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.
- 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.
- 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…
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.)