Let’s go Crazy

Being a child of the 80s I tend to have a fondness for much of the music of that era.  While I was running (still a new experinece for me) I was listening to Pandora (my favorite running companion) and Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” from the Purple Rain soundtrack came on.
Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
Electric word life it means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you there’s something else
The afterworld, a world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left?
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
‘Cause in this life things are much harder than in the afterworld
This life you’re on your own

And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy punch a higher floor

Now, growing up, i thought I knew this song, but looking back, I missed the deeper meaning.  It’s about living your life to the fullest, take it all now because this is all we have.
And then I reheard those lyrics, “And if the elevator tries to break you down, go crazy… punch a higher floor.”  and I got it.

Failure.  Disappointment.  Obstacles.  Life.

Elevators only go up or down, and if the elevator is breaking down, you’re certainly not going up.

Go crazy.  Don’t just sit there and let it run you down.  Step out of the box.  Go nuts.  And punch a higher floor.  Go for it.  Reach even higher.  Now is not the time to play it safe, it’s time to reach farther and bigger than ever before.

Back in the spring I had finally got the report that I had not passed my MCC exam.  I was upset, frustrated (to be honest, even a bit pissed) and very discouraged.  And of course I had a few days of letting the elevator bring me down, but I quickly got back on my feet and reached for something even bigger and higher.  I wasn’t about to let that stop me.  And I achieved exciting things and created new partnerships and have had the best year in my coaching so far… even after that tragic failure and downfall.

Of course I tried again, and I’ll continue to reach for that level and eventually achieve it.  But you and I know that I’m actually punching a higher floor than just an MCC.

Care to come with me?

Then let’s go crazy together.



“Aren’t you worried about your exam?”

Nope.  I’m confident I will pass, and I figure if I don’t, then there’s something important to learn.

I had that conversation six years ago at an ICF conference.  I had already long past achieved my PCC status and was well on my way to logging hours to complete my requirements for MCC.

Not only that, but I was the teacher of coaches—I knew this coaching stuff solid (at least back then I thought I did.  Looking back now I realize that perhaps my ignorance was bliss).

Perhaps this sounds like ego talking (and maybe there was a little involved) but there was also deep confidence.  You see, I had already gone through the gauntlet of failing a coaching exam.  A tale that was as sordid and brutal as any Grimm Fairy Tale, any Hunger Games book, as dark and twisted as a Steven King novel… ok, perhaps not that much.  But at the time it was pretty bad.  In fact, it was the only time I truly thought of giving up coaching.  In truth, I actually had given it up… but for one last thing.

Anyway, that’s another story which you can read it here in all it’s PDF splendor


How I gloriously failed my first coach certification exam, and lived to tell the tale.

It’s packed with wonderful learning and in the end, although it was painful and frustrating in the process, it ended up being an invaluable experience—one that continues to still, many years later, provide me with powerful lessons to remember, pass along to other coaches, and unpack new ones.

But it’s particularly important for this story for a few reasons.

  1. A) At the time, even though I had failed, I had gotten tremendous support and insightful feedback.
  2. B) I had firsthand experience of failure in coaching, and then grew from it.

BONUS: I was able to transform that experience to benefit other coaches, thus not only passing it on, but reinforcing it within myself.

And as the years went by, I continued to explore and deepen my coaching in exciting and fun ways.  I knew more and more with each passing month.  I continued to hone my skills and shared all that learning with my clients (coaches) as well as fellow coaches I engaged with.  (And the more you share, the more it grows, right?)


Looking back to that conversation at the conference those years ago, I suppose my devil-may-care response to that very frustrated and irritated coach might have looked like it was full of overinflated ego, (well, as I said, maybe a little, born of innocence and ignorance) but it was really just simply confidence (perhaps also born of innocence and ignorance).  I knew that the bar had been raised, but I also knew that whatever it was that was asked of me, I could handle it.  The change in credentialing policy and procedure didn’t intimidate me, it called me forth.  It challenged me and I willingly accepted it.   After all, I didn’t want this to be too easy.


You see, at the time, the ICF had noticed that the credential of MCC was losing its credibility.  There were coaches who were MCC but weren’t displaying the level of skill and competency that would be expected of a Master Certified Coach.  Time was you simple fulfilled your requirements of hours and experience and made your submission and that’s that.  You were an MCC.

A Master Certified Coach.  And all it took was just logging enough hours to show you’d been doing this a long time.  With the assumption that if you had been coaching for a long time, then you certainly must be a Master Coach by then.

That was the theory, I guess.

I don’t mean to discredit those early MCC coaches.  On the contrary I’ve engaged with some incredible and truly Masterful coaches, but there were also many who hadn’t been truly tested of their merit, skill and competency.

The ICF recognized this little discrepancy and made some changes in the requirements to make it harder, including ALL coaches would have to go through an exam, as with the other levels, but of course because this was the highest credential, the bar would be much higher.  As a result, what was once relatively easy to achieve suddenly swung the pendulum the other way to a 90% failure rate.

Ah, I would think to myself, if only I had gotten there sooner, I would just need to submit my hours like I did for my PCC and then I’d be in.  No exam, no testing, no having to prove my worth.  Those were the good old days.

But I welcomed the change.  Because I knew that this was going to be hard.  It was supposed to be challenging.  If anyone was going to be considered a Master at something, then they need to really be solid and strong.  More than just a load of experience.

A Black Belt in the martial arts have to go through a test.  It makes sense here, too.


Many coaches, I suspected, weren’t ready for it.

I was.  True, I had only been coaching for 5 years, but I already felt I could DO what was requested of me.  The only thing that was holding me back was the fact that I didn’t have enough hours accrued yet.


So with that in mind, along with the new rules and requirements, I began to devise some expectations and assumptions.

  1. A) I already was a great coach. All my clients (of whom most were coaches themselves) told me. And I knew it from my own experience.
  2. B) The exam would be no different than what I had done before, only they were looking at it more closely.
  3. C) My style was out of the box, creative, non-linear at times. Exactly what they were likely looking for.
  4. D) Whatever happened, I knew I could handle it.


This seems perfectly natural, doesn’t it?  I mean, take a look at where you are now in your life—your coaching career, your business, whatever.  And look at that next thing that you want to achieve.

Your only frame of reference of whether or not it’s possible is the information that you currently have at your access.

  • What others are saying, what’s in the outside world that is coming to you. In this case, the stories that other coaches were sharing about rumors they had heard (I had yet to actually hear from anyone who had taken this new exam requirement) and also what my clients were telling me about their experience of my coaching.
  • What we make up, think of, choose to remember, feel and believe. In this case, I was pretty proud of my coaching and my knowledge and depth of what I had discovered about this craft and how I was passing it along to others.  And when I would come across any outside sources about coaching, they would only confirm what I already knew and practiced.

This of course works against us, too, right?  We have a design to accomplish something and realize (or feel) that we are currently not at that level, and then we determine automatically that obtaining it is impossible.

For me, this was the opposite.  I clearly saw it in my sights.  I already had a feeling of just how possible it was.  And I had racked up enough personal proof to suggest that this was entirely doable.

And so I set myself on a plan to move faster there.  I was five years into my coaching career and I was confident I would get that MCC before I hit my 10 year mark.  But I had to start NOW.

And so start I did.

Convinced that when the time came I would either pass easily, or if I didn’t, I would graciously accept the experience and chalk it up to more great learning.

Little did I know what experiences awaited me.

You know, they say that it’s the journey, not the end destination, where all the important stuff lies.  Heck, I did not realize just how true that was.


This is #2 of my 17-part journey in becoming an MCC.

The successes, the failures, the challenges, the steps I took and all that other stuff in between.

To get more, you can sign up to my free membership level “Get Good Stuff”

Plus get TONS of other stuff to help your coaching grow.


 “Why do you want to become an MCC?” a coach once asked me.  At the time I couldn’t tell if the question was supportive, challenging or simply inquisitive.  But I answered honestly just the same.

I recalled stepping into my first weekend of coach training.  Like everyone else, I was new to the coaching world.  We all went around the circle introducing ourselves—saying something to the effect of, “Hi, I’m Ben, and I’m really excited about becoming a coach.  It turns out I’ve been coaching all my life in one form or another and this is such a perfect fit.  I know my purpose and passion now and I’m fully committed to this new course in my life.”

Something like that.  Perhaps it sounds familiar, like you said it yourself or you heard others say it.

It’s ok, we all say things like that when we’re stepping into something new and exciting—especially when it “feels right”.

On the final day of that first weekend, we had what was called an “open brown bag” conversation where we could ask our instructors anything about coaching and the topic of credentials and the ICF came up.

They explained about the three levels of credentials and that ACC would be similar to what we would get from our Certification course should we continue.  And then there was this level called MCC.

Something in me sparked to awakening.  It would take me the next 10 years to discover that it was my Inner Master Coach coming to life.  It was he who spoke—ever so softly that I could barely hear it—saying, “Yes.”

I perhaps should preface this by saying that before I had discovered coaching I had spent nearly 18 years prior as a “working” actor in Chicago.  I say “working” because although I kept getting hired and cast for things, I could see others in my circles getting much more work.  Actors who were no better than I was, talent and skill-wise, and some who even were not as skilled, were making decent money.  And I knew exactly why.  I watched them treat their acting as a full business.  They took on their marketing, they immersed themselves in their branding, they continually reinvented themselves, they spent whatever they could to reinvest in themselves—either in their business or in their training and skill development, or both.  And while I certainly wasn’t against doing any of that, I didn’t have the powerful and consistently active drive to keep getting bigger and better.

I was content with doing the rounds, taking a class perhaps from time to time, and waiting for my agent to do all the work for me and then call me when auditions or jobs came up.  Which they did… from time to time.

It was enough to sustain… barely.

So I was always forced (like so many other actors and artists) to take a “day job”.  And then stuck in the dilemma of finding a job that wasn’t mind numbing, but would also offer the flexibility of being able to do the “acting thing.”

Bottom line, I knew that if I was going to succeed I needed to treat my acting as a real business, rather than a nice money-making hobby, which is more what I was really doing.

So it was in that Sunday circle when I had what you might call an epiphany.  At least it was for me.

Here I was stepping out of the aimless wandering of acting and stepping into what could easily be more aimless wandering.  If I wasn’t careful I was going to spend the next 10 years of doing exactly what I had done in acting, but in coaching.

Don’t get me wrong, I had some pretty decent success.  I’ve done just about any type of acting job that’s out there (except Major Motion pictures—and even then I’m all over the background in “Rookie of the Year”.  I’m the guy in the stands in the Batman shirt when everyone is chanting “Throw it back!”—pretty easy to spot when you know what to look for—but that’s a metaphor for another post) but nothing that was sustainable.  Nothing that felt like, “Yeah, I’ve got myself really established and set in.”  Nothing that would indicate I was really playing a big game.  And here I was, getting ready to do it all over again, just changing the title on the outgoing voice mail.

The bigger irony was that I was likely investing several thousand dollars to wander aimlessly in this new place, pretending to call myself a coach and not really committing—just like my acting career.  Sure, I’d get clients here and there, perhaps enough to make it feel like I was doing ok, and not low enough to give it up.  Same trap, different label.  I knew that if I was going to do this thing called coaching, and if I was going to be true to those words that I said earlier that week of “This is my new direction and purpose,” I was going to have to step out of that comfort zone and learn how to treat this like the business that it was.

That meant two things.

  1. A) Learn how to do business. (I now encourage any and every student going into college, “For God’s sake, take a business course so you can learn the basics of Money, Marketing, and Business. Even if you’re not going into business, you will use this in your life.”) Amazingly that same “Open Topic circle” they offered a new opportunity—a beta testing of a Business Development Program that they were starting up.
  2. B) I needed to put into action the very things that I was learning that weekend. Specifically I needed to have a clear vision and motivating goal. Something that would keep me focused and moving forward.  Something to strive for.  Something that would encourage me to move forward when I wanted to stop.  And the answer was so obvious.  I wanted to be an MCC.

It was really perhaps my first “coaching experience” where I was truly impacted me in a deep and profound way  (there have been many others since, but let’s be honest, a lot of that early coaching is more about learning the skills and tools, and while we experience change in the moment, or rather the opportunity and inspiration of change, those insights rarely last.  But this one was different.  I knew when I heard those letters and what they represented, that if I was to really be serious in this coaching world, I needed to achieve that status.

Not that being an MCC would instantly be the solution or final stage.  I knew that I might not ever achieve it.  After all, they reminded us all, it stands for Master Certified Coach.

But I knew that I needed to give my everything to try.  I can’t explain it any more than that.  It wasn’t about vanity, it wasn’t about some sort of vainglorious hope that if I reached that status then I would automatically be pulling in millions of dollars.  But it was still important.  Personally.

Of course there were just a few things I had to accomplish first—like my first weekend of training, getting clients, getting experience, getting money, getting certified at the basic level, grow my business, become more powerful and skilled, do more training, get more hours of experience, get my PCC credential, then coach for a really long time to get more hours of experience and training and then…

Maybe then…

I would get my MCC.

I didn’t clearly realize it at the time, but it was this powerful and personal vision that kept me moving.  Every now and then I would reconnect with what I wanted, and more importantly, why I wanted it, and that would fuel me to keep moving forward, keep tracking my hours and accomplishing all my smaller goals—step by step.

And so my journey began.


(This is just the beginning of an amazing #17 part roller coaster ride.  Follow the saga.  Discover insights, learn from my experience, utilize everything here to help you grow your own coaching, whether you pursue this direction or something else.  And it all can be found here.

So… what was the lesson you got from this?

When you embark upon something new, something big, something possibly scary, overwhelming and “oh crap”, it’s critical to look at a few important things.

A) What makes this important to you?  Trust me, that’s going to come in handy later on.

B) What’s the vision or dream?  Yeah, this is going to be pretty important, too, later on.

C) What will it be like if you don’t do this important work?  In other words, i knew that if I didn’t approach this whole thing differently, it would likely be the same overall experience as my acting.–fun, fulfilling (to a degree) but not truly realized.  This also begins to reveal our own personal habits, strengths and weaknesses, fears and concerns and all that stuff that would likely come in if not checked.)

D) Follow your own words.  There’s going to be so much about this and the other things and so much more to come in the following chapters, but it all bears repeating.  In this case, we need to honor our words.  Our coaching tools, distinctions, models, core foundations principles and all that stuff is there for a reason.  And if we’re not going to use our own product, then we’re going to have a really hard time selling it with confidence.

It’s more than just knowing this coaching stuff works, it’s truly KNOWING it works.

And it can ONLY WORK if we actually DO it.

So pick something that you want to create, achieve, build, grow or realize.  (Mine currently is to create a membership platform where 10,000 coaches can access all of these posts, audio recordings, video lessons, master classes and cutting-edge webinars, and YOU’RE INVITED to join in on the Free Access to Great Stuff level.  Check it out and get all the Great stuff.)

“Who holds the title now for “The Worst Coach in the World?”

When I was going through my early stages of coach training, I was convinced that it was me.  In fact, in my Supervision calls in Certification, I got a rating of a “1”.  This is when the Supervisor and I would listen to one of my coaching calls that I did with one of my clients, and then we’d evaluate it together.

I can tell you, it was horrible.  I loved the Supervision part of Certification because it was a great place for  me to learn, and after having brought some difficult calls to the sessions, I decided on that one because I felt that I had done some fantastic coaching and was ready for a little pick-me-up and affirmation.  Yet, when I listened to it again with the supervisor, I realized that had done everything wrong with my client.  I coached the saboteur, I was so stuck in my head and trying to solve the problem.  Let’s see, what else?  I certainly didn’t pick a principle, there was absolutely no listening, curiosity, or intuition.  And self-management?  Puh-leaze!

When it came time for the scoring, I actually gave myself a “0”.  The kind and generous Supervisor gave me a “1”, only because it didn’t seem that the client was worse off by the end of the call.  In other words, at least I didn’t damage them. (Comforting thought it was.)

So after that experience, I was convinced that I was the “Worst Coach In The World.”  And in fact, I was convinced that no one would be able to take that title away from me.  Oh sure, there were other coaches who said they were the worst, but they couldn’t hold a candle to my incredible ineptitude.  On top of all that, my Saboteur was very proud of this achievement and missed no opportunity to remind me of my coaching status, placing my awards high up on the mantle, polishing them every day, like a proud parent, “Look at that.  My boy.  The worst coach in the world!  Not every Saboteur can brag about that.”

And it didn’t end there.  In fact, I received my second gold medal of “Worst Coach in the World” when I took my exam.  I didn’t just fail, I FAILED!!!!  Again, the saving grace in my feedback was that I at least hadn’t damaged the client. (It’s not every coaching session where the client actually stops the coach and tells the coach what to do because the coach is completely somewhere else and doing anything but coaching.)

And every time after that when I offered my coaching, I secretly new that it was just setting myself up for another refusal to come, because of course they had to have known about my trophies.  They could probably see my crown.  I imagined that total strangers would be phoning each other in the middle of the night to warn unsuspecting victims to not fall prey to the “Worst Coach in the World” when I called to offer my coaching.  And if they did accept, then it was at their own risk and they would eventually find out that I was a fraud, a sham.

However, strangely enough, time passed.  And somehow, after a period of time I seemed to have misplaced my trophy.   The luster and novelty of it all had worn and my Saboteur seemed to have forgotten it’s gloating pride.  I began to realize that not only was no longer the reigning champion of coaching sucktitude, I was actually pretty good at this stuff.  And in fact, getting better all the time.  I was accumulating proof, not of my poor skill, but of my powerful impact.

What’s even funnier is that because I now coach coaches, I keep running into coaches all the time who claim to be the reining king or queen or coaching misery.

So I’m wondering.  Who is it now?  Where has the title gone to?

Perhaps you think it’s you.  But remember, there can only be one “Worst” so perhaps you’re mistaken.  Maybe you are super sucky, you’re part of the royal family of crappy coaching, but you’re not the Worst.

In fact, I challenge you to write down 10 coaching successes.  10.  Anyone can do ten.  Even if you fell asleep in Fundamentals you can come up with 10.

And if you can come up with 10, then you can easily expand that to 100 in time, and then more and more.  And if that’s the case, then there’s still hope for you yet.

Perhaps you can sell your trophy to the next “Worst Coach in the World” on Ebay.


OK, how many of us are having coaching calls and they aren’t feeling like they’re connecting with our Values?  There’s no sense of excitement, play, acknowledgement, discovery, etc…?  And as we all know, if our Values aren’t being stimulated, then where is our aliveness?

So look at it this way.

Let’s say you’re going to a party, and you love potato salad (just go with me on this one, okay?).  I mean, every time you have potato salad your tummy twirls with delight.  In fact, you go to every party desperately hoping against hope that there will be potato salad for you to consume with passion.

The trouble is, sometimes there is potato salad… and sometimes there’s not.  Apparently, not everyone thinks to provide potato salad for their guests.  (Heathens.)

“What are they thinking?” you might say. “Don’t they know how wonderful potato salad is?  What’s wrong with them?  Or maybe they don’t want me to have potato salad.  Maybe they’re holding out on me.”

Or perhaps they have their own plan as to what is needed at their parties.

And who are you to tell them what they should and should have at their party?  However, you really want to go to the party, but you have no way of knowing if they’re planning on serving potato salad.

What are you going to do?

How are you going to guarantee that potato salad will be there at the party?

Well, it’s pretty simple.  If you really want potato salad—I mean, really, really, really want it—then the only way to guarantee it will be at the party for you to enjoy is… (can you guess what the solution is?  Go ahead, take a guess) …that’s right, to bring it yourself.  Stop at the store on the way and purchase a tub of your own.  Or make some of your own the night before.

This way, not only will you have your deeply coveted potato salad, but others will most likely be there who will enjoy your potato salad, and in fact, be so inclined to bring their own next time to share with you.

So going back to your values, the best way to insure that you’ll have those elements that you desire in your coaching is (come on, take a guess)… that’s right… to bring them to the call yourself.

Most often we fall into the trap of waiting for the client to bring our values into the call, like somehow it’s their responsibility to bring connection and energy and abundance and whatever our values are to the call.  What we fail to realize is the simple fact that they are our values, not the client’s.  They’re having enough of a time trying to connect with their own values than to be responsible for providing you with yours.

Of course, continue to follow the client’s agenda, give them what they need, but by using your Values to do so, you’re actually showing up more fully for your client.  If you want acknowledgement in your coaching, then acknowledge your client.  If you’re wanting playfulness, then play with your client.  If you’re wanting risk taking, then… well, you get the idea.  In other words, YOU make the first move, and invite your client to join you.

And not just with your clients.  How about all your other relationships?  You want your mother to respect you?  Try respecting her—really respecting her, without expectations.  That means, that you’re not going through the motions of respecting her so that she’ll get the point and return the favor.  It’s about truly giving up expecting it from her, cause chances are it won’t show up.  Just like the potato salad, if you want it, you’ve got to bring it.  And then it’ll be there for you to enjoy.

So give it a try.  Give your Values away.

You just might be surprised at what you get in return.

What your coaching can BE

What a treat to open my email and see this:

“I wanted to let you know that I achieved my MCC from ICF Global. Attending the Masterful Coaching class with you helped me to see the areas I needed to work on to demonstrate MCC capabilities. That class was the start of the journey to bring my coaching skills to the next level.” – Lynn Schaber, MCC

Wow.  What a wonderful acknowledgment.  I humbly receive this and share it with you to let you know what’s waiting for you.

If you’re going for your MCC, PCC or even ACC, or heck, you’re not going for any credentials and you just want to discover what’s possible in your coaching, to reveal what you didn’t know was missing, and to access a deeper and more confident coach, then I highly invite you to join in

the Fast Pass to MasterFull Coaching,
Module 1 – HAVING Your MasterFull Foundation.

We’ve just started a couple days ago and will resume on Tuesday, November 24 from 5:00 pm – 7:oo Central / 6-8 Eastern.
And it’s still at an amazing “end of year, helping you in these times” discounted price of a low $800, or two payments of $400 each.

SPECIAL OFFER: if you are interested, let me know at ben@bedo.org and I’ll send you the first call “Revealing Your MasterFull Coach” to listen to,
If that’s all you want for now, then it’s my gift to you.
If you want to join the rest of the course, then come on in and you can use either of these two links below to lock it in.

FPMC Mod 1: Have a MasterFull  Foundation for $800
FPMC MOD 1 (2 monthly payments of $400)

But do it before Tuesday, because you don’t want to miss this next amazing and powerful lesson that reveals a the coaching BRACE that will completely redesign how you see your coaching and your clients, and go sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much deeper.

This is what your coaching can BE

The Fast Pass to MasterFull Coaching free preview and value call

If you’ve ever wondered what the FPMC is all about,
If you’re curious as to what you don’t know about your coaching
If you’re thinking about how you can stretch and grow…
Come to the open Preview Q&A “What Is the Fast Pass to MasterFull Coaching all about?” call.

Tuesday, November 10
from 5:00 – 7:00 PM Central / 6:00 – 8:00 Eastern

  • Get some high level tips, insights, and tricks to grow your coaching.
  • Ask your questions about coaching.
  • Watch your coaching grow on that very call.
  • Learn how powerful and exciting the Fast Pass to MasterFull Coaching can be for you.
  • Get info on how to get a special discount registration.
  • And so much more.

No matter how long you’ve been coaching, how good you are, you WILL discover something powerful on this call.

Yeah, it’s free.
TREMENDOUSLY HIGH Value and no cost to you.
That’s how I roll.
CALL: 14802970773, PASSCODE : 9083773

Or through the web at bedocoaching.freeconferencepro.com/conf/call/9083773

Come as my guest. I’m here to help you truly BE the coach you are here to be.


And if you want to continue with Module 1: Have Your MasterFull Foundation, it’ll kick off Tuesday, November 17 for 10 AMAZING MASTER CLASSES)

  • 20 Core Comp CCEUS
  • 6 Self-Study CCEUS
  • Deep and powerful advanced coaching foundation to create unshakable confidence.

Visit www.mastermycoaching.com for more details or register for it now to lock in your place.

MODULE 1: HAVE your MasterFull Foundation
$800 (For 10 amazing advanced coaching lessons???)

Module 1 (2 monthly payments)
$400 each (What an amazing deal!!)

This is one of the most powerful, solid, coach growing courses available.
If you do not feel that you got more than your investment, I will GIVE you a complementary MCC Mentor session

This is the module ONE of the Full course that coaches are calling:
“deeply inspiring”,
“the best bang for the buck” ,
“it was like drinking from a fire hose”
“encompassing the whole coaching experience”
“I really wish I had done this earlier in my coaching” and,
” the best investment you make in yourself since your original decision to become a life coach!”

And now it’s your turn to FULLY BE the coach you are truly here to BE
I’ll be waiting to welcome you.

-ben dooley, MCC
It’s time to truly BE the coach you are here to BE

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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