School of Coaching Mastery

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Bringing Positive Psychology Coaching to Occupational Therapy and Beyond

Posted by Julia Stewart

Winnie DunnThis is the second in a series of interviews of graduates of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Many have fascinating coaching careers and will share some of their secrets with you. Look for this tag: CPPC Graduates.

Welcome to the Interview with Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR, FOATA, CPPC. Winnie is a Distinguished Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Missouri and is bringing positive psychology and strengths-based coaching to individuals and to the field of Occupational Therapy.

There are two parts to the interview. Audio, for those who prefer to listen, and written, for those who prefer to read. Different questions for each. Explore as you like!

 Here's the Fascinating audio interview:

 
And here's the in-depth written the interview:
 
Winnie, are you currently practicing positive psychology coaching? Yes.
 
What is your niche or specialty? I provide coaching for other health and education professionals so they can incorporate coaching practices into their work (e.g., teachers, occupational therapists, speech therapists). I provide coaching for families who have children with conditions (e.g., autism, developmental conditions) to support them to navigate within their lives.
 
What else are you doing besides coaching? I am a Distinguished Professor at the University of Missouri.
 
What positive psychology coaching tools do you find most useful for your clients? It is particularly important for the professionals to remember to be CURIOUS. In their training, they learned how to be experts, and so can jump forward to anticipated outcomes and begin asking leading questions. Remaining Curious reminds them to stay in the present moment. I have also found PROVOCATIVE questions to be useful. It takes courage to use them, and lots of reflection to identify when they will be helpful to move insights along.
 
Which of your strengths do you find most useful in coaching your clients?
Creativity: I can see many facets of a situation, giving me an exploratory spirit
Notice patterns: I see relationships among factors that others might not consider
Be strategic: I understand the importance of context to someone's decision making and insights
Show compassion: I recognize the emotional part of someone's journey even with what seems like practical decision making
 
What project/job/initiative that you are working on are you most excited about? The state of Kentucky has embraced the use of coaching for their Early Intervention services [birth to 3]. They hired 3 experienced providers to serve as the Master Coaches for the state. I designed their entire training and competency plan. I am working with the Master Coaches to become excellent coaches themselves while also supporting them to create the materials and activities they will use with the rest of the providers across the state. We are also using a web platform for self reflection and feedback [TORSH]. We can upload coaching video sessions, and provide feedback and reflective questions in real time on the videos.
 
How has becoming a Certified Positive Psychology Coach® helped your career or helped you serve your clients? I had been conducting studies about coaching with families as the coaching profession was growing itself. I decided that someone on our research team needed to learn coaching from not just the literature, but from a substantial program. Since I use strengths based approaches in my work, the CPPC program was particularly suited to my philosophy and approach to care [I am an occupational therapist]. Having this certificate has provided external validation for our work in coaching, and has the added benefit of a positive psychology approach, which resonated with our research designs and practices. Colleagues ask more questions and are more reflective in their consideration of coaching approaches now.
 
What else have you studied since graduating as a CPPC? I am already an occupational therapist, special educator and have my doctorate in Applied Neuroscience. The CPPC program enhanced those areas. The CPPC program provided additional structure for how we teach coaching to others for their projects.

What’s next for you as a positive psychology coach? I am starting on a research project with a colleague at Thomas Jefferson University. I will be supporting interdisciplinary providers to coach families of children who are living with a spinal cord injury. We are working on additional studies of coaching using Telehealth communication to serve families in remote locations.

Do you have a quote about positive psychology and/or coaching that you’d like to share? Positive Psychology Coaching empowers others to live their best lives with our support...what could be a more satisfying way to engage with others but in service to their goals and aspirations?

What else would you like people to know about you and about what you do? People contact us through our website: www.dunnandpopecoaching.com

NOTE: Winnie's partner, Ellen Pope, also studied at School of Coaching Mastery
 
We're proud of the great work that pioneers like Winnie Dunn are doing to serve others. If you're inspired to keep learning and offering more to your clients, consider joining the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program:
 
Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program
 

Topics: CPPC Graduates, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching, Strengths

Positive Speech Coach Shares How She Coaches Speakers for TED Talks

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Speech Coach, Valeria Pittaluga at TED

This is the first in a series of interviews of graduates of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Many have fascinating coaching careers and will share some of their secrets with you. Look for this tag: CPPC Graduates.

Welcome to the Interview with the Positive Speech Coach, Valeria Pittaluga, CPPC, Italy. Valeria specializes in coaching TED Talk speakers with positive psychology.

There are two parts to the interview. Audio, for those who prefer to listen, and written, for those who prefer to read. Different questions for each. Explore as you like!

Here's the 21 minute audio:

 
Here's the rest of the interview:
 
Valeria, are you currently coaching professionally? Yes.
 
What's your specialty? I mainly coach public speaking, but life coaching inevitably mixes into it.
 
What else do you do besides coaching? Organizing my own TEDx event. TEDx Lucca.
 
What positive psychology coaching tools do you find most useful for your clients? Visualizations of the end result. The joy of the celebration that goes with the met goal. The excitement of extrapolating the golden nugget of one's true message from the rest of the "noise". Expanding and deepening the insights and inspirations and where they naturally stem from. The focus on the tools already intrinsically available to the speaker to perform without anxiety.
 
Which of your strengths do you find most useful in coaching your clients? My gift of innate enthusiasm. It's my greatest asset.
 
What project or initiative are you working on that you're most excited about? Right now the coaching of my nine speakers in both Italian and English. I love it!
 
How has becoming a Certified Positive Psychology Coach® helped your career or helped you serve your clients? My training in Positive Psychology has propelled me forward in my Coaching training. It's the most intuitive and logic path to excellent Coaching. Coaching with a positive and constructive spin to it is as powerful and empowering as it gets!
 
What else have you studied since graduating as a CPPC? I've explored Voice Dialogue and systemic constellation Coaching as well as Emotional Intelligence Coaching. I've also gone into depth in NLP Coaching. 
 
Have you earned a new credential from ICF since graduating as a CPPC? Yes, I pursued my ACC certification with ICF.
 
Have you earned any other credentials since graduating with your CPPC? I'm a trained trainer for the "5 chairs 5 choices" method for executive coaching in companies. The method is carefully crafted around the non-violent communication teachings of Marshall Rosenberg.
 
What's next for you as a positive psychology coach? I'm interested in neuroscience and how meditation and silence heals and enhances the human experience.
 
Do you have a quote you’d like to share? Never stop starting over.
 
What else would you like people to know about you and about what you do? I would like people to know that coaching for me is a mission and though this might sound wishy washy, I aim to spread the importance of mindfulness and non-violent communication in every way I can.
 
Nothing wishy washy about that!

 

Valeria coaches in English, Italian, and Spanish. You can reach her here: http://www.valeriapittaluga.it/

 

Every coach has a career as unique as they are. If you'd love to enjoy as much passion and fun with your coaching career as Valeria does, consider joining the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program.

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, TED, CPPC Graduates

101 Terrific Positive Psychology Coaching Questions

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Psychology Coaching Questions

Here are 101 terrific coaching questions all based on positive psychology theory.

To get full value from these questions, it's important to understand the research and theories behind them. In a nutshell, positive thoughts and emotions are correlated with greater happiness, better health, and more success. That said, 100% positivity is never the goal. Even negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences can have positive outcomes, especially when we take the time to learn from them and to look for benefits and work on our personal growth.

Here is a quick course that will get you started as a positive psychology coach. Or to become masterful, enroll in the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. You'll learn masterful coaching skills, such as how to know when to ask which question, how to follow up regardless your client's answer, how to craft your own questions, right on the spot.

If you're just getting started as a coach, print these awesome questions out for reference.

Download the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook to learn more.

101 Terrific Positive Psychology Coaching Questions:

  1. What's going great this week?
  2. What have you accomplished so far?
  3. What are three good things that happened at work?
  4. What are you grateful for today?
  5. What are you feeling really good about?
  6. What do you want to accomplish in this session?
  7. How will you measure success?
  8. Shall we explore your reasons for making this change?
  9. Which of your personal values will be expressed by achieving this goal?
  10. How will achieving this goal help you express your purpose?
  11. What other reasons might there be that you haven't explored yet?
  12. Are you ready to make this change or do you need to talk about it more?
  13. What would happen if you improved this by just 5%?
  14. What other benefits are there to accomplishing this?
  15. What reasons have been stopping you so far?
  16. How have you been stopping you so far?
  17. How could you address those reasons?
  18. How could you eliminate some the the drawbacks to changing?
  19. What preparations do you need to make before you start this project?
  20. Which of your strengths can help you here?
  21. What will you tell yourself as you take steps toward this goal?
  22. Who else can acknowledge you for your efforts?
  23. On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to your success?
  24. How hard are you willing to work on this?
  25. What obstacles could you encounter and how can you overcome them?
  26. If everything goes perfectly and you're at your very best, what will that be like?
  27. What strategies will help you focus on what you want vs what you don't want?
  28. What's already going well?
  29. When was a time when this went well for you?
  30. What strengths were you using when this went well?
  31. How can you apply the same strengths to succeed this time?
  32. Who do you work well with?
  33. Who has complementary strengths who might collaborate with you?
  34. Who else will benefit from your success?
  35. How will you feel when you've succeeded?
  36. How will your strengths help you express your purpose?
  37. What are you curious about?
  38. What would you like your legacy to be?
  39. What circumstances are effecting your positive or negative emotions?
  40. How would you like to feel? Can you imagine feeling that way right now?
  41. How positive are you on most days?
  42. What are you currently doing to raise your positivity?
  43. What might be possible if you increased your positivity?
  44. How could you increase your positivity?
  45. Who are the most positive people in your life?
  46. How could you spend more time doing what you enjoy?
  47. How would your relationships be impacted by more positivity?
  48. How could you decrease your negativity?
  49. How could you be happy even before you reach your goals?
  50. If you're fully present for a few moments what do you notice?
  51. If you turn off your thoughts for a minute what do you know?
  52. What does your body need?
  53. It sounds like you're using a strength. What would you name it?
  54. How could you master this strength?
  55. What other situations could be improved if you started using this strength there?
  56. How could this strength help you meet an important need?
  57. How can you use your strengths to express your personal values?
  58. Where else could you use your strengths in new ways?
  59. Who could you collaborate with who has complementary strengths?
  60. What strengths do you need to develop to be more effective.
  61. What strengths do you wish you had?
  62. What can you appreciate about the strengths you do have?
  63. How could a weakness also be a strength?
  64. Do you ever overuse a strength? What happens then?
  65. Do you strengths ever get you into trouble?
  66. What would help you feel more engaged at work?
  67. What activities excite or energize you?
  68. Where else could you use your strengths?
  69. How can you use your strengths to help you reach this goal?
  70. When does time seem to fly for you?
  71. Who or what makes you laugh?
  72. What makes life meaningful for you?
  73. What activities feel most valuable to you?
  74. When is a time in your life when you were at your very best?
  75. What's most significant to you about that time?
  76. What do you do to help others?
  77. How could you build resources to support a happier and more successful life?
  78. Who has helped you immensely who you might want to thank?
  79. How do you want to thank others?
  80. Who or what could you be grateful to?
  81. What makes this accomplishment so important to you?
  82. What will help you persevere until you succeed?
  83. Who can support you to reach your goals?
  84. What will keep you on track?
  85. What do you need more clarity about?
  86. What's your first step?
  87. When will you get started?
  88. How will you remember?
  89. Once you've succeeded, how will you maintain it?
  90. What clarity do you still need?
  91. How confident are you of your success?
  92. What will your life be like when you succeed?
  93. What other aspects of your life will be impacted?
  94. How will you take care of yourself while working on this?
  95. How will you maintain other important aspects of your life such as your relationships?
  96. Who are you willing to tell that you're making this change?
  97. How will you maintain your positivity while persevering?
  98. How will you feel about yourself when you succeed?
  99. How will you celebrate?
  100. Who will you include in your celebration?
  101. How will you savor your hard work and accomplishment?

This is just a sampling of terrific positive psychology coaching questions.

Learn more by joining the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Get a fact sheet to learn all about it.

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

 

Topics: positive psychology coaching, coaching questions, Strengths, Needs, Values, positivity, Certified Positive Psychology Coach

Why the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Credential is Trademarked

Posted by Julia Stewart

CPPC Header

Recently, I've had to tell a few coaches and coach training schools that are claiming the credential, "Certified Positive Psychology Coach", that they need to stop, because it is trademarked.

Most are great about it and make the necessary changes right away. But one school, which I suspect has knowingly used our trademark for some time (maybe I'm wrong), is giving us push-back. This violates virtually every code of ethics in the profession of coaching and is a disservice to the students they are certifying. If you are one of those graduates, this is not great.

The usual protocol for notifying colleagues you believe are infringing on your copyrights or trademarks is to have your attorney send a letter and escalate from there if there is no response, but coaching works best when we treat each other with courtesy and respect, so often we begin with a nice personal note and only escalate if it is ignored. The second step is to notify the ICF, because this is an ethics violation, and the final step is to turn it over to attorneys.

[UPDATE] This post has been updated, because I realized I was feeling insulted when I first wrote it and that's not where I want to be coming from. The response of that one school was inappropriate and a comment on their website actually claims other positive psychology coaching programs are just selling information they got freely off the internet. I don't know anyone who is doing that and that comment reflects poorly on the writer.

I can't speak for other schools, or teachers, but for the record, I've spent years formally researching positive psychology, coaching, and related topics for my dissertation. But yes, tons of information on positive psychology is freely available on the internet and if you want to read the latest research that's been published, you can join the Institute of Coaching, at McLean Hospital, Harvard University, which subscribes to expensive research journals for its members and even reviews pertinent papers, which helps members select which papers they want to include in their own research. Members of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program can join the IOC at a discount (currently only $100 per year), because I'm a Founding Fellow and my school is a Sponsor of IOC.

That last perq is helpful to our students, because they are required to do a little research of their own to graduate. A few are PhDs, who are already seasoned researchers, but those who aren't get an introduction to qualitative research and discover that it's not so hard and that they can feel confident about their work and knowledge and never need feel intimidated by well-known researchers or academics. Other requirements for graduation include coaching at the proficient-to-masterful range, which helps make this program unique.

The main reason the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® credential is trademarked...

The main reason I trademarked it is to establish a standard of excellence. Read below for why I thought that was necessary. A secondary reason was that our coach training program was named after that certification. So if ever someone else trademarked the name, I would have to go to court to defend it and if I lost, would have to change much more than my certification. So the reasons were primarily professional, but also business-based.

What is actually trademarked are those four words, in that order, capitalized or not. We neither challenge whether other positive psychology coach training programs have merit nor whether they have a right to certify their graduates. In fact, I think a few other programs are great, but we all have different strengths. That’s how it should be. It makes us distinct to potential students who need to decide which school to join.

That said, our graduates jump through several hoops and need to coach at a higher level by the time they get certified, which is one of the reasons they do so well after graduation, so we want to keep their certification distinct in the marketplace.

Here’s a bit about my background that may explain this point of view: After teaching in academia during the 80’s and 90’s, I trained with Thomas Leonard, the founder of the coaching profession (also the founder of both the ICF and IAC), and I quickly moved into training and mentoring coaches at, what was then, the largest coach training school in the world. I was their lead certifier. That gave me an early opportunity to train thousands of coaches in advanced skills and get them certified and on to successful careers. I quickly developed expertise and became known as a go-to person for advanced training and certifications. I launched my own coaching school (School of Coaching Mastery) a couple of years later.

I’ve studied positive psychology, both formally and informally, for about twenty years. Like most lifelong learners, I take advantage of a variety of sources of education, whether graduate school or even a free MOOC, now and then. Right now, I’m back at school for yet another degree and my dissertation, which I’m still writing, is on an aspect of positive psychology coaching that has been neglected.

Several years ago, I noticed positive psychology programs proliferating. Many included some basic coach training, but not enough to support professional coaching. People registered for the programs, thinking they would become professional coaches, but discovered they weren’t well prepared. I think that’s unfair to the students.

I knew what they needed to know and I knew how to teach it to them.

I was already teaching positive psychology to coaches and my students were asking for more. I was ready to teach advanced positive psychology coaching, as the demand began to rise. So I researched what else was available, at the time, and was shocked that there was no certification in positive psychology coaching, because in my opinion, positive psychology and coaching are made for each other. A legal team did a further exhaustive search, as did the US Patent and Trademark Office. The phrase, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, was available and I registered it.

A major difference between academia and coach training: is that academia has hundreds of years of rules, customs, and protocols, not to mention accreditation, that helps keep standards where they need to be. It’s an imperfect system, but generally, it works. Otherwise, everyone could have a PhD and those letters would mean nothing.

Coaching was still in its infancy when I joined it and it had none of that infrastructure. It was the wild west. The freedom and creativity helped it grow and develop exponentially, but there’s a dark underbelly and people get hurt. I’ve known people who went bankrupt or lost their homes because of unscrupulous “coaches”. Overtime, organizations, like the ICF, began developing standards, ethics, and certifications.

The ICF has registered trademarks for the names of their certifications, because they are challenging credentials to earn and represent high standards. Plus trademarking protects certified coaches and helps establish reliable brands that clients trust. Otherwise, people could sell the "ICF MCC" on Udemy for $12, with no effort, and ICF certification would be meaningless.


So although I’m all for creativity and freedom, I’m also for high standards and ethics. It’s a balancing act. In the absence of hundreds of years of customs and laws, not to mention the US Dept. of Education, coaching uses a different set of tools to establish appropriate boundaries to protect coaches and their clients. Among those tools are copyrights and trademarks. This system is imperfect, but it generally works.

That’s why I registered the trademark for Certified Positive Psychology Coach®, because I know the level of coaching that most coaches need to succeed and I wanted to protect that level of coaching in positive psychology for the sake of my students, who work hard for this credential, and their clients, who deserve high-quality coaches. I'm not saying other coaches aren't good, nor am I saying other training programs aren't good, just that they aren't training at an equivalent level.

Nobody likes getting an email that says they can't use a specific name in their business, but there's no point in casting the owner as the villain. Most of us just make the changes and move on.

I founded the Association of Positive Psychology Coaches, along with my students. And I am considering giving this trademark to the APPC, after it is completely separate from my school, if there are enough equivalent schools to make it worthwhile, and if APPC ever develops that much clout. Why? Many people prefer to hire coaches with certifications from well-known not-for-profit organizations, because schools have widely differing requirements. Then APPC could license qualifying schools. Right now, there are a couple other positive psychology coaching schools that are approved by the ICF for ACC (entry-level certification) training and they are probably great programs. My programs is approved to train coaches at the ACC, PCC, and MCC levels, so in my opinion, it is more advanced, at least when it comes to coaching skills.

If you've received a "Certified Positive Psychology Coach" certification from an organization that doesn't have permission to use it, the bad news is that you can't claim that certification. That sucks. The good news is we will waive some of our requirements for you so you can complete a legitimate Certified Positive Psychology Coach®. Then you can use it proudly and with no worries. Best we can do.

 

Apply to the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program here.

 

If you're curious about the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, see below. We can waive some requirements for people who already have training in coaching and/or positive psychology.

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program 

Topics: positive psychology coach, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coach training, become a positive psychology coach, positive psychology certificate

Neuroplasticity Coach: How Brain States Become Enduring Traits

Posted by Julia Stewart

neuroplasticity coaching

Lately I've been reading the excellent book, Altered Traits, by Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson, two giants in the fields of emotional intelligence and  neuroplasticity.

If you're a neuroscience geek, like me, you may enjoy reading all about the research, but if you're just curious, here's the lowdown, plus the connection with coaching.

They wanted to set the record straight about research into neuroplasticity, meditation, mindfulness, and how states developed via positive practices can, over time, become enduring traits.They're concerned about the hype that surrounds these popular topics, especially mindfulness, because it's so trendy right now, and they share what science really knows about tools that change the brain instantly, and over time, sustainably, leading to greater happiness, equanimity, resourcefulness, and transformation.

States are temporary changes in the brain that impact how we think, feel, and act. They are an important driver of human experiences, relationships, well-being, and success.

Brain states can be measured in a variety of ways, such as fMRI imaging of blood flow to various parts of the brain, EEG measurements of brainwave patterns, or measurement of neurotransmitters present in the brain; to name three. They also can be measured indirectly via observance of behaviors or via self-reports by subjects, but this is more the realm of psychology, specifically positive psychology.

States are fleeting. We may not always notice when our brains change states, but trained observers, such as coaches, often can witness these changes. States can be positive or negative, which are generally categorized by how pleasant or unpleasant they feel, how likely they are to promote behavior that results in desired outcomes, and how they may promote wellness or pathology.

Many so-called positive states are pleasant, promote desired behavioral outcomes, and can result in greater health.

Skilled coaches help alter their clients' states in virtually every coaching session. Our main objective is to move the client from a less resourceful to more resourceful state and take advantage of that greater resourcefulness to plan strategies and actions that can promote desired change.

It's pretty profound that coaches can alter their client's brain states, but truth is, we all alter the brain states of others' without even knowing it, often with undesirable consequences. Coaching amounts to communication that leads to positive, or desirable, outcomes for the person being coached, because they are, temporarily at least, more open, more solution oriented, more optimistic, more creative, and more resourceful.

How are traits different from states?

Traits develop over time when someone repeats the same thoughts, emotions, memories, habits, and behaviors. The brain actually changes physically as a result, because the neurons involved strengthen their connections every time the thought is repeated.

As the famous saying goes, by neuropsychologist, Donald Hebb, "Neurons that fire together, wire together."

For example, if you live a stressful life, and especially if you worry and ruminate about what stresses you, the neurons in your amygdala, called "the brain's alarm bell" by neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, will strengthen their bonds and over time, will cause that structure to enlarge. The downstream results could include more stress, more worry and rumination, and perhaps behaviors that make things worse rather than better.

Neuroplasticity can go the other way, too. Positive practices, such as mediation, mindfulness, appreciation, shared warmth, and many others, seem to have a cascading effect on the brain and resulting behaviors, over time. Theoretically, coaching and being coached, as well as following through on many coaching exercises, such as journaling, practicing gratitude or mindfulness, or even following through on resourceful actions and developing new positive habits, can make enduring changes. The new becomes the default.

So there you have the connection between states, traits, and neuroplasticity coaching.

If you'd like to learn much more about these topics, consider taking the Intro to Coaching with Neuroscience course that is coming soon, or even join the new Certified Neuroplasticity Coach Program. 

Check it out here and download the Fact Sheet:

Download Certified Neuroplasticity Coach Fact Sheet

 

Topics: Neuroplasticity, coaching with neuroscience, positive psychology coach training, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, mindfulness, gratitude, become a positive psychology coach

Coaching Tip: Enlightenment Can Be Bad For You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching TipHow do coaching, personal development and spirituality cause dysfunction?

If you think coaching, personal development programs and spirituality are always good, think again. The tools that coaches use and that personal development gurus and spiritual teachers also may employ are usually great when used in the right situations by people who are ready for them. Try using most of those tools in every situation, though, and you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.

Which tools am I talking about? Well, many. But here are a couple of examples that are closely related to each other:

  • Seeing the perfection in every situation
  • Eliminating the ego 

I've coached a lot of people who were 'highly evolved'. They were very spiritual and always saw the beauty, opportunity, learning, etc. in everything and rarely let their egos get in the way.

Their lives were a mess. And they were tough to coach, because they felt good and they thought they were supposed to think that way. People who feel good aren't motivated to change. People who feel good when their lives are a mess are in some ways a little bit crazy (not a diagnosis, just an observation).

Come to think of it, I passed through this stage years ago when I first started meditating. Suddenly, things that used to bother, hurt, or anger me, didn't anymore. It was very freeing. It felt good. I loved it.

And my life started falling apart. Why? I'd lost my boundaries. I got into dysfunctional relationships, because my former warning system, pain, had shut down. I was very forgiving, had but lost the ability to say, 'Hey, this is not okay with me.' Fortunately, I learned to grow past my 'enlightenment'.

Coaches who have drunk too much of the Coaching Cool-aid, sometimes fall for this. They will quickly reframe every challenge as an opportunity. Or they will coach everybody they meet, as if their own needs never even matter. They lose critical skills when they try to show up 'like a coach' in every situation (and they're less effective as coaches).

Skills like:

  • Discernment
  • Engagement
  • Commitment

Procrastination, complacency, and cluelessness may set in. Because after all, everything's great, right? So there's no need to make changes. People may start to avoid them. Relationships, careers, health, and finances begin to fall apart. But all the while, they feel GOOD, because they're stoned on their own endorphins. And like all opiate addicts, they've lost the ability to notice and respond to their environments. Not pretty.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, says too much positivity gets us in trouble. People tend to do best when they experience positive thoughts and feelings about 75-90% of the time. Anymore than that and they stop  heeding warning signs, miss important details, become over-confident, and lose credibility with others. They may spiral into failure and despair, as a result. That's not what you want for yourself or your clients.

In addition, by choosing in advance to respond to everything in the same way, they are limiting possibilities, rather than expanding them.

Worse yet, they may create shadow behaviors that are acted out out unconsciously. 'No ego' becomes arrogance ('I'm more enlightened than you!'). 'Seeing the perfection' becomes passive aggression (Got a problem? 'Just see the perfection in it, or else you're not 'woke'.)

One of the many things I value about Zen Master Genpo Roshi's teachings is that he takes this problem head on. He calls this level of enlightenment dysfunctional and says a zen  master's job is to push you through this stage as quickly as possible. Because otherwise you can get profoundly stuck. Feeling good all the time is very, very seductive.

Not many teachers even recognize this problem. In fact, some of them are actually stuck here, themselves. Many teach that this stage is desirable. Don't get sucked in by that.

Remember the saying, 'When you're going through Hell, keep going'? Well the great thing about Hell is that it feels so awful you want to keep going.

The awful thing about Enlightenment is that it feels so good, you want to stay there. And as soon as you try to hold on to it , you're not enlightened anymore. Delusion is enlightenment's shadow. Keep going.

When you fully engage with life, experiencing pain, resistance and yes, even your ego, you are fully alive, highly functional and - you're enlightened in a mature way. Then you've got the makings of a great coach. Yes, get your ego out of the way and see the perfection when you're coaching your clients. That's your job and it's a huge value to the people you coach. But when you're not coaching, be fully human.

And keep going.

Fully Alive Personal Development with Positive Psychology is a free extra program that's included with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Learn more about it here:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

Topics: Coaching, ENVIRONMENT, Coaching Tip, Genpo Roshi, personal development, spirituality, positive psychology coach, Positive Psychology, Barbara L Fredrickson, enlightenment, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Fully Alive

Positive Psychology Coaching: How to Use Negativity to Improve Coaching Outcomes

Posted by Julia Stewart

Leadership Coaching Emotional Intelligence

Every positive psychology coach understands the importance of positivity, but the great ones know how negativity can boost coaching outcomes, amazingly.

If you've been reading this blog (subscribe upper right), you know about positivity theory and the positivity ratio (Fredrickson, 2006). The research is clear: Positivity changes lives and delivers wellbeing. But that's not all. People who experience at least three times as much positivity as negativity aren't just happier, they're more successful, more generous, healthier, and have more harmonious relationships. Who doesn't want more of all that?

So how can negativity help?

Here's a story: I once knew a coach, let's call her Wanda, who was new to positive psychology coaching. One of Wanda's first clients was a mid-level manager at a toy company, who wanted to move up the company ladder. Wanda coached him with loads of positivity and he accomplished one step after another toward his goal, until they were both certain he was on the brink of success. Then he got fired. Yep, fired.

How'd that happen? Wanda's client had some inter-personal issues he wasn't aware of. Wanda noticed them during coaching sessions, but didn't want to focus on the negative, so she never brought them up. Too bad. Those issues got on his boss's nerves, disrupted the whole department, and even made his team less productive. One person can cause a workplace to spiral so deeply into negativity, that the whole company suffers. That's toxic.

Positive thinking can't magically fix a toxic situation unless the toxicity is fully addressed. That means you need to deal with the negativity.

Remember that positivity ratio of three to one?

Another way of saying it is 75% positivity to 25% negativity is the gateway to flourishing. You can go higher, say, 90% positivity, but much beyond that and you and your clients will tip into a multitude of unnecessary problems.

What sorts of problems?

  • Obliviousness. Negativity wakes us up when something is wrong (Boyatzis, 2011), but incessent positivity lets us waltz straight into our worst nightmares, just like Wanda's client did.
  • Missed details. Positivity broadens our awareness, but negativity narrows our focus on what needs to be done (Boyatzis, 2011). Details matter.
  • Complacency. People who are constantly positive sometimes coast when they need to work. For example: Children who are told they need to work, make better grades than children who are told they are smart, because the "smart" kids often don't try as hard (Dweck, 2006).

How can negativity help?

  • Resilience. Negativity toughens us up and helps us develop grit. People who persevere through difficulties, are more likely to succeed (Duckworth, 2016).
  • Needs satisfaction. Negativity is designed to drive us toward getting our needs met, so we can survive. While positivity is more useful at helping us reach for growth and ideals (Boyatizis, 2011). Interpersonal problems often arise from unmet needs (Maslow, 1962).
  • Survival comes before growth. We need to reach a critical mass when satisfying our needs before we can effectively focus on growth (Maslow, 1962).

How could Wanda have succeeded better with her client?

  • Be a coach who is naturally positive, but never steps over concerns.
  • Help the client get their needs met, sustainably.
  • Ask the client challenging questions, the ones they're afraid to ask themselves (and the ones nobody else will mention).
  • Help the client bring positivity into their relationships. Train them to ask more, listen more, and look for what's working before focusing on what's not, unless it's an emergency.
  • Be honest. Holding back your observations is never fair to your clients.
  • Help the client grow beyond their immediate goals. Once needs are met, growth becomes available and that's what propels clients into amazing success.

These are just a few ways Wanda could have upgraded the value of her positive psychology coaching, immensely.

Imagine what her hard-working client could have accomplished if he had adjusted his relationship skills in time to win the promotion he passionately desired.

This focus on the importance of negativity is sometimes called the second wave in positive psychology, but it isn't new. Emotional intelligence has always studied the entire gamut of emotions to help people be more successful in their relationships and work. That's especially important for leaders, because they influence all the people they lead. But let's be clear: Everybody is a leader sometime and humans, who are the most social of animals, all need emotional intelligence to navigate harmonious relationships.

That's why School of Coaching Mastery is launching its exciting Master Certified Positive Psychology Coach program with an advanced course on Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Coaching

This is what's next for professional coaching, in general, and positive psychology coaching, specifically.

Learn more about becoming a positive psychology coach. Get the free eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: positive psychology coaching, emotional intelligence, advanced coach training, Coaching Certificate, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, ICF, positivity

4 Reasons You Should Get ICF ACSTH Coach Training, Not ACTP

Posted by Julia Stewart

ICF ACSTH coach training programSometimes people ask me why the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program is an ICF ACSTH* program instead of an ACTP**. Savvy coaches know they need training that has the ICF's stamp of approval. Both ACSTH and ACTP designations mean the coach training program has gone through rigorous requirements to be approved by the ICF (International Coach Federation), which is the best-known professional coaching organization that approves coach training programs. But what's the difference and why is ACSTH better for the coaches who study with us?

Four Major Reasons ACSTH is Better for Our Coaches:

  1. You don't have to wait to get your certifications. When you take an ACTP program, you have to complete the entire program, which may take a couple of years, before you apply for ICF certification and sometimes you can't even get your school's certification until then. With the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, which has a total of 210 ACSTH credits (125 for Part 1; 85 for Part 2), you get a certification or certificate of approval, with ICF credits, after every module you complete along the way. You could be certified by us in just 8 weeks! Or, apply for your ICF ACC after earning just 60 hours with us. You're in the driver's seat. Choose what works best for you.
  2. You don't have to pay for an ICF Mentor Coach if you don't want one. ACTP programs are required to provide students with ICF mentor coaches, which means everybody has to pay the coach training school for their mentor coach and that makes tuition awfully expensive. But what if you don't care about ICF certification? Most life coaches don't need ICF coach certification, so why should they be required to pay for a mentor coach to qualify for a certification they don't need or want?
  3. You can choose your own mentor coach. You definitely should have your own coach and you should choose that coach carefully. Not every coach is a good fit for every client, so why would you want one assigned to you by your coaching school? When you take an ACSTH program, you can choose your own coach and we can help you find one that is affordable.
  4. You can customize your training to fit your exact preferences. Some new coaches just take Part 1: Intro Level of the CPPC program, while others want both parts. Some advanced coaches just want Part 2: Master Level. About a quarter of our students already have ICF-approved coach-specific training and don't want to start at the beginning, but aren't quite ready for Part 2, yet. With an ACSTH program, we're free to customize your training program for your exact needs. Take the courses you want to reach the goals that matter to you. You can also take just one module, before you decide to take the whole program. Virtually all our modules can be taken one-at-a-time, although it's much more cost-effective to register for the full program. Don't take an ACTP program, unless you want one-size-fits-all training.

So there you have it! The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program is less expensive, offers more choice, can fit your needs exactly, and starts giving you those crucial credentials within weeks, instead of forcing you into a long, expensive, one-size-fits-all training.

Learn more about the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program; download the free fact sheet:

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, ACSTH, mentor coach, coach training school, Coach Certification, Life coaching school accreditation, Coaching Certificate, Positive Psychology, positive psychology certificate

Do You Need to Be Certified to Become a Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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If you're thinking about becoming a coach, then you may also be wondering if you need to become a certified coach and if so, what certifications do you need?

Some coaches will tell you, "No, you don't need to be certified to become a coach."

I'm going to tell you why that's terrible advice and why you do need to get certified, especially if you're a new coach who wants to succeed. My information comes from my own survey of 2,552 coaches, which is represented by the pie charts, below, plus several large surveys of the coaching industry by organizations, such as the ICF, and my experience working with thousands of coaches.

But don't take my word for it. Once you have the facts, make up your own mind and set yourself up for success.

#1 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

According to research by Coaching Sherpa and others, professional coaches with training & certification earn more, become successful more quickly, and are less likely to drop out of the profession.

According to School of Coaching Mastery's own research, 80.6% of all coaches wish they were more successful. Why lose even one good potential client because you don't have some letters after your name?

Do I need to be certified to become a coach

#2 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Certification helps distinguish you from non-coaches who call themselves coaches, and who often mislead or even harm clients. As more scandals arise about so-called coaches, authentic professional coaches seek reputable certifications as a way to assure potential clients that they are genuine coaches. In fact, in large-scale surveys by the ICF, coaches consistently cite untrained individuals who call themselves coaches as the number-one problem facing the coaching profession.

#3 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Rightly or wrongly, most people assume that certified professionals are better than those who are uncertified. Yes, there may be uncertified coaches who are good, but the public doesn't always know who they are. In the absence of a good referral from a trusted friend, many people look for certification, which essentially is a stamp or approval from a trusted source.

#4 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Your clients probably want you to be certified. According to a survey by the ICF, 84% of actual coaching clients said coaching credentials were "important" or "very important" to them. This runs contrary to what some coaches say, which is that clients don't care about certification. Evidently most do, and the numbers go up according to region, with 91% of the general public (not just actual coaching clients) in Latin America stating that certification is important. Not only that, but according to SCM's own survey, 82.8% of professional coaches said they would feel more competitive if they were certified and 76% said they would sign on more paying clients. 

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#5 Reason you need to become a certified coach:


You probably want to be certified. According to the SCM survey, Do You Need Coach Certification?, which to date has been completed by 2,552 coaches worldwide, when asked if they intuitively want to get certified (in other words, is this what you really want, or is it just what you think you should do), 75.7% of professional coaches said they want to get certified.

Do you need coach certification

#6 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Someday you may legally need to be. Most people who want to become business, executive, or life coaches wonder if they need credentials in order to legally practice coaching. In most places the answer currently is, "No", but that may change. No one knows for sure what will happen, but having a recognized certification, such as ICF or IAC, can help grandfather you in, if/when regulation comes.

#7 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

You'll become a better coach. No, letters after your name won't magically make you better. But preparing for an oral certification exam will. I've learned something new with every certification that I've qualified for and I've seen hundreds of other coaches improve, as well. Great coaches tend to be more successful.

#8 Best reason you need to become a certified coach:

Regardless of the laws where you live, if you think like a coach, then you've evolved away from thinking that just having enough to get by is okay, and you actively choose to set yourself up for success in every way possible, instead. You're interested in best practices, not just minimum standards. Coach certification helps set you up for success and it represents coaching best practices.

Given all the good reasons why coaches, especially new coaches, benefit from coach certification, I sometimes wonder why a few coaches persist in telling new coaches they don't need it. Do they secretly want new coaches to fail, so there will be less competition? Are they terrified that the march toward professionalism will leave them in the dust? I don't know. But whenever I write about certification, some disgruntled coach leaves an angry, jeering, or paranoid comment on this blog, or on Facebook, or LinkedIn. UPDATE: See examples of this type of response, below, in comments #5, 6, & 10.

Clearly this is a hot-button issue for some. But if you're a new coach, don't just take advice. Get the facts and decide for yourself.

Take the survey, "Do You Need Coach Certification?". It'll help you decide if certification is right for you, based on your own  answers.

Ready to become a certified coach? Join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Or check out our entry-level training and certification:

Become a Certified Competent Coach

Topics: become a life coach, become a coach, become a business coach, ICF, becoming a certified coach, Coach Certification, Become a Certified Coach, certified coach, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, certified competent coach, IAC

How to Become a Life Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life CoachesDo you want to know how to become a life coach? Here’s a quick story that illustrates the experiences of many of the thousands new coaches that I’ve taught, coached, or talked to over the past few years. It shows how to become a successful life coach. Maybe it will help you decide what path to take.

I call it: A Tale of Two Life Coaches.


Colleen* and Danita* are two new life coaches. Colleen is from a Midwestern town in the US, while Danita lives outside of Ottawa in Canada. Each has a college education and several years working at a career she’s good at, but not inspired by.


Colleen recently left her job as an elementary school reading specialist. She loves helping people, but longs for more professional freedom, so she began dabbling with coaching and enjoys it. Rather than join a coach training school she takes advantage of free teleclass series on topics related to coaching and online coaching summits in the hope of saving money, because her finances are tight.


Danita is a psychotherapist who’s feeling a bit burnt out. She feels emotionally drained by some of her clients and wants to work with high-functioning people who are ready to have successful lives and businesses. Danita has wanted to become a coach for years and is now ready to take the plunge. Although she already has excellent skills for helping her psychotherapy clients, she knows that coaching and coaching skills are significantly different from what she already knows.


Danita is committed to being the very best she can be. She decides to give herself all the advantages possible by joining a great coach training school. She loves the SCM approach and joins the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program. She knows it’s an investment in her future.


Three months later: Colleen loves what she’s learning in free teleclasses, but she’s constantly overwhelmed. She wants to get her new coaching business off the ground, but isn’t making progress. She can’t decide what to name her business. She has heard she needs a niche, but has no idea how to find one. Finally, she invests in an expensive marketing program that promises to teach her everything she needs to know; plus she’ll get thousands of dollars worth of free information, if she signs up, right now.

 

Three months into her coach training, Danita loves everything she’s learning and already has some coaching clients. Unlike the free teleclasses that Colleen takes, which are designed to get her to buy more programs, the material Danita is learning at SCM is designed to give her what she needs when she needs it, while allowing her the flexibility to customize. Danita already feels confident about her coaching skills because of the feedback she gets from her instructors, as well as from her clients. She has her Coach 100 directory listing, which is included in her program, displayed at Find a Coach Here and got her first few paying clients through the program. Whenever Danita feels overwhelmed, she uses tools from her SCM Fully Alive with Positive Psychology Program (also included), talks to one of her instructors, or calls one of her buddy coaches from SCM. She’s seriously considering taking advantage of SCM’s low-cost ICF mentor coaching, only for Certified Positive Psychology Coach® members.


Six months later, Colleen is still struggling and is worried about money. Although she has attracted a few coaching clients, most of them are for free and they don’t stay with her long. Plus she’s spending almost all of her time marketing, instead of coaching. The marketing program she bought was too difficult to implement and she never had time to enjoy all the free goodies that it came with. So she joined an expensive "platinum coaching program" with a famous internet marketer, who she hopes will explain it all, and she’s desperate for the program to work, because otherwise, her finances will run out.


At the same time, Danita has raised her coaching fees and her business is now 50% coaching clients and 50% therapy clients. She’s even beginning to enjoy doing therapy again. Danita has had the opportunity to ask questions from master-coach instructors in her classes, which has helped her make smart choices about her new business. She also has coaching credentials and her first coach certification, which she knows will give her added credibility. Already, prospective clients are asking her about her coach training and certification and it’s a relief to know that she has all that covered. It’s also satisfying to know that her clients are more than paying her back for her SCM tuition and that most of her clients stay with her, because they’re enjoying great results.


One year after starting, Colleen regrets ever having gotten started as a coach. She spent thousands of dollars on marketing programs, but made very little of it back from coaching. She’s now focused on finding a job as quickly as she can and feels foolish to think she ever could have been a coach.


Meanwhile, Danita’s coaching business is thriving. She’s kept a few of her favorite therapy clients, but is only accepting new coaching clients, who pay her almost twice as much as her therapy clients. She’s put in hundreds of hours of hard work, but wouldn’t trade a minute of it, because she’s learned so much and so loves her new coaching business. Her mentor coach is helping her see possibilities for her business that she never could have dreamed of. She’s earned her first coach certification and is well on her way to being a successful master coach.


The sad thing about this tale of two life coaches is that they both had the same aptitude when they started. Colleen could have succeeded and she didn’t just lose the thousands of dollars that she spent on marketing programs. She lost tens of thousands of dollars that she could be earning as a coach. More over, the people she could have helped with coaching may never get the help they deserve and Colleen didn't get to enjoy her dream business.


The obvious difference is that Danita joined a coach training school that worked for her, while Colleen tried to do it ‘on the cheap’, which almost never works. But there are deeper reasons. Danita made a definite commitment to become a coach and be the best she could be. She also made a realistic assessment of what she needed to succeed. That commitment to what she wanted and to what she knew to be true launched her on a trajectory that led her toward success.


Colleen, on the other hand, started out just ‘dabbling’ and because she didn’t know for sure what she wanted, over time, she was influenced by marketers to buy expensive programs via the ‘free’ teleclasses she attended. As a result, she bought programs she didn’t really want and that didn’t meet her needs. Also, those programs gave conflicting advice which only added to her confusion and overwhelm.


Have you made a definite commitment to coaching? It’s the key to coaching success. It’s fine to dabble if all you want is a hobby, but if you know coaching is what you want to do professionally, you need to take the big leap!


*Colleen and Danita are composites of coaches that I’ve known. The names are fictional, but similar stories have been repeated again and again. Your results may be different, depending on the commitments you make.

Ready to commit to your success? Join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program now.

Need to learn more first? Get the free Fact Sheet:

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

Topics: coach training, become a life coach, become a coach, free coach training, Coach 100, Free, Life Coaches, coach training program, coach training school, how to become a coach, Certified Positive Psychology Coach

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