Season 1 | episode 4

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!

Welcoming Cynthia Loy Darst to the Coaching Studio

the Coaching Studio Guest

I am very excited to welcome Cynthia Loy Darst, MFA, CPCC, MCC to the Coaching Studio


  • 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 Coaching Studio podcast here:

Lyssa deHart

Hey, Lyssa here, thank you for checking into the Coaching Studio and I’m honored today to introduce my guest, Cynthia Lloyd Darst. Um, I’m gonna tell you a little bit about her before we get into it. So Cynthia has an MFA, which I’m really curious about for another conversation, a CPCC, an ORSCC, and her MCC.

In fact, Cynthia was one of the first eight people in the world to get the MCC designation. So woot, woot, woot. Um, Cynthia was named one of the top 10 most influential coaches in the United States. She has a playful and inspiring style, working with all kinds of people to move from past limitations and into action and fulfillment. Cynthia is passionate about the quality and excellence of the world of coaching and as a result of that has served on/as a founding member of the International Coaching Federation, as well as, served on the Board of Directors and has also been a member of the Professional Coaches and Mentor Association and is also the past President of the Association of Coach Training Organizations.

She’s also the author of Meet Your Inside Team: How to Turn Internal Conflict into Clarity and Move Forward with Your Life. Um, it’s pretty awesome, right? And she’s also done, and one more thing with this uh Ronco set of knives, and she’s also done a Ted Talk called Safe Inside Yourself. I’ll be putting links to all of these things in the information below.

I want to really quickly read a book review of her book, which I think is brilliant. Meet Your Inside Team: How to Turn Internal Conflict into Clarity and Move Forward with Your Life. The book review is: “What if your inner critic voices were actually wise messengers in disguise? Discover to, discover how to mine their voices for negative gold and how to make peace with their presence in your life. These voices probably aren’t going away, but now I have a new revolutionary tools to get my inside team working on my agenda, not theirs. Some steps were playful, others profound, and I could apply them immediately. “

And this was an amazon review that I thought was just so lovely. So congratulations on your book. Um, and also, you know, a great review. I am really curious. So Cynthia, thank you so much for being here today with me.

Cynthia Loy-Darst Thank you for inviting me. Let me just say thank you for inviting me. I’m so happy to connect with you, Lyssa.
Lyssa deHart It’s really you know, this is going to be fun. So you have a long history with the International Coaching Federation, given the fact that you’re a founding member and one of the first of eight MCCs in the world! What got you into coaching? Like how, what was that journey into coaching for you?
Cynthia Loy-Darst Well, it was, you know, you’re, you’re taking me back to the very beginning of, because the coaching profession back in those days, it wasn’t founded, nobody, nobody knew what coaching was. So there was this, I was there because I had been a professional actor in New York. And I had found out about something called career consultants for professional actors. Actors Information Project was this place I went. And the very first person that I met when I got there was Henry House, now known as Henry Kimsey House, who is one of the three founders of the Coaches Training Institute. So I connected with him, that was back in 1986 for God’s sake.
Lyssa deHart Holy Moly.
Cynthia Loy-Darst

Yeah, fast forward a gew years, I was, I made my living as an actor, I decided to leave that because there was, there was something in my purpose that wasn’t quite aligned there and bit by bit, I made my way into being curious about what Henry was up to. And by this point in 1992, he and Laura Whitworth had started creating coach training.

Laura had worked with Thomas Leonard before that, he was considered one of the pioneers in the field of coaching and so I was like, what are you guys doing? Let me go do this class, I was just curious. And it was so, even then, even in the very second class that was ever delivered and coach training. I was like, oh there’s something here, this is interesting and it felt, it felt more in line with me then all of the different, I’ve been acting, I’ve been in sales, I’ve been, it was like, oh yeah, this is the path.

Lyssa deHart Yeah, so there was like something that just sort of like, cha-chink, resonated inside of you, this is it. You know what I love is, I’m hearing you say this also is just the circuitous path that we sometimes take to get to our purpose. And I heard you use that word purpose, right? How did you determine that coaching really was your purpose?
Cynthia Loy-Darst

Well, it’s it’s kind of funny, it’s like, it’s like, um Mhm you know, it’s a great question, it’s what, so, so one of the things that I realized as I started getting coached myself was that what had drawn me to acting was that I was extremely curious about how people think.

And I loved having conversations where you’re creating and learning about characters and finding out about the dynamics of relationships. And all of these different things. Well, hello, if that like, no wonder I was like, no wonder coaching felt like a fit. I wanted to work with people that were everyday normal human beings, who knew they wanted change in life, knew they wanted something more, didn’t know quite what the piece of the puzzle was to, to support, you know, and so that’s what now I get to have these rich conversations with people, and sort of pull things apart, so that they can find their best ways forward, right? That to me is really fun.

Lyssa deHart Yeah, no, and it really, I mean your energy just as like totally buried, it’s like, I think you’ve found your calling, right? How do you feel, like how do you feel when you think about your life, and you had this whole life that was pretty robust going into coaching? Right. And then you’ve had this life since coaching which has been really robust. How do you feel coaching has impacted you personally, within your own life?
Cynthia Loy-Darst Huge, huge. I so you were mentioning my Ted Talk earlier, it’s called, you know, Safe Inside Yourself. Most of my early years, I was not safe inside myself, I was terrified, I was always looking for how do I look good here? What’s the right move? How do I, I was very you know, the sum of self-critical, like savage.
Lyssa deHart Yeah, externally motivated, right? Like what all those voices out here telling me about myself.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Totally, totally, and by getting coached myself, it’s been layer after layer of pulling that apart, getting more in touch with what CTI, we call our leader within our core, who is my core? What do I believe? What fulfills me? What do I choose? How do I be responsible for my life? So years of that have me now in a place where I love the work I do, I engage well, I have nothing to prove uh to me that is a blessing you know?
Lyssa deHart And I think it really speaks to the fact I think most of us, that’s part of our journey, letting go of other people’s, other people’s thoughts about us. And our thoughts about what we think they think about us, because often they’re so busy thinking about themselves that they don’t really have time to even think about us. But we can create that narrative right? Will Cynthia like me?
Cynthia Loy-Darst Absolutely, absolutely. And I have no idea how it was for you. But for me I was brought up to be a wonderful co-dependent person. And so everything was about what do they think? How do they feel? Blah blah blah.
Lyssa deHart

Yeah. Now I you know, now it’s very clear to me like you get to be you, I get to be me, I’m responsible for my feelings, you’re responsible for yours. Let’s have a conversation here, you know? Yeah. I honestly think it’s one of the most important psychological evolutions we go through in life. Is this sense of not do you like me? But the transforming from do you like me to do I like myself, and then do I like you?

Right, so we’re making conscious choices not only about ourselves but about the people we choose to have around us. So thank you so much for sharing that, it’s beautiful. What do you think when you think about the work that you’re doing, what is really keeping your passion alive around coaching?

Cynthia Loy-Darst Well, one of the things that I do, I’m, I have been instrumental and helping to develop leaders for both CRR Global and CTI. And right now I’m actively, I actively have a position where I’m, you know, kind of bringing in new leaders where I’m working with our senior leaders to keep them on their toes, like all of this to me coach, I actually not only love coaching very much, I love coach training. Yeah, and I love, uh I love working with the human who wants, really wants to be able to communicate better, to be able to listen better, and to help them get their hands on that kind of technology, that kind of where do you put your attention, what do you really listening for? How do you not come with your own ideas of what that person should do? But really, really kind of help them unfold and unpack the way they’re thinking, right?
Lyssa deHart Well, and that’s really, in many ways that’s really the MCC journey, isn’t it? It’s the, it’s the transformational journey within the coach first. To letting go of the attachment, to what we think, you know, I used to say a long time ago because I would I did a lot of marriage and couples work and I would say, you know, expectations or um what’s the word I’m really looking for? Um potential. Like we fall in love with potential, but it’s like, it doesn’t matter what my ideas of your potential are, if it’s not of interest to you, right? And so as a coach, how do I let go of the idea that you potentially could be anything in the world, but rather be with where you want to be.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Yeah. I love where you’re pointing. Here’s a here’s a metaphor that I use for this. So we, as, we as humans, most of us have no problem that a horse is not more like a bird, right?
Lyssa deHart Right, we’re comfortable with that.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Not a problem. Not a problem that your dog isn’t more like your horse, right? Whatever. Like they’re not a problem. A lizard can be a lizard. However, with humans, it’s easy to think that a successful human is supposed to look like this, right? Like this little. Exactly. And how can I allow this human that I’m working with to be a lizard while this one’s a bird and this one’s a horse? Like how does that? Right.
Lyssa deHart And I love that because I mean it’s sort of funny, I was, we could go off on this for on time and so I just there may be a follow-up conversation around this, but I think it really is that sense of how do we allow people to be, who they need to be, versus who we think they need to be? It’s beautiful. It’s really beautiful. Well, and this really leads into my next question, what is something that you think all coaches need to understand? And it may be a riff off of what we just started having a conversation around, but especially those who are moving from, you know, calling themselves a coach to actually getting coach training to then going from being a certified professional coach to an ACC, then a PCC and maybe ultimately an MCC. What is, what is it that you, words of wisdom would you have for them?
Cynthia Loy-Darst

I appreciate, you know, I think it is a little bit of building off of what we’re saying. So one of the things that I often see coaches doing and they don’t mean to, but, but, and maybe I do it myself sometimes is that is the, is that we get attached to what the client says they want. And if, if our attention goes to, I’m I’m committed to getting a new job, right? This is what I want. This is what I’m coming to coaching for. My client was, you know, they want to make this career leap. That’s it.

If my attention goes there too much, I’m actually gonna miss what is, what’s, what’s going on with my client. So sometimes when I’m working with someone who has never been coached before, I actually, part of the design alliance is to say, I need to tell you I’m going to be more committed to you than what you say you want if we get here great. I don’t, I don’t really care. I’m interested in you, I’m interested in your development and I’m interested in you becoming the human that you want to become. That’s more important.

Lyssa deHart Just so you know, I’m going to totally steal that at this point. Um what, so what I think is beautiful about that is one, it’s really solid agreement setting, right, around the relationship that we’re going to have. I used to say to couples, look until you guys tell me otherwise your relationship is my client, right? It’s the same thing though, I’m always going to be more committed to you than your topic. I want you to have that exploration. I love that Cynthia. I am definitely stealing that. What is one of the biggest misconceptions around coaching that you, that you find?
Cynthia Loy-Darst Oh I think this is one that most coaches find, is that people um still it’s getting better but people still think that the coach is going to tell them what to do or be like so generally speaking, Oh yeah, I don’t need any more tips, you know like, like that I somehow, you know and so uh so this I guess this is another thing that I, that that I talk to my clients about, you know, my I hold my clients, my clients are a master of their own life, like like right now, you know, you know your life, we’re just meeting, how in the world I would presume to think I would know what you need, or what you want, or what your, is ridiculous. The more that I can, the more that I can hold my client as a master and how they work. And allow myself to be curious, to reflect back, to to notice something that I point out so that they can see it. That’s cool. That’s, that to me is what coaching is about.
Lyssa deHart Yeah, yeah. And I, and I think you’re right, you know, I think there’s been a really interesting thing that’s happened in coaching and I’d be curious your thoughts on this. But everybody wants to call themselves a coach because, you know, they’re really good at having friend conversations, right? So like that’s coaching. But what they do is exactly what you’re talking about, which is they do a lot of talking, telling, educating. You know, basically, if you do this, then you’ll get that result. Without any sense of the fact that the other person is the expert in their own life their the master of themselves. So how do you, like how did you learn to throttle that piece back? Which seems so culturally inundated across the planet? Because I listened to coaches from every part of the world, right? And, and that is like the hardest thing for people to get is that their value doesn’t come in what they’re telling people to do, right?
Cynthia Loy-Darst

Right. Oh, I love where you’re pointing. It’s, it’s a very normal struggle for a new coach is to think that that like we, most of the world is so trained, that problem solving is of great value, right? And so if you’ve been in that world and you’ve been a problem solver, to to start to translate, how do I provide value here? It’s a really, it’s a really challenging question. Right?

So the, so part of what is in the way that we, that I trained coaches and primarily this is through the lens, through the lens of co-active training institute, is is that we’re, we actually train in our very first session. How do you, how you are listening? Are you listening for? The person says this thing and here’s my great idea, here’s how I relate to that. We call that level one listening self-focus. Or am I really listening? Level two, am I listening for, “What is this person saying one of their goals? What did they want? What’s important to them? ” And when, when I put my attention and awareness there, then level one can move back. It doesn’t mean I won’t have it. It just means, let me move that back. Let me self-manage to focus over here.

Lyssa deHart Yeah. And I think we can always use our ideas or what shows up for us to inform our curiosity. So, I mean, if the client seems to have missed some big gaping hole by the end of a conversation, it’s not like you’re not allowed to say, you know, and I noticed that you never mentioned anything about this. Is there anything useful in there? And if not, we’ll move on, you know, where do we go next? Okay. Right.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Exactly. So it’s not like you’re divorcing your brain, it’s not like you’re only asking questions, but it is, but it is your just what you said.
Lyssa deHart Yeah, informed curiosity. Right?
Cynthia Loy-Darst Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Lyssa deHart I um, you know, it is that we’re talking, I’m wondering, how do you take care of yourself as a coach, like, are there any practices that you have, that you use to keep your coaching, I don’t know, clean? Kind of like clean language, or clean eating, you know, clean coaching.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Oh, I love that you’re, that’s a great question, you know, one of the main things I believe that it’s important for me to do as a coach is to live a fulfilled life. So what I mean by that is to be, to know my own values, to live life, like right before we had our conversation today, I went and had a nice swim, I like taking care of myself, taking care of my own time, my own um you know, energy, um giving myself permission to do what works for my body, my way, right? Setting clear boundaries. And it’s a fascinating thing because I said, I started setting boundaries long ago around my coaching. And almost no one ever challenges those boundaries at all, right, just because they are clear to me.
Lyssa deHart Well, it isn’t that always the greatest problem. It’s not the boundaries that we said that other people cross, although that does happen. It’s the boundaries that we said that then we trample all over. I blocked this time in my calendar to swim, but oh, look, I need to answer all these emails instead, Right? Like that was me walking over that boundary. Yeah, well, and that’s kind of along the lines of then honoring your agreements to yourself also, right?
Cynthia Loy-Darst And just building on this, one of the other things I think is really important is, is having coaches myself. So there, so uh, one I’ve got, my husband is a brilliant, particularly couples coach, he’s lovely with that, but he, but he’s a, he’s a wonderful coach, right? So sometimes I’ll say put your coaching hat on, sometimes I will when I was writing this book, took me forever to write this book, I had to hire a few different coaches because I need a different impact on it, right? Now, so I’m a big, I’m a believer in walking the talk you know? Um And I also think that it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been coaching. Um Sometimes I can’t get out of here, and all of my good questions to myself, going, I can’t auto coach.
Lyssa deHart It is a little like I don’t know who discovered water but it wasn’t a fish, right? So I mean, but I think that it’s the irony that I see in coaching. And I saw it in therapy also, where you have people who are in these helping professions but they’re like but I don’t have one. Like I don’t need a coach, I just do coaching. And it’s like what are you telling your clients about the value of coaching if you don’t have a coach.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Right.
Lyssa deHart Right? What is you and if you don’t have a self-reflective practice? I mean I think it’s one of the things that’s genius about that new competency being added to the ICF Competencies of a coaching mindset is that idea that we need that self-care, we need that self-reflective practice, and we also need to make sure we’re doing our own work so we can show up. Which is really what I hear you saying?
Cynthia Loy-Darst Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Great.
Lyssa deHart Yeah. So, what is it that you’re up to today? That you would love to share with us?
Cynthia Loy-Darst What am I up to?
Lyssa deHart Well, what are you up to?
Cynthia Loy-Darst

I just moved, so I’m still, I’m still in the process of like I’m setting up my new world and I’m not super quick with that I get so focused on my computer work that I often disregard what’s around me and that’s something I have to keep working with. Um But it’s it it’s an interesting thing. I think my, my primary focus these days is honestly with CTI.

And what I’m hoping to do, some years ago, back in around 2010, I can’t even believe it’s been that long, 2010, 2012, I was offering trainings on the, the first, the first way The Inside Team came into being was as a coach training. It was years later that I then found the way to write the book, and what I, what I want to do, what I’m focused on doing is by this fall starting to create coach training again using Inside Team. It’s really a lovely um process, and talk about, when you’re talking about like self-awareness. Um Let me just give you a basic.

Lyssa deHart Please.
Cynthia Loy-Darst

Thought about it. All right. So when I think of self awareness, like what’s that even mean? Right? Well to me that means noticing how I’m thinking, noticing what’s going on, and if there’s something going on in my life that I’m a little worried about, or that I’m trying to do. Um There’s usually some kind of conversation that’s happening, you know. Now if I’m going to the grocery store this afternoon, the conversation is like okay what’s for dinner? That you know what, what do I need to? You know, we’ve got the chicken, you know, it’s like there’s a kind of like and that’s all fine and it works out and I know what to do.

But for some things in our life, um particularly the places where we keep saying I want this, I want this, I want this and then nothing happens. Or very little happens. That’s usually a place where there’s a bigger Inside Team conversation going on. And if we can honestly slow down, find out who’s talking, what are they saying? What’s the way they think this internal game is played?

Lyssa deHart And how are they sabotaging each other or how are they supporting each other? Right?
Cynthia Loy-Darst Right. And half the time they’re all screaming at, they’re not even in relationship with each other, Right? Right.
Lyssa deHart And we tune them out because they’re noisy.
Cynthia Loy-Darst That’s right, that’s right. And so then they keep getting louder, particularly the ones that are all freaked out and think you’re going to die any minute, right?
Lyssa deHart Survival is sort of one of those important things in our brain knows that will get our attention if we feel like we’re at death’s door. Um.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Right. Right? So, so when, so even as a coach, when I, am going to bring this back to like coaching, mindset coaching, so as a coach, what is my inside team? What is my awareness on myself, who’s the part of me that knows how to be really curious? Who’s the part of me that brings compassion to every call, right? Who’s the part of me that sometimes needs to be bold and forthright in saying something I’m seeing? And how do I let that person? Right, so it’s so it’s not just one thing.
Lyssa deHart Mhm.
Cynthia Loy-Darst You know, it’s not just coach, it’s all these different, it’s like a coaching Inside Team, if you will, I’m going to bring to coaching.
Lyssa deHart Yeah, I think that is so important because I think we like to pretend like we’re just one thing and not the multifaceted um thing that we are, right? And um you know, how do we, how do we create clarity and awareness around these different parts of ourselves, these different voices so that we can be at choice consciously. About how we want to be in the world, how we want to be coach, how we want to… And I think it goes back to something you said earlier, you know, is this me having an idea about what you need to do? What part of me has decided that it knows what you need to do versus the part of me that is like, I really want to be useful. And that’s something I talk about with the students that I work with is, really like, it’s not like there’s a bad question, it’s just there’s a scale of usefulness, right? And so how, how useful is that question? And, and, and how useful is that mindset? And so being really aware, I love that. I really appreciate that perspective.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Yeah, beautiful. You know, just in what you’re saying there, there’s also like, you know, as I’m curious, am I curious for my own understanding?
Lyssa deHart Ding, ding, ding.
Cynthia Loy-Darst You know, where did you buy that shirt? You know, you know, that’s that’s a question for me, you know, But, but to but to, you know, say, oh my God, Lyssa, this painting behind you, what’s the essence of that? What does it spark in you? Something? It’s like, you know, my my job as a coach is to evoke the curiosity of my client for themselves.
Lyssa deHart Yes. Yes. Yes. Because if their brain doesn’t light up for it, they don’t get to retain it. Right, right. If my brain is lit up great, but I don’t need to retain it, they need to retain it. So yeah, absolutely, and you’re right. Like, what is the meaning of this thing behind me, for me? This is what the meaning that someone else is making? Yeah, brilliant. Just really brilliant. Oh, Cynthia. I think we could probably go on for a really long time, so we might have to have another conversation. Um but I just so much appreciate you being on the show today. I really appreciate it.
Cynthia Loy-Darst This has been um it’s been a gift to connect with you, and I’m, one of the things that that excites and thrills me is when I meet other MCCs that it’s, with whom it’s very clear that they’re doing beautiful coaching work in this world. And you, my darling are one of those.
Lyssa deHart Well, thank you for saying so, and I appreciate it and definitely, it is a definitely a mutual respect going on here. I’m really just, I think there’s just so much to learn from different people and you know, and I’m really, I just feel so privileged to have the opportunity to have the conversations.
Cynthia Loy-Darst Sweet. Thank you so much.
Lyssa deHart And thank you to our viewers or listeners for being here with us today. You can find out more about Cynthia below. I’ll have links to her book, I’ll have links to her Ted Talk as well as to her website so that you can hear more or find out more about Darst Team. Com. So yeah, so that you can go in and find out more about Cynthia and the work that she’s doing and thank you again so much for being here today.

I hope you enjoy these lively conversations. If you do, please hit that subscribe button below and you’ll be notified of upcoming episodes. I plan to roll them out on a regular basis so thank you again for being here and I look forward to “seeing” you on the next episode.

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Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC

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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