Two weekends past, I finished up a year of training coaches in San Diego. Our training programs are, by design, intensive, confronting, at times excruciating, always in service of what is best for the participant’s growth, and generate the world’s finest coaches.
Today I want to write a little bit about that experience and thank those involved.
If you’ve ever come across someone calling themselves a coach, without having had any training themselves, or that doesn’t work with their own coach, you may have some pre-conceived notions about what it means to be a coach.
I want to speak to that first.
People often ask me if law school was hard (and even if they don't, I tell them anyhow). I tell them that it was hard in the same way that having to paint our condo when we first moved in was hard. It was a lot of work. I needed to do a ton of reading, stay up late, worry about whether or not I was actually learning anything, and all of that stuff. In this sense, it was hard.
But in another way, it was supremely easy. I didn’t have to change anything about who I was to go through law school. In fact, it aligned perfectly with what I already believed about the world, and fit squarely into my comfort zone. I’ve been raised with an impeccable work ethic, and I’m already great at figuring out how I’m right, you’re wrong, and what the most effective argument to prove my point is (for a while I fooled myself into believing I had opened up and was interested in other people’s points of view, but what I can see now is that I was really just listening and figuring out what erroneous piece of thinking had lead them to the incorrect conclusion they now held).
Training to become a coach, on the other hand, was supremely challenging. It was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My dad sometimes says “I don’t get why anybody would pay you for what you do — they just need a swift kick up their ass”. (and these days, I’ve gotten better at not taking that personally). Training to become a coach was challenging because I had to let go of that very same opinion myself. How do I know that people need a swift kick up the ass? Who am I to decide that for them?
Every opinion that I held and had built my identity around was (and remains) up for grabs while training myself to be an effective coach. I cherish my sense of humour — but at times, it was the thing that I put in the way of truly connecting intimately with someone. Being told that it was time to cut that out was frustrating — at times devastating.
“Fuck you, don’t tell me not to be hilarious, everyone clearly loves me making them laugh”.
That righteous umbrage was what stopped me from taking the next step in my own growth, and being able to connect with my clients in such a way that would allow them to do the same.
The training that we run is gruelling for the participants. It’s also gruelling for us. Soak in that sentence that I started with the word “Fuck”, and then imagine that it’s not actually something that stays in my head, but that I actually spoke to you. That’s what we, as people training the world’s leaders, are consistently and intentionally bringing out of people each and every day that we’re in training.
We don’t do it because we dislike them — we do it because we love them too much to let them continue running their self-sabotaging patterns.
I shared what I was doing with a friend once, and he told me “Yah, people like you and me, we’ve got that stuff pretty figured out, but I see how much value you could provide to other people”. He doesn’t realize that this sentence actually reveals his own blindspots — his own areas for growth.
So our job is to actually reflect to these participants what they do to keep things exactly as they are, and then actually love the when they swear at us, call us names, express their frustration, insist that we’re doing this for our own selfish reasons, and anything (and everything) else that shows up.
We do this every day.
Every month I’ve travelled down to San Diego to be with these people and hold them as they show up, not as self-entitled jerks, but simply as humans struggling with their own growth.
There are a lot of coach training programs out there, many of which will give people a tremendous amount of tools and don’t require amuch from them in the way of commitment. Those programs frequently have high enrolment numbers, do not cost too much, and are fairly convenient to attend (you can often attend them virtually).
We start with small numbers. The maximum size of a class is 24 people.
If we’re doing our job well, people frequently want to leave our training.
We started this particularly journey with 15 participants. We ended it with 11.
That’s roughly a 66% completion rate. People often worry about passing our final exams and doing everything necessary to graduate. What they can’t see is that it’s that very worrying that is in the way of them graduating. People don’t fail to graduate because they weren’t able to pass the final exams. They fail to graduate because they simply were unable to let go of their limiting beliefs and step into their next stage of development.
If you want to train a warrior, you beat her up. You throw her in the ring and say “fight”. You give her some skills, heal her wounds, ask her what she learned, and then tell her to go back out there. She learns from every cut and bruise that she sustains along the way. She doesn’t learn from the victories. She learns from the hardships. The victories come as a result of the hardship. There is no other way.
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Coaches are warriors of consciousness and awakening, and their training is no different. The only way for them to become great is to develop their own cuts and bruises — that is what allows them to become great warriors for higher consciousness, development and learning.
So look, the point here is that our training is hard. It’s hard on everyone involved. Generating love for someone when they’re throwing everything they’ve got at you is no small feat.
I went down to San Diego a year ago, freshly out of a job, paying my own way, not yet qualified for the position I was stepping in to. I showed up late for our first morning, stumbling into a room full of strangers, all looking at me, and, I imagined, wondering how this loser who couldn’t even show up on time was going to lead them.
But instead of that, they loved me, because they saw my greatness, just like I see it in the people I work with. They graciously created space for me to call them forward, and stayed open and willing to the reflection that I provided. They held me when I stumbled, and let me hold them when they did the same.
This has been a tremendous year. Replete with camaraderie, leadership love, and many of those “Fuck you” moments (mine — let me break the suspense for you; you never out grow your edge, just move its location further out as you develop yourself),
So, to everyone that has taken part in this year — our courageous participants, my unbelievable mentor coach team, Amber, Brian, Erin, Nicki and Shellie, my own coach and mentor, Jolynne, and our fearless leaders, Christopher and Denise — thank you.
Thank you, not for what you have done, but who you’ve been.
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