Monday, March 26, 2012

Three key mistakes to avoid in setting goals

The below post first appeared on CBS MoneyWatch:

If you set goals for yourself or for others as part of your job, it is imperative you don't make the goal-crushing mistakes discussed below. You already learned how positive fantasies hurt real-world success -- namely, that when you imagine the positive result too vividly, you experience some of the joy and become less energized to actually do the work. But that's just the beginning. Not all goals are created equally. According to research from Harvard Business School, you need to avoid these common errors in setting goals:

1. Goals that are too specific. One benefit of goal is that is focuses your attention. It forces you to focus all of your attention, resources, and energy on a single objective, rather than a range of disparate and even conflicting goal. That can be incredibly powerful. People without goals diffuse their energy across multiple objectives. But have them train their sights on something specific and you will begin to see results. That's the good news.

The bad news? Goals can be too specific. The biggest problem is when you set the wrong goal. You decide to lose 15 pounds. Seems reasonable, but it may be too focused on a specific number and distract from what you really want -- better health. Remember Enron? Their goal was laser-focused on hitting revenue targets -- so much so that bonuses and other incentives were pegged to sales, when a much better goal would have been to target profits.

Another side-effect of excessively targeted goals is that you can become blind to important, but seemingly unrelated, issues. A tragic example of this is the Ford Pinto, which had a tendency to explode in rear-end collisions. The automaker's goal was to bring the car to market, overriding safety concerns.

2. Too many goals. According to the Harvard report, "Individuals with multiple goals are prone to concentrate on only one goal." But which one? Research shows that when we have both quantity and quality goals, we will focus on meeting the quantity goals because they are easier to achieve and measure. The lesson here is to strip away as many of your goals as possible and focus more intensively on a smaller number of objectives.

3. Inappropriate time horizon. We see this play out every quarter in the stock market. For many companies, it's all about hitting this quarter's earnings, even if if that harms long-term growth. It's the kick-the-can approach to goal achievement. And if your time frame is off, your goals may act as a ceiling to performance.

Take an enduring question that the Harvard report addresses -- why it is so hard to get a taxi on a rainy day. Too much people looking for a cab, right? Yes, but there is more to it than that. Cab drivers typically set daily fare goals -- usually double the amount it costs them to rent their cabs for their shift.

With rain comes more customers, so they hit their daily goal early and then go home early. In short, for cabbies the daily goal time-frame is not the most effective. If they set weekly or monthly targets, they could work longer hours when it rains and get off early on days when it is dryer (and slower).
Robert Pagliarini
What are your goals? Are they too focused? Do you have too many? Or do you have time limits that aren't realistic? Review each of your goals so you don't commit the mistakes above and to ensure your goals are designed for maximum success.

Robert Pagliarini is a CBS MoneyWatch columnist, bestselling author, professional life coach, and founder of Richer Life—a community for people who want to achieve more at work and in life. He has appeared as an expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others. Sign-up for Richer Life Tips at to get a daily email that provides inspiration and insight each morning.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Is an ICF Credential in your future?

Throughout 2012, ICF Global is offering quarterly webinars on the process of earning an ICF Credential. The subject of these webinars will be two-fold: 1) the process of applying for an ICF Credential using the online application (learn which application type you should apply for and how you can upload the required documents); and 2) a review of skills expectations (this part of the webinar will be led by a current ICF Assessor and will include information on what Assessors are listening for during the ICF portfolio live or recorded exams and will include a review of ICF Core Competencies).

The first of these webinars took place on Friday, March 16 (access audio here and the presentation here). 

If applying for an ICF Credential is in your future, be sure to mark one of the below dates in your calendar:
  • Friday, June 15
  • Friday, September 14
  • Friday, December 14

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Did We Get Here? A report on the Development of Coaches Study


As we continue to learn more about the world of coaches through studies such as the 2012 ICF Global Coaching Study, we still understand little about the processes by which individuals become effective coaches. We all come to this field of practice with decades of professional and personal experiences. How do these experiences influence how we coach?   The answers to this question have implications for the education, training and on-going professional development of practitioners.

The Development of Coaches Study is a long-term, global study that was designed to investigate this question and gather data to help inform coaches, coach educators and policy-makers in the field. The survey instrument was developed by a collaborative group of coaching researchers *, who adapted an instrument that was used in a long-term global study of the development of psychotherapists.
After the 2009 ICF Research Committee reviewed the merits of the study, they decided that it was so important that the organization should continuing offering promotional support in the future. The quantitative items on the survey investigate a number of dimensions of coach preparation, coaching practices, practice conditions, coach attitudes and perspectives, and coach characteristics. The survey also includes one qualitative item, asking coaches to identify life events which have had a significant impact on them as coaches.

While data collection on the global survey is still in the early stages, a pilot study of the survey generated 80 responses to the life events question, allowing an analysis of this qualitative item. A collaborative colleague, Deepa Awal, and I conducted a content analysis of these responses. The resulting article, entitled: Life’s Thumbprint:  The impact of significant life events on coaches and their coaching, has been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice

Since the submission and acceptance of our article, we have also been combing through the first set of real quantitative data from the study. While the response numbers are still too small to support any statistical analyses, the descriptive data from the 184 responses to date offers a glimpse of many dimensions and characteristics of coaching practitioners and opens doors to further inquiry. An Executive Summary of this research will eventually be posted in the ICF Research Portal. In the meantime, the following is brief overview of our findings in the life events analysis that was recently completed:

Overview of the Life Events Responses

From the initial 80 responses to the life events question, we identified and categorized  174 discrete life events. These fell into three groups: Coaching field specific events (formal coach training, practice coaching, receiving coaching/mentoring and professional affiliation);  Individual non-work experiences (a wide variety of personal experiences such as illness, death of parent or partner, divorce and similar events); and other professional experiences  (professional activities, education and training not specific to the provision of coaching). 

Each category of events was shown to impact a coach’s development in a different way.  Coaching field specific events, for example, had the greatest impact on coaching specific skills and knowledge. The individual non-work experiences, most of which might be considered of a challenging nature, appear to promote self-insight, empathy and a search for deeper meaning in life. The impact of prior professional experiences varied, offering some transferable skills and an understanding of the organizational context. Given the diverse impacts that different categories of life experiences, we suggest that the preparation and on-going development of coaches should address three domains: technical (skills), affective (self-development) and cognitive (theoretical knowledge). 

What’s Next?

We will continue to collect data on the quantitative and qualitative items of the survey. The resulting data set promises to be a very rich resource for a number of additional studies. The Development of Coaches Study is a collaborative research project and any qualified researcher is invited to participate and to mine the data to add multiple dimensions to our understanding of the initial research questions: 
  1. What are the personal and professional experiences that influence coaches in their practice as a coach?
  2. What are the dimensions of coaching practice that are impacted by personal and professional experiences?
  3. What is the impact of specific life experiences on the coach’s values, mental models and coaching behaviors?
We are seeking a large and diverse respondent population.  So, if you have not already completed the survey, please do so now and also forward the survey link to any of your coaching colleagues. Please click on this link below to take the survey.
If you have any questions or comments about the Development of Coaches Study or you are interested in becoming part of the collaborative research project, please contact me at

Friday, March 16, 2012

Meeting of a lifetime

Last month, we asked our Facebook fans, “if you could meet one person, famous or not, from the past or present, who would it be for you?” Take a look below to see how our Facebook fans responded:
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine.” (Tabitha Jayne)
  • Jesus Christ.” (Keith Lawrence Miller)
  • Buddha." (Paulo Martins)
  • Thot.” (Lucio Andrés Pérez)
  • “Two – Albert Einstein and Lucille Ball.” (Dianne Garrett)
  • Myself.” (Renia Nicpon)
  • My mother.” (Karin Nilsson)
  • “& Meryl Streep.” (Renia Nicpon)
  • Albert Einstein.” (Eric Degen)
  • Oscar Wilde.” (Magdalena Giec)
  • “Endless list, but I would start with my grandfather.” (Katerina Kanelidou)
  • Oprah Winfrey.” (Glen Johnson)
  • “My grandmother. Very curious of her way of seeing things where she is now.” (Margareta Carlsson)
  • Gandhi.” (Davide Tambone)
  • Nelson Mandela.” (Annemie van Poppel)
  • Wayne Gretzky.” (Terreeia Rauffman)
  • Terry Fox.” (Cathy Romanko)
  • Cleopatra.” (Clare Sautter)
  • Adam, I guess. The one who married Eve.” (Sandro da Silva)
  • “My great great grandparents, both sides.” (Berna Herrera)
  • Socrates, in our days in New York.” (Гришаев Сергей)
  • Robert Kiyosaki.” (Anvesh Babu Pudota)
What about you? Who would you choose to meet? We’d love to know—leave a response below or join the conversation at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cleaning Your Own Temple: A Primer for Coaches

Energy Work and Coaching SIG
March 19 2012 11:00AM ET
Call In: 712-451-6000

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Facilitator:  Rhona Post MCC

During the February Energy Work and Coaching SIG call, we explored how we can more effectively communicate the value and benefits of offering clients an integrated approach to coaching that would honor both the energy or alternative healing modalities we’ve studied while still preserving the dignity of the coaching models we utilize.

One of the recurring themes during these calls is the idea that we serve our clients better when we have done the work on ourselves, first.

That has been my experience. Several group members have asked me to lead a conversation about how we can better clean our own temples first prior to trying to coach clients in those areas with which we are not familiar.

So what does it mean to clean our own temple first? Some of us have spent years learning about ourselves, studying the mind (our minds) to become better acquainted with our mental formations, our viewpoints that direct how we interpret and interact with others. We’ve dissected our emotions and our narratives to better understand and accept our frailties and our gifts. Awareness, we have learned, is the first step to changing ourselves. You cannot change what you don’t know.

This commitment to learn more about the self, not from a strictly analytic or psychological approach has helped many of us become more discerning in our coaching. Because we have cultivated the wisdom to realize that one size does not fit all, we keep learning new modalities so that we have a toolkit from which we can work. Our wisdom is rooted in experience, knowledge and compassion. 

Rhona Post
On our March call we’ll explore the types of practices we can engage in that will support us to clean our own temples and to keep them clean. What are those rooms in your house (mind) that you keep closed? What is it about those areas that scare or frustrate you? What are some practices you do on a regular basis that support you to be fully present and engaged? How do you keep your energetic distance while still maintaining a compassionate presence? How do you know when you are in your head and not fully in your body? We will address these and other questions during the call. A community is a place where our gifts are received. Please take the time to share your gifts with us.

For more information contact, or call +1.941.554.8466.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Three things ICF members should be doing

Membership renewal season is the perfect opportunity to review available member benefits so you may utilize all that is offered. This occasional topic series will highlight those things you can do to ensure you are making the most of your connection to the ICF.
  • Access global coaching research. ICF members have access (or monetary discounts) to ICF industry research. Coaching research can easily be worked into your marketing and business plans and works in advertising your practice. Spend some time perusing the ICF Research Portal, and download the Executive Summary of the 2012 ICF Global Coaching Study.
  • Leadership development. ICF members are exposed to numerous opportunities for leadership development at both the local (chapter) level and global level.
  • Discounts on applying for an ICF Credential. If you are planning to apply for or renew an ICF Credential in the future, ICF members receive valuable discounts! The ICF Credential is recognized as the gold standard for the coaching profession.
Not yet an ICF member? Join our borderless community of 20,000+ coaches  for only $195 USD today. Current ICF members who need to renew their membership may do so here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The ICF ADHD Community of Practice: What’s It All About?

The ICF ADHD Community of Practice thanks the ICF for hosting us and for validating us.

What is the ICF ADHD Community of Practice?
ADHD coaching is General Coaching amplified.
ADHD Coaches work with life issues that are often of a greater intensity, more challenging, and often filled with greater humor, as we help clients to see themselves. 

The ICF ADHD Community of Practice calls are about the many aspects of ADHD coaching and the topics apply also to General Coaching. 

If you would like to join the ICF ADHD CP or be on the email notice list please email:

THE ICF ADHD CP Experience
The best way I can share what the ICF ADHD Community of Practice experience is like is to tell you about the calls we have had this season.

The information that the speakers have brought us can be applied to our everyday coaching practice, which is likely one of the reasons that the people who join the call are coaches with many different specialties.

The 2011-2012 season began with David Giwerc, MCC, the founder of ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) and author of Permission to Proceed. David’s topic at the CP call was “How to Prosper By Getting Into Your Heart and Out of Your Head.” 

David shared with us the source of real success, success from the inside and how to achieve it. He spoke about how to choose so that we are in integrity with who we really are, with our inner spirit.

He told us how to rediscover the small voice within for ourselves and how to help our clients hear theirs. He spoke on the value of being vulnerable rather than in isolation, and how to choose that He inspired us about how to grow our business from a place of spirit, from the inside-out, rather than from the outside-in. 

Then, in October we heard “Listening to Linda – Confessions of an ADDiva.” with Linda Roggli, PCC, author of Confessions of an ADDiva, Midlife in the Non-Linear Lane

This was a one-hour entertaining and informative journey into the inner workings of the ADHD Brain, and even more, into the ADHD Spirit. We heard how they come together in a hysterically funny expression, as portrayed in one woman’s life. Linda’s words helped us to better understand ourselves and our clients.

We traveled with Linda through missed plane flights, robbed offices, checks with decimals in the wrong place, struggles with miscalculation of time, the need to control. There was not a boring utterance and no way that anyone could have stayed in a bad mood listening to Linda.  

Next, we heard Andrew Lewis share “The Benefit of Having an ADHD Brain - How to Get Your Clients to Love their ADHD.”

Andrew gave us information on how to become a more effective coach by understanding the thought mechanism underlying the things we are coaching.

We learned from Andrew a way to explain for ourselves and to our clients why they behave the way that they do. He taught us about finding the inner strength of a client and building on those strengths in our coaching. 

Then, on another call, Andy Bounds, author of The Jelly Effect: How to Make Your Communication Stick, dazzled us with his techniques of how to enlist clients and network. His topic was “How to Communicate Persuasively So That Your Communication Works Every Time.”

Andy taught us a new way to use the skills of good manners and the ability to chat in an unfamiliar context.

He shared with us ways to quickly create persuasive, inspiring messages and how to deliver these messages so they – and we – impress the people we are speaking with. He shared with us how to ensure that people buy into – and act – on all that we say.

It is difficult to put into words how valuable some of these calls have been, for me and for the people who call in. Andy Bounds was an absolute winner.

The February call featured the speakers who will be presenting at the ADD Coaches Organization in February. The speakers shared a lot of information with us and were informative, whether or not a coach planned on attending the conference.

Our Next Call
Coming up, on Wed, March 14th at 3 p.m. (New York), we will hear Kelly Dorfman MS, LND, author of What’s Eating Your Child? Kelly will speak on  “The Hidden Connection Between Our Coaching Issues and Nutrition.”

Join this call to learn some powerful “out of the box” information from a true expert who cares.  Email me ( to get the call information.

Kelly Dorfman is a nutritionist who often focuses on the issues that we focus on in our coaching.

Perhaps in working with clients daily we don’t think of, or we overlook, a very important part of optimal functioning, one that may make a world of difference. Some of what will be covered:
  • How can we as coaches help our clients and ourselves to improve cognitive functioning?
  • What clues can a coach look for that will guide him further about what may alleviate many of the client’s issues?
  • How can the knowledge of nutrition and environment make my coaching more effective?
  • What are clues that a nutrition change would help a client to get more from the coaching and from life?
  • Is there a way of eating that helps alleviate some of the issues of ADHD that our clients bring to the coaching?
  • How does a coach help her client to “master the meandering mind?”
  • How do our food choices affect us?
  • Is it different for an adult that a child?
  • How is our brain connected to our gut?
  • How can I improve my cognitive functioning through nutrition?
  • How do I know if my coaching issues have an environmental component?
  • How can I help myself, and my client, to improve word retrieval?
  • How can we improve our concentration?
  • What should I know about medication? How as a coach can I share information about medication within the framework of the ICF competencies?
Kelly Dorfman will blow your mind with new avenues and ways of thinking about our clients and ourselves.
Each of the calls has qualified for a CCEU and each participant who sends the code words within 24 hours receives a personalized certificate of the earned CCEU.
How to Join Us
I hope that gives you some idea of what the ICF Community of Practice is about.
It has been a joy to connect with each of you who has reached out to join the ICF ADHD Community of Practice.

Chana Klein
If you have any questions please email me at I look forward to connecting.
ICF ADHD Community of Practice Leader

Monday, March 12, 2012

Coaching international style : starting a coaching practice while living abroad

Coach training programs have become truly international. I am currently completing a program at CoachU and I am impressed by the number of coaches who are training at locations around the world. In any given class more than half of the students may be in a location outside of the United States. Many of these people, like myself, are expatriates living and working abroad.

I am an American living and working in Copenhagen, Denmark. Before Denmark, I lived in Hamburg, Germany. I have been living and working abroad for about two years. I felt drawn to the field of coaching and decided to do my coach training program while abroad. The coaching field is witnessing a growth of expat coaches – people who live outside of their country of origin due to work or family and who are coaches.

In living abroad and starting my journey to creating a viable coaching practice, I wanted to share some ideas and tips I picked up along the way:

  1. Coaching is perceived differently in different countries. Some countries have a very advanced understanding of coaching while others have a very basic understanding - or no knowledge at all. When creating a coaching practice abroad, it’s important to evaluate whether the local culture is receptive and knowledgeable about coaching. If your country is new to coaching, creating a business will require extra effort and extra client education about the benefits of coaching.
  2. Don’t focus on coaching expats. Usually expat coaches focus their ‘niche’ on coaching local expats. The problem with this is that the field is usually pretty saturated with coaches in your new country who got the same idea. Unless you have years of expat life and coaching experience, it’s often hard to establish credibility and compete with other coaches doing something similar in your local area.
  3. Learn about starting a business in your new country – in some countries it’s prohibitively difficult to start a business. Or creating a business may adversely affect your family’s tax situation. Find out the rules and regulations of creating a business and paying taxes. You may discover that you need to structure your coaching practice a certain way for maximum tax and financial benefit.
Starting a coaching practice is never easy and the added pressures of living abroad can make it seem impossible. However, I meet successful coaches abroad every day. If you are determined to start a coaching practice don’t let living and working abroad be a deterrent.

For international coaches or expats who are coaching abroad, do you have any suggestions you can share with the coaching community?

Robin Patin
Robin Patin is an American living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Before embarking on her international adventure she lived and worked in San Francisco as a Managing Consultant for a healthcare organization for five years. Robin had a passion for all things international, so in March 2010 she took two suitcases and a one way ticket and moved to Hamburg, Germany to teach English abroad.

She has a Bachelor degree in Finance and Psychology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master degree in Health from New York University. Robin is completing her coach training through CoachU and has a TESOL (Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification.

She writes a blog for those folks who want to sell everything and go abroad called ‘The Choosy Beggar.’

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Brave and the Weak

Tears in his eyes: is he a failure?

Tears in her eyes: she has nothing but doubts by now.
Be brave - that’s all they hear. Stop whining. Go and get a job. Whatever job. Just be back to your old self, earn decent money, support your family, buy a bigger house, travel. Come back to our tribe of working-hard fellows.

Hungary’s economy is down, leaving many excellent professionals without a proper job for months. Coaching them (sometimes for free) means a lot to me. A lot more than skill-coaching a well-to-do manager, polishing his nearly perfect carrier. Outplacement and career-change coaching is challenging, full of surprises and insights for both parties in the process. On the one hand, it’s well structured: we talk about goals, strengths, CV, networking, negotiating salary. On the other hand all these “hard stuff” must be aligned to the actual phase of the job-seeker’s state of mind and emotions. How could we possibly work on how to use power words in the CV when the client is struggling with existential crisis?

I believe we have to be able to support our clients to be weak. To not know. To be desperate. Everybody around them expects them to be strong and brave, whatever happens in their life. It’s a man’s world, you have to play hard. Weakness is for losers. Nobody is interested in your real feelings about not having had a job for months. Smile, be confident and positive to be acceptable.

I remember loosing my mother unexpectedly two years ago. It was also a crash course on duties around funeral and stuff, like in a bad dream. After the funeral suddenly I was expected to be back in business as usual. The allowed period of weakness was over, two weeks had been already wasted anyway. Be brave! A year later I realized how much time and energy I had wasted by trying to be brave and finally let myself be weak.

I respect the weak. Being lost requires a lot more bravery than fighting. As Dante put it:

“In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.
Ah how hard to say what a harsh thing was
that wood savage and rough and hard
that to think about it renews the fear!”

Only in the state of not knowing, of being lost, of stumbling in the fog, will shift happen, transition be realized. How much easier is to jump from one company to another, to leave a spouse for another - and continue the same mistakes, the same road that has never been really our. And how much dedication and energy is needed to stop for a minute, even for months if necessary and re-evaluate our life, accept all our mistakes without which we wouldn’t be the same valuable person that we are today. It takes courage to stop and face our life, to be able to gaze in the mirror and accept what we see. We might be disintegrated, lose sense of direction - we might lose control. Yet this is the moment of grasping real control over our life. Good news is that after the darkest hour, the hours or weeks spent in our inner cave alone, the road turns upward again. From the time ‘wasted’ in weakness and doubts, a new and stronger-than-ever courage will arise. Tears of despair will be replaced by tears of happiness and pride. And there we are, coaches, to support our clients in the dark wood. We believe in them, we’re proud of them. Because they are braver than anybody we’ve ever met.
Dóra Hegedűs, ACC,
past president of ICF Hungary
Dora is an ICF certified business and executive coach, relying on her business expe-rience in corporate finance and PR, and her leadership experience at NGOs. Her clients recommend her as eye-opening and focused professional with un-conditional acceptance, humour and strong presence. She's member of the Hero's Journey Project, and one of the founders and trainers of the Business Coach Acade-my. She's is founder and past president of the Hungarian Chapter of ICF. She's member of the Steering Committee and co-chair of the Marketing Subcommit-tee of the ICF Global 2012 Conference. She's facilitator of the roundtable of the coaching associations in Hungary for self-regulation. To get in contact please vis-it or follow  @coachDora.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What story are you noticing today?

The storm began in the late afternoon with strong winds and heavy rain.  
This morning it’s still raging.  The kids were bundled up with coats and umbrellas and instructions to keep warm and dry. 

And I take refuge in the local café with the comings and goings of people sheltering and the coffee machine noise gently soothing the words from my thoughts on to the screen.

One whole wall of the local coffee shop is mirrored so though I'm sitting facing the wall, I can watch the people with a glance up from my screen.  It's fascinating.
We're all living out our stories!  It's clear that the woman clutching the cup to her breast and scanning her mobile phone has had a stressful morning.  She's anxious and concerned.  I wonder what's her story?

The couple sitting across from me are negotiating a home rental contract, they're smiling in that superficial 'let's pretend we're friends' way so that they can get the business done. 

The young woman at the table is reviewing a presentation with her quirky ear muffs and constant texting.

The two women beside the window are telling a familiar story.  The older woman has a laptop half closed while she leans forward and talks animatedly.  The younger woman is holding a tiny baby, smiling and nodding in automatic response while sneaking glances out of the window to the pouring rain.

We are all storytellers.  Our stories define our reality.  What we tell ourselves about our experience creates our experience.  Sometimes our stories serves us well, often they sabotage us. 

Powerful coaching allows us create and hold the space for storytelling and story listening – so that we can transform our reality and live to our greatest potential. 

I notice the stories all around me…and realize that these are indeed my stories.

What story are you noticing today?

What story creates your reality?
Lisa Bloom, PCC

Today, as you start noticing your stories, make them great!

Lisa Bloom, PCC is founder of Story Coach Inc. and the Certified Story Coach Program.  Download her ebook ‘Using Stories to Get Great Clients’ at

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Coaching Caravan

International Coaching Week (ICW) is a weeklong global celebration of the coaching profession held annually during the first full week in February.  It is a designated time each year for coaches and clients to educate the general public about the value of working with a professional coach and to acknowledge the results and progress made through the coaching process.  Coaches around the world offer a variety of activities and pro-bono services in their local communities to share what coaching has the ability to do.

We South Africans are known for our innovative approach and triggered by the annual challenge issued to us all by Madiba (Nelson Mandela) to contribute 67 minutes as a way to celebrate his birthday and with ICW 2011 in mind, in June 2010 Anne Heslop – a member of the Board of the Gauteng Chapter of ICF - shared her vision of how these two events could be brought together for maximum impact.  And so the Coaching Caravan was born! – “Making a difference in the lives of others, one coach, one person and one coaching conversation at a time!”

The dream was to mobilise as many coaches as possible in South Africa to give 1 hour of their time during International Coaching week, to coach a person who would not normally have access to coaching.  This was the way that we, as coaches, could spend the 67 minutes doing what we do best.

A Coaching Caravan logo and website was created and we invited both ICF and non ICF members to participate.  Sponsors were asked to register projects on the website and volunteers were asked to register with the project that appealed to them.  The ball was rolling.  And then the Coaching Caravan grew arms, feet and wings and became so much bigger than any of us could have imagined.

International provider of Webinars – WebEx a division of Cisco - made a generous donation of 2 weeks of their very sophisticated and successful webinar services over the period and with that came free calls and training for the facilitator of the service – that was me.  What was a dream for South Africa was within our reach and started to become a reality.

Nine very generous people from our community gave of their time and talent, hosting webinars on a variety of topics.  We were able to reach people not only in South Africa but also extended North beyond our borders to include other African cities as well as Singapore and New Zealand...  I was the recipient of the training as to how to operate the back end of the service and in a short time entered a steep learning curve that was challenging, exciting and stimulating.

To name just a few of the projects that benefited through the coaching offered by our volunteers aboard the  Coaching Caravan:
  •  Coaching Matrics to Success;
  • The Amy Biehl Foundation;
  • Heartworks;
  • Diepsloot Youth Projects; and
  • Mothers2Mothers.
At one point I read on one of the social networking websites that coaches in the United States were thinking about what they could do for their clients in coaching week. 

I posted Anne’s vision:

International Coaching Week: Boarding the Coaching Caravan in Africa

When Monday dawns, the Coaching Caravan will be ‘pulling out’ for its epic pilgrimage around Sub-Saharan Africa with many, many excited, passionate travellers on board. We do believe in the potential for transformation in the lives of others through coaching and we want to write our collective signature on the potential of this awesome continent. One of the cornerstones of our profession is generosity, so we will give of ourselves and our skill warmly and abundantly, without any expectation, for this week.

A gentleman contacted me to enquire how we did this. I wasn’t sure what he meant and so he further explained that he tried something along those lines in his community but the coaches wanted to know what was in it for them in monetary terms.  This started a discussion among us.  The conclusion was that in countries where there was low unemployment and where things generally go well – people may have lost their compassion for one another.  This was so sad for me and on the other hand made me feel so proud of our country and our people. May we South Africans never lose our compassion for one another.

The Coaching Caravan was a huge success – I am sure the pebble (coaching conversations) that was thrown into the pond will continue to ripple through Africa for a long time to come.

We, ICF Gauteng Chapter, were nominated for an ICF Global award for the work we did during that week.  I had the privilege to travel to Las Vegas in September 2011 to receive this award.  This in itself was such an experience. I had the opportunity to share publicly in a forum of some 140 ICF leaders from over 50 countries, what we had done and to read aloud some of the testimonials from those who had benefitted.  There was such generosity in that room and I lost count of how many people came to me during the 4 days of conference, wanting to know how we did it and to express their admiration for what we had accomplished.

A young man from Japan came to me and said that he wanted to start a project like this working with people affected by the earth quake.  We have stayed in touch and I shared as much detail as I could about how we did this.  Their chapter is working hard to launch their first project this year.

I was also contacted by the Singapore Chapter and they too are starting their project this year.

How wonderful that a dream that started in South Africa, spread into Africa is starting to move into the rest of the world.  What a privilege it has been to be a part of this amazing journey.  It was only possible because more than 100 coaches gave generously of their time and talent during that week – and not just 1 hour.  Some coaches flew around the country at their own expense to touch the lives of fellow South Africans. How proud I am to be South African and to be part of a great nation. We have many problems AND we have people with huge hearts that open each year at the request of our esteemed and special leader – Nelson Mandela – and give in unique and unselfish ways.  As coaches we will again this year – 2012 – be climbing aboard the Coaching Caravan to continue “Making a difference in the lives of others, one coach, one person and one coaching conversation at a time!”

Anne-Marie Sevenster, Member ICF Gauteng Chapter.