and less likely to quit the profession, while coaching clients say, all else being equal, they prefer to work with certified coaches. If you're new to coaching, my advice is that you get both coach training and certification to increase your confidence and success.

Get Coach Training and Certification

Topics: professional coach, professional coaching, coach training, Coach 100, ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, certified coaches, coaching ethics

5 Coaching Lessons Learned from Adele at Madison Square Garden

Posted by Julia Stewart

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One week ago, today, School of Coaching Mastery quietly closed its doors for a much-anticipated event: Adele's last show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. My daughter and Office Manager, Jessie Stewart, and I had scored tickets last November for the sold-out show and traveled together to our former hometown for a little R&R and to see our favorite singer.

Adele did not disappoint!

As I made my way home from NYC I reflected on my takeaways from the event. Delightfully, there were many.

5 Coaching Lessons Learned from Adele at Madison Square Garden:

1. Be yourself. Adele models this better than anyone. She spent two hours alone onstage in front of over 18,000 people. No warm-up band, no spectacular floor show, no dancing, no pyrotechnics, just one woman in a modest dress and THAT VOICE. Her songs sounded just as sublime as all her records and between them, she told hysterical stories. As Jessie's friend, Meg, said after the show, Adele probably could have a career in stand-up comedy. She is enough as she is. So are you.

2. Hold out for what you really want when it matters, but settle for good enough when it doesn't. Researchers say that people who always want the best are less happy than people who settle for good enough. This probably is true most of the time, but in my experience, holding out for what you really want when it matters is key. Adele was what I really wanted. A fancy hotel room at inflated NYC prices? Not so much. As my mom always said, nobody stays in their room, anyway. So we found a hotel several blocks from MSG with fewer stars and better reviews, were perfectly happy with it, and spent the extra money on heavenly meals.

3. Take happiness breaks. I rarely take days off from work, except when I'm enrolled in a course. But if you want to do your best work, get out of the office occasionally and do something special. We went to NYC at the perfect time. The temperature was ideal, humidity low, no clouds. Our first day, we walked over six miles just enjoying the West Village, SOHO, NOHO, etc. The second day, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By then, we were walked out and took a cab all the way back to the hotel, exhausted but happy.

4. Step out of your comfort zone. As awesome as Adele's show was, one of the most unique few minutes came before we even entered MSG. One member of our party couldn't make it, which left us with an extra ticket for a show that had been sold out for months. I didn't know whether to give it away or sell it, but I knew if I sold it, I wanted to get at least as much as I paid, which was a bit over $100. As we approached the Garden, I heard a scalper yell, "Does anyone have tickets to sell?" I held up one finger and said, "I have one!" Next I knew, we were huddled on a dark corner. First we had to let him inspect the ticket for authenticity. That took some trust, because he could have snatched it and run off. He offered $60. I countered with $150. Then he came up to $100. I said I paid more than that. He offered $120 and let me feel his cash to be sure it wasn't counterfeit. That took trust on his side. I said, "Sold." We went into the Garden $120 richer, and me feeling a bit pleased to have just done something a bit risky that I'd never done before and I even got the scalper to come up twice as much as I came down. I spent all of the money on T-shirts and beer, just in case it really was counterfeit. By the way, Thomas Leonard's 28 Principles of Attraction includes the advice to be a little bad sometimes, because it gets us out of our safety zones and stops us from feeling superior to others.

5. Appreciate what you have. It was so much fun being back in NYC that I fantasized a bit about moving back, but my last morning was cloudy and rainy, which always makes the city look ten times as dirty, and I remembered an old rule of thumb: that when everything goes right, great weather, great food, cabs are easy to get, the scalper buys your ticket, etc.; NYC is the BEST place in the world, but when it doesn't go well, weather is dreadful, passing buses drench you, there are no cabs anywhere, somebody steals your wallet, etc.; NYC is the worst. I was ready to go home, enjoy the quieter, slower pace, and get back to work doing that I love. How fortunate I am to have found my calling and to be able to afford to play hooky once in a while.

So those are my chief takeaways from my quick trip to see Adele.

By the way, we have another Adele at School of Coaching Mastery, who is also delightful, and she's hosting our Positive Psychology Coaching Study Group, starting this Thursday. It's a perfect way to learn more about positive psychology coaching and it's free to everyone. If you'd like to join, click below.

Join the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group

 

Topics: Coaching, School of Coaching Mastery, Thomas Leonard, Attraction Principles, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Coaching Study Groups

The Top 10 Worst Advice We've Ever Heard About Becoming a Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

I truly love coaching. So much so, that I've devoted the last 15 years of my life to it (The last 9 years have been about helping life coaches, business coaches, and executive coaches succeed via School of Coaching Mastery).

Why? Because truly great coaching melds optimism, personal growth, relationship skills, and helping people be their very best. Plus, it's fun, inspiring, and a great way to make a living, unless you are one of the unlucky souls who get snagged by the wrong advice, like the poor sap JP Sears portrays in the How to Be a Life Coach (Not) video, above.

JP is playing for laughs. But here's the sad part: What he says and does in this skin-crawling satire of a life coach, is remarkably close (even identical, in some cases) to advice given by hundreds of self-proclaimed expert "coaches". You'll recognize them by the yachts, sports cars, and private planes they like to pose in front of, or in the opposite extreme, the spiritual, heart-centered props and rhetoric they used to sell their Law of Attraction "abundance" programs. Yuk.

These coaches are fake. Most don't coach at all (even if they call what they do "coaching"), or they use coaching skills to manipulate their customers into buying more and more products and programs, instead of employing those skills to help their customers succeed. This violates basic ethical practices in professional coaching.

You see, if you succeed, you won't need to buy any more advice from them, and that's no good for their bottom lines.

Here's a Top Ten List of Bad Advice for Coaches. Beware...

  1. You can't make a living as a life coach. Oh really? Why then, has coaching been one of the fastest growing professions for the past two decades? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says professional and business services, such as  coaching, is one of the one of the fastest-growing sectors, right now. If anyone tells you that you can't make a living as a coach, ask yourself why they said that. Did it come from your sour-puss brother-in-law who pours negativity on every new idea? Maybe get a second opinion. Or does it come from a friend-of-a-friend who went broke trying to become a coach? Probably they took some of the following advice. Read on...
  2. Quit your job. If coaching is growing so fast, why not just quit your job and start coaching? Because, unless you are hired by a company, like Google, to coach their employees, you probably will be starting your own coaching business. And no business, no matter how successful it becomes, is profitable on Day One. And nobody is going to cut you a full-salary paycheck two weeks after hanging out your shingle. It takes time. Either keep your current job, or work part-time to cover your bills, while you build your awesome new business. Otherwise, terror over not having enough to cover the mortgage will make you desperate and that's when you'll become vulnerable to the following scams...
  3. Learn internet marketing. Internet marketing is a seductive hotbed of get-rich-quick schemes. Self-proclaimed million-dollar-coaches, seven-figure-coaches, wealth coaches, and gurus of every stripe will offer to teach you how to "Explode Your Profits!!!", "Live a Life of Abundance!", and more, with free webinars, cheap products, expensive workshops, and incredibly high-priced "coaching", "mentoring", or "personal advising" programs. Coaches who have been ensnared by these snake-oil salesmen have gone bankrupt, lost their homes, and more. The only people who get rich quick in this world, are the people selling the products and often even they are faking their own "success". Avoid their advice at all costs, especially if it includes...
  4. You must have a niche to succeed. I was lucky. I studied coaching with Thomas Leonard, the Founder of the Coaching Profession, who taught his students, flat out, that you don't need a niche to succeed with coaching. It's fine if you don't have one, especially when  you start out. If you develop one over time, that's fine too, but don't sweat it. Why do "experts" keep saying all coaches must have niches? Because new coaches, by definition, don't have niches, and once they "discover" that not niching will prevent them from getting clients, they go into the same fear-fueled panic that plagues coaches without enough income - and then they are ripe for all the hype internet marketers throw at vulnerable new business owners - and they start buying workbooks, seminars, and "coaching programs" that will help them discover their niches. I just talked to a former student of mine, a smart, talented, accomplished coach; who says she spent the last year taking classes and doing exercises to find her niche. It was both expensive and time-consuming and none of it helped her get clients. She's feeling a bit bitter, just like coaches who follow this bad advice...
  5. Get a web site immediately. If you're a web developer, this is the advice you'll give every new business owner. But many businesses, including most coaching businesses, don't get clients via their websites. What? Nobody will take you seriously if you don't have a web site, you say? Tell that to the thousands of successful coaches who didn't get web sites until after they'd been coaching for two or three years (including me). In the meantime, use a directory listing or Facebook page, or LinkedIn profile as your web address. You'll save time and money and will have more flexibility in developing your web presence over time. Plus, a successful coaching site needs thousands of visitors and in order to get them, you will either need to become a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, or you'll have to hire one. Then again, you'll need a web site in order to do what internet marketers say you must do in order to make millions...
  6. Sell products. These can be information products, such as audio and video recordings, workbooks or eBooks, anything to build up multiple streams of income, because you can't make a living as a coach, right? I fell for this for about a year and made much less money than I had when I just coached one-to-one. If you enjoy creating products, that's good, but unless you have thousands of people on your email list, you'll hardly sell any of them. Not nearly as good a return on investment as coaching one-to-one, which according to the most recent ICF coaching survey, pays over $200 per hour. Avoid the "products" stream at least until you have a stable full practice and you'll never have to fool with this advice...
  7. Get a sales funnel. This is another tool that only works if you have a big email list (it took me years to build mine), or fantastic SEO. Big companies often do use sales funnels effectively, but if you're a new coach, it's unlikely that a funnel will do anything but waste your time and money. Good coaches make most of their income coaching their clients and may supplement that with other services, and perhaps later on, a few products. If you're a new coach, studiously avoid this one and definitely the next...
  8. Max out your credit card. Or raid your daughter's college fund. Take out a second mortgage. Or sell one of your cars. This is the kind of bad advice fake "coaches" give when a customer tells them they aren't succeeding and are too broke to buy a $15,000 - 40,000 Platinum Program to get the information they really, really need to succeed. Again, if you're getting desperate, you will be more susceptible to this underhanded sales scheme. In fact, economic behaviorists have discovered something they call the "sunk-cost fallacy", in which people who are losing money, will continue to spend in a desperate attempt to recoup what they've lost. You see this all the time in casinos. And it's one reason marketing funnels work. The more someone spends, but doesn't quite get what they need, the more likely they will keep spending on the same stuff. I thought I was too smart for this, until I caught myself doing it, once. I was feeling a little desperate at the time, which is one reason why the following advice is so terrible...
  9. Don't get coach training. There's an old coaching guard out there that never got training, because there was none when they started coaching. Coaching scammers and internet marketers point to those veteran coaches as proof that nobody needs coach training. Why would they do that? Because a good coach training program will give you confidence, teach you what works, and warn you about what to avoid. Not good for those who want to prey on you. By the way, the ICF has found that coaches with training become successful more quickly, make more money, and are less likely to get discouraged and quit the profession. Good training is a lot less expensive than losing your shirt. And that brings us to our final bit of terrible advice...
  10. Don't get coach certification. Again, some coaches will angrily fight the idea that they need any type of credential. I suspect the anger is a cover for insecurity and more than a little paranoia. Because, once you're certified by a reputable organization, that fear tends to vanish, and because you've got a stamp of approval from a trusted source, that says you've got the right stuff. Will your clients ask you about it? Some will; some won't. Why lose even one client, because you didn't bother to get certified? According to the ICF, 84% of actual coaching clients say, coach certification is an important consideration for them. In some parts of the world, that percentage is even higher.

So there you have the worst possible advice for new life, business, and executive coaches.

If you don't have the training and certification you need yet, the ICF can point you to where to get it. And you can also get it here:

Check Out Coach Training Programs Here.

 

 

 

Topics: executive coach, coach training, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, becoming a coach

Coach Certification: Should the ICF and IAC Change How They Certify Coaches?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach Certification

Coach Certification: The Great Debate

The ongoing debate about coach certification, coaching qualifications, and the profession of coaching was raised again today by Kerryn Griffiths, who runs ReciproCoach (an organization that has formalized the old laissez faire practice of buddy coaching, as a method of gaining practice for coaches) in an article called, "Where is coaching regulation headed?" Her article, which is only available to members of ReciproCoach, offers the rather alarming proposal that currently certified coaches might not be allowed to coach, anymore. While I disagree that this is a legitimate worry, I share some of the questions raised by Kerryn, as well as by the authors of a research paper liberally quoted by her: "From Competencies to Capabilities in the Assessment and Accreditation of Coaches (Bachkirova and Smith, 2015).

The process of certifying coaches based on competencies dates back about 20 years and it has been challenged many times. Does it really measure quality coaching? Do certified coaches really coach any more effectively than those who aren't certified? Which certification process is best? What does the research say?

I've been grading coaching sessions using coaching models invented by me, or by Thomas Leonard, or by the ICF, or IAC for over twelve years. What I can tell you is that none of the models I've used is perfect. They all miss possible approaches to coaching, because coaching is a process created in the moment by coaches and their clients and coaching models are all based on past experience.

Also, the coaching models currently in use by the ICF and IAC are not based on research, mainly because they were created before much research had been done on coaching. However, some recent research supports the skills the IAC and ICF advocate. For instance, asking is indeed usually more useful than telling and asking, "how?" tends to be more useful than asking, "why?".

My main complaints with both ICF and IAC certification models is that they really are both styles of coaching; they do not represent all good coaching. If you sent me two recordings of coaching sessions, one that passed ICF certification and the other that passed the IAC, I'm pretty certain I could tell you which was which. (Come to think of it, please don't send me any coach recordings. I'm busy enough, thanks.)

Also, competency-based coaching (the IAC calls their IP, "masteries", but the certification is still competency-based) has a way of limiting options and it encourages a tendency toward perfectionism in both coaches and certifiers. Perfectionism is fear-based (fear of being found flawed) and leads to constriction, limitation and less innovation; hardly good qualities for coaching.

In my opinion, there are at least a thousand styles of coaching that could be effective with the right clients in the right circumstances and most haven't been invented, yet.

A few years ago, I started telling my students who sat for certification, "Surprise me. I'd love to learn something new from you." And a few of them have, indeed, opened my eyes to new possibilities. Most coach certifications aren't like that.

But research has its limitations, too. Findings are sometimes only valid within a very narrow set of conditions and sometimes researchers miss or confuse what's really going on. In the end, all we ever have is our best guess. That doesn't mean we shouldn't investigate, only that we need to hold our findings lightly.

So is it worthwhile getting certified? I think it is. For one thing, most coaches want to be certified for some great reasons. Plus, if you can shoe-horn yourself into one of these coaching styles, you probably have many coaching tools in your tool belt and you know how to use them. Don't worry if every session you do wouldn't pass. Do remember that these coaching styles represent less than 1% of what may be effective. A few years ago, I suggested Tony Robbins couldn't pass ICF or IAC certification. What's the difference? Here's a brief comparison of ICF and IAC certifications.

New certifications and certifying organizations may come along. They might be better. Bachkirova and Smith offer an interesting model based on capabilities. I'll need to hear it in action before I jump on board. Presumably, they will research it, first.

My personal opinion is that most certifications focus too much on the coach and not enough on the client, where the evidence of success can be observed. Does the client open up to more possibilities, have insights and increased clarity that lead to enthusiasm, growth and solutions, plus action plans, supportive infrastructures and next steps? If clients are revisited days or weeks after the coaching, will certifiers find that they followed through on plans made during coaching and their lives are indeed transformed? If so, who cares how the coach got them there? The ICF and IAC do look at these, but I'm suggesting they mostly look at client outcomes, rather than coaching behaviors. I'm guessing researchers will be looking at both.

When enough research has been done, maybe - this is a BIG maybe - coach certification will be perfected.

In the meantime, the ICF is the main game in town. The IAC offers an alternative, but needs to certify a lot more coaches to stay competitive. I've heard a suggestion that they let their licensees start certifying coaches for them and that may be a great solution. In any case, if coaching is ever regulated in your country, being certified by the ICF or IAC will likely grandfather you in.

Coaching schools, such as School of Coaching Mastery, often offer their own coach certifications.

Are you interested in getting coach certification?

Join Coaching Groundwork Advanced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, Tony Robbins, life coach certification, IAC, Masteries

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