Involve me, and I will learn it

Coach training at Catalyst 14

In this blog post, Martin Turner — a past participant of our Diploma in Transformational Coaching course — outlines some of his experiences of studying with Catalyst 14 and how being actively involved in the learning process was the key to his successful development as a coach.

If you’ve ever studied for a degree, you’ll know just what it means to sit in sometimes interminably long lectures, especially when the lecturer is not the most colourful person.

Remember when you called IT support and they whipped the mouse out of your hand, zoomed around your computer, fixed something, but in the process, you learned nothing?

Effective learning starts when you begin to do it. The ancient Chinese proverb attributed to Confucius is loosely translated by Benjamin Franklin as; “Tell me and I forget; show me I may remember; involve me and I will learn”.

Learning is brilliant when you have an engaging and entertaining person teaching you, but how much of what you heard will you actually remember? What really makes things stick in your mind is when you do it yourself. It’s getting involved, trying things out, rolling your sleeves up, and giving it a go that is really the journey of discovery.

This is what you can expect in coach training with Catalyst 14 and has certainly been part of my growth and journey as an executive coach with them.

I’d been practising as a paid coach in the corporate environment for approximately four years, although not actively pursuing this part of my portfolio career. However, in January 2018 I was — as we often are at that time of the year — looking at my career landscape, and re-assessing things. I asked myself: what do I really want to focus my attention on?

I’m naturally interested in talented people and their potential, so there were many aspects of executive coaching that were a natural and instinctive part of my professional makeup.

When I decided to obtain formal training as a coach, I did my homework before selecting Catalyst 14 Coach Training as the way forward. They had just launched at the time, but came highly recommended by a head of coaching from a large corporate organisation — so they seemed worth investigating. Damion Wonfor had a plethora of experience, and a one-on-one meeting cemented the chemistry and the drive to make the decision and get on with becoming properly accredited.

I was taking a leap of faith with my career, so I wanted to be sure that whoever I trained with would be the net under my career flying trapeze. They needed to be credible, qualified, but also offering a learning forum that was going to work for me.

Fortunately, choosing Catalyst 14 turned out to be a wise decision. I found myself in a learning space where I got to listen and take in fantastic new knowledge; but frequently it was about get up, get involved, do it.

Right from the very first module, we were being booted out of the nest and trying out what we had just heard about, watched being demonstrated, and now found ourselves doing. You can’t learn the tango from just watching who are really good do it; you have to stand up, take the steps and begin to move. This is exactly what happened with Catalyst 14 Coach training.

For example, early on, there is examination of the TGROW model. The Topic being what our coachee need to talk about; Goal the outcome for the session; Reality an exploration of the coachee’s perspective; Options that which is possible; Will/Wrap the action points, support, and the will or commitment on the part of the coachee to do something specific.

First there was plenty of time to properly understand and explore all this really meant; then time for Q&A; then a demonstration of how this would play out given by Damion and Clare (another member of the highly experienced faculty).

In this way we could see in real time how it works. Then it was our turn! We were put in teams of three with ample time for each of us to practice while being observed and notes taken. No judgement, just go for it.

Sometimes as I swung out into space, I wondered if I would fall and make a fool of myself, but this was about having fun, so giving it a go and not being sure was not just encouraged, it was championed. It’s OK to laugh, get it wrong, or miss something out.

You’re not going to be perfect the first time, but the environment is so brilliantly facilitated by Damion and his expert Catalyst 14 faculty in terms of how we would all agree to work together, that it made you less self-conscious and keener to start doing.

During every module of coach training the faculty at Catalyst 14 like to outline the theory, show you how it’s done, and then immediately give you an opportunity to carry things out yourself. As a result, you’re learning by doing, which makes total sense; you can try things on for size in class and then use the training immediately outside of the learning environment in your own coaching practice.

I’ve learned by doing, it’s really the only way to embody it and be it; and subsequently, in the flow of being a coach practitioner you move towards that place of unconscious competence. Doing to learn continues to be a fundamental part of my coach training experience with Catalyst 14. It’s the live experience of being handed self-responsibility for trying something new that will ultimately bring about a fundamental change to the way you practice as a coach.

So “tell me and I forget” was ok because I could always go back to the superb coach training resource guide to refresh my memory. Then “show me I may remember” worked too — I could look back at my own notes regarding the demonstrated examples (only I wish I could have filmed the experts doing it!).

But “involve me and I will learn” was the what made coach training with Catalyst 14 really nail it. We did it in the classroom, we took it to our coaching practice, and our level of expertise in transformational coaching began to grow.

It was an epic year with Catalyst 14 of enlightenment, mindful expansion, and embodiment. I’m still an executive coach, but I am now a coach who feels credible, fully equipped, properly trained, and ready to bring about transformational change in the professional lives of my coachees.

The real key to the learning journey was not just lapping up the hugely informative curriculum, but doing it and thereby being it. Not just fake it until you make it, but do it until you are it.

Martin Turner