As I try to reflect upon my coaching certification journey from the beginning, a conversation that I had with my Mentor comes to mind.
When I met him the first time and we were discussing about my background and how I was extensively trained in the armed forces both by the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force and how they rigorously instill the deep foundational qualities of ‘Integrity’, ‘Authenticity’, ‘Discipline’, ‘Loyalty’. ‘Camaraderie’, etc., and how now that I am in the civil street I find that these building blocks are missing in most organizations; I happened to imply that the leaders and the organizations like the armed forces work better because of such core level character building processes and that seems to be missing in the people, leaders, managers, and teams outside.
Also, I was trying to impress upon him my 26-27 years of pursuit of various disciplines, theories, concepts, frameworks etc., that empower people and teams and my interest in this area of work. After quite a bit of an exchange I guess my mentor picked up a sense of my feeling adequately qualified and equipped for the coaching world. I was also probably coming from a sense of pride of knowing what exactly is lacking in these leaders, executives, teams and organizations in the corporate world, having been through a 23 years of an armed forces career.
So, I was nonplussed when suddenly my mentor started stonewalling all my claims, armed forces training, military experience, leadership skills, etc., with a direct, “So What?”
I still clearly remember the feeling of confusion, upset, anger, frustration all rising together inside me for not being understood or acknowledged. I was even wondering if I was in the right place, to begin with. I was clearly not getting the point of the dialogue that was taking place between us.
It was only after he explained that it really did not matter how qualified I was, or how experienced I was, or how noble my thoughts or actions were, but, what really mattered in the coaching-mentoring world was not all of that. What really mattered was if I really had the ability to see another person, leader, executive, team or organization through the lens of un-conditionality. Could I really have an unconditional positive regard for whomever I am engaging with? Can I come from not already having a prior judgment, bias, a prejudice or an opinion of the other that I am engaging with?
This turned out for me to be one of the most humbling dialogues that I have had in the longest time. It slowly started dawning upon me that it really, really, doesn’t make any difference to a client about who am I, or my experience, or my qualifications, as long as I am really able to treat and engage with him/her/them unconditionally with complete positive regard. And as long as my intent is pure and sharply focused on just what the client wants and needs; that context is what would really make a difference to him/her/them more than anything else.
This was the very first lesson I received from my mentor even before our classes started and even before I got enrolled. But, it remains till date one of the most important learning i had on my journey to become a certified coach. It’s a context that I hold and a holding space that I extend to each and every client/team that I partner with, with all sincerity and authenticity.