Season , Episode
Welcome to the Coaching Studio Podcast
This podcast features fun, lively conversations with masterful coaches who are creating an impact. Get to know them, their journey into coaching, and discover what wisdom they would offer you about being a better coach.
the Coaching Studio Guest
I am very excited to welcome Amina Eperjesi, PCC to the Coaching Studio Podcast.
- Host: Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC
- Music: Frolic by Harrison Amer
- Production Editing: Lyssa deHart
- Social Media and Communications: Michele Logan
About This Episode
Read the transcript of this episode of the Coaching Studio Podcast:
|Hello Lyssa deHart here and welcome to the Coaching Studio. Today it is my great honor to introduce my friend Amina Eperjesi. She’s a PCC coach with the International Coaching Federation. Amina has lived from her first eight years in Nigeria. She spent the next 16 years in Hungary. And then 16 years in the US. And now she’s back in Europe. She is appreciative of the International heritage that she has and how it’s formed the way that she looks at the world. Her arc has been education into coaching most specifically teaching business English in various organizations into top executives only to realize the need for safe spaces to think sounding boards and a mirror, an outside perspective, and the power of trust and connection that was needed in these relationships. This was the inspiration upon which her interest in coaching began at the time. At this time, her focus is geared towards Intercultural work and Professional Supervision, not just for coaches and various other helping professionals but for leaders as well. Many executives could benefit not only from coaching but from supervision. And she’s passionate about teaching people the science and art of coaching as it quite literally changes lives on both an individual level, but more importantly on a collective level. Amina and I met in a team coach training several years back and struck up a friendship and we’ve had so many rich conversations through the years about coaching, about coaching supervision that I felt like I just had to invite her to the Coaching Studio and I want to just quickly share a quote of um something Amina said that just really stuck with me, “The time of the heroic leader and the heroic coach is over. No one person can take on the complex context of an organization as it operates in the world. We need each other, we are more interconnected than we ever were and we need to learn new skills to navigate the waves of this relational space. ” So Amina, thank you so much for being on the Coaching Studio, I’m so pleased to have you here today,
|Thank you Lyssa was an honor to be here.
|So the way that I start this is you know, this journey into coaching, and for you, it really started with teaching and then transitioned into coaching. Can you speak more about that arc of that exploration and what the catalyst was for you?
|That’s right, that’s right. I started actually as a language teacher. I did a Master’s in English and German languages and literature and then I did all but dissertation, Ph. D. in the US, uh in comparative literature. And um I had my kids and at a certain point, we decided that it would be great for these kids to move back to Europe and have a little bit of European experience as well. So that’s what we did and when I moved back to Europe, I started working again in the language teaching context um and as a native English teacher in Hungary, I was always um sent to various top executives. And very quickly uh these people started talking about all their difficulties, their doubts, and various business issues and I was really in awe at how complex their life is. And how complex these issues are that they were presenting me with, but I would and I was very grateful, grateful that they had the trust, uh to talk about these things. But at the same time, I felt like oh my gosh, okay, what do I do now? Because it’s great, they’re telling me all this, but I have no tools, I don’t know how to move on from here. And uh so that’s when I started to look into coach training specifically, business coach training at that point I had met um with coaching. I had a personal experience with coaching uh probably 2-3 years prior to that in the US. And it really touched me to experience the toolset where you don’t have to know, I always had issues with knowing I was not um not from a very positive side. Because I wasn’t an incredibly diligent student, I was diligent enough uh right, but I had never very rarely did I do enough to be completely safe and secure in the knowing zone. Um and so I easily felt not enough. And not knowing enough and sort of insecure. And so when I experience this and it was a personal experience with coaching, I thought, wow, I can’t believe there is a toolset where you can help people without having to be in this space of knowing and being sure about things. And so it really spoke to me and then when I, when I came across the situation in Hungary, I thought I have to learn how to do this. So that’s when it all started, that was about 2009 and I haven’t looked back since.
|You know, and I love this because this I mean, and that’s for I mean, that’s really the journey also for many people in coaching, is this. You started it, “I enjoyed the not knowing. ” but most of us have to learn the not knowing and get comfortable with the not knowing because we tend to be so socialized that we’re supposed to know. So I love that not knowing was like the draw.
|It was the draw, but having said that I had issues with the not knowing, and still sometimes I do because it’s a difficult space to be in and when certain people certain kind of presence has an effect on me, I can feel that same sense of insecurity or being inadequate or not enough. Except now I know a little bit more what to do with it and how to deal with it and and and sometimes how to use it in coaching.
|Yeah, well, and that comes into the really the self-reflective practice of supervision. I mean, at least from my experience is that sense of noticing those tensions as they show up or the somatic experience that one might be having that allows them then to go, “huh, how do I be curious in this moment and maybe even transparent in this moment, but not attached to what that pressure is? ” I mean, did you hear me say that it is that resonates at all with what you’re talking about?
|Absolutely, absolutely. Um not being attached to anything is really, I think the key and it’s also so hard to do, it really is, but if we can manage that, that we’re doing great.
|Yeah, Yeah. And and and for me, the experience has been that’s been in my own coaching journey that transition into that letting go. Um and you know, it is there’s so many things that hook us so easily into being an expertise mode. Or you know, whatever that is that hooks us, that we feel like we need to provide something. Here’s your beautifully wrapped present. Um take it, here you go, I provided it now for you. How do you, you know, you said something in your bio has been really interesting to me, which is that executives can benefit from Coaching Supervision as well as coaching and you know, maybe before you even talk a bit about that, you know, I know you’ve been working on a research project around Coaching Supervision. I’d love to hear a little bit about Coaching Supervision from your perspective, and I see you have a little friend with you, there.
|Yeah she is getting upset, she doesn’t like to be by herself, so if it’s if it’s okay we’ll let her sit here?
|Absolutely, absolutely welcome.
|Um Anyway, yeah, coaching Coaching Supervision um is such an incredibly powerful and important tool for us coaches, first and foremost because we come across so much stuff, so, so many issues, so many pains, so many difficulties, um and a lot of those, so many different life situations, right? And a lot of those really resonate with us. I think when you get to be around my age, almost everything resonates.
|I’m laughing because I think it’s true, you know, you’ve been around the block a few times, you’ve been around the block a few times, right?
|I don’t feel old by any means, but I do feel experienced and I’ve had my share of good and bad. And I think I consider myself a very lucky person overall. But yeah, I can relate to a lot of the things that my clients bring into the coaching space. And so I really think it’s so important to to be able to have a space and a presence of somebody elsewhere you can really work through these, um figure out where you end and where the other person begins. Take what’s yours work with it integrated, um so next time you can you can use it more in the best sense of the word and put down whatever is not yours. [Yeah] and be able to let go. Mhm. And I think if you listen to that leaders go through that same field, right, in so many ways. And so it would be great if they could have access to something very similar where I was listening to a podcast recently and somebody was saying he was in a helping profession as well and he said well all the people that come to me, I’m like a sponge, I soak up everything, and I’m completely saturated. I don’t know where else to put one bit of Information, one bit of pain. And I think maybe when you talk about leadership it’s not quite that dramatic. But especially now during COVID and with all the turmoil that is going on in the world. I think leaders have to absorb a lot.
|Yeah. Well there people are absorbing a lot and they are they’re holding the energy field of their organization, and how it’s handling things. You know as I hear you say what you heard on that podcast. I think I wonder I wonder the correlation between burnout and super and good Supervision because I mean as a therapist with my earlier years as a therapist I got a lot of supervision. But I wouldn’t say that it was fabulous Supervision. I got adequate Supervision. I got very much Supervision that was around the client, the client problem. My relationship with the client and the tools that the client might use like it was very limited to that level of Supervision. And when I and I think back on my own burnout and that’s really the thing that showed up as you’re telling that story about the person. I don’t know if it was a gentleman. Um but the person on the podcast is you know, I wonder how in any of these professions where we hold the energetic space of others that Supervision isn’t imperative. So that we can start to look at the places where what’s to your point where is this mine? What’s mine in this space? Where is the permeable boundary where there’s you know, crossing over but where is it theirs and not mine? And how do I create that that space that keeps me whole, safe, and um and not taking on other people’s whatever? You know the responsibility for their their their traumas or holding their traumas? And even if the traumas aren’t you know big T traumas but it’s a small t consistent trauma of maybe a supervisor whose voice reminds you of your critical grandparent, you know or whatever you know or the expectations that an Executive Leader would have or you know a CEO would have all the people wanting from them, something. Never satisfying everybody, how could you? Right? And how do you deal with that without becoming hardened?
|That’s right. That’s right. And because of the operational issues that any organization, any company has, especially nowadays and so much um effort going into performance and results and doing great. The well-being side a lot of times is lacking and we know that and there’s a lot of talk about that but I really think there is a space there for the softness of Supervision that can provide just a little bit of um of emptying that sponge. [Yeah] that we’re ready to take in more.
|And I love this word that you use the softening of supervision because it isn’t about judgment, it’s about self-reflection, it’s about innate curiosity and so I just I love that softening place. Because it is because there is a hardness that happens to us as we become burned out by things. Because we’ve become so super protective. Everything must be pushed, pushed away. Yeah, no, that’s a beautiful allegory of it. It’s a softening and an exploration.
|That’s how I I experience it on both ends really. Uh, a good supervision allows me to soften, allows me to experience my full self uh and to sort through those boundaries, like you said. And I think boundary issues are so incredibly important to work with, for anybody who works with people really.
|Yeah. Well really just for every people.
|Yeah, for everybody.
|If you’re a person, you probably have boundary issues somewhere.
|I think that is so true. So and we hear this word, you know, when people come to coaching as well um or the students where I teach and coach training a lot of times they’ll recognize, you know when we start contracting with them and they come with certain issues. Uh they start talking about and then they recognized that. Okay well, I have boundary issues. But really what does that mean? How does that show up and how can we identify that? These are the things that really interest me. And lately, I’ve done a lot of reading and reflecting on this topic and it feeds into also uh the intercultural aspect of things.
|Yeah, can you say more about that now it feeds into the intercultural arena?
|I think the number one there are so many different cultural aspects each of us brings to the table right? It’s not just that you are in the U. S. And you have a background from there and I am in Hungary right now and I have a background from Europe or partly from Africa, there’s a lot more than that because there is, if you work in an organization, that organization has a culture, if you go to Church, the Church has a culture. If you two Sports, your Sports Club has a certain culture. Um also if you come from a certain societal um layer of the society, that layer will have a culture, right? And, and as that changes that shifts there will be a different culture. Um, so when we say culture really there is, it’s such a, such a really packed word.
|It’s very complex and we tend to think only about National culture a lot of times and yet there is so much more to it. And so boundaries come into the space where, how is your culture and cultural identity meeting mine right now? How are we okay with each other’s cultural space? And how can we relate and even more, how can we have an impression or an impact without, without what? Without really wanting tour without really having the pressure to do it?
|Yeah. You know, it’s so fascinating to me, I was having a conversation with a client and one of… The gist that came up was, you know, certain types of people can’t coach other types of people. Like and it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking, you know, like um Women couldn’t/shouldn’t coach men maybe. I mean if you extrapolate out to its like En’th degree, you can get, you know, at a place where only these kinds of people can coach these kinds of people, whatever that is. And um and I was thinking, you know, in this particular situation, it was about a White American coaching a Black American right? Like and given the racial tensions in our country really in the world. And then I started thinking, you know, and if that’s true, what does that say about a coach’s ability to be fully present in the space. But having done the work, number one that allows them to be able to coach somebody of a different cultural background? Like what is required there or a Black coach to coach a White client or a person. I was thinking of a friend of mine who works with a program called Creativity for Peace and they bring Israeli and Palestinian women, young women together and like how do you form these places where you can intersect? Where you are, so there’s so much there and that these things are possible. And I think it is really, it speaks to that importance of on a collective level where none of us are the same. So how do we learn these capacity to be in a place of wonder with each other? Where we can be a coach, especially if I can be comfortable and the not knowing, not assuming, not expecting that my way is the right way. Like what has to happen then I just, that’s what shows up as you’re talking? I don’t know.
|Right. Right. Absolutely. And and and then the ultimate question is how do you teach that or train that or what is the skill set? Of, of that inter culture of navigating that intercultural space? And uh and being more aware, that it exists and working with it. So you mentioned this, this program, it’s an Erasmus+ Program that I am participating in at the moment. And it’s a two-year program and we’re really from different angles, we’re looking at how culture shows up and how can we then um somehow get ahold of it, better navigated better in coaching. And it’s the provision because it is so incredibly important. I mean, in the US we know why and how it is very important. But I’m right now in Europe and I mean, we have even if you just think about National culture, we have a lot of different cultures. But then on top of that, everything else, it’s an incredibly important subject and a very vulnerable space to be in and to work in. And I think that’s exactly where the power is.
|Yeah. I also think it’s where the “know thyself” um and doing that work and I think that’s the other place for supervision really provides us the opportunity to go what just got triggered there, in that situation? Or what allowed me not to be triggered there in that situation? And pivot with the client and be with them and get more information versus personalizing and “What you don’t like me? Um, or I’m not good enough in some way. ” And those things that get triggered. I think it’s so important and I’m so glad that the research is being done on how do we support people and learning how to do that level of work with themselves, right, So that they can then show up with other people, um yeah. what is, what is something that you think that it would be useful for coaches to understand about coaching, even?
|for coaches to understand about coaching? Well, it’s funny you ask that because when, I when I teach, uh and I love that’s my kind of love, uh project is teaching coaches. Because there is such a beautiful process from the point they come to the coach training. And they have a certain understanding or um or an idea in their head about what they think coaching is, and a lot of times they come and they think, oh, I I like to talk to people, I can ask good questions, this will be really easy. And then as we start going into the nitty-gritty stuff, and they start realizing that there is so much more to coaching than questions. Um in fact, we don’t let them ask questions in the beginning, because uh we want them to learn active listening really well before they start asking questions. And so they’re not allowed to ask questions and they just they can only use the active listening skills right, for a while. And yeah, and they realized that you can actually move ahead with the client, a lot without asking questions or without having any idea where the client is going to go, and you know what the results will be. And so this whole accepting that I don’t have to know and consequently I don’t have to be the focal point of this conversation. I think that’s darn difficult.
|Yeah, it doesn’t, it’s not about me and I don’t have to be an expert. It’s really interesting. So, so when you have your students start with active listening, is it I am hearing you say x, y, z sort of active listening? Where there or even getting deeper beyond the superficial, like, are you, are you saying that there’s like, I’m hearing something like imposter syndrome show up or something like that?
|Right. Right. Um, we’re very gentle about how we offer what we see or what we notice on you, from what you’re saying. So it’s like offering somebody on a tray what I’m hearing or what I’m noticing, right? And you’re welcome to take it or not. And so if if you say I’m I’m hearing that you’re a little bit insecure about, about the situation right now. It seems to me like it feels really difficult to be in this space. That kind of thing. If the client says, well, I’m not really insecure, I’m more just I don’t have the tools. Okay, then we’re really connected. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t the perfect thing that I noted, [right]. And I think that really opens up the doors to where it’s conversations and it’s such a simple tool to listen. Just a little bit deeper and to, and to offer something that you heard and just let the other person respond, take or leave it.
|Yeah. Like gently, here’s my gentle offer. I’m not attached to it, but what it does is it helps to calibrate us in the space together. I think it really speaks to trust and safety as well as actively listening piece.
|Absolutely. We’re building bridges with people, right? We’re always building bridges and, and these bridges have to be strong enough to hold whatever the client would like to share would like to put into the space. And so this is, I think this is the best tool to build really stronger bridges.
|Yeah. You know, they’re a really strong bridge has to have a structure, right? Like it has to have a foundation that’s based on something solid. And I think what you’re talking about, you know, many years ago I took a Covey Training and one of the things he liked to say was you have two years in one mouth, used them accordingly. [laughter]
|I actually heard that before and I forgot it and I’m so glad you, you said that. I think it’s such a great, great rule of some kind of thing.
|It really is, you know, and to really listen and then to ask if you’re going to ask any kind of question or share any observation. It only comes from that space of useful curiosity. You know, of, of wonder that you might have with what this other person might be trying to share with you, to develop a deeper understanding. And I mean, I think coaches who learn that skill set have such an advantage in transformational changes with their clients. Right.
|Right. Right. Absolutely. And um I also think it’s really important for us to understand that our expertise is in building partnership with the client.
|And it’s a really complex topic. So it’s no small task.
|That’s not a tiny word, partnership. It isn’t.
|Not at all.
|It’s a huge word. It’s as complex as is the intercultural, right?
|That’s right. It’s really complex. And I think this is where um, you know, people that come to coach training is a lot of times I think you have to know and you have to be an expert and then they realize, no you don’t. But then they also realized at a certain point, Well, darn, but you do, because you have to be an expert on how to create a partnership with people from all walks of life.
|which is a very different skill set than me needing to know how to run your business.
|Or run your life. You know, let me just tell you how to run if you just do this, you’ll be fine, but rather than expertise is in your capacity to be curious, your capacity to create that safety, that trust, and to listen to your point, you know, to listen deeply to this other person. And be willing to be taught by them. I think for myself too, I mean, and I talked to a lot of people on this podcast. The theme seems to be, you know, the real skill of coaching is in the partnership mm [Absolutely]. In our capacity to create that. How is coaching? Go ahead. No, you were about to say something.
|I was just going to say because we talked about culture earlier and I think, for example, this is an issue “creating partnership” and your skills in partnership and reflecting on how I am, in a partnership. Has a lot to do with your culture and your cultural background and I think it would be really useful for more coaches to do more kind of cultural work and reflection. To understand why I react the way I react and why I build partnerships or why I have difficulty building partnerships um with the kind of cultural background that I have.
|Yeah, I think I definitely think it is, I think it is the way forward, right, is to be respectful to the cultural differences and be willing to explore what another person’s experience is, without an attachment or an idea about what they’re supposed to get. You know, I remember early in coaching school, somebody had, not coaching school, I’m sorry, I’m going back even farther when I was working on my Master’s in Social Work. There was this, you know, idea of what is, what is normal. And normal such a broad idea, right? Like there’s this huge space of things that are all normal, but they may be different than each other right? There, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with them, they’re just different. And if I only grow up in a world where I see my world from the viewpoint that I have been, you know, given or that I have chosen. And I don’t allow myself to walk around that elephant, I only ever see the one piece of it. And I miss out on the entirety of it. And so that allowing ourselves to be, to learn about other people, right to be taught by other people, you know.
|Right, and two maybe discover something new. Yeah, because a lot of times were so, and we’re expected to be so much in the zone of uh what is in the past? And what are what is it that we already know? It’s sometimes difficult to find that space to discover something new.
|Yeah, I love that. I love that. And on that note, also, what are you up to in this early part of 2022?
|Well, it’s really exciting actually, because we are um just starting uh School for Supervisors. And so yeah, it’s being accredited by the EASC, European Association for Supervision and Coaching. And so we’re getting ready to launch here shortly. And it’s been a really exciting journey to put this together with a colleague of mine. It’s uh it’s really her baby. Ah I am more in the assisting role. But I absolutely love every minute of it. Because um I just see this have this vision, in Hungary, um Supervisors are trained mostly at university and it’s a very complex training, a very elite training. But not that many people can access it. [Mm hmm]. And I think we need a lot more people to do good supervision than those who can spend three years of their life going to University. Of course, if you can do that, that’s fantastic. But I really believe that that we need people who can have access to this kind of learning without having to sit through the University course um and still get a strong enough foundation and uh have a lot of uh Supervised client hours. And going to go into supervision with all kinds of different clients from different walks of life.
|I’m very excited about that.
|Well and it sounds like it brings together two of your passions teaching. Well, three teaching, Coaching, and Supervision.
|Yes, anybody, because like you said in the beginning I started from I come from teaching, I have an educational background and so at some point I thought, well it’s interesting how I journey from teaching. I did many things in between. Um it all, every one of them had to do with people and connecting with people. From interpreting to um some sales, to interior design where the best part was to sit down and talk to people and sort of understand what they’re looking for. I really enjoyed that. Um all the way to coaching and now I’m going back to actually teaching and I love it. It’s really awesome, especially because I get to teach. I mean how lucky can you be and get to teach people who really want to learn what we’re teaching. So [that’s beautiful] inspiring.
|Well and I think I think it has the power to impact us at a collective level. The more people have a self-reflective practice and get to know themselves.
|So that they can be then open to knowing others. Thank you so much for being on the Coaching Studio podcast, today. I gosh, I am so happy I got to record one of these conversations Amina.
|I know, thank you, Lyssa, because we’ve had really awesome conversations all throughout these past few years that we’ve known each other. And I hope we can keep continuing to do that because you always inspire me. You have a really good uh connection to my thoughts. And uh away you summarize things and just to put it back to me, helps a lot with moving forward.
|Well, I would, I would say the same. I think you and I when we met, for me it was a simpatico, uh, the sense of similar energies. Uh, and I loved that it was on such, you know, kind of opposite sides of the world a little bit. And so it’s just wonderful to have had this relationship and to continue it. And it will continue. Um, but this podcast will come to an end. And so, thank you so much for being on the show today. I really appreciate it.
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Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC
Lyssa deHart ditched her therapy practice to become a Leadership Confidence Coach. Along the way she discovered a passion for professional coaching and wanted to find ways to share that passion with the world. Come join her in discovering and meeting some of the most amazing professional coaches on the planet. Her goal is to inspire coaches. Lyssa is the author of StoryJacking: Change Your Dialogue, Transform Your Life , and The Reflective Coach. Lyssa is an ICF PCC Assessor, Certified Mentor Coach, and budding Coach SuperVisor. Lyssa uses her understanding of the ICF Core Competencies, combined with her knowledge of Neuroscience, to work with people to become extraordinary professional coaches. Let's Go!
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