Season 1, Episode 25

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.

Let’s go!

the Coaching Studio welcomes Tracy Sinclair, MCC to the show

the Coaching Studio Guest

I am very excited to welcome Tracy Sinclair, MCC to the Coaching Studio Podcast.

Credits

  • 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:

Lyssa deHart

Hello, I’m Lyssa deHart, and welcome to the Coaching Studio. Today, I just absolutely feel privileged to have Tracy Sinclair MCC with the International Coaching Federation as my guest on the show today Tracy, thank you so much for being willing to come on the show and share yourself with the audience.

Tracy Sinclair

Well, thank you, Lyssa, the pleasure is all mine. I’m delighted to have been invited and I’m really looking forward to our conversation.

Lyssa deHart

As am I, one of the first questions I really like to ask people is a little bit about your personal evolution into coaching. Very few people start off born as coaches. We may have coaching, you know, genes in us. But we don’t necessarily find ourselves dropped straight into coaching. And I’m really curious what was your, what was your journey into coaching?

Tracy Sinclair

Mm-hmm. It’s a great question, isn’t it? Because I know that for most people, coaching is a 2nd, 3rd or even fourth career, isn’t it? And um you know, I know within the I C F we’ve often talked about, does it have to be that way? You know, it’s just as a, as a sideline to that conversation of, you know, what if people took up coaching as their first career, you know? How would that be and what would be needed? In place for that to be an option? Because that would be a whole new domain, I think for our profession. Um But as you, as you sort of highlighted there, it wasn’t my first career. Um and I guess I might say I have had a bit of a portfolio career, it’s, I’ve done a few different things um ranging from being a Spanish teacher, interpreter and translator in my first career, through to working in financial services and operational management and then through to leadership development, and then into coaching. So I guess 4th, 4th main area for my world. Um, I think the trigger for me, there were two things actually, one was when I took a little bit of time out to have my Children, which was 18 years ago, I have twins who are 18 now. Um, I had already been running my broad-spectrum leadership development business for quite a few years at that point. And when I took some time out to have them and I was thinking about coming back into my business, I guess if I’m really honest, I felt a little bit bored and stale, you know, in truth. Of thinking, Gosh, am I going to go back and just do the same thing that I’ve been doing for the last 10 or 12 years at that time. Um and I’m not in some ways I am a creature of habit, but I’m not very good actually at doing the same thing over and over again. Because I know I can plateau and get a little bit stale. So, I was thinking about how could I bring something new and fresh and interesting into my, into my business. And I went to a few different conferences and seminars and workshops, and I went on a one-day conference in London on this thing called coaching. And I thought, oh, what’s all that about? Um, and how is it different in my question to myself, how is it different from counseling? Because in a previous life I was also a counselor. And worked alongside my financial services role as a counselor, mainly in addiction with working with drug and alcohol addicts. So, it initially triggered my interest to think, well what’s this thing called coaching vis a vis counseling. So I was quite intrigued. Um and then the second thing that really hooked me was that the person that was giving a speech on a presentational counselor coaching said that he felt that coaching was not something that had just been cooked up by a few bored people in a coffee shop one day, trying to think about the next, you know, cool thing to do. He believed that coaching was evolving as a way of communicating with ourselves and others to meet a need in society and I have to admit that just floored me. I just thought, wow, that feels quite important, quite impactful. It just really hooked my interest. Um and so I researched what that was about. Very quickly, got sold on the idea of doing coach training, and then of course, as they say, the rest is history.

Lyssa deHart

Yeah, well there are two things that you brought up that are really um capturing my attention. And I’m going to share them both and then see which one maybe shows up strongly for you. But I hear from a lot of people and my background is as a clinical social worker. So, I mean I I that distinction between coaching and counseling, often is a huge, like, I don’t know, sticky wicket. I mean it is just like it is a mess for a lot of people. Because there is so there are so many crossovers in the, into the point of your book that you know, I’ll talk about in your bio. Um, the underpinnings of coaching our psychological right? And so, but then so is business, business leadership. Um, and so I’m really curious, you know, on one hand around what you’re thinking is around that intersection and differences between coaching and counseling? And then this other piece that you brought up, which is really the evolution of coaching is it is an evolution that supports the growth of people and society and cultures as a whole. And so those two areas are really like “bing” for me right now is I’m listening to you talk is there one that you would be most interested in talking about first?

Tracy Sinclair

Well, you know, as you share those things Lyssa but in my mind they’re they’re connected.

Lyssa deHart

I would love to hear that.

Tracy Sinclair

Because so if we go with the first one, you know, Yes, I do… Whilst we may not say that the coach has to be a clinical psychologist to be a good coach. I do think that there is a body of work that is psychologically grounded, that underpins the efficacy of coaching and its competencies. And I just happened to have an interest in that. And my interest I suppose in becoming a counselor was because I am passionate about the evolution of human development. And in that context, um counseling, I guess was more of a, you know, it’s a dis-ease model in terms of focusing on supporting someone to heal or to resolve something from their present or their past that’s really, really holding them back. And what was interesting about my experience as being a counselor was I struggled if I’m honest. I was, I mean, I think of myself as quite young then. I was in my late 20s when I trained to be a counselor. And I felt as though I got really quite burnt by some of the exposure of some of the things that I was working with, with clients that um wasn’t getting processed for me. And this takes us to maybe the conversation that you and I were having previously about supervision is, in those in that context, the supervision that I was in at the time was much more focused on almost like a policing approach to am I being fit for practice? Am I being safe with other people? Rather than um, I as the practitioner, processing and resolving and protecting myself. And I guess was naive at that time, and found that I wasn’t protecting myself. I did not have my shield and I took it home and it weighed heavy to the point where I decided I had to stop. Because I wasn’t able to find a way of processing and separating myself from other people’s pain and you know, very, I found I had a very, very strong attraction to empathizing these people’s very difficult feelings. um, Which is great for empathy, but it’s not great if you can’t process it. And I didn’t have the capacity or the skills to do that at the time. And so the outcome for me was I walked away from that work. Which was a shame because I it really felt in my heart as though that was something that I wanted to do. And so when I discovered coaching, it was a bit of a, oh wow, this is amazing because, excuse me, there is a way that I can work with people in something that has similarities. But it is aspirational and his forward-moving and is positive and about the future. And so it was, it was an amazing discovery for me that there was this different way of working that I could still support people, enable them in their lives to be their best. And to tap into their potential rather than the more below-the-line kind of work. Um Having said that I do now since, carry a strong interest in the boundary between the two, I call it the gray space, which is where, you know, some cases are clearly therapeutic in need. And some are clearly a prime opportunity for coaching. But then there’s a few cases that we see more and more coming up that are in a gray area. Um, which leads in a way to your other point, of how is coaching evolving? And you know, is coaching to what extent does coaching extend into the place of underpinning people’s well-being? And I use that term more than mental health because maybe if someone’s mental health is truly compromised, it is more of a therapeutic context. But I do strongly believe that coaching does have a place to underpin someone’s well-being before their mental health deteriorates to a point where a therapeutic intervention is necessary. Which would I believe be such a proactive contribution to society, especially at the moment.

Lyssa deHart

Yeah. You know, a couple of things that are from my experience when I’m thinking about my therapeutic practice is that one of the things you said earlier, which I have really experienced, you know, therapy is a medical model. And so you call dis-ease, but it is, it is a medical model and it needed to be in order to get insurance and to be seen is not just quackery, it was a real thing. And I get that on the other hand, there’s a tendency in the medical model for one person to be the expert and the other person to be the patient, right? And there’s a huge shift that happens as we shift into partnership and what’s possible. And I think back also, and this is to your second point, I had people in my private practice that clearly needed therapy, they needed counseling, they needed mental health support. And that was, it was very clear. And then 80-90% of my practice were people who were getting the diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder so that you’d meet the needs of the of the insurance. But that really we’re just struggling with something going on in their life that they were having trouble adjusting to? And that’s a huge area where coaching can be so beneficial and they don’t meet the need of having a real psychologically damaged space that they’re coming from. They’re really needing support and moving to the next, moving forward to the next level. And so I really appreciate you bringing that forward. Um, I don’t know that strikes me as just an important concept for coaches to understand though what you’re speaking to. There, you know, there is a place and yet there is a huge space for helping people move forward. How does, how does that shift into that forward-thinking, how do you see that play out with the people that you work with?

Tracy Sinclair

Well, you know, I think about it, it’s a very simplistic way of thinking about it in ways I think about an axis almost two of you know from zero to plus 10 and minus 10, you know. And if someone is in the pluses then their well-being is above the line and if it’s lower then it’s below the line. And, and I guess you know um Who in this world is always at a plus 10? You know that we know that even joy and happiness are transient emotions and states that were not experiencing all the time. So I guess you know without wanting to be sort of clinical about it most of us in our lives are probably hovering around that space of anything from 5 to 10, up and down throughout life. When you start to drop below five and you’re getting closer to zero and that’s where you’re you’re tending to baseline. Then my sense is is that the table is turning a little bit from being able to forward focus, two more, okay, what is it that’s dragging me down that’s holding me back? And you know, different people that I’ve talked about, that sort of in the mental health space who score themselves. You know like me doing coaching, you know, how confident do you feel about this out of 10 kind of thing and that can be a marker as well in people sort of referencing or framing their sense of well being, you know, am I one out of 10? Am I three out of 10? And I know for example that someone that I, that I know very well who struggles with mental health challenges Um when they are at a one out of 10, then suicidal ideation is very present for them. You know, and if it drops much lower, then that’s when certain alarm bells need to be, need to be rung as it were. My thinking about this is um, is what about the people who are finding that their lives are generally dropping to a place of, you know, I’m hanging out at a 3, 4, and five most of the time. It’s not that their world has dropped to a point where there’s an alarm bell ringing off that they ought to do something medically. But they ignore it because it isn’t an alarm bell and it just becomes a pattern and a habit. And it feels in a way as though society and I don’t know how this is in the US, I’m speaking obviously more from experience here in in the UK. Is the system is there to try to put a safety net under people when the alarm bells need to go off, but by then we’ve sort of left it a bit late. And we’ve got to come from so far down. And I think that a lot of people that typically come into coaching are perhaps those people that are hovering at 6, 7, and 8 in their lives where they are going for more and more and how can I be at my best and thrive? I do think there’s an opportunity for coaching in that space of 3, 4, and 5, you know before you’re really becoming where it’s becoming a more clinical need, a therapeutic need. But where someone could actually, there is still the capacity for forward planning. Still, the capacity for hope, still the capacity to set goals, even though life feels as though it’s dropped. I have a sense that is there’s a sweet spot there that potentially with the right kind of approach, I believe that um a coaching approach could still really helps turn that rather than it just dropping even further.

Lyssa deHart

Yeah. Yeah, no, I really completely agree because I do think that when you think about it, how many people are living lives where it’s become habitual, but they’re not, they’re not finding joy or energy or enthusiasm in the work that they do. Or their relationships or just [insert anything here] and what’s possible for them if they were to really find what that deeper, meaningful purpose for their life is and then really put their energy there and felt bold enough or confident enough in order to do that. Which actually makes me think of something you said earlier, which is what if it was the first career? What if people were going to college and this is your first career? I’ve only ever been a coach and so talk about what you’re thinking is around how that might shift things for people? Because I know for myself my coaching journey, my therapeutic journey definitely taught me a lot about myself and has been incredibly useful. But the self-reflective process of coaching has amplified that at a different, in a different way and more to what you were talking about around coaching supervision around self-awareness and my and how I take care of myself and how I show up in relationships. So I’m really interested in how do we make this a first career?

Tracy Sinclair

Yeah, that’s such a great question. And you know, talking as I’m thinking here, so thinking, thinking aloud as it were. Two things immediately come to mind is one is our education system, systems across the world, and also our beliefs. Um so on, the education system, my guess is, and again, I’m speaking mainly from the UK perspective, but I imagine it may be similar elsewhere. Is what psychology degrees are out there that actively also positioned that an avenue from a psychology degree could be coaching? You know, when when we think about as someone entering into a psychology degree, or other degrees, behavioral psychology, behavioral sciences, organizational psychology, um all of those kinds of domains that at that academic university level, um you know, how many of them actually include within that broad spectrum of possibilities of careers coming out of that kind of a degree, include the provision of coaching? I doubt that I might be proven wrong. I hope I am actually, but I doubt there are many that have coaching on the map or coaching on the radar as a potential, first career avenue, coming out of that academic experience. And the other part of it is the beliefs, you know, coaching is, is sort of believed to be a third career profession. Or in a profession that you do when you’ve reached a certain age. Or that you’ve or you’ve had a certain amount of life experience or corporate experience or professional experience. And I think we need to challenge that because apart from all of the very important things around being inclusive, and not discriminating. But there’s a lot of ISMs around coaching, you know, is it gender’ist is it age’ist? Is it um sort of sector’ist? I don’t know, you know, there are, there are certain ISMs and things that we have in um in coaching that I think we could do well to challenge, especially with the fact that the young population that we have at the moment, they are going to be leading our world. Not us, you know, and they and they are navigating some very tricky experiences that they are inheriting. Um and the pandemic has done nothing but made that if ever more complex. I would say that having young coaches coming into our, our space would be an enormous contribution.

Lyssa deHart

Several things um popped into my mind as you were talking, one is the ISMs, but I think there’s also an underlying ego of I’m an expert at something. And so now I’m a coach so that I can coach you because from my expertise. Which as you and I both know, is the journey away from that towards being a master certified coach, is the letting go of all of the ego and expertise. which is unraveling that is not comfortable, but also necessary in order to be in partnership, again with somebody. And I wonder like if I had come into coaching, like that had been a genuine avenue and not a, you know, sort of an afterthought that universities are using to create income. but rather a real genuine, I’m going into psychology or social work, or one of the helping professions in some way and coaching is an option. Where I really learned about how to hold the space in a partnering conversation. I wonder of all the things that, because I didn’t know I could have come from the place of curiosity so much easier? I mean that’s the thing that really shows up as you’re saying that like all the things that have to be unlearned in order to become a good coach versus already just coming in unlearned of them. For a lack of a better way of saying it.

Tracy Sinclair

Well, I mean, I couldn’t agree more, you know, this is the thing, isn’t it? Um that that is the paradox in some ways of coaching is that we have an infrastructure or a process or a belief system around coaching and who’s suitable to become a coach. That does have this element of experience, knowledge, expertise, and wisdom. Um, whatever that might be. um but you have to have, and then we’re, we are then told to unlearn those things, um and so there’s got to be a way of taking that freshness, you know, and that’s not too, that’s not to in any way minimize the value of age, minimize the value of experience and history. Of course, those things have a place. Um but I think that coaching is, is missing a huge opportunity for, for, you know, very innovative, innovative development as a profession. If we were to stay with that fixed perspective of how, and when, and who comes into it. Um, we all bring different things and what we might bring in history, a younger person brings in a fresh perspective. And, you know, of course, again, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I noticed this with my young children, younger people and younger leaders are very different to how we were. There is an enormous shift in values, beliefs, expectations, and principles of um how they want to live. How they want to be with themselves and each other that are so different to, perhaps, you know, some of the previous generations. We also have to make sure that coaching as a concept stays up with that new way of being, coming into our system. Because otherwise, well it would lose its relevance.

Lyssa deHart

Mhm. No, I agree with you again. And it would lose that, you know, what makes it brilliant is that it has an opportunity to evolve. And it has an opportunity to evolve in ways that meet people’s needs and also invite people to learn how to show up as their best. And I would never want to say that there’s a person younger than me who hasn’t maybe had as much experience. Maybe not exactly the same experience, but has lived a full experience by the time they’re in their twenties. And the meaning that they make from that and the capacity to use it to inform their curiosity is just as valid for them, as it is for somebody who’s of a different generation. And I think back on myself in my twenties and how I wasn’t trained to use my curiosity. To and you know, my knowledge to inform my curiosity, but rather I was just curious. Right? And so there’s a “yes and… ” There where there’s a place for the energy and enthusiasm and of a new broad way of looking at things to be combined with this sense of and to the benefit of whom, and for the purpose of what right, so that the person is learning how to curb the enthusiasm in such a way that they’re useful. To themselves, but also to their person that they’re working with. Um, that’s what shows up as you’re talking for me.

Tracy Sinclair

Absolutely. And, you know, there’s an initiative that I’m working on here in the UK at the moment, which is about bringing coaching and coaching skills to the 18 to 25-year-old population. Which I guess is the kind of age group we’re thinking about here. And It’s at its highest level. It’s an opportunity to introduce offering coaching to younger people, either 1-1 or group. And then transitioning them to thinking about, you know, if they’re finding it valuable, how could they pay it forward to other young people? Usually, you know, usually in a university system where older students will pay it forward maybe to the first year students where they can start learning some coaching skills themselves? And it’s amazing when I’m working with them. You think, why on earth did I ever think that they wouldn’t get this? You know what I mean? I mean? It’s just I feel embarrassed almost to say that, to think why would I have held such limiting beliefs or biases about their capacity to get it because they happen to be 21 years old. I mean it’s absurd and I’m just in awe of some of the wisdom and the grounded nous and the maturity and the developed thought when I’m actually then finding that I’m just facilitating them coaching each other, you know, as a group. And they are stepping in and stepping up to that without, with very limited instruction in coach coaching skills, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re um I just, I just think there’s a huge opportunity to do well.

Lyssa deHart

Yeah well and I just, what the world would we have if younger people were invited to evolve at a younger age, you know, who where did the story come that you have to have a midlife crisis in order to determine a new direction. Or get to a place of burnout um which you didn’t mention as a, is one of the reasons people come into coaching. But I know for myself, I was so burned out that I just needed to do something completely different. And, and coaching was close enough to what I was doing, that I didn’t have to like reinvent, you know, like everything that I knew. And I could leverage it in a way that brought me passion again to the work that I was doing. And yet that’s a silly story. If we choose to believe it, it doesn’t have to be that it isn’t that it doesn’t have to be the truth, nor is it the truth, it is just one story, so Tracy. I have very much enjoyed this conversation with you today. I’m just curious what are you up to that you would like our listeners to know about? I will be creating links in the um, you know, description of the show to send people your direction, but I’d love to hear what you’re up to lately?

Tracy Sinclair

Well, thank you. Well, I’m usually up to far too many things actually, one of my, one of my flaws. Or one of, well maybe it’s a quality on the one hand, on the floor, definitely on the other is I’m am overenthusiastic because I just, I think there are so many cool things to get involved in. Um. But one of the things I’m up to is what I shared with you is working with a colleague to really try to focus on leveraging, bringing coaching, and coaching skills to the 18 to 25-year-old population. Looking to lobby and influence um funders for that, you know, Corporates who want to fund and support that kind of work, as well as academic institutions as well. So that’s quite a big part of what I’m involved in. I’m also going back to our first conversation quite involved in mental health um activities. Um, so I have a partnership with a big mental health charity here in the UK where we collaborate on me supporting their staff. So enabling the people who are trying to help others um receive coaching in a way that’s accessible to them. Because as a charity of course funding is not always readily available. So that those two initiatives are things that I tend to do under the have a part of my business called Coaching with Conscience. Which is really about stepping aside from the commercial side of the work that I do with Corporates to more thinking about how could I get involved in projects that are trying to make a difference in society in some way. So they’re my two passionate areas of those. Um but in my business, I’m just wearing multiple hats, I suppose. I’m teaching training, have an accredited program, I coach, still, mentor coach, supervise. Um and I like to also work with organizations who want to Well, we talked about coaching culture, I have a view on coaching culture that goes beyond just an organization, having lots of coaching skills in it. To also thinking about some of the philosophy and values and principles that underpin a coach approach and how could those inform culture in an organization.

Lyssa deHart

I honestly think we have another conversation um in front of us here. Because that is so important, like how many coaches have been in organizational coaching where the lip service is, we want a coaching culture. The lip service is we want to train people to become more coach-like in their skill set with their teams, and the people that they manage. And yet the powers that be the infrastructure really isn’t there to support that um even with all the like this would be really good. Um and so that I feel like there’s another conversation there with that, just like how do we get organizations to recognize that A. These young people coming out with a coaching mindset already would be brilliant employees. And then also how do you really put your actions in alignment with your words? Um Yeah.

Tracy Sinclair

Absolutely, and then that’s the thing, isn’t it? There were so many, so many things to do, So many possibilities and avenues um I wish there were more hours in the day sometimes. But then, like you said earlier on my personal journey, it’s that ongoing journey of, of knowing myself and meeting my ego when it rears its head. Because of course I’m human, so it will do. But trying to, trying to let go of some of those things. I’m so much more fascinated now by the “being of the coach” than the “doing of coaching. ” Even though I’m not underestimating the importance of the doing of coaching in a way that’s effective and skilled. Um but this idea of how are we being as a practitioner and as an instrument of our work and how does that then inform how we are being with each other in society, I think that’s you know, on a more spiritual level if you like, that’s where my energy is drawn.

Lyssa deHart

Yeah, beautiful. Thank you so much for being on the coaching studio today. I have absolutely enjoyed this conversation.

Tracy Sinclair

Thank you for having me. I’ve really enjoyed it, we’ve talked about so many wonderful things. So thank you so much for the opportunity.

Lyssa deHart

You are absolutely welcome. Guest Bio: I wanted to follow up the podcast really quickly and tell you a little bit more about my guests today Tracy. Sinclair is a Master certified coach with the International Coach Federation, she does coaching supervision, she’s a mentor coach, she is a coach trainer as well as being an assessor for the ICF, As people are going through their credential process. She is the co-author of Becoming a Coach, the Essential ICF Guide, which was published in 2020. Becoming a Coach provides a comprehensive guide to coaching for coaches of all skill levels and all levels of experience. It is really an opportunity to explore the psychological underpinnings of coaching and how that also relates to the new, updated core competency model. Tracy founded Coaching with Conscience which exists to have a positive impact on society and our environment through coaching. She leads projects related to mental health, well-being, and coaching young leaders. Tracie has volunteered with the ICF in the last 10 years In various global and local roles, to include being the Global Chair in 2018. Which in fact was the first time that I met her at the Global Leadership Forum in Warsaw Poland. So thank you again Tracy for being on the show.

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Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC

Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC

Host

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. She 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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