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In the foothills of the learning curve

I feel like I am a much better coach today than I was two week ago. Isn't that wild? I almost (but only almost) want to apologize to everyone I coached before that, because I now know how much better I could have done.

I remember this feeling from editing — after I had been learning, practicing, and working as an editor for a while, I recognized (with chagrin) the mistakes and oversights in my earliest efforts.

But I guess that's how learning works, and even surgeons have to practice on somebody. (Isn't that a thought!) And I know I was of use to previous clients, even my very first coaching client (to whom I will always be grateful).

It has been quite a journey: 125 hours of training, over 75 hours of coaching, and uncounted hours of reading and reflecting. Soon all that work will be recognized in the form of an ICF accreditation. And that's what today's newsletter is about.

Coaching or "coaching"?

Coaching, in the sense of professional or life coaching, has only been around for about 30 years. That was when some folks (look, I didn't do a lot of research for this letter, okay) decided that this way of working with clients was a thing that could be defined, taught, and accredited, and they decided to call it coaching. Or, more likely, they decided to keep calling it coaching.

I wonder if they now wish they had invented a new name, or chosen something more idiosyncratic. Because, while coaching is, at least according to the International Coach Federation, a very specific field of work, there's nothing to stop anyone from calling themself a coach. And they do... oh, they do.

Mostly when people call themselves "coach", it's because they're good at something, they've been doing it for a long time, and they can give you advice and tips. Leadership coach, public speaking coach, writing coach, tennis coach, life (?) coach...

If you're following along at home, you know that the coaching I do doesn't include giving advice or the transfer of expertise. Rather, it involves a precisely structured conversation designed to facilitate self-awareness using the tools of listening, questioning, acknowledging, and direct communication.

But I can't even be mad about all those other folks calling themselves coaches, because the word has been around for a lot longer than the nascent profession — since the 1830s, according to Wikipedia. We professional coaches can't very well stamp our feet and shout at people for using a perfectly good English word to mean exactly what the dictionary says it means.

Which is why I wonder if they should have chosen a different word 30 years ago...

The bottom line is, if you're hiring a coach, you need to know what you're looking for. Are you looking for the advice kind of coach, or are you looking for the "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential" kind of coach? (That's the ICF's definition.) Do you want to pick up a few tips, or do you want to change yourself in order to change your life?

If it's the latter, then you want to look for the ICF's ACC, PCC or MCC accreditation. Incidentally, ICF certification also requires adherence to a code of ethics as well as continual skill development.

What's NewMy hair is way shorter now

Every time I work on my newsletter my 16-year-old offers to help me write it, so this week this segment has a guest author. Here's what I'm up to, from my daughter's perspective.

This is what I can figure out: she spends a lot of time typing things. I don’t know what they are, since she does this newsletter the night before it comes out most times. She did another week of coach school. It seemed less emotionally taxing than the one before. She was being a TA this time. She got an honorarium, which means she wasn’t actually getting paid enough for it to be a job but money is always good. She was on a conference call yesterday with a bunch of other people and she said she was tired (?). It seemed like a roundtable type thing, and she introduced herself as a life coach so I’m assuming everyone else there wasn’t. She got a bad grade from one of her teachers, but apparently this teacher is a hard marker soooo. 


Non-coach stuff she’s been doing is, like, making dinner every night. God bless. She also cleans the kitchen and runs the Roomba. She does her journal thing. She might have two of them actually, I don’t really know. I can’t tell where she is from the calendar because everything she writes is like, an acronym. She and my father are going to Berlin this weekend and she’s really excited about it. She’s been planning places to go and also told me and my sister (mostly me) what we need to do while they’re gone. Yesterday we helped out with a clothes swap at Hodgson with her friend Tanya, and we both got some good clothes there. It was hard on the back though.

That's fairly accurate.

Fun and Interesting

  • If you aren't all on the same page about what you are trying to make, you will probably make something bad. Matt LeMay thinks the movie Metallica: Some Kind of Monster should be required viewing for cross-functional product teams. []
  • All the knowledge you have is a store of wisdom, but you will never unlock that wisdom if you never act upon what you know. Lawrence Yeo talks about the perils of only ever taking in information. This article is, ironically, a bit of a cautionary tale, because Yeo gets a little too carried away with his own ideas, but the basic notion of making time for creation as well as consumption is sound. The Release Ratio []
  • All of us can unlock the Keanu way of life and produce extraordinary results in the process. Tim Denning was looking to revive a flagging career, and in so doing discovered Keanu Reeves as a role model for kindness, humility and gratitude. How to Live the Keanu Reeves Way of Life. []

Thank you for reading this far!

If you like what you read, hit reply and let me know, or forward it and let someone else know. If you have questions or comments, hit reply and let me know. If you have seen something interesting out there, hit reply and let me know. Are you seeing a trend here? If so... hit reply and let me know! I look forward to hearing from you. ❤️

Amy Rhoda Brown Coaching
Copyright © 2020 Amy Rhoda Brown Coaching, All rights reserved.

I live and work on land which for thousands of years has been part of the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Huron-Wendat. Today, this meeting place is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island, and I am glad to be able to live and work here.

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