So you’re a little behind with the musings. I actually started my journey to be a 'real coach' way back in December 2020, but as with everything in this odd post-covid time, the months have flown by and before I knew it we were in summer. So, I’ll catch you up over the next few entries.
At the back end of 2020, my new vision for learning & development for 2021 was creating a buzz of excitement. The coaching team had a goal to bring coaching to the masses, everyone in the bank was going to have access to a coach; from our most junior new starters to our most senior executives. The end goal; to create a coaching culture in the business....in 12 months....easy!
Having looked into possible training for the coaches to ensure what we offered was equally excellent and consistent, it was agreed we would enrol the coaching team on a Post Grad Certificate in Personal and Business Coaching with Barefoot Coaching. https://www.barefootcoaching.co.uk.
I’d heard great... no, superb things from people who had attended this course in the past. In fact one of our coaches had attained the qualification before joining us, and she is awesome. All these people proudly called themselves ‘Barefooters’, gushing about it as if they were part of an elite members club, but wouldn’t/couldn't say more…..and the club wasn’t open to mere mortals, you had to go on a journey. A bit like becoming a parent I suppose - no amount of telling you before you have a child even comes close to the reality, so people just give up trying to explain.
I was certainly intrigued, excited yes, but I really had no idea what to expect.....I was already a coach wasn't I? Surely this would just serve to reinforce that? Or would it highlight in bright yellow bands of thick diagonal ink just how far away from being a 'real coach' I was and how unconsciously incompetent I had been throughout my career to date....oh there they were again...hello voices ;-)
So we enrolled and then rapidly, mentally parked it for the months before the course started in April 2021. We/I had plenty of time. Ha ha ha fool I was! Blink once, yep just once and fast forward to March 2021.
We were told that before the course we would be sent our ‘Barefoot Coaching pack’. We were, and it was mighty meaty, but exciting - who doesn't love a bit of stationery ? The pack however, included a ten-page suggested reading list. Yes TEN A4 pages, and whilst it was a "suggested" list, a good half a page was ‘core’ reading (yikes!!). Without thinking, and running on blind panic adrenaline, I blitzed Amazon and ordered all the core books I could find (in for a penny and all that). I sat back and awaited their arrival....one by one they flew through the door (some same day delivery!), and as they piled up, just the sight of them evoked a mini melt down in me.
Seeing the mammoth reading list, ordering on speed dial, and then even paying for this mound of books seemed all totally fine, but suddenly they were in my hand (or on my shelf) and I needed to tackle the reading. I had 4 weeks before the course started....
I'll remind you (for fun); I'm a mum of two crazy energetic (sofa backflipping standard), constantly hungry and always noisy boys. I work full time from our back bedroom and so void of any 'my space' commuting time. I mentor lots of people, am on a couple of boards, and can barely find time to go to the loo. So how the hell I thought I could read all these books and study for a post grad I'll never know. It takes me a whole summer holiday to read a novel. Shit! 4 weeks!
Flashing back to 1996 (yes I'm that old - actually just realised I’m older, we’re back in 1993!) A-level panic setting in.....the divide and conquer method came to mind. This compromised of sharing out the books/study material into the weeks/days I had left. In this case 12 books, 4 weeks (I did maths a-level I knew this wasn't good). But, if I could get through one book per week before the start I could try to maintain that pace and I may not fall at the first hurdle. Lets face it everyone else on the course will have read every book on the list by now.....and I would be completely behind before I'd even started.....!!!
I then went full into formulaic mode (which I do apparently under immense pressure) - What size is the font? How many pages are there? Are they short or long chapters? Are there many pictures or models? I needed to start with the most visually enticing and 'mum-capable' book first. I could do two hours every night after work instead of er.....sleeping, this can be done, I just needed to start.
And so that is what I did. I chose Nancy Kline's Time to Think, it looked manageable and her sentences understandable to a mere mortal.
I settled in there and then, and to my surprise after 10 minutes I was totally hooked. I couldn't put the book down, page after page, turning and flipping through it eager to learn more. Nancy was my kind of person. I read for over three hours that night and then was up again at the crack of dawn reading more. I finally knew how it felt to read about something you cared about, by someone you connected to and therefore were totally interested in. This was not study, no! This was coming home... like a hammock on a sandy beach with the sun shining through the palm leaves. That right then, was when I knew this was exactly where I was supposed to be. The voices were right to push me, the Barefooters were right to entice me, and the reading list was right to scare the shit out of me and get me started.
And so the journey began...