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Look around you. You’ll see the people that helped you learn, grow, develop and become the person and professional you are today. Your company, your boss, your mentor, your team, your family, all those around you have contributed to who you are today. But there is only so much someone can do for you…

Now look inside you. In the quest for success, do you stop to think about what really defines you and makes you feel fulfilled? We all have our personal definition of success, but taking a leap from good to great is up to you.

Coaching is a journey that self-aware people decide to take for many reasons. From professional success and personal growth to health and well-being, coaching may help you achieve goals that you had considered close to impossible for you.

So, why would you want to work with a professional coach?

Professional Success

Personal Growth

Health and Well-Being

If you are curious to find out more, we are more then happy to welcome you to Agape International Coaching Conference, the 3rd edition, on October 28th, in the heart of Europe, in Brussels.

Come, explore how you can access the wisdom in yourself so that you can grow and dive more in your potential.

Book your ticket now and be among the people that will gain the power to change their lives for the better.

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For those of you who are not very familiar with the concept of coaching and have not “tried” a coach just yet, we’ll try to highlight for you the most important benefits of coaching in the following paragraphs.

According to The International Coach Federation (ICF) coaching means “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

The main benefit of Coaching

The great benefit of coaching is that you are very likely to see quick, positive results as an outcome. This is because coaching is participative and people tend to learn and adopt new habits more easily when they are actively engaged in the learning process. As soon as a coaching session ends you can implement a new practice.

The process is entirely devoted to you – your issues and the attainment of new behavior goals. One great point about coaching is that it takes place over an extended period of time. Which means will be constantly challenged and encouraged to work on issues that need improvement.

By constantly doing better you practice good habits and the more you practice – the more natural it becomes to automatically change and improve your behaviours.

Coaching can be done both at individual or at organisational level.

The benefits of coaching an individual include:

The benefits of coaching at an organisation level include:

What now?

If we managed to awake your interest, the good news is that we have a lot more resources waiting for you on Agape International Coaching Conferences website and blog.

If you are curious to find out more, we are more then happy to welcome you to Agape International Coaching Conference, the 3rd edition, on October 28th, in the heart of Europe, in Brussels.

Book your ticket HERE and make the first step towards maximizing your personal and professional potential.

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Coaching. Noun. A journey through new perspectives. Finding the resources in yourself to become the person that you admire. Maximizing your personal and professional potential. Sounds good? Now let’s get into more details.

What exactly is coaching?

ICF’s definition of professional coaching is “an ongoing professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses or organizations. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life.”

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

Coaching is a method of achieving set goals.

Coaching concentrates on where clients are now and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be in the future, recognizing that results are a matter of the client’s intentions, choices and actions, supported by the coach’s efforts and application of the coaching process.

The coach through dialogue helps the coachee (client) to correctly set a goal, to find the best way to achieve the goal and reveal hidden inner potential in a person. The coach does not say how to achieve success, but asks questions through which the client himself finds the solution to his own tasks.

Coaches offer their clients a supportive and motivating environment to explore what they want in life and how they might achieve their aspirations and fulfil their needs. By assisting the client in committing to action and by being a sounding-board to their experiences, coaching allows the individual the personal space and support they need to grow and develop. The coach’s key role is often is assisting the client to maintain the motivation and commitment needed to achieve their goals.

The process of coaching

The interaction between coach and his coachee is called a coach session. At the session, the coach basically listens to the coachee and sometimes asks him questions. The client himself answers these questions and, in the process of finding answers to the questions, he finds solutions to achieve the goal. Usually the effect of such sessions acts in two stages – primary, which is noticeable at once (immediately), and hidden, in the form of general improvement of the quality of client’s life, increasing motivation and self-confidence.

There is no exact division of coaches by the form and type of activity, but there are three established categories, which are common:

The principles of coaching

Coaching is based on 5 principles:

Coaching is a mindset that makes things possible for other people.

What things? Virtually Anything.

If you want to experience coaching and discover if this is the sparkle that you needed in your life, come and enjoy Agape International Coaching Conference, on March 27th 2019, in Cluj Napoca.

Agape International Coaching Conferences aims to raise awareness on the art, science and practice of professional coaching, contribute to the growth and visibility of professional coaching in Romania and help advance the coaching profession for the benefit of business and society in the region.

World-class master coaches and mentors are coming together for the first time in Cluj Napoca, to share their wisdom and experience with the rising stars of management, coaches, business leaders and professionals.

Book your ticket now and be among the people that will gain the power to change their lives for the better.

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In the past four decades the world’s understanding of the potential of a human being, especially as it relates to our understanding of how the brain learns, how habits are formed and how the brain copes with pressure has grown immensely. In a world that is rapidly changing a different way of thinking and communicating is required. Coaching has provided a tool to support humans to use these new understandings to maximize their potential and thrive in ways that are individually fulfilling
Around the turn of the century psychologists observing the insights emerging from neuroscience research began to consider the idea of ‘positive psychology.’  Psychologists began to ask; what if we could identify what makes life worth living? What if we could utilize the potential of a persons’ strengths and the way the brain learns, processes ideas, makes connections to support positive choices, emotions, health, achievement in peoples’ lives? Dr. Seligman, now President of the American Psychological Association (among others) began to investigate these thoughts through a new line of investigation in Psychology. “Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play” (The Positive Psychology Centre, 2017).

Extensive research has been conducted into how  we can support a human being to flourish. Research into positive psychology, including emotional intelligence, and how the brain works have given us great insights into the ways we can support a human being to grow, to realize their potential, to create positive outcomes in their own lives. Emotional intelligence is defined as “…knowing how to read people’s feelings, regulate your own emotions (especially anger), and understand what you’re feeling, and why” (Goleman, D.,2017) We now understand that by heightening our emotional awareness, deepening our thinking about our own thinking and focusing on what is serving us well (utilizing our strengths and interests) we can influence and even choose the future we want to live, for the better.

By applying the science of appreciative inquiry (positive psychology) and emotional intelligence (sometimes considered more art than science) coaches support their clients to heighten their awareness of themselves. Observing or noticing the way the client thinks; their habits; their emotional responses (or lack of); acknowledging the clients’ own strengths and interests; and the dispositions they are applying to their lives that are serving them well; and those that are not serving them currently. The coach actively and empathetically listens, providing constructive feedback and uses powerful questions to co-create awareness with the client (social constructivist theory.) The coach holds true to the belief of co-construction theory emphatically believing the client already has the innate power and potential to solve their own problem and realize their own desires.

The coaches’ role is to be an expert in the process of coaching – allowing the client to flow in and out of their own story. Acting as a guide the coach invites discovery. Supporting and empowering the client to bring their thoughts to a conscious level. The coach then supports the client to deepen and clarify their understanding of themselves. Growing an emerging understanding of their own individual thinking and behavior that acknowledges the clients’ context and life experiences (Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model.)  This holistic view of the individual creates relevance and motivation for the client as it acknowledges our basic human need to be ‘seen and heard.’ (attachment theory)
The coach marries together the art and the science by harnessing the power of the clients’ mind, utilizing the clients thinking and learning style to focus their thoughts, identify their core values – bringing the unconscious ‘why’ of the clients thinking to a conscious level. Once thinking is at a conscious level a person is able to make choices and decisions about this thinking. This helps a client understand their personal way of generating solutions (meta-cognition).Inside this holistic coaching conversation is meaningful learning that allows the client to align their actions with their thinking (creating clarity) so they can move boldly forward. The client is pro-active in identifying possibilities, creating their own fulfilling solutions, goals, and actions. Leading their own learning and creating the future they desire.

In summary, professional coaching is so powerfully able to enhance human potential because it draws from the schools of science on human learning and behavior so strongly. It promotes self-awareness, acknowledges an individuals’ context, optimizes the power of the human brain and empowers the client to develop thinking and solutions that they are connected with, personally. Ownership and authenticity allows the client to create meaningful, bold outcomes and ideal solutions for themselves that are much more likely to be followed through with.

If you are curious to find out more, we are more then happy to welcome you to Agape International Coaching Conference, the 3rd edition, on October 28th, in the heart of Europe, in Brussels.

Book your ticket now and be among the people that will gain the power to change their lives for the better.

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What is professional coaching?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential – an essential element in today's volatile and complex context. Coaches honor their clients as being experts on their own life and profession and firmly believe that each client is creative, complete and resourceful.

Thus, the coach’s responsibility is to:

This process helps clients critically improve their life and work views and, at the same time, accelerate their leadership abilities and unlock their potential.

How to decide if professional coaching is right for you?

To determine whether you or your company could benefit from coaching, start by summarizing what you would expect to accomplish in coaching. When an individual or business has a fairly clear idea of the desired outcome, a coaching partnership can be a useful tool for developing a strategy for how to achieve that outcome with greater ease.

Since coaching is a partnership, ask yourself whether collaboration, other viewpoints, and new perspectives are valued. Also, ask yourself whether you or your business is ready to devote the time and the energy to making real changes. If the answer is yes, then coaching may be a beneficial way to grow and develop.

What are some reasons one might work with a coach?

An individual or team might choose to work with a coach for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:

What does the coaching process look like?

Coaching typically begins with a personal interview (either face-to-face or by teleconference call) to assess the individual’s or business’ current opportunities and challenges, define the scope of the relationship, identify priorities for action and establish specific desired outcomes. Subsequent coaching sessions may be conducted in person or over the telephone, with each session lasting a previously established length of time. Between scheduled coaching sessions, the individual may be asked to complete specific actions that support the achievement of one’s personally prioritized goals. The coach may provide additional resources in the form of relevant articles, checklists, assessments or models to support the individual’s or business’ thinking and actions. The duration of the coaching relationship varies depending on needs and preferences.

Within the partnership, what does the coach do? The individual?

The coach:

The individual:

What does coaching ask of an individual?

To be successful, coaching asks certain things, all of which begin with intention. Additionally, clients should:

How is coaching distinct from other service professions?

Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand coaching by distinguishing it from other personal or organizational support professions.

Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways. Coaching, on the other hand, supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is future focused. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphases in a coaching relationship are on action, accountability, and follow through.

Consulting: Individuals or organizations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.

Mentoring: A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counseling and coaching. The coaching process does not include advising or counseling, and focuses instead on individuals or groups setting and reaching their own objectives.

Training: Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached, with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum.

Sports Coaching: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from sports coaching. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but their experience and knowledge of the individual or team determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.

Is the proof that coaching actually works?

Yes! The ICF Global Coaching Client Study shows most clients reported improved work performance, better business management, more efficient time management, increased team effectiveness, and more growth and opportunities. The same study found that coaching clients noted greater self-confidence, enhanced relationships, more effective communications skills, better work-and-life balance and an improvement in wellness. Nearly 70 percent of individuals indicated they had at least made back their initial investment. The median suggests that a client who achieved financial benefit from coaching can typically expect a ROI of more than three times the amount spent.

According to the same report, the vast majority of companies (86 percent) say they at least made their investment back. In fact, almost one-fifth (19 percent) saw a ROI of 50 times their investment, while another 28 percent saw a ROI of 10 to 49 times the investment. Nearly all companies or individuals who hire a coach are satisfied. According to the ICF Global Coaching Client Study, a stunning 99 percent of people who were polled said they were somewhat or very satisfied with the overall coaching experience. For more details, go to the ICF Research Portal, as well as press releases about ICF’s return-on-investment research.

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Difficult conversations are, as Douglas Stone – associate director of the Harvard Negotiation Project – puts it, made of 3 conversations: the content conversation, the feelings conversation and the identity conversation. Each conversation represents a layer of the story that is in our mind and heart when we find a situation to be difficult for us. Most of the times we skip the second and third conversation and get stuck in the content conversation, because that’s where we, naively, believe we can control the conversation: facts, data, numbers, figures, logical arguments, observations etc.

What makes the conversation difficult is that it triggers unpleasant feelings in us, which means it’s not about what happened (the content conversation), it’s about how it made us feel (feelings conversation), what it means to us and how it affects our future (the identity conversation).

In this instance, let’s talk about the content conversation. It’s about what has been said and done and, usually, we approach the content conversation from 3 perspectives:

  1. We assume we’re right – it’s in our core programming to hold our own beliefs, theories and assumptions as being correct and it’s totally fine. Except when we’re in a difficult conversation, because this often keeps us away from understanding how the other person may as well be right. And, if this is the case, how important is it, then, if you are right or not?
  2. We invent intentions – we falsely believe that the other person has bad intentions. When we’re in profound disagreement and they keep sticking to their view, we adopt the “They’re out to get us” stance, which is, again, not exactly a constructive way to tackle a difficult conversation.
  3. We assign blame– if we’re not looking to be right, we’re looking to find someone who’s guilty for whatever happened. Once we find the guilty party, we’re relaxed that we “solved” the problem and falsely believe it’s not happening again. The reality is that blaming invites defensive behaviors and the person we’re trying to blame will do everything they can to protect themselves and divert the blame somewhere else. How close does that get us to the solution? Not so much.

In the video bellow, you’ll have the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the 3 perspectives above, what their impact is on the content conversation and what we should be doing more instead. The video is part of a larger seminar on Difficult Conversations that we delivered for one of our clients and they were happy to let us use it as well.

When coaching comes in play, it’s only natural that potential coaching clients (coachees) research the coach. Who is the coach? What kind of coaching does he/she practice? What do his/her clients say? What coaching certifications does the coach have? What professional experience? And then, once enough blind trust has been established, the coach is selected and the first coaching session is booked in the calendar. In our numerous conversations with coaching clients, we’ve learnt that very few people actually research how to be a good coaching client. How should one approach coaching, from the client position.

We’ve learnt that there is a thematic belief that the coaching experience is entirely the responsibility of the coach and little to no preparation is undergone by the client. And this is interesting. While there are many definitions, types and methodologies of coaching, coaching clients are aware, at some level, that the coaching experience will be about themselves, their problems/goals, their behaviors/feelings and what to do or who to become to change them, against given goals. If this were true, as a coaching client, are you naturally ready to go there? Into your behaviors, your feelings, your identity? How aware are you of what you really want? Are you naturally ready to reflect on your deepest inner workings, your belief system, your values? Probably not so much and it’s OK. We’re not inclined to reflect on the deeper levels of ourselves. At least not as a general habit. But hey, that’s why we have the coaching profession, for those of us who are inclined to do it and, having done it ourselves, we make it our mission to support others in this endeavor.

The thing is, having in front of you a good coach does not, by any measure, guarantee you’ll get where you think you want to get. Yes, good and experienced coaches will most likely help you spark some light in you that you never knew was there and you’ll use that light to shine in new and unforeseen ways in your life. Nevertheless, the road to getting there is anything but easy, or comfortable, or fast. It is, most of the times, the exact opposite: complex, uncomfortable and slow. And, of course, not all coaches are good and experienced. Just like in any profession.

We’re going to share a few things to consider, when preparing for that first coaching session. This will most definitely act as an accelerator for you on your path to your goal and will also help the coaching process reach its authentic conversational rhythm.

1. Think about your destination

Coaching is a journey and the coach is there to guide you, to make sure you are aware of the road, the scenery, the mud holes in the ground, to show you multiple potential paths towards your destination. But you are the one to set the destination. It’s OK to not know exactly, just make sure to reflect on it and even ask the coach to help you identify a destination worth going to. Don’t just pick one for the sake of having a coaching goal. If you don’t really want or need it, you’re about to waste time and money.

2. Adopt the “Me stance”

As a coaching client, you’re there to discuss something that’s going on with you, be it a problem you have, or maybe a big decision you’re thinking to make, it doesn’t matter. It’s about you. Be prepared to have a conversation about you, how you see things, how you believe they affect you and why that happens. Avoid talking about others (as tempting as it may be), because there’s nothing you or the coach can do about what others do/say/are. You can, on the other hand, focus on how external factors are affecting you, at all possible levels. This is the “Me stance”. Whenever you feel like talking about others, reposition that in terms of how what they do/say is affecting you.

3. Be curious

As mentioned, coaching is journey and one of the things you can expect from he coach is to show you multiple paths to try out. Remain curious about the coach’s invitations to explore. A good coach will sense things that may be behind what you’re saying (or not saying) and will invite you to put it on the table, with the goal to deepen your understanding of the situation. Instead of questioning the validity or significance of the coach’s questions, go with the flow. Be curious and explore (especially when it’s about your emotions), because it’s yourself that you are exploring and be assured: you are a fascinating human being and you are totally worth exploring. Without question, you will be astonished by your inner workings, just be willing to open the door.

4. Take responsibility

Coaching is not just the conversation. It doesn’t end when the conversation is over. One of the ways we see coaching going wrong is when the coaching client does not attach action to commitment. We’re not talking about the cases where the client hasn’t yet reached a high enough level of awareness of the problem, that would allow assuming responsibility of the action. No. We’re talking about when the client is aware of the problem, desires to do something about it, yet he/she manages not to. And there are many reasons for this, of course, most of them being traced back to a fear of something. Be sure you will reach a place in the coaching process where you will need to commit to achieve your goal. In your endeavour to do so, you will be tempted not do it. When those temptations appear, keep in mind that it is your responsibility to see your goals happen. Doing nothing, changes nothing. No excuses.

5. Learn from the coach

At some point, maybe you’ll start noticing some kind of pattern in the coaching process. Some themes that the coach repeatedly invites you to explore. Use this to self-regulate, when you feel you need coaching. What questions that worked very deep for you could be applied to another problem you have? What have you learnt about how you function (rationally and emotionally) from the coaching experience that you could scale for yourself, to tackle new goals? Basically, how can you be your own coaching client? This, of course, happens after several sessions and depends very much on your general awareness and presence. Keep in mind that the trick with coaching is to reach a place where you can start helping yourself, not to create a coach-dependancy. There will be times you actually need a coach, just make sure you’ve first given it your best shot, yourself.

The coaching conversation is very dear to us and we strongly believe it to be a critical tool in any professional’s “toolkit”, especially in that of leaders. And by toolkit, we really mean mindset, because coaching is, we believe, a mindset. So, we trust the above 5 reflection points will help you in your own experience as a coaching client and we’d very much love to hear your thoughts on them!

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