Updated: Nov 21
Last year after I got certified as a life coach I made the decision that I was going to work toward my first ICF (International Coaching Federation) credential. Becoming a credentialed coach signifies professional development beyond education which is something I value in my career as a coach.
To become a credentialed coach I needed to complete the following:
60 hours of accredited coach training
100 hours of coaching experience
3 months in a coaching mentorship
A passing score on a coaching call evaluation
A passing score in the credentialing exam
Last month I completed the last item I had left on this pathway. I passed my credentialing exam and earned my ACC (Associate Certified Coach) credential. I celebrated instantly by jumping and dancing around my living room, yelling to my dog that I did it. It was a memorable moment that I basked in.
Then I began telling people about my accomplishment and celebrating it with others, but I stopped short of announcing it publicly after I had started to feel uncomfortable. Then I labeled it as procrastination.
I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but I carried on as normal for about month, believing that I was procrastinating and feeling stuck. Recently, I got really curious about it and decided to explore it.
The following is the conversation I had with myself:
It’s interesting Jen, it seems like you stopped telling people about your accomplishment when you started to feel uncomfortable. What do you think has you feeling so uncomfortable that it makes not doing it feel better?
Well I don’t want people to think I’m bragging, and I don’t want to make any other coaches feel uncomfortable if this is something they haven’t done yet.
Also I don’t want people to think that it’s more important than it is–I mean a lot of people won’t even know what it means.
I just don’t want to be obnoxious about it because some people may not even think it’s much of an accomplishment.
That sounds like a lot of concern for what others will think. What do you think that’s about?
Oh you know, just me being human and having a human moment where I am projecting my own thoughts onto others then passing it off as genuine concern for what their experience will be if I allow myself to announce my accomplishment.
Hmm, interesting...so if that’s the case, what do you want to do with that Jen?
Well, I imagine it’s a relatable experience...so I want to share it.
This conversation with myself was brief yet powerful.
Here’s what it taught me:
First, I have become a seasoned professional at “turning it around” which to me means to run your thoughts through a different or opposite lens.
In this case, I was able to take all my thoughts about what I was concerned about others thinking and turn it around to me. So regardless of what others think--what do I think?
Here’s what that looked like:
I don’t want people to think I’m bragging → Are you are bragging Jen?
No, I’m not. Not at all.
I don’t want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable → Are you uncomfortable?
Yes! I most certainly am and if I stop talking about my accomplishment the discomfort will go away.
I don’t want people to think that it’s more important than it is → Do you think your accomplishment is more important than it is?
No, I don’t. I understand the significance of it and how it has helped my development as a coach, and I understand that there is still plenty of room for me to continue my development…and it’s ok if someone doesn’t understand it.
A lot of people won’t even know what it means → Do you know what it means?
Yes, I do, and honestly–it means whatever I want it to mean! I choose to make it mean that I am serious about my career as a coach and am committed to my professional development so I can best serve my clients. That’s what my credential means to me.
I just don’t want to be obnoxious about it → Are you being obnoxious about it?
No, not at all. This accomplishment is worthy of announcing.
Some people may not even think it’s much of an accomplishment → Do you think it’s much of an accomplishment?
That’s a good question...I do…that is until I start to play the comparison game with other coaches. Hmm...that’s a game I know not to play because it’s one that’s rigged against me and can never be won. So with that in mind--yes, I think it’s an awesome accomplishment and I am proud of the effort I put into achieving it.
Second, nothing has gone wrong. I acknowledge that it’s normal to consider how other people might think of me. From what I have learned, caring about what people think was important for human survival at some point in time. I choose not to judge myself for having those thoughts come up, and instead I acknowledge it as a protection attempt. It's an outdated program that still shows up from time to time.
Finally, I am once again reminded that discomfort is a great teacher and that curiosity is what guides me through it. In the case of my accomplishment announcement discomfort, I was initially inclined to see it as procrastination but through reflecting on my experience I have come to understand that it was my body’s natural response to the discomfort. I recognize that using this language for my behavior might be more useful to me than the word procrastination since the word procrastination tends to drive feelings of guilt or shame and can trap me in feeling stuck.
If you have made it this far, here are the 3 things I hope you can walk away with:
It’s possible that labeling your behavior as procrastination may not serve you–especially if you have a tendency to feel guilt or shame over the idea that you are procrastinating. Questions to ask yourself: Is it possible that procrastination is my body’s natural response to discomfort? Does using this language invite more curiosity and/or less judgment? What will be different if I invite more curiosity and less judgment into my life around the topic of procrastination and discomfort?
If you have a tendency to be concerned about what other people might think, the practice of “turning it around” is empowering and allows you to get clarity on what you think. It invites you to own what is yours and helps you to identify when you are projecting what is yours onto others.
Discomfort is a jedi trainer for your mind. So the next time you feel discomfort, remember that you’re in training. Congratulations and may the force be with you.
If you want to develop your ability to have meaningful conversation with yourself, and learn how to utilize curiosity over judgment, then coaching will serve you well and I invite you to book an exploration call with me. The conversations I have with myself today are a direct result of working with a coach myself. If this is something you want for yourself–reach out. Let’s see what is possible for you.
I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my journey to earning my ACC, especially Certified Life Coach Institute for the best training and Daniel Olexa for the most impactful mentoring. Last but certainly not least, thank you to the amazing clients that have allowed me to serve them as a coach. It’s an honor and a pleasure to work with you. You know who you are.