Research Paper By Natalie Beauchamp
(Transformational Coach, CANADA)
For the last few months, I have been racking my brain with ideas of what topic to write my paper on. I have started and stopped the process numerous times and have had to quiet my ego on several occasions when that little gremlin in my head started whispering “this won’t be good enough”, “this won’t sound intelligent enough”, “no one is going to want to read this”. Interesting how the ego works in mysterious and perhaps not so mysterious ways. What I have come to learn over these last couple of years with ICA, is that with self-awareness and curiosity for inquiry, we have the opportunity to witness these parts of ourselves, acknowledge them and use them to move us forward.
When I first started this program, my ego was forever trying to take control. It wanted order, it wanted structure and it wanted a plan. It wanted to be told what to do and how to do it. It wanted validation and it was holding onto the idea of conventional schooling with all its might. But as I immersed myself within the program, I soon learned that this was not going to be a traditional school experience. This was something entirely different, it was a new way of learning. I came to realize that in my past school experiences, I was always striving to prove myself to others. I wanted the approval from my teachers that I was doing a good job, I wanted the good grades to show to my family and friends and I wanted the graduation paper at the end as evidence of all my hard work. But what ICA taught me, is that the only person I need to prove anything to and be true to be myself. My validation, my determination and my successes are cultivated from within. These last two years with ICA have been one of the biggest eye-opening journeys of my life. I have learned an enormous amount about myself, have continuously pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, and feel that I am a changed person from this whole experience.
So, it’s been decided, that for this paper I’m choosing to think outside the box, I’m choosing unconventional and I’m choosing vulnerability because that is what ICA has taught me. I want to share with you all my own journey with ICA, and explore the ways in which it has essentially changed my life and has altered the ways in which I view myself. As this idea came to mind, I could see the beautiful parallels of my own journey side by side with those who have, as a client, experienced their own transformations through coaching. Perhaps we can think of this as not so much a research paper, but more of a case study on myself, a reflection of sorts, words that have been bubbling up for me over these last few months before I complete the program and that I feel need to be birthed out into this world. The three biggest lessons I have learned during my time with ICA is that I am capable of doing hard things, that I must trust in the unfolding of the journey, and that as my program comes to an end, I have become, without a doubt, a brighter, more confident version of myself.
I am capable of doing hard things. This has become my new mantra and reminder, and it’s only within these last few weeks that I am realizing how very true it is. My coaching journey started years before I ever found the International Coach Academy. I had a deep knowing that I wanted to help others and that there was a greater purpose for myself, I just wasn’t sure what to do about it or how to approach it. There were a couple of years where I researched different programs and schools, and every time I looked through their syllabus and saw the classes I would have to take in order to graduate and become certified, I panicked. There were a deep fear and questioning around “Can I do this?”, “Am I capable?”, “Will I succeed?”. I always became overwhelmed with the idea of enrolling and let fear and doubt take the lead. I am an introvert through and through and an INFJ on the Myers Briggs. I am a listener. I am an observer. I usually only find my voice in groups once I am truly comfortable and feel safe. (In hindsight I see now how much this resonates with coaching and being coached). I could not understand how I would ever be able to finish the course, let alone find the courage to enrol in such an endeavour. But when the calling keeps whispering in your ear, and life continues to send you subtle signs and synchronicities, you must take the leap and in doing so honour your own growth.
So, I jumped headfirst into the Advanced Coach Training Program, or rather, I enrolled, kept dipping my toes in the ICA waters and still held onto the fear of not knowing the true depths of these waters, and where its flow might carry me to. For the first few months, I found myself in a panic before I dialled into classes. Not knowing who else would be calling in and if I would find the courage within myself to participate, but I pushed myself forward. There were so many firsts throughout the program. From calling into my first mentor coaching class to getting the nerve to participate as a client, and finally breathing my way through the anxiety of being the coach. I couldn’t think too far ahead because fear would sometimes stop me dead in my tracks. I still had the mountains of Coach Supervision and Observed Coaching to climb, and initially, I did not know how I was going to survive. But I did it anyway, I showed up, I participated, and was able to find comfort amongst my peers which in turn allowed me to find my voice. Little by little, call by call, I was learning what I was capable of!
Some of the most rewarding moments, where I found myself leaning into the discomfort and pushing myself forward, was when I was connecting with my peers. I have had the opportunity to work consistently with six different peers over this last year, and can’t imagine how I would have made it through the program without them. Had I not pushed myself and had I not made myself vulnerable on other class calls, these connections would have been lost. I am so grateful for those who reached out and so proud of myself for putting myself out there and not retreating. I have met some amazing people from all over the world, and was even lucky enough to meet one of them in person! The deep connections and soul searching I have had the opportunity to explore with them as coach and client have been a truly life-changing experience. The power of a coaching space is such a beautiful gift to give to one another.
As I continued leaning into the discomfort, I found myself completing Observed Coaching, a feat I never thought I would survive when I first started the program. I remember feeling ill with anxiety for the first couple of calls. I was putting so much pressure on myself to perform and to be perfect, only to soon learn that Observed is such a transformative learning space for us as students to step into the next level of our own coaching. I kept having to remind myself throughout the program, that I needed to find comfort in the uncomfortable, and that I am never alone in my thoughts and fears. We are all just humans trying to navigate our way through these patterns of underlying thoughts and beliefs and are all capable of working through them, transforming them and coming out stronger in the end. Especially, when we are so generously given the space to do so amongst the halls and classrooms of ICA.
This brings me now to the aspect of trusting in the journey. We tend to want to control the way things unfold or the ways in which we would like to move forward. But what my studies have shown me, is that the adventure and the growth are found within the unfolding. When I began the program, I could not comprehend that there was no tangible beginning. I wanted to be told what classes to take first, and in what order, and I wanted to be tested on my knowledge when a module was complete. That’s how I wanted to control my learning because my beliefs about “school” were so. I was told during orientation that ICA is like a bunch of puzzle pieces and that everything will slowly come together to make this beautiful mosaic of a picture. My mind again did not compute. I could not understand how this was all going to work…until it did. Literally a year into the program I had this a-ha moment. The picture was becoming clearer, the pieces were coming together. I get it! I understand now! It’s truly about trusting the process and trusting that you will get to where you need to go. Now, isn’t that a beautiful reflection of the coaching process, as both the coach and as the client? Trust. Let go. Know that you will arrive when it is your time.
ICA is not your conventional schooling; it really is a process of unlearning and letting go of how you think things should be and embracing the adventure as it unfolds one call at a time. The method is not straight forward, but that is why the course is so profound. In my own experience it set into motion such a deep transformation within me. I unlearned so many old beliefs and patterns about myself and relearned how to tap into my vulnerability and my courage. This new self-awareness is inspiring and I am forever wanting to dive deeper into self-discovery. The connections I have made throughout this program have gifted me with some of the most meaningful conversations I have ever had. How often are we given the space to be heard and to be seen, without any judgement or an agenda? This for me has been truly healing and life-changing. ICA and my peers have held me, have listened to me and have always accepted me as I am, which can be hard to find at times out here in the “real world”. I am honoured that this program found me when it did and forever grateful for what it has taught me about myself, the human condition and the connectedness we all have with one another, no matter where we may find ourselves in this big and beautiful world. ICA, you have taught me to lean into the discomfort, that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought I was, and that this journey is truly only the beginning of something magical. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. With so much gratitude and love in my heart.
Enjoy the journey, my friends….you never know what kind of magic you will find as you make your way through to the other side.