For the next five months, we'll periodically feature a post by coaching student Amy Shuman, who is currently enrolled in our Coaching for Life and Work program. She will share her insights and offer readers a glimpse into what it's like to be a coaching student. 

Week 1: Coaching is about connection

By Amy Shuman

The weekend was finally here!  It seemed like ages ago that I had applied to be part of this program, and now here I was, driving up to the garage, following the signs, entering a room of 28 strangers and wondering what was in store. 

In the back of my head I could almost hear Elsa singing “Into the Unknown” as I threw myself into the possibilities of what the day would bring.  Something had called me to coaching, and now I was in a room of people who likely had that in common with me.  I was optimistic from the start that I would like these people.

The day’s main agenda item was seemingly simple: connect.

Coaching is about connection.

Hearing that short phrase started my mind twirling down a rabbit hole.  Connection sounds… wonderful.  Connection is one of our basic human needs, and yet it's complicated.  We all crave connection, and I suspect we also struggle with it.  Perhaps this agenda was not as simple at all.

Our first big chance to connect was to find a partner and introduce ourselves (a familiar sort of thing to do in a workshop).  I found myself wondering how to boil down my whole life into 3 minutes.  The things I chose to share would immediately form an impression and I wanted it to be a good one.  I wondered what I could say to sound accomplished but not boastful, and how I could convey all my passion for people development. Instead, I went to my default place of sharing basic stuff like where I work, what my job title is, how long I have been there, etc.  A lot of facts.  I talked and then she talked and then I talked a little more until they said time was up.

Little did I know that we would actually have to introduce our partners to the whole room once the conversation was done.  I had spent the time so concerned with what to say that I hadn’t been concentrating much on the listening part.  Fast forward and its now it’s my turn to introduce my partner.  (Sarah?  Was her name Sarah?)  Perhaps you can relate to the panic I was feeling.  My heart started to race as I wanted my new friend to get the impression that I was paying attention when she spoke.  I hadn’t taken any notes. Where was she from?  Did she tell me the name of her business?  Am I confusing her with another person who I had talked to while getting my tea?  Too late.  Had to say something.  I looked to her for approval as I told the room about her, and she smiled to indicate I got the details right.

Next she had to introduce me.  As I heard the parts she shared I became more critical of the things I had chosen to talk about.  One of these days I really ought to practice those elevator pitches people always are talking about.  C'est la vie.

It dawned on me as I looked around that I was in a room full of people who care a great deal about making lives better. A room full of people who want to better themselves so that they can better others.  People who might also be dissecting this basic introduction activity and drawing parallels to the work of a coach and loving it. 

Coaching creates a deeper level of connection. It's more than just having an every day casual conversation.  Coaching is the space where all the questions you wished someone would ask you live, and the time to answer them.

One of the most amazing benefits of taking this course in person is that we get to experience the learning in real time, together, with real live people. How many times in our lives do we get to focus on connection with a room full of people who want to do the same?  When’s the last time you spent a day in togetherness with other humans with a journal and a pen and no other tasks to complete?  What would it mean to you to be part of something like that?

These are my people. 

And I'm ready to get started.