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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?

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

What Does It Take to Become a Top (Business or Life) Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

How to Become a Top Coach

A new coach told me recently that she thought coaching is probably like most professions:  20% of coaches get 80% of the clients. And yes, she may be correct. According to my research, only about 20% of coaches are really thrilled with their businesses. Obviously, if you're going to become a business or life coach, you want to be one of the top 20%.

So what does it take to get to the top 20% of business and life coaches?

Some marketing and sales gurus will offer you "shortcuts" to coaching glory via fancy business models, affiliate programs, slick sales techniques, or complex technological solutions.

But you're a person of integrity. Don't you first want to have something of value to sell?

Because the most successful coaches I know are also the most effective coaches. They didn't get that way by marketing. They took consistent targeted action over time to become masterful coaches and developed their sales and marketing acumen along the way. Sales and marketing are most effective when you have a fabulous service offering, such as master coaching.

So what is master coaching? The ICF and IAC have defined what it takes to get master-level certification, but their requirements are different. And arguably the world's first coach,Tony Robbins, probably can't pass either the IAC's or ICF's certification. But no one argues with his success - or his mastery.

And then there's Thomas Leonard, who founded both the ICF and IAC. His definition of mastery has nothing to do with certification. He said mastery is when you innovate your profession, grow the boundaries, so to speak. 

Malcolm Gladwell made famous the 10,000 hours rule that says to master anything, you need to put in about 10,000 hours of practice. For many experts, this translates into ten years or more. Hours and years alone, though, aren't enough. You need to be actively learning throughout. That's the key.

Pablo Casals was once asked why he still practiced the cello in his nineties. He said, "I'm making progress."

So do you want to know what it takes to become a master business or life coach?

  • Learn the most effective coaching skills. This may sound obvious, but a surprising number of people skip this step and just announce they are coaches. Few, if any, succeed.
  • Learn what is not coaching. Confusing your service offerings makes each offering less effective for your client.
  • Practice. Then practice some more. Then keep practicing.
  • Get expert feedback on your coaching. Otherwise, you likely are practicing - and hardwiring - your mistakes.
  • Develop your personal awareness. Discover your most important values, needs, and strengths. Use them to create an amazing life. Step into your Greatness. That's so attractive.
  • Let your free or low-fee clients train you. Their success or lack of it will help prepare you for high-fee clients.
  • Ask your happiest clients to refer more clients. They'll be glad to help.
  • Hang out with successful coaches. You become who you hang out with.
  • Get your own coach(es). It's enlightening to be on the receiving end of coaching.
  • Have a vision for your coaching that focuses you and pulls you forward. If you feel overwhelmed or crazy-excited, you're not there yet.
  • Become a leader in your profession. The leaders tend to become the most successful, even if they didn't start that way.
  • Keep up-to-date with new research. Intuition offers awareness; science offers precision. At the top, the differences that make all the difference are tiny.
  • Become marketing and sales savvy. They're important, but great coaching ability is your foundation. It takes time to get all three up to speed.
  • Have an alternate income source until you make it. A part-time job takes way less time and energy than worrying about money.
  • Love yourself, your life, and your clients. Wherever you are is perfect, right now. With a good plan and consistent effort, you can improve on perfection.

Of course, everything we offer at School of Coaching Mastery is designed to help you step into the Top 20% of all coaches. But because practice is so critically important to mastery, we're upgrading our signature Master Coach Training to allow for more live practice and expert feedback.

This September, we're introducing the 'flipped classroom' a la Khan Academy for our Master Coach Training Program. We offer a wealth of MCT recorded classes on a multitude of effective coaching skills that coaches can listen to/watch prior to live classes. The live classes are then reserved for Q&A and live coaching demos, practice, feedback, and 'coach the coach'. This allows everyone more flexibility in scheduling, attendance, learning and PRACTICE. And yes, you can become certified by joining this program (Which is included in many of our longer coach-training programs).

 

We want you to become a master coach faster and step into the Top 20%.

 

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Topics: business coach, coach training, become a life coach, become a coach, become a business coach, coaching clients, Become a Master Coach, ICF, Thomas Leonard, Become a Certified Coach, Tony Robbins, Become a Masterful Coach, how to become a coach, IAC

How Does Positive Psychology Coaching Work?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Psychology CoachingI've blogged a lot about positive psychology coaching, in the past couple of years. It gives coaches and their clients a precision instrument for building happiness, success, and ease. But recent discoveries that point to how and why positive psychology works are truly fascinating! 

You probably already know what positive pychology coaching is; it's evidence-based coaching that puts in action what positive psychology researchers have discovered about the power of positivity and how it promotes happiness, health, and success.

But just exactly how does positive psychology coaching promote happiness, health, and success? 

Well, there are a number of scientific theories, such as systems theory and quantum theory, that can help to explain how positive psychology coaching works, but the explanations are speculative, at this point. No one has yet traced those theories, step by step, to document how exactly they influence human behavior and outcomes. It just makes sense that they do.

The field of neuroscience, on the other hand, thoroughly tracks what happens during insights, actions, learning, and repetition, explaining in detail what happens and why.

Neuroscience explores how the brain works via brain scans and other high-tech tools. It literally looks at what goes on in the brain at the cellular, and even the molecular levels, and they are quite surprising!

In fact, some coaching leaders, most notably, David Rock, go so far as to say neuroscience is the scientific field most closely related to coaching, in part, because it came of age during the decades when coaching was being born, so coaching has relied heavily upon it.

In my opinion, however, positive psychology is an even better fit with coaching, because not only did it develop at exactly the same time as coaching, but positive psychologists and coaches ask exactly the same fundamental question: 

What makes people happy, healthy, and successful?

Contrary to previous assumptions, an absence of mental illness does not automatically produce happiness, health, and success. That latter state, often referred to as well-being, is a separate thing. It can exist, counter-intuitively, along side mental illness, or it can be completely absent in someone who is free of mental illness. 

It follows then, that if we want to be happy (and everyone, from the Dalai Lama to Tony Robbins, says that's what every human being really wants), we need to understand the tools that produce happiness.

And here's critical news for coaches: getting what we want doesn't make us happy, at least not for more than a day or two. Happiness is literally an inside job. Anyone can have it, regardless their circumstances or mental health.

Up until now, only a lucky few stumbled onto the tools that produced lasting happiness. Yes, philosophers and spiritual teachers theorized and taught how to lead the good life for millenia, but they didn't always get it right. Today, maybe, just maybe, we can get it right - for everybody.

So that's the job of positive psychology researchers and the professionals who apply positive psychology in their coaching. And here's how and why, according to neuroscience,  it all works so well:

  • The brain and mind are intimately connected. Scientists disagree on which creates which, but evidence suggests they create each other and the mind definitely influences the brain.
  • The brain grows and changes throughout life, making learning possible and desirable into old age. In fact, dementia might be thought of as the cessation of learning.
  • New brain growth is triggered by new insights and learning, creating new neural maps. This is called, neuro-plasticity.
  • Neural maps develop when existing neurons fire, then wire, together. Sometimes new neurons are produced, as well.
  • Neural maps drive our assumptions and habits, saving us time and energy when we repeat experiences and actions, but those assumptions and habits may not be as resourceful, or flexible, as needed, when clients step up to new and bigger things, so they need to be replaced by new neural maps.
  • More repetition creates stronger bonds within neural maps that are frequently used. Think: recording a song onto a cassette tape, rather than downloading it to your iPhone. Stronger bonds require more time to develop.
  • Our internal chatter also creates neural maps - and it may be even more influential than our actual experiences!
  • We can intentionally direct our thoughts and emotions to create more positive and resourceful neural maps. This is called, self-directed neuroplasticity.
  • Because neural maps develop according to what we think and feel, positive thoughts and feelings don't just make us happy now, they also make it more likely we'll be happy later, regardless our circumstances.
  • People who experience more positivity on a regular basis are more likely to thrive and experience success.
  • Coaches who assist clients in developing resourceful neural maps are practicing coach-assisted neuroplasticity.
So solving your client's problems, or even helping them get what they want, falls short of positive psychology coaching's true power to transform client's lives from striving to thriving.

 

Is all this making your brain hurt? Take a musical "happy break".

 

 

 

 

Learn more here:

 

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

Topics: Coaching, coach training, coaching success, Coach Certification, Tony Robbins, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Martin Seligman

IAC Master Coach Interview with Kristi Arndt and Julia Stewart

Posted by Julia Stewart

IAC International Association of Coaching

On June 20th, 2013, Kristi Arndt, MMC, former Vice President of the International Association of Coaching, interviewed me for the IAC's Master Coach Interview Series. You need to be a member of the IAC to access their copy of the interview, but you can listen via the online player here for free, to the resulting 49-minute audio. I've listed the topics covered in the time line below, so you can choose the parts you're curious about.

Or, join the IAC virtual chapter for free to get a copy of the interview download link and listen at your convenience. By the way, Kristi will co-host an upcoming IAC chapter meeting with me, in which you'll get a taste of the power of virtual triads to strengthen your coaching and pass IAC Coach Certification.

IAC Master Coach Interview Topics Time Line:

1:00 What I did before becoming a coach

2:00 The Oprah Connection

5:30 The IAC/School of Coaching Mastery Connection

7:15 What does "master coach" mean?

12:00 Coach 100

14:00 What "master coach" means to Kristi

16:30 Why you need to love your coaching clients

17:30 How to get into "master coaching mode"

19:00 How to integrate your shadow

21:00 Master coach certification, as a benchmark

22:30 Tony Robbins' coaching

25:00 ICF vs. IAC coaching

26:00 School of Coaching Mastery coach certification

29:00 How NOT to prepare for coach certification

30:00 What DOES work in passing coach certification

31:30 Live, in person, coach certification

33:30 Coaching pioneers

38:00 How SCM fosters coaching mastery

42:00 How the IAC Coaching Masteries(tm) show up in life

44:30 What's new and exciting

48:00 How to contact me

48:30 Best Coaching Blogs 2013

 

Listen to the full interview below, or use the slider to find the parts you most want to hear:

 More great coaching resources:

Join the IAC North American Virtual Chapter

Topics: School of Coaching Mastery, Coach 100, Become a Master Coach, ICF, Coach Certification, IAC Certified Coach, Kristi Arndt, IAC Coaching Masteries, IAC Certification, Coaching Triads, Become a Certified Coach, OPRAH, Tony Robbins, Become a Masterful Coach, Certified Coach Training, certified life coach, IAC

ICF International Coaching Week: Top 10 Lessons from Thomas Leonard

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

Thomas LeonardIn honor of the ICF's International Coaching Week, I'm sharing the Top Ten Lessons I learned from Thomas Leonard, founder of the ICF (and IAC) and Father of Professional Coaching. Studying with Thomas in the years before his passing in 2003, changed my life in profound ways. Perhaps you'll share how Thomas shaped your life in the Comments section, below.

Top Ten Lessons Learned From Thomas Leonard:

1. When changing career paths, it's always nice to have a role model: Thomas, philosopher and entrepreneur, has been one of my favorites (I'll mention a few more in this post). One of my original realizations, upon joining his first coaching school and receiving the famous 16-pound-box-of written-materials, was: "This guy is a lot like me, only he's much better at it. I can really learn from him!" 

Today, Thomas is practically worshiped by his former clients and students, so I want to emphasize that he was a lot better at it than I, but in discovering his content creation strategies (finer points below), I was able to make the shift from, 'smart person with lots of potential', to massive content creator, myself.

Thomas, an incredibly prolific creative genius, was frequently asked, 'When do you sleep?'. No one believed him when he replied, 'Eight hours every night.' I knew I was hitting my stride when people started asking me when I slept and I replied, 'Eight hours every night,' and knew it was actually true.

2. How to handle 'Too Many Ideas' syndrome: Creative entrepreneurs commonly suffer from an overabundance of ideas. The classic advice on how to handle that is: finish one project before you start another. That's creative suicide for some of us. Thomas' advice? To paraphrase: If you have eleven ideas, start all eleven and see which ones people respond to. Then finish those. The result? You're there with the right idea at the right time for the right people. Instead of arbitrarily amputating your own creativity, you've collaborated with your clients to create what they really want. Magic!

3. To focus those 11 ideas even faster: crowdsource them. Ask your best customers what they most need from you now and how they'd like it delivered, even how much they want to pay for them (Remember t's R&D Team?). Result? You learn faster what your market wants and can develop those ideas beyond what everyone else is doing. Caveat: you need to be extremely good at asking the right questions to make full use of this one.

4. To get more done faster: do what you want, when you want to do it. Nobody believes this one, either...until they try it. The first time I experimented with it, I went back to a week-old to-do list after doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it for several days. Funny thing: I discovered I'd finished most of the items on the list, without even thinking about it and I never felt 'busy'. How does that work? Instead of forcing myself to do stuff on schedule, I did it when the mood struck. Suddenly, TV time became business-building time (if I felt like it) and late-night downtime sometimes became creative inspiration sessions. So long as I got my 8 hours, I was able to crank out way more work without ever feeling overworked (See item #1 above).

5. To stop blaming people: Get that people are doing their very best even when they clearly aren't. This one hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. How could I have ever been unaware of this (paradoxical) fact? Once you get this, you're free of the the 'blame and be blamed' game. The challenge is to get it even when you're mad at someone. But that's the evolutionary part, as well as the secret to greatness.

6. To get that everything is perfect: Ask yourself, if everything is perfect, what's perfect about this? Spiritual teachers tell us it's all perfect. That's nice, but it sure doesn't seem that way sometimes. The trick is not to force yourself to believe this (or pretend that you do), but to stay curious. Okay. So what's perfect about this (crummy) situation? It's is not a Pollyanna exercise. If you look deeply enough, you'll find a perfection that heals the whole problem, if you allow it.

7. The ultimate coaching tool: is Values. Actually, Thomas never said this, that I know of, but he's the one who taught me about the value of Values. And it has become increasingly clear to me over the years. Tony Robbins has his Needs and Donald Clifton has his Strengths, but Values are what matter most to people and they are the key to what matters most in coaching. Apparently both the ICF and IAC agree, because their certifiers look for values-based coaching conversations in the coaches they certify.

8. The relationship between coaching clients and what they really want: is they've often never even met. That's why Thomas put so much emphasis on his Clarifiers, a list of 15 this-or-that questions that quickly uncover what matters most right now. Some coaches think the ICF violates this, because ICF certifiers look for evidence that the coach, not only asks what the client wants at the start of a coaching session, but that s/he checks in at least twice to see that they are on track, relying on the client to articulate what it. The IAC style is a bit different; they look for evidence that the coach is uncovering what the client really wants, even if that takes up most of the session. Contrary to popular belief, these two styles of coaching aren't mutually exclusive. When we take a both/and approach and integrate these two approaches, we upgrade coaching and enter the zone of master coaching.

9. What coaches really do during coaching: is design environments that empower success. It's not enough to foster insights in the client. It's also not enough to plan client actions. Our real job is to co-design the client's environment to evolve them into the person they need to be to reach their goals. That's a big difference.

10. What marketing is really for: helping people learn. No, it's not about squeezing your list through a funnel. When people learn from you, they become more. That's irresistably attractive. No more squeezing. Help your followers learn the next thing they need to know, or help them become the next iteration of themselves. People want to be more. Both your marketing and your sales should help them with that. Some of them will pay you for a highly personalized version of it.

BONUS: To write content that is easy, fast and fun: Write in Thomas' favorite format, the Top Ten List.

Got a favorite lesson learned from Thomas? I'd love to hear it.

Want to get to know Thomas better? Sign up for the FREE 28 Principles of Attraction ecourse, based on his own notes for his signature personal development program:

Get Thomas' 28 Principles of Attraction Free eCourse

 

Topics: Coach 100, coaching clients, ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, Tony Robbins, ENVIRONMENT, curiosity, master coach, IAC

Seven Amazing Life Coach Lessons Learned From Oprah's Lifeclass

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life CoachI became a Life Coach because of Oprah.

Yup, that's how much an influence she's been on my life. I first got fired up to become a coach, while watching Oprah do a series with Life Coach, Cheryl Richardson, twelve years ago. Now I'm training other folks who are equally fired up, to become coaches, themselves. Thank you, Oprah!

Last Monday, I saw Oprah live at the premiere of her Lifeclass Tour. You might wonder why I waited 'til now to go see Oprah live. All I can say is, I won the ticket lottery for the world premiere of her Lifeclass Tour here in St. Louis and boy was I excited! Here's what I took away from this amazing adventure...

LESSON 1: Know When to Break the Rules. Moments before leaving my house in Washington County, I called my friend, Career Coach, Joanne Waldman, PCC, for some last-minute directions to her house, more than an hour away. Joanne, who was accompanying me to Lifeclass, mentioned that the rules said we were supposed to bring small handbags, not gigant-o bags, like the one I was planning to bring (Oprah likes her audience to look great on camera, so wear bright colors and keep your little bag under your seat).

No problem! I have a huge collection of cute little bags and I quickly found one just big enough for my wallet and cell phone. I got to Joanne's house right on time, despite some crazy road construction and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. We were psyched to be seeing Oprah in just two more hours and were about to get some lunch on the way when...

Holy Crap! I left our Lifeclass tickets in my big bag at home! (That's life with ADD.) If only...oh God! But it was too late. No tickets, no admission. I called the theater. No dice...

LESSON 2: Set Your Intentions and Act Like Your Hair's On Fire. I called my sister, Becky, and asked her to bring my big bag with the tix and meet us halfway. It was crazy. There was no way we'd get there before the theater closed its doors for the taping, but we went for it.

God bless Becky, she drives like a 5-Alarm Fire Chief even when there's no rush. She met us with the tix. I handed them to Joanne for good keeping and took off to make the hour-and-a-half drive with only an hour and ten minutes left 'til doors closed. Like good coaches, Joanne and I visualized walking through those theater doors with big smiles on our faces and handing our tickets to the ushers. And we made it. With fifteen minutes to spare! Career Coach, Joanne Waldman, PCC(Okay, there was some speeding involved.)

My friend, Career Coach, Joanne Waldman, PCC, in-line with a big smile on her face, just before walking through the front doors of the Peabody Opera House for Oprah's Lifeclass, feeling really relieved to be there on time (and in one piece). =====>

 

And you guessed it! Half the audience was carrying gigant-o handbags (see above pic) and nobody cared. So respect your limitations (mine is distractibility) and adjust the rules to fit you. And if you screw up (which you will), set strong intentions and act on them like your hair's on fire.

Life Coach, Julia Stewart, MCC

 

 

<===== Here's me in the lobby, just before the ushers threw us out, insisting we get to our seats. Yeah, we broke their rule to 'keep moving', so we could nab a couple of pics. After all, we were feeling pretty special for getting there faster than humanly possible.

 

 

 

LESSON 3: Take a Chance on the Unknown. I had the option to enter the lottery for 4 different Lifeclass tapings, each with a different guest. Two were Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins, heroes of mine. One for Iyanla Vanzant, who's great. And one for a guy I never heard of, Bishop T. D. Jakes. I really just wanted to see Oprah, so I took a chance on the new guy and he was absolutely awesome. I won't even try to tell you what he said; you have to SEE him. The show airs Monday, April 9th, 8ET/7CT. Bishop Jakes is all about Finding Your Purpose.

LESSON 4: You're Here for a Reason. That was the key message of the show. You're here at this show for a reason (Joanne and I knew that. We were MEANT to be there, so we had to get there on time). Your life has a purpose and Oprah and Jakes taught us how to find it. Adversity doesn't stop you from achieving your purpose. In fact, Jakes' metaphor for purpose and adversity is an archer: If you're the arrow, and your life is the bow, then the farther the archer (adversity) pulls the arrow (you) back, the farther and stronger you'll go to reach your purpose (Joanne and I had just proven that on the way to the show).

LESSON 5: Your life is a class. I was already familiar with most of the lessons they taught that day. After all, I've been a life-long personal development junkie. Oprah and Jakes just have an incredibly intense and wonderful way of teaching it all. They connect to the audience more profoundly and reach more people, as a result. They are more animated (that's why you have to SEE them). They're more entertaining. After all, they are masters of television. They are stars. But aren't you are star, also? Oprah thinks so.

LESSON 6: It's what happens off-the-record that really inspires. At the end of the show, as we were about to leave our seats, Oprah came back out, not for the television cameras, but just for us. She talked about how her purpose was to use television to help people have better lives. That she was always asking God to use her. And she had focused on how to use the Oprah show to serve her purpose, not have the show use her. And that's her big vision for OWN TV. That she has made mistakes with the network and was digging out of a hole (the papers say she just laid off 20% of her staff). She asked for our help to spread the word, so our culture has at least one television channel that uplifts, instead of just pandering to our lowest common interests.

It was her candidness and vulnerability that spoke most clearly. Here is the biggest star in the world (according to one poll), a profoundly spiritual being who just happens to be a billionaire in kickass diamond earrings. It seems like she has the Midas Touch, but even she can make mistakes...

Hmmm, could it be that adversity will help her arrow soar even farther and stronger?Oprah's Lifeclass Tour

Yep, that little speck center stage is Oprah, from my iPhone in row Z of the orchestra. That's okay, I saw her with my own eyes and heard her message with my own ears. =====>

LESSON 7: Be a Servant Star. Oprah's Lifeclass made me realize that I'd lost track of my purpose, so I can't use School of Coaching Mastery to reach it. I started the school to help carry out Thomas Leonard's purpose to improve coaching worldwide with IAC coach certification. He infected me with his vision ten years ago, but then he passed away, the IAC changed, its certification has changed, the ICF has also changed in some good ways. Now I'm mired in certification requirements...

School of Coaching Mastery has never really been about life coach certification. It's about the mastery coaches achieve on the way to coach certification. But what's the purpose of coaching mastery?

Coaching mastery is about helping people (coaching clients) learn the life lessons they need faster and more deeply, so they can create better lives and reach the highest, fullest expression of their beings. Period.

I've talked for years about the importance for coaches, of becoming Servant Entrepreneurs and I just had the honor of seeing the Ultimate Servant Entrepreneur.

Oprah is a Servant Star. Not because she's about being a star, it's because she's about revealing the star in you and asking you to use it to serve.

How inspiring is that?

In what ways might you already be a Servant Star? How do other Servant Stars light you up? How do you light people up? What do you need in order to use your life to serve your purpose? Do you know what your purpose is? How is adversity sending you even farther and stronger toward your purpose?

Are you ready to step up to Being a Star Who Serves? Please share your thoughts below...

Watch Oprah's Lifeclass Tour on Monday nights at 8PM ET/7PM CT. Watch two hours and call your life coach in the morning...

Topics: life coach, School of Coaching Mastery, become a coach, ICF, Thomas Leonard, Servant Entrepreneurs, IAC Certification, iPhone, OPRAH, life purpose, Cheryl Richardson, Tony Robbins, life coach certification, Julia Stewart, personal development

Why Tony Robbins Can't Pass ICF or IAC Life Coach Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

Tony Robbins Life Coach CertificationThe other day I had a conversation with one of my coaching students about why Anthony Robbins wouldn't pass IAC life coach certification.

On further reflection I realized that he wouldn't pass ICF coach credentialing, either. Why is that? Because he engages in some huge life coaching no-no's. I'll explain in a moment...

Maybe it isn't fair to measure what Tony Robbins does by standardized life-coaching models. After all, he calls himself a 'Strategic Interventionist', not a life coach.

Then again, he does have a coaching page on his website that claims he is the "Father of the Coaching Industry". Hmm, that flies in the face of what tens of thousands of coaches say, that Thomas Leonard is the 'Founder of Professional Coaching'.

For instance, Thomas Leonard founded both the ICF and the IAC. But...

And I'm just guessing here, but this is a really BIG BUT: There are quite a few overlaps between Thomas Leonard's approach to coaching (I studied at both his schools, where I received several coach certifications and I was Lead Certifier for the Thomas Leonard Coaching School) and Tony Robbins' approach, which I've studied informally.

I'm a huge Thomas Leonard fan, BUT...It times out that Leonard may have stolen (ahem, borrowed) many of his ideas from Robbins. I'm just speculating, but Tony Robbins' most popular book, Awaken the Giant Within, in which Robbins calls himself a coach, was based on his work with thousands of people over twenty years and was published in 1991. Thomas Leonard founded his first coaching school (the first life coaching school in the world), Coach University, in 1992, with an awful lot of the very same ideas (though there are some key differences).

Not that I think Tony Robbins invented all of his own ideas. Like many entrepreneurs, he seems to have repackaged, renamed and reorganized ideas that were already out there; some new; some ancient.

A few folks trace these ideas back to Jim Rohn, EST, or Landmark. Others trace their early development to the 19th Century American Transcendentalists. But you can find their roots in the words of Jesus Christ and the Buddha, and in even earlier writings and oral traditions from around the world. (This is one of the many reasons why a degree in psychology or social work, even a PhD, won't make you a life coach.)

But back to Tony Robbins and why he can't pass life coach certification...

REASON #1: Robbins often coaches people who are suicidal. One of the biggest no-no's in coaching is that coaches don't coach people who are mentally ill. And you'd have to be mentally ill to consider suicide, right?

Both the IAC and ICF warn against using coaching as a therapeutic tool. The main reason for this rule is that an unskilled coach could actually harm the client. An additional reason is that the coach may expose him/herself to a lawsuit for practicing psychotherapy without a license.

I would not encourage a coach to coach anyone who is in tremendous psychic pain, but I personally have coached clients who had some big issues. In many cases I required them to see a therapist while they worked with me. But they often told me that coaching helped them more than therapy. For some clients, those who are willing to take responsibility for their issues, the tools of coaching are far more empowering than psychotherapy.

Robbins claims he's never lost anyone. If that's true then maybe his strategic interventions aren't as fool hearty as they would be for some coaches. And maybe he's actually saved thousands of lives. In that case, what he does is courageous and extremely valuable.

REASON #2: Sometimes Robbins does most of the talking. This is one of the basic rules of life coaching: Let the client do most of the talking. But Robbins frequently doesn't follow this rule.

I've seen him coach people when he did almost all of the talking. And it appears to work. Why? He reads body language extraordinarily well and he has a keen understanding of human nature. Isn't that true of other coaches, as well? I think it is, but Robbins has decades more experience than most coaches and he's worked with thousands of people. Most coaches can't scratch the surface of what Robbins  has already accomplished and their skill levels reflect that.

Still, talk too much in a coaching session and both the IAC and ICF will fail you. In most coaching sessions, I think they are right. But there may be exceptions...

REASON #3: Robbins makes rude jokes about his clients, often when they are deeply suffering. As one of my colleagues said, 'I just thought he did that because he was an a**hole!' Apparently he does it because it jolts the client out of a stuck brain state just long enough for him to shift them into a more empowering thought pattern. And it seems to work!

The IAC and ICF both recognize that shifting the client's thinking is an important part of good coaching, but using a sledge hammer to do it? That's a great way to lose the client's trust. In most cases, it's better to respect and empathize with the client, especially when they're struggling. Then again, if you have only a short time to coach someone who is in deep trouble, maybe the gloves need to come off...

REASON #4: Robbins doesn't have any coach-specific training. Actually, this is only a problem for the ICF. The IAC recognizes that there are good coaches who, like Robbins, have thousands of hours of experience and have been learning for decades everything they can about how to facilitate enormous personal growth and development in others, but who may not have attended an ICF approved coach training school.

The ICF on the other hand, recognizes that quality coach training speeds up the coach's development, so s/he can coach competently within a year or so, instead of within ten years, which is what it often takes, for the self-taught. The ICF believes so strongly in coach-specific training that they recently announced that they won't even accept untrained coaches for membership in their organization.

Robbins started his journey as a coach while he was still in high school - long before coach training existed. He not only coached his classmates, he claims he read 750 books and attended every seminar on personal growth that he could afford (sometimes attending the best ones several times, so he could master the material). Then he went on to coach thousands of people for decades.

Tony Robbins exemplifies what Malcolm Gladwell says in his book, Outliers: That extreme mastery is the result of about 10,000 hours of experience, rather than the result of extreme talent. Talent is nice, but an obsessive commitment to 'take massive action', as Robbins would say, matters more.

Let's face it, Anthony Robbins really doesn't need life coach certification.

He is famous and his results speak for themselves. He gets away with an awful lot, because his clients already know his reputation and trust him, immensely.

So does life coach certification even matter, when it doesn't recognize the skills that such a well-known master coach uses so successfully? It does, but maybe not for the reasons you would think...

Both IAC and ICF certification processes are more rigorous to achieve than most coaches realize. They virtually force coaches to get thousands of hours of coach training and practice in order to pass. They won't turn you into Tony Robbins, but they will make you a much better coach.

Think of life coach certification as a supportive structure that helps you become the kind of professional coach you'd want to work with.

But take everything certifiers say about coaching with a touch of humor. Because both of these highly-respected certifying organizations miss a wide range of possible master coaching techniques, regardless of what they say about inter-rater reliability. That just means the certifiers agree with each other; it doesn't mean that their criteria include every form of master coaching.

If they fail you, remember, they'd fail Tony, too.

Don't use either passing or failing life coach certification as an excuse to quit your coaching development. Use it as a challenge to keep going and become the kind of coach who can turn around a client's life in minutes.

By the way, Tony Robbins probably is the Father of the Coaching Industry. But Thomas Leonard is the coach who began turning coaching into a profession. Both have made enormously important contributions.

Thomas started the IAC because he was frustrated that ICF life coach certification was leaving out some great coaches. I later started School of Coaching Mastery's coach certification, because I became frustrated that IAC life coach certification is also leaving out some great coaches.

At SCM, we're upfront about life and business coach certification. We don't pretend that we know everything. We don't even pretend to be objective. Life coach certification is never objective. We use three certifiers to grade each session and only two out of the three have to agree that a session passes.

We use a simple numerical grading system, but every certifier is allowed to overturn her own grading and recommend a coach for certification, even if the coach didn't demonstrate all of our master coaching skills. Why?

  • Research shows that when people who are highly knowledgeable in a field (such as coach certifiers), get sufficient information (by listening closely to a coaching session), their 'gut' (a.k.a. intuition) is more reliably accurate than their analytical evaluations.

  • This approach allows certifiers to use the whole brain, just like coaches do, instead of just half the brain, the left side, to quantitatively measure something that is essentially not quantifiable. In short, the certifiers can grade from a coaching brain state, instead of a judgmental brain state. In other words, they think like coaches while they are evaluating coaching.

  • The biggest reason: Because we can override our own grading, this certification allows for coaches who use techniques we're unfamiliar with and who may not use the techniques we're looking for. In short, we most want to certify coaches who can teach us something new.

I'd certify Anthony Robbins.

I've definitely learned some new things from him. And I've seen evidence that what he does is highly effective. I've even learned how to use techniques that Thomas Leonard cautioned against.

What do you think? Do you agree that Tony Robbins wouldn't pass ICF or IAC life coach certification? Or am I totally full of cr*p?

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Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, Tony Robbins, life coach certification, certified life coach, Life coaching school accreditation, IAC, certified coach, Coach Certification Bootcamp

Winning Blogs Get Picked Up by 100 Best Coaching Blogs List

Posted by Julia Stewart

And the winner is...Great fallout from the Best Coaching Blogs Contest continues to roll in.

 

The contest had a few bumps, but in the end, there seem to be a lot of pleased coaches. Of course, a few people were disappointed that they didn't win, but most were philosophical, since their blogs picked up new readers and subscribers. They should have! The contest page received over 30,000 hits in two months.

Coach Marian Kerr, of New Zealand, shared this lovely comment,

‘Thanks for all your work on this Julia. Despite some glitches, it was still an amazing experience. I'll be following some of the blogs from the contest and have had new people subscribe to my blog and newsletter. It's great to share with those of like mind and receive inspiration and support along the way.'

Marian also mentioned that quite a few of the contestants' blogs were included in a list of 100 Best Life and Career Coach Blogs, right along side of Tony Robbins and Martha Beck. Not too shabby!

I was please that Mastery Coach Exchange, SCM's own social networking site for coaches, was included in the category called, 'Best Communities for Coaches', along with the IAC, the ICF and a few others.

As the list says,

"Coaches or someone just looking for a coach will enjoy visiting this Facebook like site. In addition to the groups, forums, and blogs, there is also a special section for becoming a coach."

One of the cool things about the web is that it catches us doing good things and creates a ripple effect that can keep expanding for years. I hope this contest continues to expand success for all of the contestants.

Thanks Marian, for passing this on!

photo by notsogoodphotography at flickr creative commons

Topics: Coaching, Best Coaching Blogs, blog, coaching blogs, ICF, coach, Tony Robbins, Mastery Coach Exchange, IAC, Martha Beck

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