If you’d have asked me how I felt about coaching six months ago, I’d most likely have told you that I lean towards National Express over Megabus, though I don’t use them often enough to profess to be any sort of reputable source on cross-country excursions.
You see, I had next to no clue what coaching was all about, though that wouldn’t have stopped me from telling you, and myself for that matter, that I knew what coaching was as I reeled off a handful of vague definitions with a hopefully expectant look on my face.
Truthfully though, I didn’t know the first thing about life coaching, let alone the humanistic, person-centred, transformational kind.
I’m a fairly new member of the Animas team, having only joined as the writer and reporter in March, and thus far, my time with Animas has been an incredible learning journey. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across different areas of the business and, as a result, my knowledge and understanding of coaching grows every day. The nature of my role further enhances this learning, as I meet members of the community and gain an insight into their coaching journey before bringing it to life in the content that we share. But it wasn’t quite deep enough. It wasn’t the knowledge nourishment that I so zealously sought. I needed more.
And so with the realisation that there are few better ways to learn more about transformational life coaching and the Animas approach than attending the Introduction to Transformational Coaching Day (ITC) I signed up, and a few weeks later I was sat in a room with twenty-five other inquisitive minds all wondering whether Animas was ‘the one’...
Waiting for the day to start there was no hesitation for people to begin to get to know one another, and before long the space was dotted with energetic groups of twos and threes. Coffee cups grasped, introductions made, the air pulsed with excitement.
Animated exchanges of “how” transformational coaching and “why” Animas were just about audible out of earshot as I introduced myself to a man that told me he was an award-winning motivational speaker. He attended the ITC because he was interested in expanding his skillset and finding out more about something that he felt he would be good at: helping others.
Situated in one of the conference suites of Bloomsbury’s Holiday Inn, the venue for the ITC was spacious and bright, with a kitchen/lounge area and range of refreshments outside. It was easy to find, air-conditioned and pretty comfortable to spend time in. In other words, the chairs weren’t horrifically uncomfortable and I skipped out of there without a single slipped disc!
The day was facilitated by Animas trainer Bronwyn Nash, who was simply captivating. Why waste time writing more descriptors when one so perfectly sums up her presence? I cast a glance around the room on several occasions and each time was met with the same sea of engaged faces, eyes all glued to the front.
Bronwyn kicked the day off by painting a picture of her own journey to coaching. A fascinating story that detailed her transition from HR to transformational life coaching in an engaging, friendly and warm manner, polished off lightheartedness and humour for good measure. I felt incredibly comfortable with Bronwyn. I think we all did. She effortlessly made everyone feel at ease and I really felt that most in the room had taken to her instantly.
For me, this is pivotally important.
When I cast a thought back to my days in education, the lecturers or professors that I remember as being ‘good’ at what they did, or having a particularly positive influence on me were never those that taught with stern and rigid discipline, nor those that lacked persona and charisma in the classroom. Those that are eternalised in memory, as teachers so often are, are those that put me at ease, laughed with me, and made me feel as though they really wanted to help me better myself. Not only do you learn more like this, but you enjoy the learning much more too.
Before we got into the main content everyone was asked what particular questions they hope are addressed during the day. A lot of hands shot up instantly and people asked some great questions. I found myself muttering “ah that’s a good one” under my breath a number of times as I listened, intently curious to people’s burning questions about both the Diploma in Transformational Coaching and transformational life coaching as a practice.
Some people wanted clarity on the differences between life coaching and transformational life coaching, others wanted to know more about the crossovers between various kinds of therapy, counselling or mentoring practices. Almost half the room raised their hand and added a question to the list and we would come back to them at the end.
For an introductory day the ITC was incredibly comprehensive. It started with discussions around what coaching is, what it is to Animas, ie. transformational coaching, what transformation means to us and the four aspects that might make a conversation or session transformational. We learned how the diploma is broken down, what the modules cover, where the practice crosses over with other helping professions (that’s one burning question from the board extinguished), how to get clients and a whole range of potential coaching pathways that we could experiment with after passing, and everything in between.
Yes there was a lot of information, but at no point did I feel overwhelmed, or bombarded or that I needed it dropped a gear because I couldn’t keep up. It was delivered and structured very well, and the questions that we answered and asked on the topics kept everyone engaged and involved in the discussions. Whether subtle agreeable nods, frenzied scrawling into notebooks, or a hand raised in counter-argument, every contribution was met with some sort of response.
Sat at the back I could see a room of strangers that all of a sudden weren’t... In their place a group of individuals that shared so many questions, opinions and interests, all bouncing off of one another, taking in a sea of perspectives, getting excited about what might be.
The day comprised of a nicely balanced, varied combination of facilitator-led presentations and group discussions, meaning that we got to take in the information whilst getting to know one another and the uniquely interesting views and insights that each person brought to the space.
The hour lunch break permitted further opportunity to get to know the group on a more personal level, and it was clear that some had formed friendships quickly as I returned to the room to witness a select few playing a sort of musical chairs, in an effort to sit alongside their newfound companions.
The afternoon had a lot more interactive elements, including a number of co-operative listening and self-reflecting exercises. During these activities I met more and more interesting and passionate individuals that told me their story, how they’d found their way to Animas, and some that told me how their search for a coaching school was over.
On a handful of occasions I chose to step back and just take in the scene around me. The interactions, the laughter, the warmth, the genuine smiles. The energy was incredible. The whole room buzzed in a pottage of heartfelt stories and enthusiastic discussions.
One of the key things that I took away with me from the ITC, is that everyone was so welcoming of one another’s views. It were as though hearing others’ perspectives was all part of the ITC experience, part of the reason that people were in attendance. Not just to hear what Bronwyn and Animas had to say, but each other. The more dialogue and opinions offered to the room, the more everyone seemed to get from it, and I could quickly see people settling into the group and really beginning to enjoy the experience.
“What I’m hearing is…” I noticed Bronwyn using this as opposed to “So what you’re saying is…” and I love it! It is such a nice way to avoid any confrontation around putting words into people’s mouths. It puts the onus on the speaker completely, a useful technique when life coaching, and I felt as though I was already picking up little coaching tips just from watching the way that Bronwyn interacted with us.
As the clock neared 4pm, and having covered all of the content of Animas’ introductory day, we finished up with a revisit to the key questions asked at the beginning of the day, and not a single one was left unanswered. A room of satisfied faces met mine, and when the forms were handed around for people to register their interest or ask for a follow-up call the excitement peaked, as though many people had found what they had been searching for.
For some, it was the end of a long search for the right school and course, the one that really resonated with them, for others it was a first attempt that felt instantly right. As I sat there taking it all in, thinking about the highlights of the day, and self-reflecting on what sort of practice I would want as a coach, a form to register my interest landed in my lap…
Was the ITC beneficial and enjoyable? Was it presented and delivered well? Did I come away with lots of answers, but even more galvanised and specific questions? Yes, yes and yes. And there are so many more positive questions that would receive resounding yeses. Yet if this piece isn’t quite testament to the amount that I enjoyed my very first introduction to transformational coaching, I have signed up to start the course and I couldn’t be more excited.
If you are interested in attending an ITC you can find out more and book a spot here, and If you have any questions about my personal experience, or perhaps would like to contribute to the animas blog I’d love to hear from you!
Categories: Becoming a coach