I was talking to someone who had recently completed a coaching course, with a different coaching school. They loved the course and had enjoyed working with a few practice clients, but had then reached a bit of a tapering off. They said it was hard finding practice clients, hard to get motivated to develop their marketing materials, hard to stay connected to the enthusiasm they experienced whilst on the training.
As I listened to this, I was struck by how completely invaluable the Animas coaching community is. It can be too easy to take something for granted when it’s always there, but hearing this person talk about their experience made me appreciate anew the potency of a vibrant coaching community (that is available to all coaches who complete the Animas Diploma) simply by imagining how it would be if there was no community. It would be just as this person described – potentially somewhat isolating, challenging, lonely, overwhelming. But no coach coming through the Animas route needs to experience this, and there are a wealth of different community elements for those wanting high-level engagement or others wanting a ‘hovering-around-the-edges’ support. It’s no wonder that almost half of the people reviewing the Animas training specifically mention community:
So, what exactly does make the Animas coaching community so important to its alumni? There’s not just one aspect, there’s many, so let’s look at some of these different elements in more detail.
The Lounge is a Facebook group with nearly three thousand members that still manages to have the intimate feel of friends meeting for coffee.
What leaps out of the Lounge is the sense of safety and openness. People can and do feel able to share all sorts of worries, concerns and questions and the coaching community is always there to catch people, with a generous outpouring of reassurance, suggestions and encouragement. When a recent post was met with a flurry of supportive responses, one person wrote:
The breadth and range of topics is incredible. In one week, for example, posts included:
offering a coaching opportunity to people, asking for book recommendations for a client, guidance on how to start a workshop, ideas on how to pitch internal coaching, recommendations for scheduling or booking apps, reassurance on using a particular mentoring service, recommendations for supervisors, seeking practice clients, practice clients seeking coaches, advice on creating GDPR contracts, a shout out to link up with French speaking coaches, a shout out to connect with strength-finder coaches, advice on how to develop a website, celebrating new coaches joining Animas, someone sharing how they gained clients through setting up Meet Up groups.
This – and so much more – in a week! Phew! All posts have multiple responses displaying a level of engagement that is often missing from online groups. But that’s the thing about coaches – they’re supportive and encouraging people! And that’s the thing about coaching – it can be isolating and overwhelming getting a new practice off the ground. So having a space to share, and witness others sharing what you’re experiencing, is extremely liberating and motivating.
For those wanting even more help with the business side of coaching, Animas has another community space dedicated entirely to this, the Animas Business Lab.
Animas Business Lab
As the name suggests, this group has more of a focus on the business side of coaching. Here, group members can get into the nitty-gritty of what’s holding them back in their business, as well celebrating the hell out of any successes. The result is a space that is supportive and motivating in equal measure.
Recent posts included asking for advice on VAT, advice on how to design proposals, a question regarding a client who failed to pay for a coaching package, information around the fees people charge, recommendations for web developers, celebrating getting a book published, sharing getting a nomination for a podcasting award.
Looking through the thread on this group it becomes clear really quickly – there is nothing that you’re struggling with that someone else hasn’t struggled with before you. The message seems to be: It’s ok. You’re not alone. There’s a path through so keep going! And the celebrations remind you that this stuff works!
Lovely to chat...
So far, we have shared three thriving online communities that exist within the alumni community. But not all networking is done through posting content on these groups. We’re humans, and sometimes it’s lovely to meet another human and just…connect!
To this end, Animas host Coffee and Connect, a no-agenda, turn up and BE space for coaches to drop into and chat, banishing lone-working blues!
And there’s a monthly Book Club, reading coaching or coaching-related books as a springboard for getting together and thinking alongside other coaches.
Lovely to Hear others chatting...
Animas is also committed to creating content that puts a passion and curiosity for coaching at the heart of the conversation, including conversations between Animas’ leadership team and the Coaching Uncaged podcast which aims to, “take a running jump into all things coaching and unapologetically pushes the boundaries of how we think about the art of coaching.”
Why community matters
What does all of this commitment to community add up to? Why does it even matter?
Well, the coaching training is, as it turns out, only part of what is needed to make great, passionate and thriving coaches. World-class training might be the vehicle, but it’s the community that fuels the vehicle for the long journey ahead. Without the support of others, to grow and learn with, you can fall into doubt and second-guessing yourself. WITH access to a wide community of peers, this is less likely, as you have a steady connection to:
In the words of so many alumni, it’s the coaching community that has been the surprise and added bonus of signing up with Animas, the gift that keeps giving long after the training has ended.