Dreaming & Practical Planning: How Coaching for Transformation Impacted My Work and Life
By Adele James
When I took the three-day introductory session for Coaching for Transformation, it shook me up. I felt uncomfortable looking so deeply internally, and in the presence of others who were doing the same. Before even thinking about how this could be useful in my non-profit consulting work, I wanted to understand what it was stirring up inside of me and what was I supposed to learn here. That’s why I decided to do the coaching certification training.
The impact was powerful and helped to bring clarity to my values and, in turn, how my values impacted my choices. I began to understand that when I felt comfortable, my choices were in alignment with my values. I also gained new tools to help me address the internal hesitations and blocks that held me back, and strategies for finding my way back into alignment.
As a consultant, I always knew I could do the technical pieces like strategic planning, organizational assessments, the typical needs of nonprofits. Oftentimes however, there were these underlying issues that wouldn’t necessarily come out in a group setting, but would hold back the implementation or progress of the work—maybe doubts they had about themselves, fears, I could sense it. Through the certification program, I learned new ways to help surface these issues and work through these moments so that clients could show up and have the impact they sought.
A standard practice I use now in my consulting work is helping clients to identify their values, how their values inform their work, and what change they envision bringing about. Values are the common ground—what’s important to them as individuals, as a team, and as an organization. The approach is an integration of values, dreaming and using very practical organizational development tools to identify resources and building a solid plan to achieve the dream. Coaching has helped me in being able to support clients in better defining and taking responsibility for creating and implementing a unified vision.
In addition to my consulting work, coaching has influenced a personal project of mine. I’m currently working on a book of photography and stories of artists in Trinidad and Tobago. I wanted to make this a participatory process and so I invited folks in my cohort to share powerful questions they wanted to ask the artists. I used those questions to form the basis for the interviews. The types of questions led to a much deeper inquiry, and helped to show each artist as they truly are. The coaching training also helped me to be more present and observant, not just about what the artists said, but what they were not saying, how they held themselves physically, tone, intonation, cadence. It’s led to a richness in the material for the stories that would not have been there otherwise.
At points in this project I’ve gotten stuck and have sought out my coaching colleagues when I needed help keeping things in perspective and the momentum going. One of the folks in the cohort was pretty amazing in being a reader for me and because of the coaching training, was able to ask questions about the initial drafts that helped me to bring each story even more alive.
The experience of Coaching for Transformation has been wonderful. It’s opened my eyes to a greater understanding about myself and the impact I can have. It gave me the skills and gift, to help myself and others do the things we are meant to do.
About the author:
Adele James is the founder and principal consultant of Adele James Consulting & Coaching. She loves working with individuals, nonprofit professionals and teams to articulate values as the starting place for work and life that are nourishing, balanced and sustaining. Adele is particularly drawn to those who find themselves at a crossroads professionally and personally, and despite apprehensions and uncertainty, hunger for self-discovery and exploration of new possibilities.
A combined experience as a foundation officer, organizational development consultant, leadership development program faculty, and certified coach, have given Adele a unique set of skills and tools for support clients in voicing passion and purpose with accountable action. Through a blending of organizational development tools and individualized coaching, Adele is able to support nonprofit professionals in bridging the gap in moving from understanding to action and accountability.