Life coaching has become very popular as a personal development process in the last two decades, but coaching is still an unregulated profession. Anyone can print up business cards proclaiming that he or she is a life coach without any specific training, certification, or licensure.
When Mark Tidsworth asked me to join Pinnacle Leadership Associates as a coach four years ago, he did so based on my background and experience in working with young adults, church leaders, and campus ministers over three decades of ministry. During that time, I called out, encouraged, and empowered men and women to follow God’s leadership in their lives. As I think back, I was practicing coaching with all of these individuals without any particular training in the process.
As I started my work with Pinnacle, I was smart enough to realize that there was a lot about coaching that I did not know. I set a goal to receive the basic coaching certification—Associate Certified Coach--from the International Coach Federation, a global organization of over 20,000 professional personal and business coaches that offers an internationally recognized coach credentialing program.
I began the process of training and coaching to move toward achieving that goal. For the ACC credential, ICF requires 60 hours of coach-specific training (I actually have 86 hours of course work), 100 hours of client coaching experience (I now have over 300 hours of coaching clients),
10 hours of work with a qualified Mentor Coach (completed with the incredibly supportive Michael Pfau), reference letters from two qualified coaches (Gary Wood and Michael), and the evaluation of a recorded coaching session by an ICF coach (which showed that I still have a lot to learn).
Well, I finally made it. Last Monday I received word that I had passed all the requirements and am certified as an Associate Certified Coach until December 31, 2016. Yes, I will have to complete additional training and receive mentor coaching to be re-certified at that point!
I am grateful to instructors Christopher McCluskey, Gary Wood, Michael Pfau, Jory Fisher, and the late Judy Santos as well as all of my Institute for Life Coach Training and Professional Christian Coaching Institute classmates for their part in helping me achieve this goal. Their encouragement, feedback, and knowledge have been invaluable in this journey.
Will the certification make me a better coach? It probably will not, but the training and actual coaching I have completed over the past four years certainly have increased both my ability and my confidence. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey points out the importance of taking the time to “sharpen your ax.” Stopping to sharpen one’s ax means taking time away from chopping wood, but a sharp ax works a lot better than a dull one. The process of becoming a certified life coach has sharpened my ax, and I want to make sure it never becomes dull.