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Coaching Accountability Isn't What You Think It is

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching accountability with a bullhorn cropped

Managing Progress and Accountability is an ICF Core Coaching Competency that is frequently missed when coaches apply for certification, according to ICF certifiers.

I could be wrong, but I think the name, itself, confuses coaches. It sounds like the coach literally manages the client and holds them accountable to achieve their goals the way an employer might, but that's not what helps clients progress, and it's really not what ICF certifiers are looking for.

[UPDATE, October 10, 2019: The ICF just announced major changes in the Core Coaching Competencies to owners of ICF accredited coach training programs. As an owner of the ICF accredited Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, I received a copy of the new Competency model but was asked to keep it confidential until they release the new model to all members. Accountability is still mentioned but is no longer as prominent. I'll write more when the full release occurs in November.]

It's time somebody told you the secret of motivation and it has nothing to do with holding your clients accountable...

Here's why: Have you ever caught yourself being stubborn with someone (your friend, sibling, spouse, perhaps) about something you really wanted to do but you were only willing to do it your way or not at all? Or has someone ever told you that you need to change something about yourself, and even if you agreed with them, you didn't do it? Or do you ever ask for advice and then don't follow it?

If yes to any of these, you're normal. People naturally resist doing what others tell them to do and unless that other has something important to hang over their head, like their job, they often won't do it even if they want to.

 

We all get a little negative in these situations and that negativity has power over us that most people underestimate.

 

Here's an example: An SCM graduate just posted a meme on Facebook that said she never shares memes that say, "I bet I won't get even one share," even if she otherwise likes the meme. I don't share them, either. In fact, I did an impromptu poll once on my Facebook feed to see if others shared them. Nobody did. They're annoying.

Subtle levels of negativity, defensiveness, resistance, anxiety, or irritation of any type trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response unconsciously, which in turn delivers a cocktail of stress hormones, like cortisol, which can stay in the blood stream for quite a while and hold the client back from taking action. Essentially, they freeze.

 

So if a coach presumes to manage a client in any way, especially by checking up on them, or requiring the client to check in with the coach, or in any way holding them accountable, there's a good chance that will backfire. Don't do it.

 

What does work? A recent article by researcher, Richard Boyatzis and colleagues, at TrainingIndustry.com, offered five possibilities that have been found to help people change. Boyatzis is well-known for his research and teachings on coaching, emotional intelligence, and leadership. His change theory of positive emotional attractors (PEAs) v negative emotional attractors (NEAs), which roughly translate to positivity v negativity in positive psychology terms, helps explain why some approaches to change don't work while others do.

 

In a nutshell, change is stressful and that releases stress hormones that trigger the fight, flight or freeze response.

 

Something or someone needs to continually bring the client back to positivity so negativity doesn't prevent them from proceeding. That someone is often the coach.

 

Forcing or requiring people to do things increase stress so pushy coaches often fail.

 

Goals, alone, aren't motivating unless they are aligned with what matters most to the client, such as their personal values, vision, mission, calling, dream, passion, or life purpose. Any goals, especially challenging goals, that aren't aligned with the client's bigger picture, are unlikely to provide sufficient positivity to carry the client forward.

 

Growth and Transformation aren't just a byproduct of great coaching. They are necessary ingredients that help our clients reach their goals. So, we need to help link their goals to what really inspires in order for them to succeed.

 

To learn more about the science of coaching and prepare yourself to become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®, join the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches and attend our series on the nine NEW  Positive Psychology Coaching Skills, from Optimum Positivity, to Goals & Achievement, and Growth & Transformation.

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, Science of Coaching, personal values, IAPPC

We're Building a New Home for Positive Psychology Coaches

Posted by Julia Stewart

IAPPC logo 1 8-18

A small community of positive psychology coaches has recently incorporated as the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches.

The original community was launched by David McQuarrie, CPPC, and me in 2016. We began meetings by identifying who were are by exploring our shared strengths, values, and needs. It soon became clear that we are an organization of peers who are passionate about learning and mastering the new field of positive psychology coaching and sharing what we learn to help create a better world for all.

At this point, we have over 400 members and haven't even launched our website, yet!

[UPDATE 8-27-19: We officially have over1000 members now and are 4 months ahead of schedule. Thanks so much for your support!]

We're not here to compete with other coaching and positive psychology organizations, but to fill the gaps that other organizations haven't met.

How can you learn more about the new IAPPC and get a limited-time free membership?

  • Attend the exciting upcoming meeting. This is where stuff really happens. Learn what's coming from IAPPC and share your thoughts on what will help you most. You need to be a member to get an invitation.
  • Join IAPPC now and enjoy free benefits for Founding Members. It won't all be free forever, but we intend to delight you so much that continuing membership will be a no-brainer. Join now and get your Founding Member badge.
  • Join us on Facebook here. Discover other members and share exciting news.
  • Invite your friends to join us. The more members, the more benefits we can provide for less cost. We'd love to attract 1,000 members by 2020! Use the social sharing buttons at the top of this post to share with others. Thanks so much!

What's the relationship between SCM and IAPPC?

Previous coaching organizations, such as the ICF and IAC, were launched by the owners of coaching schools. That makes sense because we have mailing lists of coaches, connections and know-how, and infrastructure that can support a fledgling organization until it's ready to fly. SCM has been there for this organization through its infancy and will continue to support it as it matures.

That said, IAPPC is for all positive psychology coaches, regardless where you trained. You can get involved now and you can qualify to apply for IAPPC's upcoming certifications when they are available. Our goal is to launch the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches as a fully independent not-for-profit professional association with its own certification. Please join us!

 

Join now while it's still free and get your Founding Member badge:

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, IAPPC

Dos and Don't for Better Coaching Outcomes

Posted by Julia Stewart

Do's and Don't for Coaching

The Institute of Coaching (IOC) is a great resource for research on coaching and related topics.

Recently the IOC featured a literature review on research into negative side effects of coaching by Carsten C. Schermuly and Carolin Grassmann. It's an important topic that needs attention. The conclusions of the authors was that coaches need to discuss potential negative side effects with their clients, may need supervision (coaching for their coaching) in order to mitigate negative effects while coaching, and that coaching education needs to train coaches in how to prevent negative effects.

I found many of the effects, themselves, to be dismaying examples of what can go wrong if a coach is not thoroughly trained to prevent problems, so this post will address issues from that perspective.

What are negative effects of coaching? They "...are defined as harmful of unwanted results for clients directly caused by coaching..." Negative effects can also impact the coach and these effects were telling.

I suspect many of the negative effects for clients were related to the negative effects for coaches and if the coaches had prepared, trained, and set up the coaching relationships proactively, there would have been far fewer negative effects for either.

Negative effects on coaches and Dos and Don'ts to prevent them:

  1. Unable to observe the long-term influences of coaching - Do set this up at the start of the client engagement by finding out both the goals for the coaching and how the client will measure them. Likewise, set up each coaching session with its own goals and measurements. Don't coach without this level of clarity.

  2. Being personally affected by the topics discussed during coaching - Do work on your own personal development continuously, including hiring your own coach. Learning to maintain appropriate compassion without getting caught by the client's dramas is a critical coaching skill that takes practice, self-care, and better-then-average resilience. Don't continue coaching someone if their issues personally effect you.

  3. Fear that s/he would not be able to fulfill the coach role - Do get the training, hours of practice, certification, and evidence for coaching itself, as well as for your own coaching results, so you can coach with confidence. Confidence is a coaching deliverable. Without it, the coach and client are both disadvantaged.

  4. Dislike of the client or the client’s behaviors - Do interview potential clients in advance. Don't coach anyone you don't like. It's unpleasant and rarely goes well. And although this isn't quite the same as liking a client, believing in your client goes a long way toward helping both of you like, trust, and respect one another, which are the foundations for an effective coaching relationship. It's unethical to coach clients you don't believe in.

  5. Disappointment in the coaching results - The first four negative effects are likely to lead to disappointment in positive coaching results, so don't let them occur. If you don't like the client, aren't confident, don't know how to measure, and tend to get caught in the client's dramas, you're results are likely to be poor-to-mediocre, at best. If you add ineffective communication skills (see below), then emotional exhaustion and feeling underpaid are likely outcomes, as well. Do negotiate coaching engagements that set you and your clients up for success.

  6. Emotional exhaustion, high pressure, over-challenged, or stress - Do keep your client roster small enough that exhaustion isn't a factor. Don't let clients and sponsors pressure you into doing a mediocre job.

  7. Difficulties in being an effective communicator - Do develop advanced communication skills. This is a coaching basic. An effective coach training school will address this and tell you if you have issues to work on. So will a good coach, or coaching supervisor, or coaching certification. Communication is your instrument. Don't coach until you've tuned it to optimum quality.

  8. Feeling underpaid - Do avoid all these pitfalls. Then you can demand and get what you deserve to be paid, because client outcomes will be impressively positive with few negative effects. Don't coach without getting the training you need.

The following negative outcomes for clients were identified by the authors, but could be mitigated by the above Dos and Don'ts: Deeper problems can be triggered but may beyond the scope of coaching. Client's new behaviors led to conflict with current relationships. Client's perspective on their work downshifted to less meaningful or satisfying. Client performance temporarily declined as they mastered new behaviors.

In a nutshell, coaches in these studies may have benefited from more training, or at least more effective training, as well as from coaching on the coach's coaching, otherwise known as supervision, and by more practice, better communication, negotiation, and agreement setting, and by the coaches raising their own standards for their work.

 

Thinking about advanced coach training? Consider the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, accredited for 210 ICF hours:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

Topics: coach training, Certified Positive Psychology Coach

How to Manage Progress and Accountability Like a Pro

Posted by Julia Stewart

Managing Progress and Accountability

Managing Progress and Accountability is often the most important ICF Competency but many coaches struggle to do it well.

What makes Competency #11 so important is that, for your client, reaching their goal is what matters most. You may occasionally have coaching sessions in which your client has such profound insights that new awareness is the chief deliverable for those sessions. Coaches love insights but for many of our clients, insights are just a means to an end and that end is what your client hired you for: reaching their goal.

What exactly is Managing Progress and Accountability?

You're forgiven if you're a bit confused because the ICF's materials talk about this one differently in different places, or at least they seem to. The word that confuses most coaches is, "Accountability". Many assume that means the coach holds the client accountable for what they plan to get done, but that is the weakest way to do it. A stronger way is to have the client determine their own forms of accountability. Stronger still, is to help the client set goals that are closely related to their most important personal values so their own passion helps them follow through.

Here's what I mean about confusing text (from the ICF's comparison levels):

        "Ability to hold attention on what is important for the client, and to leave responsibility with the client to take action.
         Staying focused on what is important for the client and holding them accountable."

         So is the client responsible for their actions or does the coach hold them accountable?

What makes Managing Progress and Accountability difficult?

The same issue that makes Establishing the Coaching Agreement challenging, namely keeping track of a linear process while maintaining holistic presence, also makes Managing Progress and Accountability a challenge, because most people don't do both at the same time except during activities they've mastered that use their personal strengths. In other words, this will probably take quite a bit of practice to master even for highly talented coaches.

What happens when you Manage Progress and Accountability like a pro?

  • First, you focus on what's most important to your client rather than getting hung up on the idea of holding them accountable. The more important the goal, the less accountability they will need.
  • That focus on importance begins at the beginning of the session, not the end, even though this is the last Competency.
  • Identify both small and large goals and align smaller goals with bigger (most important) goals.
  • Let the client lead in choosing what, who, when, where, etc.
  • Within the framework of importance, a.k.a. values, passion, inspiration, fulfillment, legacy; help the client apply their strengths and get assistance as needed from other people, tools, systems, and structures.
  • Get a commitment for a date and time when they will act, usually the sooner the better.
  • Both you and your client must fully believe that the plan is both sufficient and sustainable, that they will follow through, and reach their goals.
  • Just before the session ends, ask the client what they are taking away from it.

 

Start practicing Managing Progress and Accountability as a framework for your entire coaching session and you will master it.

[UPDATE, October 10, 2019: The ICF just announced major changes in the Core Coaching Competencies to owners of ICF accredited coach training programs. As an owner of the ICF accredited Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, I received a copy of the new Competency model but was asked to keep it confidential until they release the new model to all members. Accountability is still mentioned but is no longer as prominent. I'll write more when the full release occurs in November.]

Learn more about ICF coaching with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, now accredited for 200+ ICF hours, enough to meet the training requirement for the ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC).

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

 

 

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC

Establishing the Coaching Agreement: Here's How to Do It Well

Posted by Julia Stewart

Establishing the Coaching Agreement - two men

According to the ICF, one of the most important, if not THE most important Coaching Competency is #2: Establishing the Coaching Agreement.

The ICF is very particular about how to coach with this one perhaps because it sets the structure for the entire session. Most coaches can do it well at the ACC level, but stumble over PCC requirements, which are multifaceted and quite explicit. At the MCC level, it is far deeper and more subtle. Why is this hard? Most coaches just don't know how to do it.

[UPDATE, 10-10-19: The ICF just announced a new coaching competency model to owners of ICF-accredited coach training programs like the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program. They have asked us not to share the new module until they have released it to their entire membership in November. It appears the following skills will still be appropriate under the new model. If I discover otherwise, I will update this again.]

What follows are Do's and Don't's on how to Establish the Coaching Agreement at the ACC, PPC, and MCC levels.

ACC: At the ACC level, Establishing the Coaching Agreement is easy and straightforward, but you might be surprised how many coaches miss it. Do: Ask the client, at the beginning of the session, what they want to achieve with the session. Don't: Choose the goal for the client, or neglect to ask the client what their goal is, or ask but coach on something else.

PCC: At the PCC level, you need to go considerably further with Establishing the Coaching Agreement. Do: At the start of the session, ask what the goal for the session is, then explore a bit what makes that goal important to the client. Also ask how they will know they have achieved the goal. This is sometimes referred to as the "measure of success", which can be a feeling, such as confidence, a mind state, such as clarity, or something tangible, like a ten-point plan. Then begin coaching the client to reach that goal. Later in the session, check to make sure you're on track to reach the goal, or if you notice the conversation is heading in a new direction, ask if the goal has changed. If it has changed, fully establish the new goal. Finally, near the end of your coaching session, ask the client if they've reached their measure of success. If they reply strongly in the affirmative, the coaching was successful. Don't: Forget to ask how the client will know they've succeeded or fail to explore the importance of the goal, or fail to check that the session is reaching or has reached the goal; nor should you make any mistakes from the ACC level, above.

MCC: Do: The MCC level coach does everything the PCC level coach does, and then some, but may do it in a far more subtle fashion, knowing that competency #3: Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client, #4: Coaching Presence, as well as every other competency, will enhance Establishing the Coaching Agreement, by creating trust, easing the client, and providing an environment in which the client shares honestly and completely. Without that level of openness and receptivity, the client is unlikely to share information that feels vulnerable (sharing our most cherished dreams tends to bring up vulnerabilities) and therefore they may not receive full value from the coaching. In addition, the master coach will help the client expand their thinking about the goal by helping the client connect it with their larger goals and/or integrate their understanding of it within the context of their entire life and even beyond, as needed (#8: Creating Awareness). What makes this difficult is, in addition to having mastered all the competencies, having heightened perceptiveness, and knowing how to communicate a lot with few words, the master coach must also be able to hold a holistic and intuitive mind state simultaneously with linear step-wise consciousness. This is easy if they have an advanced contemplative practice. Otherwise, it tends to take years of coaching to develop. Don't: Make assumptions, or lead, direct, or teach the client in any way. Without a fully connected partnership that honors the client's expertise in their own life, coach and client are unlikely to achieve the client's most desired dreams.

So now you know how, at all three levels, to coach with one of the most important ICF Coaching Competencies. This understanding. especially at the PCC and MCC levels, can help you become a far more effective coach. You still need to learn how this tool applies uniquely to each coaching session. Plus you need hours of practice and expert feedback to learn to do it well. Our Master Coach Training series of modules will help you develop masterful coaching skills, and get you ready to apply for ICF certification, if that is your goal. These modules are all included in our Certified Positive Psychology Coach program and our Certified Neuroscience Coach program. Plus, two more modules, included in the Certified Neuroscience Coach program, will help: NP1: The Science of Goals and Achievement and NP2: Neuroscience Tools and Practices.

 

Download the Certified Neuroscience Coach program Fact Sheet:

Visit the Certified Neuroscience Coach Page Here

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC, coach credential, certified neuroscience coach, PCC

The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Coaching Niche

Posted by Julia Stewart

Find Your Niche

One of the biggest hurdles most coaches cross on the way to filling their businesses with  clients, is finding their coaching niche.

Other terms for this include finding your target market, finding your ideal client, or identifying your avatar, persona, or favorite client. These are the people you do your best work with, who you enjoy coaching, who succeed at their goals, and who send their friends to you. Marketing gets easier once you find your niche, but not necessarily for the reason you think.

Some coaches turn "finding my niche" into a massive problem that stops them from succeeding.

That's the real problem. It doesn't have to be that way.

Here's a story:

One of my students asked me to coach him in class. His goal was to find his niche. His problem was that he couldn't get his marketing focused without a niche so he was coaching all kinds of people. I asked a few questions and found out that my student already had more clients than he ever thought he'd have.

So I shared something I learned from Thomas Leonard, the Founder of the Coaching Profession, while I was studying with him. Thomas said you don't need a niche, especially when you're starting out. He said plenty of generic life coaches were doing fine without finding their niche.

I suggested to my student that since he already had plenty of clients, maybe he didn't need a niche. He was immensely relieved and immediately reoriented around serving the clients he already had instead of obsessing over getting a niche.

Even if you have plenty of clients, identifying a marketing niche can be useful, so here are the two main paths to finding one:

1. Pay someone to help you identify your niche. I know a coach who hired a branding expert to help her identify her niche. Together, they found a very specific group of people who had problems the coach was familiar with. In fact, the coach belonged to that group and struggled with the same problems. She found a snappy and memorable domain name, set up a website, and soon had a full coaching practice. But she hated coaching her clients. So she fired them all! She said she got tired of listening to them complain because they didn't want to change their lives. She and her coach made two mistakes: They didn't identify a niche that was ready to change and they didn't realize that she wasn't ready to work with those clients, without judging them, because she was still struggling with the same issues, herself. Not everyone who pays a coach or marketing expert to help them find a niche will find their niche and not everyone who finds one will fire all their clients, but it's not uncommon.

2. Get paid while you find your niche. I know another coach who started coaching without a niche. One of his clients was so successful with his help that they referred several colleagues to him to coach on the same topics. The new clients, were also successful with his help and referred more. He had found his niche! He soon had so many clients that his business grossed over one million dollars per year. Not everyone who finds a niche this way will have a million-dollar coaching business, but it can happen.

You can start coaching without a niche.

If you just start coaching, your niche will find you. Over time, notice who your favorite clients are. Make note about what it is you like about them. In particular, notice the clients who refer more clients to you. Think about who they are, how they are, and how you communicate with them. Design a website just for them. Ask them for testimonials. Ask them to review your site and tell you what they like and don't like. Edit until they love it. That's how to market to your niche. Easy when you know how.

Our Coach 100 Business Success training program is included with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program and the Certified Neuroscience Coach Program, at no extra charge. It'll help you identify your niche, fill up your coaching practice, get referrals and testimonials, become a better coach, get ICF certification if you want it, and more.

 

Download the free eBook to learn about Coach 100:

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Topics: coaching business, Coach 100, coaching success, ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, coaching niche, certified neuroscience coach

Which Coach Certification Will Make You Successful?

Posted by Julia Stewart

coach certification stamp

Which coaches are most successful?

In a recent article, Seth Godin, the guru of marketing, pointed out that the top 5% of businesses do very well. He also mentioned that everyone would like to be number one, but mathematically, not everyone will be number one, which is okay because the top 5% is where you need to be. This applies to coaching, too.

How do you get into the top 5% of coaches?

There are many pathways to success in coaching. One is to increase the quality of you customer service. Another is to increase the quality of your coaching. Both will help you become "remarkable". In other words, your happy clients will rave about you and that brings more happy clients. Experience, training, education, and certification will also help you do well. Of these, certification tends to be most important in coaching.

Do you need to be certified to succeed as a coach?

No one certification, by itself, will be enough for you succeed to as a coach. And there are still some coaches who claim you don't need any certification, at all. This used to be true back when few working coaches were certified and it may still be true depending on who your clients are. If you coach mostly entrepreneurs, they may not care if you're certified. But if you want to qualify for lucrative coaching contracts in large organizations, you will most certainly need a recognized certification.

What certification will help you succeed as a coach?

By far, the most recognized coach certifications are those of the ICF. They have three levels and the highest, their MCC, is only held by 4% of the coaches they have credentialed. This might suggest that you need the MCC to succeed, but that's not true. Many coaches are still uncertified and we have to count them, too. Still fewer coaches are certified by the ICF, only about 25,000, as of this writing, out of the 50,000-60,000 professional coaches, worldwide. We can estimate that 2,500-3,000 coaches are in the top 5%, many more than are MCCs. So I would suggest the next level down, the ICF PCC, is the one you want to shoot for. In my experience, those are the coaches who are succeeding.

Will the ICF PCC guarantee coaching success?

No. As stated earlier, no one factor contributes to coaching success, but certifications do matter and entry-level certifications sometimes aren't enough. When you choose your coach training path, look for trainings that are accredited for at least enough hours to qualify for the PCC. You may want to shoot for the stars and get MCC-level training, as well.

Where can you find coach trainings that are accredited for PCC and MCC credentialing?

The ICF has listings for many trainings that meet the requirements for PCC certification (125 hours) and MCC certification (200 hours). The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program was the first positive psychology coach training program accredited by the ICF for 125 hours and later became the only one accredited for 200 hours. We are still the only positive psychology coach training, other than university training programs that are much longer and more expensive, that is accredited for 200 hours. If you're looking for evidence-based coach training, one of the fastest growing areas in coaching today, check out our program.

 

Get this Fact Sheet and Start ICF Coach Credential

 

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC, PCC

Positive Psychology Coaching vs. Neuroscience Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Psychology Coaching vs Neuroscience Coaching

Yesterday, a new student at School of Coaching Mastery asked me what the difference was between positive psychology coaching and neuroscience coaching.

It's a great question because on the surface you wouldn't know.

He was deciding between our Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program or our Certified Neuroscience Coach Program. These programs some modules in common and a few that are different. What they have most in common are beginner to master-level coaching skills with an evidence-based approach that also acknowledges the integrative power of various spiritual perspectives.

Here are a few differences between positive psychology coaching and neuroscience coaching:

  • The first difference is in the underlying philosophies of positive psychology and modern neuroscience, which have guided the trajectory of research and ultimately the types of interventions that are associated with each.. Early theories and research into positive psychology explored what Western philosophers, such as the early Greeks, had to say about happiness and living the good life, while many modern neuroscientists have explored Eastern contemplative philosophies, such as Buddhism.
  • Because influential neuroscience researchers, Richard Davidson for example, have explored the contemplative nature of the brain, many resulting practices developed that strengthen inner qualities such as equanimity and the ability to be fully present. A person's behavior naturally changes when they experience these qualities. Positive psychology researchers, such as Barbara Fredrickson, have explored inner qualities, positivity for instance, but have also looked at how outer behaviors, such as performing acts of kindness, impact our inner experiences. Positive psychology tends to be more action-oriented and less contemplative.
  • That said, neuroscience is often perceived as more tangible, and therefore appeals more to some clients who "don't believe" in psychology and want hard evidence, because it directly measures what's going on in the body's communication systems and perhaps also because it relies heavily on high-tech machinery, for instance, fMRI machines, to take those measurements. Positive psychology, on the other hand, frequently relies upon research subjects' self reports via surveys, etc., as well as researchers' observation of behaviors, but sometimes positive psychology researchers also take direct measurements, such as hormone levels in the blood, so there is some subjectivity involved in positive psychology research, but not always. Some clients are more attracted to positive psychology than neuroscience, because they love the emphasis on positive thoughts, feelings, behaviors and their power to enhance well-being and flourishing. In fact, both positive psychology and neuroscience tend to appeal to today's coaching clients who want services that are evidence based.
  • In short, the following describes the differences between positive psychology coaching and neuroscience coaching, so long as you understand there are exceptions and that there are many commonalities between these two styles of coaching: Positive psychology coaching is influenced by Western philosophy and employs many outside-in approaches to influence inner well-being via action-oriented practices, such as journaling, practicing gratitude and acts of kindness, and employing one's strengths to promote inner well-being, outward prosocial behaviors, and greater success; while neuroscience coaching is influenced by Eastern philosophy and employs many inside-out approaches that can physically change the brain over time, such as meditation, visualizations, and breath exercises that create measurable states of relaxation and enhanced awareness, and influence thoughts, feelings, and ultimately behaviors that promote a thriving life.

In truth, positive psychology coaching and neuroscience coaching have much in common, enhance each other, often go hand in hand, and should be included together in training programs.

That's why you learn about both in our Certified Positive Psychology Coach® and Certified Neuroscience Coach programs and our advanced program integrates these practices even more.

Oh and the student who originally asked this question? He decided to start with just one module and take a few weeks deciding which program to embark upon. He'll be able to apply the fee that he paid for his module to the program down payment, which will reduce his down payment to just $3. That's a smart way to do it!

Learn more about becoming a positive psychology coach and how neuroscience fits in by reading the free Become a Positive Psychology Coaching eBook. To download it now, click below:

 

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, positive psychology coach, wellbeing, positivity, become a positive psychology coach, certified neuroscience coach

Your Recipe for a Happy 2019

Posted by Julia Stewart

Happy 2019

Each new year invites dreams for the future, goals to achieve, and evokes our desires for happiness.

Here's a secret about all that...

There is only one goal.

Every goal you have is a stand in for the one universal goal of happiness...

As the Buddha said, 2500 years ago, all beings just want to be happy and avoid suffering.

We have dreams and goals because we believe they will help us be happy and avoid suffering. Sometimes we have dreams and goals for others because we love them and want them to be happy and avoid suffering. But if we're honest, seeing our loved ones happy makes us happy, too.

Here's the thing...

Reaching goals doesn't make us happy. Sometimes we suffer to get things that leave us feeling disappointed. Other times we're happy when we reach our dreams but only for a short while. Psychologists tell us we over-estimate how happy we'll be when we reach our goals. One researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, has even averaged out how long we're likely to feel happier upon reaching various goals. Buy a new car? You may feel happier for three months. Marry your sweetheart? Two years. Most other goals offer happiness for much shorter time periods. After that, we go back to our "happiness set point" aka "resting dissatisfaction level".

Fortunately, we now know better ways to raise happiness levels sustainably and here they are...

As a positive psychology and neuroscience coach, I help people become happier, reach goals, and flourish. The ingredients I use may surprise you. To create a personalized recipe for your own happiness in 2019, choose three of the ingredients listed below and commit to trying it out. See what happens. Keep practicing. Some ingredients are designed to be used daily, some weekly, some only occasionally. You get to customize your happiness recipe for 2019...

1. Gratitude. Are you an appreciator or a complainer? It's okay to grouse a little; it can help blow off some negative steam, but overdo it and it can pull down your happiness level and the happiness of those around you. Try appreciating more, even the stuff that's not so great. Difficulties, for instance, can be re-framed into opportunities, learning experiences, and endings that make room for new beginnings. Develop gratitude into a habit and it may become an enduring strength. I used to be a chronic complainer and I was pretty unhappy. Now gratitude is one of my greatest strengths and I'm happy most of the time. Try these...

  • Daily practice: Three Good Things. According to researcher Robert Emmons, practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools for raising happiness. At the end of each day reflect on three good things that happened. Did you help them come about? Thank yourself for that. Did someone else contribute? Thank them tomorrow. Many people find writing down three good things is especially helpful, but even just thinking about them works. I like meditating at night and I start by spending a few minutes appreciating at least three good things. If you pray, you may want to thank God for the good you've received. Why does this work? It primes your brain to notice the good. Most brains naturally notice what's wrong more than what's right, but we can train ourselves to think more positively. We seem to get more of what we notice, so this can set us up for future happiness, as well.
  • Weekly practice: Gratitude Journal. Choose one day per week when you sit down and write a paragraph about each thing you most appreciate in your life. Put your heart into it. If you treat this as just another to-do it will have little benefit, but if you take a deep dive into what really matters and how grateful you are to have it, allowing yourself to really feel it, this practice will enrich your life immensely. I recommend getting a beautiful journal and hand writing in it. Whenever you need a happiness boost, read through your journal entries and you will naturally re-experience the positive feelings you had when you wrote about them.
  • Occasional practice: Gratitude Visit. This practice, designed by the Father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, is perhaps the most profound. Think of someone who has made a real difference in your life, but whom you never fully thanked. It could be a teacher, parent, friend. They may have no idea what a difference they've made. Write a letter to them about it. Tell them in detail how they made a positive difference in your life and what the results have been. Now, if you possibly can, deliver your letter in person and read it aloud to them, making frequent eye contact. Research shows this practice boosts happiness levels even six months afterward for both the writer and the receiver.

2. Be Kind. Kindness to others also raises happiness in ourselves and others. We feel good about helping others especially if we can let go of the desire to be thanked or recognized for it. That said, learning to recognize kindness in ourselves and others and acknowledging it goes a long way toward hard-wiring this positive habit.

  • Daily Practice: Do one unexpected kindness each day and try not to get caught at it. Make it a fun game. You'll start noticing many opportunities to be more kind. Consider using your personal strengths for this. One person may be great at doing favors, another might be a wonderful listener. Still another may know when to give someone more privacy. Be careful about imposing acts of kindness on others. It's only kind if they truly benefit from it. The only aspect of kindness that's about you is the good feeling you get to have as a result. Never attain that good feeling at someone else's expense. Keep score in your gratitude journal. Note how you feel about what you did.
  • Weekly Practice: Track acts of kindness in your journal. Read your journal entries about your acts of kindness for a boost any time you're not feeling good about yourself. Also make note of acts of kindness you observe in others, whether you are the beneficiary or someone else is. When my mother had to be admitted to a nursing home, my first reaction to the place was how depressing it was. But when I began noticing the constant acts of kindness performed by the nurses and aids toward my mother, myself, and other members of my family, my experience transformed. I began to feel honored and grateful to be surrounded by so much kindness and I made a point of acknowledging the staff for it, which made their days happier, too.
  • Occasional Practice: Experience Awe. According to researcher, Dacher Keltner, when people experience awe, which can come about via witnessing natural beauty, human achievements, or spiritual wonder, people spontaneously engage in acts of kindness right afterward. I've experienced this at spiritual retreats, walks in the woods, especially when wild animals appear, going to the top of extremely tall buildings, flying over the Grand Canyon, watching a total eclipse of the sun, experiencing great art, and watching hot-air balloon races. Prime your brain for the extraordinary and let the extraordinary in you spontaneously blossom. You and those around you are likely to receive a happiness boost.

3. Practice Mindfulness. Being mindful is about learning to be present. Like gratitude and kindness, this can be strengthened into a habit and even become one of your greatest strengths. The benefits include actually experiencing your life while it's happening. The cost to not being present is you miss out on everything or feel empty even when life is good. That's a pity.

  • Daily Practice: Use mindless activities to be mind-full. Choose between one and three activities that you do daily but may not really be present for. I often use walking my dog, doing dishes by hand, or eating alone for this because none of these require difficulty or much thought. If you're accustomed to distracting yourself with your phone, tablet, computer, or TV, turn it off during these times. Keep yourself present by noticing information coming to you from all your five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Once you've done that, ask yourself what about this moment you are grateful for. Then look for the opportunity to be kind. Consider following through on that and acknowledge yourself for being present, grateful, and kind.
  • Weekly Practice: Make at least one conversation per week all about the other person. Listen without formulating a response. If the person is going through something difficult, resist the urge to fix it or give advice. Be curious instead. Ask deeper questions. Notice what feelings come up for you. Notice the other person's feelings. Acknowledge their feelings. Notice how this impacts the conversation and even your relationship with this person.
  • Occasional Practice: When difficult situations or conflicts occur, instead of reacting with your usual feelings, count ten breaths first and imagine yourself calm and centered. Let the urge to feel victimized or guilty, or to blame others and resist, fall away, if possible. Then from this relaxed and centered place, choose the best response for all. You'll likely create better outcomes and less suffering.

These are three of the most powerful ingredients for happiness, but you can design many more, yourself.

Savor good experiences for up to 30 seconds, for instance, and you're more likely to develop a happier brain over time. And what about goals and dreams? It's good to have them and to reach them, because they offer meaning and purpose, which are additional ingredients of happiness. Just put them in perspective because they often fail to increase your happiness and reduce your suffering for very long.

Put together three or more ingredients for a happy 2019, notice how they "taste" to you and adjust the mixture as needed. And practice. That's the other secret. Keep practicing and you can raise your happiness over the long term.

To boost your happiness even more, share these ingredients and your journey toward greater happiness with a friend, colleague or client because sharing happiness makes it even sweeter. Be the one who lifts spirits just by being you and have a "happy new year" every year.

Want to learn more?

Our Certified Positive Psychology Coach® and Certified Neuroscience Coach programs go far deeper into the science of happiness, success, and flourishing. Use the tools in your own life and help others have greater lives. It's fun and well-paid. Or just add an important new skill set to your resume.

Learn more, download a free eBook, take just one module, or jump into a fabulous new career.

Click below to get started:

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Topics: gratitude, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, mindfulness, happiness,, certified neuroscience coach

Why the New ICF Requirements for the MCC Credential Matter

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach Certification

An important deadline looms for any coach who wants to achieve the coveted ICF MCC credential.

As the owner of a coach training program that meets the requirements for Master Certified Coach (MCC) level training (namely, the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program), I received an email today from the ICF, the world's best-known certifier of coaches, about an upcoming deadline for MCC applicants.

This is one of several changes in certification requirements that the ICF has made based on data collected from past applications, such as the requirement that all applicants complete comprehensive coach training that progresses from beginner to advanced skills, rather than piecing together a course here and a course there, because graduates of progressive training programs are more likely to succeed in achieving their ICF certifications.

The next deadline is for coaches who want to apply for the MCC without first achieving the mid-level PCC credential.

After February 28, 2019, Noon Eastern/New York Time, you must already have the ICF's Professional Certified Coach (PCC) before you can submit your application for the MCC. Again, this is based on the ICF's own data, which found that PCCs were much more likely to succeed at passing the MCC requirements than non-ICF certified coaches. I have been told by an ICF Mentor Coach (but have not personally verified) that up until now, only 7% of applicants for the MCC have passed. Evidently most of those who did not pass did not yet have the PCC.

Here's a story that illustrates why these changes matter so much:

The following is true, but I've obscured some details to hide the identity of the individual... I received a phone call recently from someone who had been employed for three decades as a coach at the headquarters of a large financial corporation when the building they worked in was destroyed in a major disaster. Rather than relocating all the employees whose offices no longer existed, the corporation chose to lay off all of them. Despite thirty years of experience and an advanced degree in psychology from an ivy league school, this individual found they were unemployable as a coach, because in thirty years, the landscape of professional coaching had changed and virtually all large organizations now require recognized certifications for their coaching hires.

This person was interested in taking the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program and qualifying for the MCC as quickly as possible and they were hoping to avoid beginner-level courses. I had to tell them they probably wouldn't have time to get the MCC without applying for their PCC, first, because they would also need to clock 2,500 hours of coaching AFTER they commenced training to qualify for the MCC. The ICF requires this because many people who coach without adequate training aren't really coaching. The individual said something telling at the end of our phone call: "Thanks for the great coaching."

I didn't coach them; I gave them advice.

Their confusion over the nature of our conversation helped confirm for me the wisdom of the ICF's requirements even though they might seem overly restrictive. Sometimes what people call coaching isn't really coaching and that's why the ICF won't certify them based on degrees and experience, alone. They also need coach-specific training.

In short, certification is more important in coaching than a degree and comprehensive coach training is a must for the best-known certifications.

The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program was the first comprehensive positive psychology coach training program to meet the training requirements for MCC-level credentialing. It also meets requirements of the entry-level ACC and mid-level PCC. Currently, the only other positive psychology coach trainings approved at the MCC-level are graduate-level university degrees, which take longer to pass and cost quite a bit more. Coaches who want advanced skills and successful careers choose our program because they're uninterested in graduate degrees, either because they already have them, or because they know their clients are uninterested in them.

Another trend in coaching is the turn toward evidence-based coaching, such as positive psychology coaching.

There are many other shorter positive psychology coach training programs, but based on our data, coaches who coach at least at the PCC level tend to be more successful, professionally. We also assist our students in building their careers.

Get training that prepares you for today's coaching market.

If you'd like to learn more about positive psychology coaching, certification, and training, click below and download a free ebook, fact sheet, or list of graduation requirements. We're here to help you succeed!

 

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Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coach training

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