Monday, April 27, 2009

Teaching in Milan

Last November out of the blue I was contacted by a professional coach in Italy who wanted me to bring The School of Shadow Coaching Advanced Coach Training to Milan. When she first wrote, it didn't remotely occur to me I would be standing in front of a group of amazing internal corporate and executive coaches in Milan a few months later. When a second coach contacted me, I figured it was worth a look. The first question I was asked was "Will it slow you down or make a difference if the class has to be translated?" I answered "The pace will be different yes, but it will only be an issue if we make it an issue and for me, it's not".

So, mid April arrived and there I was standing in a conference room in Milan teaching them the Shadow Coaching methodology; action / experiential learning, fast paced and interactive. A good number of participants spoke little or no English and I spoke no Italian.

By the second day I was translating words from Italian (don't ask me how, but I was) and the class was speaking more English than they did before. They talked, learned, we discussed, translated in real time when needed and percolated ideas. We all evolved because of that class.

Different language and culture aside, coaching is, if nothing else, fine tuned communication between individuals. If we don't understand, we discuss until we do and then discuss again until we evolve.

There were many paradigm shifts as they learned the methodology of Shadow Coaching. One of the participants thanked me because he said before the class, when coaching clients, his head told him one thing but his heart another. Now, through this methodology head and heart came together as one and he would never go back to his old way of coaching.

Looking back, I realize there was never a language barrier though we spoke different languages. As I reflect, I realize it was a huge leap of faith for them to bring in a Canadian coach who spoke no Italian, and who for many, was an unknown entity, however they dove in with everything they had and were, and embraced what I had to offer. I felt welcomed, and in many ways adopted by this ever growing professional coaching community.

Lessons learned or shared would be, don't let what might seem like an obvious barrier stand in the way of sharing your knowledge and expertise around the world. Language, culture, ways of being aside, coaching is one of the few areas of practice that bridges all gaps.

I believe the ability to ask a powerful question at the right moment and for the right reasons, whether to others or ourselves, is what makes a coach masterful. Being there to see that moment unfold and recognizing it, is what takes a coach to the next level, and, in turn, the client and, in this case, I add teacher and student.

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