FAILING MY MCC #6: The First Time

This has been so far quite an exciting journey in the pursuit of getting my MCC.

To recap:

I set myself on a focus to accomplish this level of my coaching certification, and I had a strong, compelling and personal purpose driving me.

I created a structure that would help me keep my focus, raising the bar and reminding me of how I want to show up in my coaching.

And because I’ve spent years digging into my coaching skills, I explored and broke down clearly what was required, not just by ICF standards, but beyond that.

All the while I was growing my coaching, challenging myself and setting higher standards.

I reached out to my community and found many opportunities to coach different people, stretching different muscles, trying new things, all the while accumulating a large pool of recordings that I could sift through to find the two calls that best represented my coaching.  (All of these appear in more detail in past BITS, but if you missed them, just toss me an email and I’ll be happy to send them to you.)


I knew this stuff, and I knew it well.  After all, I am a trainer of coaches—advanced and MasterFull coaching, no less—so this should be a slam-dunk.  A lock in.  A guarantee.  It was clear that really all I had to do was just go through the motions.

I gathered all my materials together.  Added up all my hours.  Accumulated all my credits.  Identified the perfect recordings.  And sent it all off to ICF.  Now came the wonderful task of… waiting.


And I waited.


And I waited.


And after a couple months went by, that long awaited reply came from ICF.


I had failed.


I’d like to say that I would be the first to admit that my ego got in the way.  But at the time, my ego was still in the way, which prevented me from noticing its impact, let alone admit it.

You see, I had spent all these years focusing on “What is MasterFull Coaching–in fact, was teaching it to other coaches—and there began to grow a strong undercurrent internal conversation that was along the lines of, “If you achieve your MCC by coaching the way that you teach, then you will not only achieve that status and recognition, but you will also confirm that your way of coaching is what works.”  (Now, if you have been following this storyline you’ll probably recall that I had basically slighted those coaches who teach “their” method of coaching or evaluate and give feedback based on “their” process, as though that’s the only one.

So to those coaches, I apologize.  As I’ll now admit, it’s an easy trap to fall into.)

[LESSON: It’s important to remember that your way is not the way.  Nor is it the only way.  There are multiple ways, and we are more empowered the more we open ourselves to those other ways.]


So here I was, receiving the dreaded email that informed me I had failed my MCC exam.  The thing that I had been working so hard for fell through.  The thing that was a slam-dunk, easy-peasy-lemon-squeazy, walk-in-the-park, just show up and it’s yours… I didn’t get it.

I went through all the wonderful “self-coaching conversations” and told myself that “failure was part of the journey” (which is true) and reminded myself of my prior EXAM FAILURE story where I wrote at the end I believed that because I had failed, certain things weak spots, old habits and blind spots were revealed and discovered that needed to be attended to.  Habits that perhaps hadn’t been caught by my supervisors and mentors, but revealed themselves when placed under the stress of “exam performance” (which is also true), but the truth of the matter was, I was pissed, hurt, frustrated, embarrassed and very disappointed.


So after the initial frustration, embarrassment and disappointment wore off, I recovered myself and got back on the track of learning from this failure.  After all, I had heard the same report from ICF that everyone else did, “there is a 90% failure rate the first time for MCC.”  Sure, I told myself, it would have been great if it turned out I was one of those exceptional ones that got it the first time (what a credit to my awesomeness that would have been) but I knew I could handle this.

[LESSON: Everyone falls, fails, makes mistakes, gets stopped and overall doesn’t always get what they want.  It happens.  What’s important is the recovery.  Getting back up.   Learning from your mistakes, being more aware of what obstacles are present, getting stronger and smarter, make whatever adjustments that are necessary and continue to move forward.

SUB-LESSON: It’s easy to say, and it’s easy to take that stand for your clients, but it’s a much different experience when you’re in the middle of your own failure.  So coaches reading this.  Remember what it feels like.  Be compassionate and understanding to your client and their feelings.  That doesn’t mean ‘buy into’ them, You can still challenge them to shift out of it, recover, learn and all that great coaching stuff.  Just don’t forget that they’re likely unable to do much depending on where they are in the process.

FOLLOW UP NEW LESSON: There is a wonderful “coachy” awareness that learning comes from failure.  In fact, it’s likely even more true that you may realize.  In many ways, learning—deep learning—ONLY comes from failure.  The brain, when it gets something wrong, is kind of jarred from the anatomy, and then there’s a space to open up and replace that information with new data.  And this isn’t just when we fail from the big text or exam, or when we fail from the big game, or whatever, but all the little “failures” along the way.  In this case, all the coaching sessions that didn’t work powerfully—what happened?  All those calls that didn’t seem to work—why not?  All those clients that were challenges, those moments when I wasn’t showing up fully, those times when the coaching didn’t click—for whatever reason—those are all little mini-failures along the way.  But they aren’t devastating because we are still setting our sights on the bigger goal.  We have accepted those little failures are part of our learning and growing.  Much like the baseball player who continues to strike out during practice.  It’s practice.  So those failures are ok.  There are no (or drastically minor) consequences involved. 

However, remember coach, that “learning from failure”, while true, is what happens AFTER the shock, pain, anger, disappointment and other impact of the event wears off, we must also respect the moments in and after the event.  That anger, pain, resentment, frustration, fear, and whatever is a very human, and actually important, experience.  So we as coaches need to honor that.  I tell you this, because the last thing anyone who in in the pain of failure wants to hear is “all the learning” crap.]


I was feeling a bit burned, frustrated, embarrassed and angry.  So it took me a little time to let that subside.  And after a bit of recovery time, I was again ready to learn, grow, adjust, improve and all that wonderful stuff… just in time to have the feedback/evaluation form from ICF pop in my mailbox.

Great (I smiled that sarcastic, “this is bs” smile).  Perfect timing.


Although I had come to terms with my failure, I still really wasn’t sure why it had happened in the first place.  And part of the recovery process—a critical part, if we’re going to step into that “learning from failure” stage, is when we are able to actually identify where the errors were, where the cracks and problems were.  That’s really the only way we are going to be able to learn and grow from them.   (Cause, like, if you don’t have that awareness, you’ll keep doing the same mistakes, right?)

However, as I’m reading through the “feedback”, I’m becoming even more confused than I was before.  I’m seeing things like “good job… excellent… wonderful…” only to see at the bottom some sort of comment like “Would like to have taken the client deeper.”  What the heck does that mean?

I mean, I know what it means.  But it can mean many things.  “Going deeper” can take so many different forms.  And so, I have absolutely no idea what “going deeper” the evaluator in this evaluation is referring to.   Not only that, but let’s say I “go deeper” in that particular way that evaluator is expecting, or would “go deeper” in their own coaching (in other words, their way) there’s no guarantee that it would be recognized and graded favorably by any other coach.  So I’m left back at, “What the heck does that mean?”

(I hate it when I get empty comments like that, or when I work with coaches who have received those comments from other mentor coaches or supervisors.

NOTE TO SUPERVISORS: Nebulous comments like that aren’t really helpful.  Which is why I always offer more supportive insight, suggestions, and specific comments that the coaches can actually learn from.  BS magic “fixit” answers like, “just get curious” doesn’t really help.  “Be with your client” doesn’t help.  And “Go deeper” is bland, unclear and unhelpful.  Look, we don’t do this with our client’s right?  That’s not coaching.  And it’s not teaching, training, learning or growing.

Consider this.  You’re taking a math quiz, and you get it back from your teacher only to get a bunch of red marks all over it and a big “F” on the page.  And then at the bottom the teacher says, “Add better”.  Now, is that helpful?  Can you learn from that?  Can you get better, stronger and more solid in your mathematics?

Heck no!

So of course, when I get something like this, it starts to set me on edge.  Which, I’ll admit, is not a very powerful place to learn and be open and discover.

ANOTHER NOTE TO SUPERVISORS AND MENTORS: Do you get it?  When you offer this unhelpful help that isn’t pointing the coach/client to a place to learn and grow, you’re actually sending them deeper into their own confusion and trap and stuck.)


Reading through the feedback even further, I came across another comment that really frustrated me, because it LITERALLY expressed the evaluating coach’s own perspective of, “An MCC coach would do this in this situation.”  Which I can agree with, and vehemently DIS-agree with.

Let me clarify.  In the recording, my client was working through some “Saboteurs”.  My impulse was to explore the different ones that were showing up and help the client discover she was able to still hold onto her power and not succumb to the power of that fear.  In fact, the work we did was quite exciting, almost like discovering her anti-saboteur super powers, loaded with armor, weapons and magic spells.  By the end of the call, she felt much more empowered and strong, ready to take those fears and voices and old things on with new strength and groundedness.

The evaluation/feedback said that “an MCC would look to explore the gift that was present in the saboteur.”

Ok, I’ll acknowledge that this a wonderful approach, and can be considered even an advanced approach to working with a saboteur.  Rather than try to “banish” “abolish” “get rid of” or otherwise, try to change the client’s perspective into something “good”, we can learn into the experience, explore the learning and gift that lies within the fear and conflict.

I’ve done that approach many a time.  And while it is a wonderful coaching experience, I would also argue that it doesn’t define MCC coaching.  It may be what an MCC coach does from time to time, and perhaps even that particular MCC who was judging does it with wonderful results.  But doing that approach alone doesn’t mean it’s automatically MCC coaching.  Are you kidding me?  Even from my own experience, I’ve done that very technique and the experience was, shall we say, less than MasterFull.  (Which confirms even more with was clearly a “this is what I would do, and I am an MCC and therefore, this is what MCC coaching is” kind of comment.  Which also rubs me the wrong way.)

[LESSON: I knew it before, but this really hit it home for me: There’s clearly a distinction between MCC coaching and MasterFull Coaching.]


This whole “feedback” experience frustrates me.  I’m not getting what I feel to be clear feedback, in order to learn and grow stronger, to be able to provide what is truly needed, but instead I get personal opinions and “you should have done this instead” that really sound and feel like, “you didn’t do it my way”.  And all this adds to the feeling like I’m trying to win some sort of lottery with this exam.

Instead of showing up and presenting my own skills of coaching, it seems I have to now try to predict what specific actions and approaches the evaluator will prefer so that I don’t zig when they would have zagged.

Which instantly sparks my performance anxiety and the urge to “do it right.”  Which is not MasterFull Coaching.


But I knew I wanted this.  It was important to me.  I had spend enough time building up to this; there was no way I was going to let a single failure stop me.  After all, with a reputed 90% failure rate, and “everyone fails” and “it’s how you get back up” and all that stuff, I knew that this failure would ultimately make a great story to share with other coaches.

After all, my original CTI failure experience turned out to be a great story—one that many coaches have come across and found to be so helpful.  Why not this one?


So even though I wasn’t sure why I failed, and therefore not sure what adjustments I needed to make, I set about scheduling more coaching calls.

This time, I turned to social media and sent out the request.  Initially embarrassed that I (Mr. “wonder-coach”) had failed, I also anticipated that my courage to admit it, in tandem with my commitment and request for help, would bring more coaches to agree to be my client.


And I was right.

And, as I suspected coming off the heels of this failure, the coaching was a little harder to maintain at a confident level.  Even though I was skilled and experienced, those nagging phrases of “Would like to have gone deeper” and “an MCC coach would have done…” kept popping up throughout the sessions and I kept becoming self-aware of how well I was doing, following some sort of internal checklist and that “observer” was constantly evaluating my work “real time”.

“That was pretty good.”

“Thanks.  Now let me get back to my client.”

“All right.  But make sure you take them deeper.”

“Yes, I know.  But what the heck does that mean?  It’s such a generic phrase and comment.”

“Well, if you were really a MCC coach, you would already know.”

“That’s not true.  I just don’t know what is specifically expected of me.”

“Yes, you do.  It’s the 11 Core competencies.  Just do that.”

“I will.”

“Great.  By the way.  How is the coaching going now?”


“You just missed a perfect moment with your client.”

“Yeah, but that’s because I’m talking to you.”

“Well. an MCC coach would have caught it.”

“That’s not true.”

“Of course it is.  Otherwise, how will you go deeper?”

“Leave me alone and just let me coach my client.”

“All right.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”


(I’m sure you’ve had conversations like this as well.)

[NOTE: It’s not just a high-level exam that brings this “performance” mode, but any time the stakes and expectations are high—when a client or company is paying big money, when you’re doing a sample to see if they want to hire you, and even when they come to you with a big problem and they’re expecting you to help them fix it.  That “performance” and “doing it right” urge and agenda can come in at any time and hijack the coaching.

Which, in my case, it did.]


However, that’s not to say I didn’t do some good coaching.  On the contrary, there were some beautiful clients that showed up and I got to do some wonderful work with them.  It’s not that I was completely hijacked and all the coaching failed.  Again, as I listened back and reviewed, there were some really nice things that occurred.  But was it ICF MCC Exam-worthy?  That I wasn’t completely sure of.  And the doubt and questioning kept nagging at me, much more deep than before.

Before I thought I knew what it was.  But now it was clear that it wasn’t what I thought it was, but had no idea what it was instead.  So I was doing my best to basically learn and grow from nothing.


I selected two new recordings and sent them off.  Feeling like in my own journey and exploration I must have discovered what was missing.  I certainly did what I could to “take the client deeper.”  And in fact, another saboteur conversation (different client) popped up that we got to work on.  And this time, we explored the gift that was present.

(You know, like an MCC coach would do?)

(I’ll admit, there was a little chip forming on my shoulder and I was feeling a stronger urge to prove myself—now reinforced by the unhelpful help that was offered.  Which, again, looking back, might not have been a solid place to come from and bring into the coaching.)


But there it was.  After another couple of months, two new recordings, resubmitted.
And once again, having fallen down and gotten back up, gone through the journey, I was back in the stage of having to just sit and wait another two to three months for that wonderful email to arrive telling me that I had this time passed and was now an MCC coach.

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Part of the process to submit for my MCC is that I needed to take an “exam”, as it were to demonstrate my coaching level and skill.  This consisted of providing a couple of recordings to showcase my coaching for the ICF to evaluative.

Proud of my new venture, excited for the journey and convinced this would be an easy slam-dunk, I boldly went out on Facebook to announce to all the coaches I knew my new endeavor. “This is it,” I declared!  “I’m finally going for my MCC.” And followed my announcement with a call for help and support.   [LESSON: ask for help and support.  You don’t have to do it alone.  Not only was it literally true in this case—cause I needed someone to coach—but it was also a wonderful way to get support and cheering.]


The response was wonderful (after all, you’d be amazed how people just want to help—you just need to ask [SEE ABOVE LESSON]).  As I had hoped, coaches who had been following me over the years through my calls and newsletters and stuff all came running to my aid, offering themselves as clients  (after all, who wouldn’t want awesome MCC-level coaching, right?).  It was fun scheduling the calls, and even more fun doing the actual coaching.  (It’s also great practice to work with new “clients” with new problems to keep your muscles fresh.  UPDATE: Looking back, I realize that it would have been much more beneficial if I had reached out to non-coaches (normal people) to serve as my client.  The growth and practice is much deeper, and also very real.  I will say that the recordings I submitted I made sure were real people, working on their real—and non-coaching-issues.)

However (and this is something that I teach in my class), it’s important to remember that when you know someone will be listening to the recording and evaluating your “performance”, it’s all too common to suddenly have that self-awareness kick in.

Yes.  Even though I’d been coaching for almost 11 years, and I’m something like “Mr. Coach”, and I train coaches with Advanced coaching techniques.  I still fall into this trap.  It’s a common experience that we all experience, especially when we’re being evaluated by something that’s important to us.  We want to be sure we’re “doing it right.”  Unfortunately, when we shift our attention to “doing it right” then we’re not really being with the client in a good coaching way.

Hence the problem.

On the good side, I knew from my teaching and experience that if I just do these “coaching exam demonstration” calls a few times, I’ll begin to get used to the “performance/evaluation” factor and will be able to coach with a better focus.

Such was the case.  Sure, the first few were a little self-conscious, but by the third or fourth call, my coaching began to re-find its groove.  [LESSON: the more you become familiar with the experience and the environment, the less uncomfortable it becomes.  And the less uncomfortable you are, the more you are able to shine.]


Once I accumulated a number of recordings it was time to go through them and review to see which ones would be usable.  There were some that I instantly ruled out as unusable.  Although it might have been good coaching, it wasn’t something that would be appropriate to send to ICF for review.  If I was going to be reviewed by ICF, I needed to be sure that I was including all the elements that they would be looking for: the 11 Core Competencies.


I didn’t expect it to be so hard to review my calls—each of them sounding awesome and wonderful.  I don’t mean to sound ego-filled, of course there were spots here and there that might be a little sticky, but overall it’s just wonderful to witness good coaching.  And even more exciting when you’re the one doing it.  However, to be sure, I allowed myself a little distance of time so that I could hopefully review the content a little more objectively.

I waited until a month passed after the calls so I would hopefully not remember the content and conversation so clearly.  But even then, while listening, the “coach within” would hear the client say something and start to ask a question, only to hear me ask the same question as the listener/evaluator.

Clearly I was doing something right if I was going the same direction twice (yes, I will concede my ego was doing a lot of talking).

But as “brilliant” as these calls seemed to be, I will also admit that while listening to them, I could also hear certain things that didn’t work.  I was able to look more objectively at the coaching through the Core Competencies.

Looking back, I wish I had done what I so highly recommend and with other coaches ask of me—send some recordings to be evaluated and reviewed by a third party.

But again my ego got in the way.

“Come on.  You’re a teacher of coaches.  Not only that, but you teach coaching Mastery, right?”

“Well, actually, I refer to it as MasterFull Coaching.”

“Symantics, right?

“Well, not really.  There is actually a difference.”

“Whatever, but it’s top-level advanced coaching stuff that you teach, right?”


“And this is content and learning and skill stuff that you pretty much discovered on your own, right?”


“All that exploring and conversations and studying and deepening that you do.  Let’s face it, you’ve really discovered some amazing stuff that other coaches don’t know and need to know.”

“Well, sure, but…”

“And let’s not forget that you don’t coach like anyone else.  You’re not by the book.   That’s part of Mastery, right?”

“Well, sometimes, but…”

“So wouldn’t it be awesome if you did this all by yourself, the first time out?  You would really show them all.  What a boost it would be to your business.”


“Of course.  Think about it.  You can then say, ‘This is how I became an MCC.  I did it my way.’”

“Yeah, isn’t that a Frank Sinatra song?”

“Just go with me, here.  You got this, man.  You don’t need anyone else’s evaluation.  You know all this stuff.”

“Um, I guess so.”


Now, I’m sure you can see where this is going.

[Remember that lesson I pointed out at the beginning of this section?  “You don’t have to do it alone.”?  Yes, it’s one thing to know it, but a whole ‘nother thing to actually do it.  Which points us to another LESSON: Knowing and Doing aren’t the same thing.  Only New Actions create New Results.  However, you can’t have new Actions without New Knowing.  New Knowing is great, but it can’t just stop there and stay in your head.  You have to follow through with action.  Just stopping at the knowing (and talking about what you know isn’t quite at the Doing stage) won’t get you where you want to go.]


Looking back, I realize that wasn’t a very MasterFull way of thinking at the time.  But I persisted and sifted and thought my coaching was gifted, and then I managed to narrow the lot down to the two calls that I deemed the best.  These were the ones.  These exemplified excellent coaching.  With these two, I was going to easily acquire my MCC status.  Slam-dunk, here I come.

With all the hard work done, all the paperwork and the hours and the training logged and CCEU certificates provided, and my two brilliant recordings now selected, the only thing left to do was to upload and send to ICF and wait for the wonderful news.


Which would take a few months.

But then again, all good things come to those who wait.

New videos and articles are popping up on the free member website

There’s more content that keep popping up every week, just for you as a BeDo “Get Good Stuff” member.  Have you checked it out lately?

Freebies, Downloads and more.

What does your Future Self look like? – How to use the future to empower the present.  (And it’s also fun).

Failing My MCC – #4 of the ongoing journey, lessons learned, insights and discoveries, and just an overall saga of preparing for, taking, failing the MCC and beyond.

How to handle the client who says “I don’t know” – not just occasionally, but when they are really riding that phrase, and it’s almost like it’s a tool of defiance.

Plus, i’m going to be announcing some free webinars for powerful growth, deepening your coaching, and exploring your skills in new and exciting ways as well as announce my upcoming Subscription based membership with tremendously more value for you and your coahcing.

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While you’re designing the “perfect look” remember, that your Future Self isn’t necessarily in the future.  Consider they are more of a representation and reflection of you–right now–here in the present.  They are who you are when your Values are fully expressed, when you’ve managed your Saboteurs and Gremlins, when you’re connecting to your inner wisdom and knowing, when you’ve discovered and achieved your passions, visions and dreams.  It’s who you are deep down, when all the fears are gone–you at your most brilliant and powerful self.

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Another way to look at it is reversing that phrase, “I’ll see it when I believe it!”  And in that case, the more that you see this image of you, the more it reminds you of who you are, deep down, beyond all the fears, habits and other crap that is layered on top prohibiting your full and powerful self-expression.  The more you remember who you are, in this present moment, and who you choose to be, the more you are reinforcing just how that is really true.  And the more you start acting like that version of you.

Your choices, your actions, your impact, your directions, even how you get yourself out of your stuck spots and habits, when those crappy fears and saboteurs come along, you have a more powerful reminder of who you really are and who you choose to be every day.  The more you practice this, remember this, and hold to this truth, the more you will believe it.

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Becoming an MCC isn’t always easy.  That may seem like an obvious statement, but allow me to clarify exactly why that is so.

To be recognized as a Master Certified Coach means serious business.  And it means that this credential has been earned by displaying the caliber and quality of Master Level Coaching.

In other words, the bar is high.  Not only that, but Master Coaching can be a little tricky to identify and define.  It’s not something that works too well with “I’ll know it when I see it”, which is true.  But if we’re expected to perform at that level, then we need to know how to clearly identify and trust that Master Level Coaching.

So although I felt confident about my coaching skills, I knew also that I needed to continue to refine and improve and grow.  And in order for me to learn what that was like, I was going to have to immerse myself and engage with other Master Coaches.

There were a few reasons for this.

  1. A common practice for personal growth, development and success is to surround yourself with those who are where you want to be. This way, you’ll begin to think, feel and act like them.  (And if you act like them, and do the same things they do to get their results, then you’ll get the same results.  At least that’s how it works in theory.  And in fact, it does work that way, to an extent.)
  2. If you want to get better at any sport, you play with people who are at that higher level. They’ll naturally challenge you to step up and grow and play a bigger and better game.
  3. I also have a skill of being able to analyze and articulate and figure out how and why things work. So by watching these Master Coaches in action I was able to discover what it was they were doing, not just the recipe or strategy, but the deeper context or focus and skill they were using that made the difference between the kind of coaching they were doing and what I was doing.  Rather than just, being amazed and impressed and “Oh, they’re so good.”  I wanted to know WHY they were so good, and what they were doing that was different.

I discovered something pretty powerful.  Yes, I realize you may read this and say “Duh, how obvious” but actually, when I pass this insight along to other coaches, it’s not always so obvious.  At least not until it’s voiced.

You see, I realized that these awesome, incredible and amazing coaches were utilizing the very same skills that I had learned—the same techniques and methods and approaches and exercises that I acquired in my training—, and yet, their execution, connection and impact—the performance of their coaching—was completely different.

I engaged in exciting and engaging and sometimes provocative conversations with these Master Coaches, sharing what I was discovering and gauging their reactions and taking in their responses.  I found out many of them—although recognized at Master Coaches—weren’t able to clearly articulate to me how they were doing what they were doing.  At best they would provide some sort of formula.  “I always ask this question in the beginning,” or, “I always use this process,” or “I never end a call this way.”

I found these to be “unreliable” and “conditional” strategies—you know, the “just do this” approach that “works every time”… except when it doesn’t.   And true enough, I would try exactly what they would suggest and found that sometimes it did work, and sometimes it didn’t, depending on the client, the topic, the relationship, the situation and the moment.

My frustration continued to grow because these formula approaches just didn’t sound like Master Coaching to me.

To me, Master Coaching is about more than just tricks and applications that “work”, it’s about how you are showing up, connecting, revealing yourself and how you are in relationship with the client.  It’s not about having perfect coaching, but how you handle it when the obstacles occur, how to adjust and adapt to the unexpected and how to embrace “I don’t know.”

And anyway, when I tried those “MCC” techniques and they did work, I felt like I was forcing my method or agenda on the client.  And that didn’t feel like Master Coaching either.

Clearly much of what I was hearing from others was a simple case of “I’m a Master coach.  And this is how I coach.  So therefore this is what master coaching is.  And if you do it my way, you’ll be doing Master Coaching.”  But again, that doesn’t work for me—mainly because I’m not them.

But instead of dismissing these strategies because they didn’t work for me, I got more curious to go deeper and explore why their methods worked when they did, and how they worked with their clients.  And more importantly, why they didn’t work in other circumstances and what was getting in the way.  If I could unlock that stuff, I knew then I could utilize that deeper information to help me discover my own version of Master Coaching.

And the more I explored, the more I discovered.  The more I discovered, the more I learned.  And the more I learned, the more my Inner MasterFull Coach grew—taking shape, getting color, growing louder and stronger and more confident.

I converted everything I was learning and discovering into myself


And all of this learning and discovery was not only helping me grow, but I was funneling it back to the coaches I was working with—either as their coach, or in my MasterFull Coaching class, which became a great platform to test and workshop my own coaching theories and approaches and make sure that was I was working on was “unconditional” and “reliable” coaching approaches—in other words, I could use with any client, with any situation, and any obstacle that occurs in my coaching.  To me, that was Master Coaching.


All the while, I was staying on my path, keeping rigorous track of my coaching hours, made sure I had all my training certificates in order.


Finally came the day when I felt I was ready to submit.  I sent off my application and was then instructed to send in two recordings of my coaching (that requirement has since changed).

All this time, my journey had basically been kept my own secret—only sharing my quest with those who were immediately a part of my growth and development.  Now it was time to reveal to the rest of the world of what I was up to, because I was going to need clients to help me get some good recordings.  (Many of my current clients are coaches in training, and require more like a Mentoring/Teaching experience.)

And once it was “out there” there was no turning back.


(The journey continues… and it’s a pretty exciting one.  Get all of them and more with my free access membership “Get Good Stuff” at Freebies and downloads and forms, OH MY!)

“What kind of pickle are you?”

This is a true story.

In the early 1900’s, my grandmother Avis lived with her family on the south side of Chicago.  She was a little girl at the time, probably around 5 when this particular event occurred.

They lived above the family-owned and operated Ziemsen’s, a local neighborhood grocery store where folks could buy just about anything for the home… including pickles.

In fact, at the counter there were two large barrels of pickles for customers to purchase.  On one of the barrels, there was a sign for 1 cent, and the other barrel was labeled 2 cents.  This way, the customers had their choice of pickle.

Well, one day, my grandmother, Avis, noticed her grandfather restocking the barrels at the counter.  He would bring a larger barrel of pickles from the back storage room, open it up and proceed to transfer pickles into both of the counter containers.

As you can imagine, this action puzzled my grandmother.  Of course, being a five year old, she didn’t get it.  So she asked him, “Goosfadder,” (that’s what she called him), “Why is it that you have two different barrels of pickles and one says they are for one penny and the other is for two pennies, but they are the same pickle?”

And he looked at her with his eyes of years of wisdom and said sweetly to her, “Well Avis, sometimes people just prefer a more expensive pickle.”

In other words, it’s not that one pickle is any better than the other, it’s the value that the customers are giving to their purchase.  If they pay for the two cent pickle, they will appreciate it more.  It’s a greater value.  Same pickle, but for some reason it tastes better.  On the other hand, perhaps those that buy the one penny pickle will feel like they’re getting a great deal (cause it’s a pretty darned good pickle) but are saving a whole penny.  I mean, how much better could a two penny pickle be?

So really, it starts with the value that we place on our product, but it’s also about the value that the customer feels they are getting.  And if those customers feel like they are getting a great value, either by getting a great pickle, or a great deal, they’re more likely to come back for more.

In case you haven’t made the connection, this is a great clear example of how we, as coaches, view ourselves and the rates for our coaching.

So the question I have for you is, “What kind of pickle is your coaching?  A one cent or a two cent?”  Only you will know.

But once you decide it–your price and your value–then put yourself on display in that barrel (metaphorically speaking, of course) and put a big sign out to tell everyone looking for a pickle that you offer the best pickle in the neighborhood.


(There are so much more of these insights and articles to help grow your coaching, plus video bits, downloads and TONS of archived recordings for you to enjoy, learn and grow.  Visit to access HUNDREDS of items all designed to help you truly BE the coach you are here to BE!)

“Look, on the phone! It’s a friend! It’s a therapist! No, it’s Super-Coach!”

Yes, Super Coach!  With strange powers of curiosity, and level three listening.  Super Coach!  Who can shift perspectives in the blink of an eye.  Who can take a client into the deepest depths of their emotion.  Who can create powerful visions and goals.  Super Coach!  Able to Hold a Client’s Agenda while simultaneously Holding the Client as Naturally Creative, Resourceful, and Whole.  And who can focus on the smaller agenda while at the same time seeing the Meta-view to the Client’s Whole Life.

When the Evil Gremlin strikes unsuspecting victims with his lackeys Stuck, Procrastination, and Playing Small, Super Coach is there–ready to dish out a one-two punch of Values and Perspectives, and follow it up with an uppercut of Choice.  Wherever there is Fear, Super Coach is there with his Cape of Empowerment.  Wherever there is Playing Small, Super Coach has plenty of “Bigger Game” in his utility belt ready for action.  Wherever there is Overwhelm, Super Coach uses his super strategy of small and simple steps and powerful goals to help the client move forward towards the life that they desire and deserve.

Hold on to your headsets, kiddies.


Yes, sometimes it feels just like that.

However, it’s not always so wonderful.  Remember the big lesson “With great powers, comes great responsibility.” And we have to use these wonderful skills wisely.  Just because we know how to dig into every problem that comes our way, doesn’t mean that we always have to.    In fact, sometimes having these coaching tools and training can be so exciting that it’s such an easy trap get sucked into trying to coach everyone we come across all the time.  And what usually happens?  We rub them the wrong way and they get upset and turned off.  Why?  Well, mainly because they didn’t ask for it.  It was an unrequested overstepping of boundaries.  There isn’t an alignment with both parties (you and the other person) that you will be coaching them on the issue.  It’s different with our clients. There, we have that relationship established, it’s part of the Alliance that’s designed.

One of the skills that we as coaches need to strengthen is the knowing of “When to coach/ when not to coach.”

Think about Superman.  He’s always super—that’s who he is naturally.  But if he wasn’t careful, he could be flying around non-stop 24 hours a day saving people.  As super as he is, he knows that he needs to sometimes stop, put on his Clark Kent clothes, and go around just as a normal human—sometimes having to watch his friends go through frustrations and sticky situations, and knowing that that’s a part of life and they need to experience it sometimes.  Of course even when he’s Clark Kent and Lois is about to spill her coffee on her dress, he’ll still lend a little bit of help by secretly blowing a little puff of air to lift it back up, unnoticed by anyone.  He’s not obvious about it.

It’s just like how we can continue to hold our friends and family Naturally Creative, Resourceful, and Whole.  We can be naturally Curious about their lives, we can Listen to them and their issues, and not have to actually “coach” them to some big change or resolution or revelation.  Sometimes we don’t need to put on our whole Super Coach persona and just simply use out coaching skills on a subtler level.   “BE” with them—listening, holding, and self-managing—without actually having to don our costume and DO “COACHING” with them.

So make sure that you use your powers wisely.  Just because you’re a Super Coach yourself, doesn’t mean you have to Coach everyone all the time.  Coach when it’s appropriate.  And when it’s not, simply put on your everyday clothes over your Super-Coach costume, and love your friends.

That’s the Super-est thing you can BE and DO.

“…So as a Snake sheds it’s skin”

OK, how many of you at some point felt like giving up this whole coaching thing?

What?  Really?  So, it’s only me that’s felt that way? Come on.  You had to have felt it at some point.

Perhaps while you were taking one of your coach training classes, or when you were swamped and overwhelmed in Certification, or perhaps when you lost a client (or maybe five in one week) or got yet another “no”, or maybe everything was fine until now and something just got triggered while you were reading this.  And maybe you’re still so excited about coaching that you haven’t yet fallen into the pit of despair. and with all those classes and experiences you’re learning how to wield your coaching tools with more confidence and competence.  You’re growing as a coach every day.

So even if you’ve already been there in the pit of despair and frustration, or not, I’m here to tell you that eventually at some point, you’ll question your commitment and ability and direction with coaching.  You’ll doubt what you are doing.  You’ll want to give up and do something easier and less fulfilling.

This is natural, and every single coach (even yours truly) has been filled with that very doubt-sometimes more than once.  You see, it’s part of the growing process.  You’re stepping out of the comfort zone, your stretching and growing, and starting to take some risks.  And sometimes when you stretch a little too far, grow a little too fast, you end up being a little tender and vulnerable.

Sure it would seem the most likely alternative would be to stop growing, stop stretching.  After all, if it’s going to make you tender and sensitive, easy pickings, then why do it?

Well, for starters, ever try to “not grow”.  It’s kind of impossible.  Growing is a part of life.  We have to grow.  Externally as well as internally.  Physically as well as Spiritually as well as Mentally as well as Emotionally as well as a hundred other ways.

So we can’t avoid it.

Besides, if we really and truly kept in the same place with our lives, we’d go crazy.  We’d get itchy and uncomfortable and desperate to break out and try something new.  So stretch and grow.

Like a snake that needs to shed its skin when it has become too small.  The outer layer becomes really uncomfortable and confining and ugly looking, and finally the snake can’t take it any longer and withdraws someplace safe to remove this frustration.  Even after the hard outer layer is finally left behind, the new skin that is now exposed is tender and vulnerable, easy to be injured by the outside world if it’s not careful.

You may wonder why the snake does this if it places it in danger.  Wouldn’t it be much easier and safer to simply keep the old and uncomfortable shell?  At least it would help protect it from danger and help it live longer.

Good question.  In fact, it sounds very much like the one that was just asked two paragraphs ago.

It’s certainly a question that our Saboteur keeps asking, and in fact, would have us believe that it’s better to stay small.  But the snake knows something that your Saboteur keeps conveniently forgetting.  We (the snake as well as us) will naturally continue to grow.  You can’t stop it.  It’s part of living.  And the more the snake resists that inevitable growth and change, the more uncomfortable it will be confined in that tight, dry and crusty shell.

Kind of like trying to fit in the clothes you wore in high school-not only are they way too small, but terribly out of date.  However, by going with the growth and change, and even helping it along by clearing off the old, and no longer helpful outer shell, the snake has the freedom and ability to grow even larger and more powerful than it was before.  And that makes for one happy snake.

Not to make any assumptions that you are a snake… but you get the metaphor.

So, knowing that you might be a little tender in the process, but that it will help you grow bigger and stronger, what’s the old skin that you want to shed today?


“I want to be a PCC coach.”  I heard my client (who is a coach, cause I coach coaches) say to me.

We did all the work that happens in coaching and set our sights to designing a specific timeline and goal and all that stuff that we do in coaching, and her assignment was to come up with some kind of structure that would help keep her focused—eye on the prize, as it were.

Part of the approach we were taking was about finding ways to “already see yourself” at that end goal.  This was a tactic that I had been exploring with other clients as well as with myself throughout my own MCC journey.

I knew I couldn’t officially call myself an MCC… yet—not in my signature or business cards or website or anywhere—but I felt it important that I find some way to indicate to others that I wasn’t just another PCC coach, but an MCC who just hadn’t gotten the hours yet.

I saw other people listing their non-coaching credentials like “LMNOP, pending approval” or “XYZ under submission” or whatever clever jargon that people use to declare they’re something that they haven’t been actually approved and validated by their reviewing organization.  However, that “fudging it” didn’t didn’t feel right.

And then it hit me.

-ben dooley PCC (but I roll like an MCC).

That way, I was clearly acknowledging I was officially a PCC coach, but what you’ll get from me is an MCC experience and MCC level coaching.

How clever.  People liked it.  I got emails and comments and “that’s so great” and all that wonderful support… until I got a call from ICF.

“You can’t have that in your signature,” they said.

“Why not?” I replied.  “I’m not saying I’m actually an MCC.”

“I know, but there have been some complains about your signature, and you can’t include that credential unless you really are one.”

“These people don’t understand,” I pleaded my case, hoping for some special dispensation to support my cause.  “I’m saying, ‘This is how I show up.  This is the bar I hold myself to.’  I would think those coaches would appreciate that I am striving to be at that level and am playing a bigger game.”  I used all the fancy coaching terms I could think of to really make my point.  (Looking back, I can completely see the frustration and objection on their end, and I probably would raise the same concerns if I saw someone posting themselves that way.)

So I went through all of my signatures and documents and cleaned it out.  Unfortunately, I had run that campaign for so long, I lost track of where it appeared (I’m still coming across, “but I roll like an MCC” and now wince a little at the audacity as I delete.)

But I was not deterred.  I knew that while my actions weren’t right, my motive was.  I knew that even if I couldn’t advertise it, I needed to continue to see myself as “already an MCC coach”.  That would keep me focused and exploring and growing.  Eye on the prize, as it were.


Let me clarify this a little bit.  We’ve all heard concepts and approaches like this.

Our results are based on our actions, and our actions are supported by our thoughts and feelings.  So with that in mind I was looking for ways to reprogramming myself to “THINK” like an MCC, FEEL like an MCC, and ACT like an MCC.”  After all, my whole professional base was BE DO, right?

I realized that first I have to BE an MCC coach, before I can DO MCC coaching, and before I can actually HAVE that status given to me.

It all made perfect sense.  I just needed to find structures that weren’t going to upset anyone along the way (which totally changes the energy and the impact of the action).

Fast forward to my conversation with my client.


She wanted to set her sights on becoming a PCC coach and was feeling that it was still far out of reach.  Yet, she was good—skilled in her coaching, articulate in her work, and full of passion and commitment to her excellence.

So when I asked her to explore how she could support already seeing herself as a PCC coach, she came up with the idea to “make” a fake PCC certificate.  By no means was it meant to sidestep the official process and begin living some strange unethical lie (on the contrary, she’s one of the most ethical coaches out there I know), but this document would be her own and post dated to inspire her to get all her hours completed by then and to address all of the other requirements and keep herself focused.

It was so simple, and I loved it.

I loved it so much I decided to do my own.  Scanning my very real and legal PCC certificate, I found a matching font and replaced the “P” with an “M” and then dated it December 15, 2010 which was three years from the day of that conversation.  Which meant I had given myself a three year timeline to make it official before it “expired”.

I had now officially declared myself in the next stage of obtaining my MCC.  I had declared it to someone else and created a reminder structure to keep myself moving.


And it worked.  I liked the idea of having it on my wall, in my office, right next to where I was coaching.  Occasionally I would glance at it while I was coaching and ask if I was doing what I thought was MCC coaching.  Often I said, no.  but sometimes I thought, yes.  And when I recognized, no, I quickly would get myself refocused.


Also, I was now truly “In the Game” and that destination of MCC was always tugging at me in the back of my head, pulling me forward, encouraging me to learn and grow and better myself in any way that I could.  And once I was “in the Game” I began to approach becoming an MCC very differently, and very deeply.

Commitment does that to you.