The other day, as I was scrolling through social media, a post by a company that I have a lot of respect for caught my attention: ‘Do This Before You Hire a Business Coach.’
Now, I’m not a business coach but I am an ICF certified coach and have trained with a number of executive certified coaches - so I was curious to see what they had to say.
To be honest, a lot of it irked me.
It takes a lot to irk me on social media. And a lot more for me to step up and speak out.
When I get irked, it’s a sign for me to pay attention to WHY it irked me - knowing there is likely a value that I hold strongly that was stomped on.
Their message, I suppose, had good intentions and, perhaps, even wanted to irk some people in order to get their attention (and enrol in their upcoming course).
In a nutshell, I think what they were trying to convey was ‘know thyself’ BEFORE embarking on the assistance of a coach. However, the author’s ‘fear’ or belief that he was trying to trigger in his audience was that there are many coaches out there that would like to profit from our misery and would support and encourage us in whatever we wanted to do whether it suited us or not.
As ICF credentialed coaches we are held to a strict Code of Ethics, competencies and standards of coaching. Increasing clients’ self-awareness to know themselves, their beliefs and behaviours as well as their purpose, strengths, values AND their shadow sides is only one essential part of coaching. See the other ICF Core Competencies here.
While reading, taking courses, taking online assessments and reflecting on what works well and what doesn’t are all great ways to know yourself, there is also tremendous value in having another objective guide (a coach, therapist, counsellor, expert) to help you see the whole picture and your blind spots. It's also my experience, over the last number of years of having been coached, that I’ve learned much more about myself through that process than I would have done on my own.
So maybe instead of the ‘right thing to do’, the better thing to do as a client, is to get curious, ask about coaching credentials and try before you buy.
But that wasn’t the thing that irked me most.
What irked me most was a remark about taking personality into consideration when choosing what to do to make money. In their words they write, “The ‘right thing’ will always take into account your purpose, your values, and what you are uniquely good at. It will take your personality into consideration (because, for example, being a coach is cool if you’re an extrovert, but maybe not so much if you’re an introvert).”
Anyone else get their hackles up when they read that?
While I agree that taking personality into consideration along with your purpose, your values and what you are uniquely good at when choosing your career or passion project can be helpful,
personality and whether you are an introvert or extrovert, need not dictate whether you can be successful and fulfilled.
Being an extrovert, ambivert or introvert informs how we may need to prepare for an activity and recharge after it. It also informs what support, resources or additional training we may need. It’s narrow thinking to believe that it dictates if a chosen passion is ‘cool’ or not.
Susan Cain (author of the book, Quiet) writes, "The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers - of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity - to do work you love and work that matters."
"Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it. If this requires public speaking or networking or other activities that make you uncomfortable, do them anyway. But accept that they’re difficult, get the training you need to make them easier and reward yourself when you’re done."
In case you haven’t guessed already, I am an introvert and a coach.
As a coach, I help passion-driven women bring their full and best energy to the people, the moments and the causes most important to them.
And, from what I know to be true of myself and from what my clients and mentors tell me, I am also a calm and highly skilled coach. In fact, because I am an introvert and prefer to shine the spotlight on others, I would argue that the actual skills and art of coaching (especially coaching presence) come quite naturally to me.
I am not saying that coaching is cool if you’re an introvert and maybe not as an extrovert - that’s a short-sighted generalization.
What I am saying is that in order to do the work we love, there will often be tasks that make us uncomfortable, as an extrovert, introvert or ambivert. What’s important is to increase our self-awareness of the thoughts, behaviours and consequences related to those tasks and create consistent practices to help us manage them so we can bring our best selves to the things most important to us.
Because our passion pursuits should not come at the expense of our health, well-being or our loved ones.
Oh, and the values that I felt were stomped on when I read that being a coach may not be cool if you're an introvert?
Fairness and justice. Belonging and inclusion.
Just because introverts may be more quiet and shy, don’t underestimate their skill, their contributions and their right to sit at the coaching table or any other table for that matter.
The learning lesson reinforced for me? Get curious. Ask questions. What about being an extrovert for that author makes coaching cool? And what about being an introvert makes it maybe not so much? And what exactly does ‘cool’ mean?
Because it irked me and got my hackles up, I found myself moving into defensive mode and wanting to prove a different point of view.
Asking questions helps neutralize emotions. It helps increase awareness in both parties and shifts us into a growth mindset. Because that’s what coaching is all about - partnering with and supporting clients to increase awareness. To help them experiment and to grow and learn to become better versions of themselves at home and at work.
What came up for you as you read this blog today? I'd love to know.