I was on a coaching chemistry call the other day – it’s like the coaching equivalent of speed dating. Someone looking for a coach picks about three coaches’ profiles from a database or shortlist, and meets the coaches for half an hour each. After the chemistry calls they pick the coach they connected with the best, or the coach that they think will challenge their thinking the best, or the coach that will support their growth and learning the best, etc. There are no set rules to it. The same as if you were dating. One person might chose the date who appears to bring the most fun and laughter. Another person might choose the date who sounds interested in settling down and having conversations about politics over breakfast. I guess the overriding feature is whether you feel you have some kind of ‘chemistry’ or ‘connection’ to hold your interactions together.
Back to my story, an organisation had given a cohort of employees three coaching sessions. The cohort were eligible for the coaching because they were from an under-represented group…. LGBT, women (in leadership), neurodiverse, BAME, lower socio-economic status… you get the picture. One young man commented that he decided to meet me because I used the word ‘partner’ in my profile. This indicated to him that I might be ‘one of us’ – the same sex partner lot. It gave me pause for thought as to why I am not openly out as a gay woman on my profile – something I would have no problem with but had somehow overlooked.
Anyway, he also commented on the sea of white faces on the coaching profiles, which I had also noticed (having one myself). The world I operate in does feel rather under-represented by many groups. Coaches are often straight, white, middle class women. I frequently work with people from under-represented groups. The fact I’m gay can help. But there is honestly a need for a bigger, more diverse pool of coaches to support the joyously diverse workforce out there. For some time now I’ve been reflecting on what I can about it. I mean there’s not a great deal I can do, but I can offer what I’ve got…
What have I got? Well, I’ve got an Authentic Confidence Programme that was built on the foundations of diversity. It is designed to develop and draw out the talents and confidence of under-represented groups, including other coaches. Having researched the existing literature and tools surrounding self-confidence, it became apparent to me that self-confidence was mainly described in a way that suited white, middle-class men. “I’ve decided to believe in myself, and so the world will open its doors for me to achieve this thing”. This is of course a gross over-simplification and I have actually gone to great lengths to systematically research the theory and application of self-confidence, and comment on the restrictions within the literature. You can watch a video I made for Birkbeck Connections here. https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6775086128971206656 or read my papers in this months’ International Coaching Psychology Review here https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6782333063021105152/
For those averse to concentrating for half an hour, I will explain it in a nutshell. The Embodied, Dynamic and Inclusive (EDI) model of self-confidence I developed, engaged a diverse range of people in the research (rather than relying on mainly Caucasian American undergrads). The subsequent programme I have developed to enable individuals to become Authentically Confident, is underpinned by this model and uses self-coaching, coaching others, mindfulness, compassion and focusing.
In developing the programme, I drew on my Professional Doctorate, my MSc in Occupational Psychology, and my Post Graduate Diploma Studies in Mindfulness. I’m also a qualified and experienced mindfulness and compassion teacher, but importantly, I have a regular personal practice of mindfulness, compassion and focusing. Why am I telling you all of this? This blog is not meant to be masquerading as an informal CV, but I want to emphasise something integral to my work. One of the things I have learned, and absolutely believe, is that as a Practitioner, Coach and Psychologist to really truly support others in their growth and learning, I need to have learned first-hand, experienced and grown personally from the practices that underpin my work.
This is borne out by world famous mindfulness teachers. Segal, Williams and Teasdale developed a new intervention back in 2002 for preventing recurring depression. It incorporated mindfulness and cognitive behavioural techniques. However, when they first started teaching it, they couldn’t understand why participants on their courses weren’t seeing any real changes. They crossed the pond to meet Jon Kabat Zin, the pioneer of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course. Kabat Zin asked them how their personal practices were going. They were confused! Kabat Zin didn’t seem to understand their quest, to reduce depression in their patients, not themselves. They, the practitioners, were fine!
When Kabat Zin discovered they did not have a personal practice he sent them back to the UK with just one clear message. Unless they practiced mindfulness themselves, they could not expect their patients to do what they requested of them. They took his message on board, and sure enough the participants on their courses started to make personal progress, and to this day it is a hugely successful course used systematically in the NHS. In their work to this date, they continue to emphasise the importance of teachers of mindfulness being practitioners of mindfulness in their own daily lives.
As someone who coaches and trains others in Authentic Confidence in the workplace I live and work by this principle. Using a model I developed, and a mixture of practices, I am now inviting other coaches and occupational psychologists to join me. I invite others to embrace their own journey of personal growth towards Authentic Confidence. This is not a quick-win silver bullet, it is a journey to be enjoyed, to be struggled with, one to become disheartened with and then to find inspiration from again. It’s a path of building relationships and connections with both oneself, and with others. It can open your mind and your heart, and give you the courage and strength to offer this to others.
If you want to register your interest, and telling me a bit about yourself, then click on this link here: https://form.jotform.com/210734759551359
If you want to meet me informally, why not try joining my lunchtime mindfulness sessions, free of charge, free of commitment! Currently running during lockdown… Monday and Wednesday lunchtimes 12.30 – 13.00 on Zoom. Click here https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82011432812?pwd=aW1VdkVvOHpZV1FhQlhlUlMyaDRpZz09 or use meeting ID: 820 1143 2812 and password: 327550
Kane, A., Lewis, R. & Yarker. J. (2021). The development of the Embodied, Dynamic and Inclusive (EDI) model of self-confidence for use in executive coaching. International Coaching Psychology Review, 16(1), 6–37.
Kane, A., Yarker. J. & Lewis, R. (2021). Measuring self-confidence in workplace coaching: A systematic literature review of measures of self-confidence, self-efficacy and self-esteem. International Coaching Psychology Review, 16(1), 64–87.
Segal, Zindel V.; Williams, J. Mark G.; Teasdale, John D.. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, Second Edition . Guilford Publications.