Living the Masteries is a new regular column, where we invite coaches to share some of the magic that is occurring for them as they live the IAC Coaching Masteries® in their everyday lives. We hope to inspire you to weave them in to your everyday lives and experiment with using them outside of your formal coaching relationships.
The IAC Coaching Masteries® are the skills that coaches are required to demonstrate skillfully in order to become certified by the IAC. As we prepare for certification and beyond, we experience the miracles that can occur when we use these skills with our clients. Now some people are realising that once they learn the Masteries, life and relationships move to a whole new threshold. They are discovering that the Masteries are fabulous tools to have at our fingertips for our everyday lives, to enhance relationships, to see more possibility for ourselves and others and much, much more.
Here is this month’s inspiring story of Living the Masteries from coach Erika Anderson:
Coaching in Marriage
"You’ll never believe what happened at work today," my husband says.
I think to myself, oh, I bet I can. But because of the Masteries I don’t say that. I take a breath and decide to listen.
"Oh? What’s that?" I ask.
As I listen, I breathe. A judgmental voice in the back of my head tells me that my husband is being a victim. But this voice won’t help me to support him. And maybe he has felt victimized at work. It’s not for me to decide.
"That sounds aggravating," I sympathise.
He continues, and as I ponder the details of his story I ask, "Are you using this situation to make a judgment about yourself?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are you making this mean something about your self-worth?"
"I guess. I don’t really feel like I have any worth. Definitely not at work," shares my husband.
We look at each other.
"I feel sad when you say that you don’t have any worth," I say.
We’re quiet for a moment.
"Where is the sad in your body?" I ask.
"In my throat."
"Would you be willing to breathe into that sad in your throat?" I ask.
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
"What does the sad have to say about what you’ve just said about yourself, that you don’t have any worth?
"It’s not true."
"What is true?" I ask.
"That I am worthy. I do have value."
"And does that value depend on what happens at work?"
He opens his eyes. We smile.
"I agree. You always have value. No matter what your boss says, what I say, what anyone says."
He nods in agreement.
"What can you do to remember that while you’re at work?"
"Take breaks, like swimming at lunch just to get out of there."
He gives me a blank look.
"You can call me if it gets bad during the day." I offer.
"I also want to acknowledge that you go to work each day to support us even though the situation is far from ideal." I say.
"Thanks for saying that."
I sense he feels relieved to have this space where he can feel understood and supported instead of judged or told what to do. We both know I can’t change his situation at work, but I can support him. That is the gift I am now able to give.
Before I began to learn the Masteries, I told my husband I was done hearing about work; he'd have to find support elsewhere. With the help of the Masteries, I have experienced a positive shift in our marriage. Instead of already knowing the "right" answer, I have the opportunity to bring a beginner’s curiosity to my husband’s complaints about work. Instead of just waiting until he’s done so we can talk about something else, I take the time and energy to really listen.
Not that I’m an angel, or that every conversation is like the one I just described. I’m still learning this new set of habits and behaviours, so sometimes I remember them and sometimes I don’t. But I am grateful to be building these skills, which give me the choice to deepen the communication with my husband.
Before learning the Masteries, I thought I was a good listener, and maybe to some extent I was, but I didn’t realize just how much energy it really took. And though that might sound like "work," what I get out of it—an enjoyable, loving marriage where both of us feel like part of a team—makes it more than worth it.
Erika Anderson is training for IAC certification to become a writing coach. She is also writing her first book, getting her masters in writing and reporting as a UN correspondent.
This piece illustrates beautifully how as we use the Masteries for the benefit of other people in our lives, we get to feel good too, and our own self-esteem soars. We gain clarity and can offer support in all sorts of contexts, and as we enhance our own understanding, those we are interacting with generally get more clarity for themselves and feel supported and heard too.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where most people had these skills? Maybe one day we will learn them in schools, just like we learn to read and write. How could the world be different? How would our interactions, learning and understanding change? How wonderful it would be to feel supported, understood and validated most of the time and to be able to offer this to others, naturally!
This article originally appeared in VOICE, the newsletter of the International Association of Coaching (www.certifiedcoach.org), and is reposted with permission.