Pork Pies and Apple Pies | Sam Chambers

Author : Sam Chambers

20th June 2019

Looking for coach training can be a daunting process. We find that some of the most common questions revolve around whether being trained by a particular coaching school means you have to follow that school’s particular approach after qualification. This article gives our take on these questions in the form of a well-crafted pie-baking analogy…

Intrigued? Then read on…

A gloriously golden, flaky pastry. A delicious filling, the sweetness of the sugar counter-balanced by a combination of spices and the acidic punch of apples. Sugar dusted to the most perfect degree, a sucrose crown atop the perfect apple pie…And pause for puzzled looks and confused murmurs of “apple pie?”

Though it seems absurd to be describing the perfect apple pie; and I’m sure thus far it has served only to bring about the rumblings of  your stomach, the humble apple pie in fact bears greater relevance to the Animas coaching journey than initially perceived.

For a moment, let’s imagine that you want to set up a successful bakery on a bustling high street, in which you wish to sell pork pies and apple pies. Firstly, you need to learn how to make the best of both of these pies. For the sake of this short(crust) and sweet analogy, consider Animas as the best apple pie cookery school. You come to us and we will teach you how to make the best apple pie, through the mastery of each aspect of that pie.

Now, once you’ve acquired that set of skills, you can go away and study elsewhere to learn how to make the best pork pies, or danish pastries, or whatever it may be. Once you have expanded your baking horizons and you feel ready for your grand opening, you arrange your pies in any manner that you wish and this is your coaching practice.

Here’s the thing. The word ‘coach’ is very semantically ambiguous. It’s not a word that has a concrete definition in the same way that say ‘psychiatrist’ or ‘dentist’ does, and so everyone’s definition of coaching varies.

We find that people often feel that the term coach has a singular definition and should be interpreted in one particular way. In reality, it is ambiguous, but that is okay. Why must we define it? Surely to define coaching too rigidly serves only to diminish the originality of us coaches?

Everyone interprets and understands it in a different way and that is absolutely fine. It would be fruitless to attempt to find certainty in an uncertain state and these unique perspectives and comprehensions of the profession are part of what makes the coaching community so wonderfully distinctive.

As a result of this ambiguity however, people often get caught up in all sorts of questions such as “If I study with Animas does that define me as a coach after qualification?” The answer is no. Of course it doesn’t. Like with any course or training programme Animas requires you to follow the constraints of the course to pass the training and earn your qualification. This doesn’t mean that we expect you to base your practices solely around how we train you and the content you learn with us. As a school we wouldn’t dream of dictating how you show up after you’ve trained with us. That is completely down to you.

You take your perfect Animas apple pie, and place it alongside your perfect pork pie that you’ve learned to make through another school or form of learning, and then you set them up in your bakery however you wish. This bakery is your coaching practice, and your individuality in this respect is what makes you stand out from other coaches, or appeal to particular clients.

Animas occupies a particular space in coaching called humanistic coaching (well, humanistic and person-centred transformational coaching for those of you that find silent but satisfied joy in minutiae). What this means is that our whole ethos revolves around the application of humanistic, psychological principles as an approach to coaching.

This doesn’t mean that this is the right way to coach. There is no right way, but it’s our way. We are so committed to this self-actualising, humanistic approach that it would go against our very principles to restrain our student’s ability to practice how they wish to practice post-Animas.

It is not uncommon upon explaining the apple pie analogy to be met with retorts of “But you do so much more than just teach people how to make apple pies!” Whilst this argument stems from a love and appreciation of what Animas does as a coaching movement, it isn’t quite incorrect. That is all that we do. We teach people to make the best apple pie, which in our case is the humanistic, person-centred coaching that we teach on our Diploma. And then we say to people, go and do what you wish with this teaching. Do what excites you, do what allows you to have fun. Do what helps give you the most meaning and satisfaction.

It is easy to make the mistake of assuming that because we only teach one thing that it lacks complexity. In reality, humanistic coaching is very complex and has a lot of components to it, but ultimately it is still just one thing and we don’t have to dress it up as more than that. To make the perfect apple pie you need the perfect crust, the perfect pastry, the perfect combination of sugar and spices, perfectly cooked apples. It just so happens that our apple pie consists of questioning, reflections, presence and a whole host of other areas that make it complex.

So yes, we do teach only one thing, but we teach it incredibly well and are proud of that.

Whilst there are coaching schools out there that attempt to define coaching tightly, Animas is not one of them. We think about coaching as something that you are better served to define for yourself. Our DNA as a school is so humanistic that we don’t even want to define individuals as having to be humanistic. We are just imparting with you our approach. From there you make a decision on how you want to show up as a coach. You set up your pies as you wish and watch your bakery flourish.

Take a moment to marvel at the manner in which Animas is expanding right now, not only as a business and training organisation, but as a rapidly growing community that has an increasing number of successful coaches. Successful not through a blind following of the Animas training, but through the application of our humanistic approach which, in turn gives them the freedom to practice in a way that makes them completely unique.

For those of you reading this that are considering joining the Animas community, don’t just take my word for it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating…or should that be pie?


If you would like us to help tell your story or you would like to share your coaching niche, philosophy or agenda in the form of a blog, like this one – contact Sam to express your interest: sam.chambers@animascoaching.com

Categories: Becoming a coach  

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