Co-Active Fundamentals

In the fall, I finally took the Co-Active Fundamentals program that I had been wanting to take for some time. Once the courses went online, it was easy to sign up for one and I did so pretty much immediately.

It was a pretty full on four days, 10-3 or 4, with minimal breaks. All over Zoom, which I find quite exhausting. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but by the end I was completely sold – it was totally worth it, I got so much out of it, and finished feeling energised. Because of the intensity and focus, it’s very hard to get to know the other people in the cohort, and that was the main thing that I felt was missing. At the end, we frantically created a group chat – imagine if we’d done that day 1!

What drove it?

Firstly, I’ve been working with a coach (Dani) since 2016, and it’s been a helpful source of continuity through various changes, and especially helpful when I’ve been in positions where I didn’t really have a manager (such as reporting to the CEO). Generally, I’ve found it really helpful to have someone focused on helping me be the best Cate. All of this to say – I really see the value of coaching, and wanted to understand it better.

Secondly, I had picked up enough through osmosis to do a reasonable job coaching others, but I felt like a deeper understanding of it would particularly help me coach people to coach others.

Thirdly, I’ve seen a lot of senior engineering leaders pick up coaching clients between roles or move out of engineering leadership into coaching, and I wanted to start seeing if that would be an option for me, and build up the qualifications for when (or if) I want them.

What I got out of it

  • Generally it’s a transformative experience, and seeing the journey other people in my group went through was really powerful and encouraging.
  • I love the concept of “people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole”. I regularly use as a concept to share with someone how I’m approaching our interaction; it’s so powerful.
  • Similarly the idea of “designing the alliance” is so helpful, and I use it regularly.
  • It really expanded my range, and made me more willing to challenge people, pay more attention to my intuition, use inquery, and reflect more candidly back to people what I was observing in our conversations.
  • A big part of coaching is non-judgemental listening, which is a skill that anyone can (and usually should) improve, but I find as much as anything a mindset. The deliberate practice of that, observation of it in practice, and deconstruction of it helped me become a better, more present listener.
  • One of the biggest differences between coaching and management for me was the distinction of focus on the journey (coach) / focus on the outcome (manager). I think this practice, along with the way we do “management” at DuckDuckGo has helped me engage more with the journey of my directs.
  • One of the exercises was everyone was given a “being tag”, from their classmates view of them. Mine was “flower power girl”, which was hilarious, but really leaning into it was a really rich and illuminating experience.
  • As part of this I coached a practice client, which was great, and confirmed I want to do more of it. I also picked up another “practice client” at work, which has been really fun.

What’s next?

Currently, I’m working on the 6 week PQ program with my coach. I’m finding it really helpful personally, and it’s another lens on what coaching can do for people, that makes me even more excited about it.

I have four more courses (Fulfilment, Balance Process, and Synergy) to go until I complete my coaching certification, and I’m booked into them over the course of 2021. Part of this requires me to take on some clients, so I need to figure out my schedule to take all of that on!

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