(Estimated reading time 2 minutes)
What’s the difference between who you think you have to be and who you want to be?
This question was highlighted for me earlier in the week as I thought about getting accredited with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and taking the required exam. Part of my old story, who I think I need to be when I’m living in that story, is someone who has to study really hard to pass an exam. The new story I continue to craft is that I can lean into my capacity and trust myself. If I fail, I will be okay.
“There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.”
Manifesto of the Brave and Broken-hearted, Brene Brown
I hadn’t given the exam a lot of thought as I put in my application. I knew I had completed all the requirements – including (but not limited to) coaching more than 100 hours. I just needed to do the exam. I wanted to be aligned with and accredited by the ICF. (When a coach earns their designation with ICF, they are demonstrating that they have a certain level of proficiency – an international standard. When coaches choose to align themselves with the ICF, they are also committing to a specific code of conduct and professional ethics. This is important when a profession is unregulated.)
As the time for doing the exam drew near, I started to think more about it. Would I fall into my “I have to study very hard and expend a lot of effort” mode? What I wanted to do was lean into trusting myself and my ability. Not a frantic “cramming before the exam,” but more of an “I know this, it’s in my bones” approach. Letting go of studying hard before the exam felt risky but also felt like an essential step in testing my ability and trusting myself as a coach. This trusting approach is also part of me wanting to enjoy my life more.
It was quite an intense exam – 155 questions in 3 hours. I did it with little more than reading through what the ICF identifies as the core coaching competencies.
I’m celebrating! I did more than pass, I got 86.45%! I have my ACC designation.
There’s a big difference between how I thought I had to approach exams and what I really want for myself. What I really want, what I am proud of, is being courageous and learning to trust my ability.
What’s your personal stretch?
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay