Coach Approach

This fall, I took the introductory course in the Coach Approach for Organizers, by Denslow Brown. I met Denslow and Andrea, one of the trainers, at the ICD conference in Chicago in 2012. We had a great conversation about organizing, coaching, organizing and coaching, personal growth, coaching and personal growth, and cookies. Or was it cake? Either way, the seed was planted. I came back to San Francisco, not really planning anything, but definitely curious. I mean, I like working alongside clients as opposed to serving them like staff or dictating to them from on high. But I wondered what was coaching, really? And would learning about it make that much of a difference for me and my organizing practice?

The classes are offered on a rotating schedule through the year, and I agonized for a while over whether or not I had the time to dedicate to it. Yes Virginia, it is a commitment, and takes a decent amount of time and focus. After talking a bit more with friends and colleagues, I decided to take the plunge and signed up for the fall 2013 session of Coaching Essentials.

Coaching Essentials is a teleclass, with heavy online interaction, and two trainers. We met twice weekly: once as a class, and again in pods of 3 students each to practice what we got in class. What stood out for me right away was that this wasn’t a lecture. You weren’t expected to passively soak in the information that comes at you. You need to interact. You need to participate. You need to experiment with what feels right. This also means lots of false starts, screwups, taking off down the wrong path, and falling flat on your face. You had to get comfortable with being “wrong”. It was a serious journey. When we worked in those pods of 3, we wound up not only coaching, but being coached. What this means is that over the course of the course, you come nose to nose with your issues, whatever they are. The coaching gets right at the heart of those issues, makes you sit down and have a cup of tea with those issues.  And while learning about, appreciating, and discovering how to work with your issues is very educational, it is also extraordinarily unnerving. Then again, that’s also part of the payoff.

When the course was winding down, there was a question as to how we would celebrate completing it. I had never been asked anything like that before; it caught me off guard. My initial thought was “Oh, I’ll treat myself to a nice dinner, maybe a new pair of boots.” Turns out, my partner got us tickets to Europe to celebrate several different things, one of which was me completing the course, hence, the radio silence over the past few weeks!

Would I recommend taking the course? Yes. Yes, I would. Is it a piece of cake? (mmm, cake…) No. No, it is not. All in all, a positive experience, and I fully intend to take the next class in the cycle. I’ll be talking more about it in the future, but for now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s some cake that needs eating.