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People Are Terrible at Assessing Their Own Weaknesses. Here's What Works

Posted by Julia Stewart

Strengths vs weaknesses - photo by ashley nicastro

According to scientists, people, including coaches, are generally terrible at assessing their own skills for two reasons.

1. We don't know what we don't know. This is also known as Unconscious Incompetence, a.k.a. the Dunning-Kruger Effect. A recent article in Smarter Living in the New York Times says about it:

"The effect creates a vicious loop that boils down to this: The less skilled you are at something, the less likely you are to recognize how unskilled you truly are, and thus you overestimate how your abilities. Worse still, because you can't see your errors, you'll never know what you need to correct."

2. We don't know what we do know. This is sometimes known as Unconscious Competence, a.k.a. Imposter Syndrome or the Fraud Factor. Sometimes we have an abundance of strengths, but don't know it.

Both these issues are common among newer coaches and sometimes even veteran coaches.

Sometimes coaches who have little or no training aren't as skilled as they think, or may be skilled in only a few tools that a coach would use, or may be advising or consulting instead of coaching. For example, I recently had a conversation with a coach who's been an "internal coach" for major corporations for decades. She has a masters degree in counseling, and even an ivy-league background, but recently discovered that she can no longer get hired without coach certification. She called me for advice and I gave her some. But at the end of the conversation, she said something telling. She said, "Thanks for the coaching." I didn't coach her. Advising isn't considered coaching in today's world. Coaches have more powerful tools. That's one of the reasons organizations require proof of certification, now.

On the flip side, some highly skilled coaches don't realize how extraordinary they really are. They generally assume others can coach as well or better than they can. They literally need someone to tell them what they are doing well in order to own their mastery. Owning it can help strengthen it.

Mastery happens when you've practiced your skills to the point they are second nature to you. You can call on them without thinking about it. They have become implicit, rather then explicit, or "Unconscious Competence."

Here's the Mastery Matrix:

Matrix of Mastery

What are the solutions to reaching competence and even mastery?

There are three. One is learning. Work with people who are ahead of you on the path. In coaching, that would be qualified coach trainers and mentor coaches. The second is a tool used by all effective trainers and mentors to help their coaches strengthen both their strengths and their weaknesses: Feedback. The third is time. If you're getting effective training and feedback, all you need is time spent practicing what you've learned and applying your feedback and you will progress.

Getting feedback from clients is helpful, but usually incomplete. Getting feedback from fellow students may fill in some of the gaps left by clients, but may not cover everything. Getting feedback from experts helps fill in all the gaps. Best of all, get all three types of feedback, if you can.

Without any training or feedback, even people who've been calling themselves coaches for decades may not realize they haven't developed all the skills of coaching, or perhaps they are truly masterful, but don't know it, and neither do those who would otherwise hire them.

Don't lose even one client because you aren't a certified coach.

Get on the path to mastery with evidence-based coaching skills and get certified:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

     
     

Topics: Strengths, masterful coaches, certified coach, Coach Certification

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

Posted by Julia Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro_coach_vs_entre_coach_table.jpg

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

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

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

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

Get Coach Training and Certification

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

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

Coaching Trends & the Future of Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Future of Coaching

 

What’s on the horizon for the profession of coaching?

 

 Let’s look at today’s trends and then imagine the implications…

TREND: With artificial intelligence expected to replace many humans in professions that rely on knowledge and linear thought, such as medicine and law, thousands are training for fields, such as coaching, where intuition, creativity, people skills, and communication tools are more difficult to replicate in machines.

TREND: Coaching skills have become wide-spread among workers who manage others.

TREND: Coaching horror stories are on the rise.

TREND: Hundreds, if not thousands, of privately-own coach training schools have formed.

TREND: However, coach training is increasingly found in universities with sky-high tuition.

TREND: As the climate crisis continues to grow, distance communication, working from home, virtual meetings, and other forms of distance work will rise.

TREND: Webinar training tools, video chat, and other distance-learning and communications systems are evolving and improving.

TREND: Scientific Research on coaching is on the rise, proving a scientific basis for coaching results.

TREND: Positive psychology has become a source of powerful coaching tools.

TREND: It is too late to prevent climate change, climate resilience for seven billion people, is a worldwide goal, and resilience is a top deliverable of positive psychology coaching.

TREND: Neuroscience and neuroplasticity powerfully inform effective coaching interventions.

TREND: Technology will continue to disrupt modern life at an ever-faster pace, with most people experiencing several major transitions in their lifetimes.

TREND: The number of coaching professional organizations and certifications that claim to be the ‘best’ continues to increase.

TREND: Professional coaching can now be found in virtually every part of the world.

TREND: Movements have been afoot, around the world, to regulate life coaching and other forms of professional coaching for decades, but so far, coaching remains unregulated.

TREND: Most coaching clients say they prefer to work with certified coaches.

 

If current trends in coaching continue, what is likely to happen in…

 

10 years:

Coaching Growth: The number of new professional coaches swelling the ranks will continue to grow. The number of professional coaches will level off over time, with a less-prepared, less-motivated coaches dropping out, due to increased competition.

Coaching reach: Coaching will no longer be considered exotic or only for the rich and famous. It is almost as common as personal training, today. In addition, non-professional coaches will exist throughout society and many people will experience the benefits of coaching from childhood onward.

Coaching delivery: Technology will provide coaches with excellent options for coaching their clients internationally, but local in-person connections will continue to be important, as technology continues to integrate online with offline. Coaching in corporate settings may continue to be delivered person-to-person, but most coaching will be likely to be delivered via computers, smart phones, and other mobile devices.

Coaching fees: Coaching fees have traditionally been sky-high since coaching’s inception. Fees will level off, with a furthering split between a relatively small group of elite certified coaches, who deliver high-end, high-paid coaching, and a much larger group of coaches who offer lower-paid services.

Coaching regulation: Professional coaching may be regulated in some countries, with many more in the process of developing regulations. These regulations will require coach-specific training, certification and/or college degrees, as well as adherence to standardized codes of ethics as requirements for coaches who coach for pay.

Coach training: Coach training via teleseminar or teleclass will go the way of the buggy whip. Many privately owned coaching schools will go out of business, leaving mostly coach training schools that are either approved by the ICF or are aligned with universities. Coach training will be delivered via multi-media distance learning and less via live training in universities and hotel conference rooms. As universities attempt to take over the job of educating coaches, the cost of coach training will skyrocket (Ex: Currently Penn State University offers the Master of Applied Positive Psychology for Life Coaches, at a cost of $50,000 for one year of training.)

Certifications and degrees: Consumers will commonly be aware of coaching horror stories and will know not to work with uncertified coaches. There will be no one certification, whether from a not-for-profit organization, or from a school, that dominates or is preferred – this will lead to further confusion amongst those who hire coaches, as well as those who want to become coaches. Newer coaches will have coaching-related degrees, certifications and/or certificates from ICF-approved schools and universities. Older coaches, those with years of coaching experience, but not the newer certifications and degrees, will survive only if they have excellent reputations as effective coaches.

 

20 years:

Coaching will be a mature profession that continues to evolve. Virtually all professional coaches will be trained and certified, and coaching regulation will be the norm. People will expect much more from professional coaches, partly because amateur coaches will be everywhere and partly because the dramatic transformations that occur with high-quality coaching will be expected, not just hoped for. Hypercomplexity, via technology and climate change, will be challenges that prompt people to hire coaches more often.

More dramatically, as a result of coaching's growth, society will evolve, with more people living values-driven lives. People will upgrade their expectations of life and will find creative ways to satisfy their new standards. Non-professional coaches will exist everywhere in society and many people will relate to one another with a ‘coach approach’. It will become common for people to be coached at every stage of life. What is considered masterful coaching today will be considered average professional coaching.

 

30 years:

Society will continue to transform due to the effects of climate change, artificial intelligence, and professional coaching, and coaching will be a highly respected profession. Excellent professional coaches will continue to earn high fees, but professional coaching will be regulated virtually everywhere. In addition, people throughout society will be coaching others for free. Since coaching can be used for ‘evil’, there will be both positive and negative effects, but the awareness that comes from coaching and being coached will make it harder to manipulate groups of people. Far more will be expected and required from politicians, business leaders, teachers, coaches, and other leaders. Individuals will live their lives more courageously and having a coach to partner through important transitions, will be considered an absolute necessity, which means virtually everyone will have a coach.

 

What do these coaching trends mean to you, the new coach?

 

  1. The future looks extremely bright for the cream of the crop. If you plan to be a professional coach and you want to be well paid, do whatever it takes to distinguish yourself as one of the best. That includes training, certifications, and evidence-based coaching skills.
  2. If you want to stand out quickly, take advantage of this small window of time to study with a privately-held school that will help put you head and shoulders above this increasingly crowded field. If you can afford to spend $50,000 on your training and there is a good-quality university coach training program that will actually teach you to coach, consider it. Because currently most universities only teach about positive psychology, leadership, and other related fields, but neglect in-depth skills and philosophies that make for great coaching and for coaching success.
  3. Get at least one coach certification from a not-for-profit organization, such as the ICF. Consider getting more than one such certification, since that may soon be a requirement for practicing coaching where you live and it’s impossible to predict which current organization, if any, will prevail.
  4. Continue to upgrade your knowledge and skills throughout your career. It will help you stay up-to-date on important trends, earn higher fees, and it’ll help you stay in business if/when regulations occurs.
 

The School of Coaching Mastery Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program provides coaches with the skills and certifications they need to prevail now and well into the future. Get the facts about this innovative program...

 

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

 

Topics: coach training, coaching success, ICF, Coach Certification, coaching schools, get certified, coach training program, coaching career, coach training school, experienced coaches, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coach, Neuroplasticity

Why Tony Robbins Can't Pass ICF Coaching Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REASON #1: Robbins often coaches people who are suicidal. One of the biggest no-no's in coaching is that coaches don't coach people who are mentally ill. And suicidal thoughts are a symptom of some mental illnesses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'd certify Anthony Robbins.

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

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

Want to learn more about becoming a coach?

Get a free Become a Coach eBook here.

 

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

ICF Credential vs. IAC Life Coach Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check Out Coach Training Programs Here.

 

 

 

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

The Future of Coaching: New 2016 ICF Global Coaching Survey Results

Posted by Julia Stewart

ICF_Logo.jpgThe International Coach Federation (ICF) is the oldest (est. 1995) and largest (23,790 members, as of June 2016) not-for-profit professional coach association and certifier of life, business, and executive coaches (18,710 current ICF certified credential holders).

Periodically, the ICF, via PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, administers a global study of coaches worldwide (including non-ICF members), the results of which, comprise a snapshot of where the profession of coaching is, right now, and where it seems to be headed. These coaching results may be the most accurate available.

Here are some fascinating highlights...

  • Over 15,000 respondents, from 137 countries, took the survey.
  • The ICF estimates there are over 50,000 professional coaches, worldwide.
  • Coaching earns over $2 Billion per year in US Dollars.

How much do coaches earn, yearly?

  • Income varies widely, but then, so does purchasing power.
  • Other factors include number of years practicing and type of coaching practiced.
  • Globally, coaches average $51,000 per year USD.
  • The highest earners are in Oceania ($73,000+), followed by N. America (almost $62,000), and W. Europe ($55,000+).
  • Lowest earnings are in E. Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean ($18,000+ - $27,000+).
  • Most coaches (75%) expect their annual income to increase in the near future.
  • Some coaches (45%) expect their fees to increase in the near future.

Do coaches need coach training and certification?

The future of coaching:

  • The largest numbers of coaches see the greatest opportunities in Increasing awareness of the benefits of coaching (38%) and credible data on the ROI/ROE of coaching (26%).
  • An amazing 84% of coaches believe coaching can influence social change (that's one of the reasons I started this school).
  • 54% believe coaching should be regulated.
  • 85% of those believe professional coaching associations should be the regulators.

Get 125 ICF Approved Hours of Coach-Specific Training Here:

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

Topics: ICF, life coach salary, future of coaching, Coach Certification, Coaching, coach training

ICF Master Certified Coach: Join Me on the Journey

Posted by Julia Stewart

Master Certified Coach

The ICF's Master Certified Coach (MCC) is generally considered the ultimate in coach certifications. And since I run School of Coaching Mastery, it seems fitting that I have that credential. For the nearly fifteen years that I've been coaching, though, I really didn't need it. Here's a short history of coach certifications and why the ICF's is more important than ever.

Way back in the beginning, when Thomas Leonard started the IAC (called the International Association of Certified Coaches, or IACC, back then), I was only interested in getting that credential. Despite Thomas' passing in 2003, the IAC did certify coaches and I got to be among the first certifiers (via CoachVille) and was eventually given the title of Lead Certifier for the Thomas Leonard Coaching School, where we certified most IAC-CCs from 2003 through 2005, until the IAC split from CoachVille. But after that split, IAC certification gradually slowed to a trickle. Without Thomas in the lead, the IAC just didn't have the visibility it needed to fulfill its promise.

Of course, the ICF was founded by the same Thomas Leonard years earlier (1995, making it a ripe old 20 years, now). Its certifications (ACC, PCC, and MCC) required way more hoops to jump through, including training hours, mentor coaching, coaching hours, etc., but it already had a powerful toe-hold by the time the upstart IAC came around and the IAC never slowed it down.

I think the competition actually has been good for everyone; the ICF has now made some important improvements to their certification process, so it's more respectable than ever. And although other not-for-profit coach certifiers have come around, such as the Center for Credentialing and Education, with its Board Certified Coach credential, the ICF is still the leader in coaching certifications.

In the meantime, the IAC seems to be licensing schools more than it's certifying coaches. Just today, their newsletter, the IAC Voice, mentioned three new school applications and one new certified coach. That's been par for the course for several years now and it's an unworkable business model. If the IAC licenses more schools to teach its Masteries each year than it certifies coaches, that means, on average, each of those schools has a chance to graduate one fraction of a certified coach per year. See what I mean? Why bother?

School of Coaching Mastery was the first school to be licensed by the IAC worldwide, but with so few coaches interested in IAC certification and even fewer succeeding at getting certified by the IAC, it has started to feel a little like false advertising to call ourselves IAC Licensees, because our students just aren't getting certified by the IAC, anymore (so I'm thinking about dropping our IAC license next year).

Our students are getting certified by the ICF, however.

That brings me back to my MCC journey. Although I've had the IAC's master-level certification for years, now that I have an ICF-approved coach training program, the ICF wants me to get certified by them.

More importantly, after all these years, I feel like I really want this credential. So I'm on my way and using my love of learning to dive deep into the ICF approach to masterful coaching.

Curious what it takes to get the MCC? I have on good authority that they only pass 7% of coaches who apply for the MCC, so statistically, I have a 93% chance of failing the first time. That's okay, because there's a 100% chance I'll keep sending them coaching sessions until they pass me, so that MCC pin is nearly mine (at least in my head).

To keep myself honest and on track (accountability, anyone?), I'm writing about my experiences and discoveries in this blog. I'll keep you posted.

Want to learn more about becoming a coach and getting certified? Get the "Become a Coach!" eBook, below.

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Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, master coach, BCC, MCC, IAC, certified coach

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