Helena Clayton | Re(learning)



22 Mar 2017, Posted by Helena Clayton in Monthly Blog

In 2008, I had a moment of arrogance. I was starting a six-month-long coaching training and the first module was on contracting. Huffing silently to myself, muttering quietly that I knew how to contract, I settled down and waited to pass the time until they got onto something more interesting.

Yes. You’ve probably guessed how that worked out for me. Through that module – through the practice sessions, co-coaching with peers, observed by peers and with feedback from peers – I realised that I might contract but could always do it better. That there were subtleties that I was missing. That I didn’t always do such a good job of it. That to contract – and recontract – well was quite an art as well as a skill.

It was a humbling moment. That however experienced I am, I can always learn. And relearn.

And so it was this weekend. The relearning, that is. Less so the arrogance, I hope.

This weekend, I was on a coaching ‘intensive’ (more detail below) where I spent a lot of time coaching peers, being observed by peers and getting feedback from peers – and also from a coach/mentor.

I have just arrived home feeling full and satisfied, recognising that I have learned (or maybe relearned) so much. A lot of it about my coaching practice, but much too about the process of (re)learning.  Not least that:

• I find it very confronting to practice what I purport to be good at – and earn a living from – in front of peers. I feel vulnerable and it brings up my well known stories of feeling like a fraud, of fearing that others will judge me, or that I will know, for once and for all, that I’m not good enough.  I don’t know if you recognise those or similar things in yourself, but it reminded me that I need to brave in continually  ‘doing business’ with those beliefs if I am to be truly of service to my clients.

 • I need the views of others to keep me honest and true. I reflect on my practice a lot, and often with other people. And I have a coaching supervisor, naturally. But in conversation and in supervision, I am always relating my version of the truth, my version of how I show up in a coaching session, my view of how things went.  Coaching in front of peers means I have nowhere to hide and my version of the truth is triangulated by several other versions, including that of the person I’m coaching. Not always comfortable and always useful.

• I learn so much from watching other people work. Coaching is rather isolated, private and solitary, and sometimes I feel that I have slipped into patterns and habits that are my signature ways of working but that may also be limited or narrow. The opportunity to watch others coach is so rare and I was excited and stimulated as I heard people ask questions that are not in my repertoire but that will be from now on; saw another person bring creativity to a session in a way that I’m a bit timid to do but I’m pretty sure I feel more emboldened to do now; heard someone use fewer words and do so much with them.  So much that will expand my ways of working.

After day and a half, I feel topped up and better resourced in so many ways. And you know what? One of the most helpful pieces of personal learning for me from the whole weekend was around contracting and re-contracting. Funny that.

I am finally starting the process for PCC accreditation with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Finding it difficult to get my head around the process, finding it bureaucratic and complicated, I kept putting it off.  Then I met the wonderful Clare Norman, an ICF coach-mentor. She offers a 2 day intensive ‘lock-in’ where you walk through the process and get the chance to complete a lot of the necessary paper work as well as get many hours done of the required mentoring. Run in her beautiful home in the New Forest, the details are here and I would highly recommend it.

With thanks for Coaching Development with whom I did that coaching training in 2008. Did I ever tell you how much I learned about contracting ..?!

And to my fellow learners this weekend @markedwards @timhewitt @heleneswan.  Thank you so much for your loving support and challenge, on-the-nose feedback, for modelling such great coaching and for bringing your whole selves to the weekend.

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