10 years, 5000 hours... three critical lessons of a Master Practitioner


10 years, 5000 hours... three critical lessons of a Master Practitioner

A journey from A to Z? Absolutely not. A journey to achieving a ‘badge of honour’? Not at all. A journey of life-long learning? Absolutely… yes, yes, yes!

Having attained my EMCC Master Practitioner status I wanted to take some time to look back and reflect on what it means for me, for my clients and for my fellow coaches. 5000 hours of Professional Coaching has taught me so many invaluable lessons which I think are important to share. After all, coaching is as much about the reflection we commit to as it is the actual practice of coaching a client, team or organisation. So, using some of my reflections and personal insights here are three lessons I’ve learned along the way;

(A word of caution – my Professional Supervisor hasn’t reviewed this content – it’s from the heart, not necessarily from the head!)

Lesson 1: A qualification is only the starting point

“With further experience enables coaches to reach more advanced levels of self-understanding….when a coach comes to the realisation that they are the main instrument of coaching” (Bachkirova T, 2021).

Coaching is an unregulated industry – anyone is a coach. A qualification is a great starting point. But it is just that – a starting point. I gained my Post Graduate Certificate in Coaching in 2011, but I genuinely feel that I didn’t earn my stripes as a fully rounded coach until much later into the journey. “Earning my stripes” means hours of coaching practice and Supervision. That is why I valued the process of having to apply and be interviewed for my EMCC Master Practitioner award. It was rigorous and thorough, and required a comprehensive review of my coaching activity for the past 5 years. The process of compiling my portfolio of evidence truly allowed me to review and reflect on my coaching journey as it was all laid out before my eyes. What it articulated was a process of time and practice, time and practice, time and practice.

So… 1 after achieving your Coaching qualification doesn’t mean you are a fully rounded coach. The length of time you have spent practicing professionally is critical. I would suggest 2500 hours give you credibility and confidence to coach anyone, anywhere, in any role.

Lesson 2: We can never be the ‘perfect’ coach, our learning never stops

“Supervision is a critical part of our CPD and it evidences to our clients that we take our own professional responsibilities seriously” (Lines, S, 2021).

Let’s be clear, your coaching journey never ends – the best coaches are always learning. Planning, Supervision, CPD, and Reflection all mean that as coaches we are never the finished article.  Anything but.  Instead, we are always growing, always learning, and always developing our practice. Therefore, we acknowledge to ourselves we cannot ever be the ‘perfect’ coach. We make mistakes… we learn, we grow. We try new approaches, tools, and techniques…and we learn, we grow. We try the same approach with multiple clients only to get multiple outcomes…we learn, we grow. A ‘Growth Mindset’ first described by Carol Dweck has to be a minimum standard for us all, but can you imagine how powerful an ‘Infinite Mindset’ would be?

So…..never stop buying that new book, reading that blog a colleague recommended, listening to that podcast or video talked about on LinkedIn. The minute you stop, your infinite mindset stops, and you stop being present and on top of your game for your clients.

Lesson 3: Not everyone operates with the same values as you do

“The desire to understand oneself is an important prerequisite for being a good professional coach” (Bachkirova T, 2021).

This is not new news. Especially to coaches. We all have different values and they drive our behaviour in different ways. And this is the same when being a coach or running your own coaching business. Our values tend to help and hinder us throughout our life unless we become intensely aware of their impact. As an ESTJ (MBTI) ‘efficient driver’ with a ‘making a difference’ value, a ‘be perfect’ and ‘hurry up’ set of Transactional Analysis drivers, and a natural focus on ‘what next’…’s fair to say at times it can be exhausting, frustrating, and anxious running my own coaching business. However, more often than not it is exhilarating, innovative, and immensely demanding and rewarding at the same time. But, every associate, every client, every company or organisation, all work within their value-sets, their preferences, and with their goals and ambitions in mind. Learn this quickly, or pay the price.

 “Where most of social life is about trades and trade-offs, coaching is one of those asymmetric relationships where one side’s needs trump all. That side is the side of the client” (Hardingham, A, 2021).

So…..focus intently on developing your self-awareness as a practicing coach, but don’t stop there. Stay focussed always on the lenses through which your associates, clients, companies / organisations are viewing the world from. This coming together of insights is where the magic happens.

Coaching is a passion for me; it truly is my life’s purpose.

Matthew Radley

EMCC Master Practitioner


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