Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I’m just back from the 2007 International Coach Federation Conference in Long Beach California. It was an amazing experience for me. The reason I’m starting off this post with that comment is, my expectations for this event, based on last year’s experience was as low as they come. I made a conscious decision, in spite of low expectations to go and to turn those expectations around into what I decided would be an invaluable experience.

It was.

I wonder how many times we expect something to be a “1” on a scale of 1- 10, thereby choosing not to go. There were many criteria at play here. First of all, it would be an expensive event to go to simply by virtue of having to travel pretty much the length of the continent to get there. Little did I know when I booked it and registered that the Canadian dollar would be stronger than the US dollar. It’s been many years since that had happened. Bonus. Travel was less than optimal as because of mechanical problems the plane had to return to the tarmac for 2 hours. I knew I had missed my connecting flight before we had even taken off. Still, ever part of this trip was an amazing experience. From wonderful ticket agents trying their best to get me there are quickly and safely as possible to the amazing people I interacted with along the way, it was extraordinary.

If I had let my low expectations dictate whether or not I would have gone, I would have missed out on the following:

  • Meeting up with my ICCO colleagues and friends, which I rarely get to do in person
  • Supporting my dear friend and colleague in his presentation (awesome)
  • Meeting some fascinating people from my home town and from other parts of the globe
  • Learning more about the Foundation of Coaching and perhaps becoming more involved
  • Lunch and networking meeting with my friend Marion and people from her world
  • Planning some future work with someone I respect so highly and would be honoured to work with
  • Learning about internal coaching programs from the Deloitte perspective
  • Meeting someone from Tokyo Japan and sharing ideas with him about a program in his company

I could go on and on and not have nearly enough time and space to list them all. Even the shuttle bus ride to the airport was an experience as I met coaches who had participated in this event, all fascinating in their own right.

Bottom line is, I could have as many expectations as I want; the best part of these conferences isn’t the continuing credits that I get or even the breakout learning sessions. It’s the people, the cultures that come together, insights, ideas and enough energy to raise the roof! Yes, I have to weigh cost with value, but how does one put a value on being inspired and growing in leaps and bounds?

I made a conscious choice to toss expectations out the window from now on. I had started on that journey but I’m way ahead after this past week.

The question I ask of you is, what expectations do you have that might be holding you back from something amazing, if you’d give it half a chance?

Donna Karlin

*Note: I often recommend products, technology or services, a book or two or program that will move you forward in some way. Well today is no exception. If you’re a coach or someone who grows people for a living or passion, I recommend you subscribe to IJCO, the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations. It is brimming with ideas, expertise, latest concepts and trends, research and dialogue that you’ll refer to again and again in your work. Every issue brings a new level of awareness. It’s a magnificent publication in every way shape and form. Click here to learn more.

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