Yogi (the Tour Guide, not the Bear)... and ICF Core Competency 5

In 2016, I traveled — one might even say took a pilgrimage – to a Middle Eastern country.  My thoughts often go back to the many ways in which that journey changed my life, and changed me.  As is so often the case, the most profound insights and changes occurred organically and separately from the itinerary, but that is the stuff of a different blog post.   

The trip was sponsored by a local Christian church.  I opted to add a three-day "Jesus Trail" (https://jesustrail.com) 'package' to the beginning of the trip.

The Jesus Trail tour was led by a guide named Yogi, who happened to be Jewish (this fact will become relevant in a moment).  Yogi was exceptional at setting the stage for the seven of us to have life-changing experiences simply by the way in which he led this tour (more on that later, as well).

The subsequent 10-day tour was led by a different tour guide.  This tour guide, whose name escapes me, happened to be Christian (again, please stay tuned for a moment).  The way in which he conducted himself was wholly antithetical to the experience we had with Yogi.  This tour guide spat (visibly and with some flair) on the ground at a Holocaust memorial/museum, antagonized locals while loudly recounting his version of 'history,' spoke insultingly (and loudly) of the local landscape, and touched me in an inappropriate and unwelcome manner.

I was so disquieted by these behaviors that I requested a meeting with the pastor who organized the trip.  During my private meeting with him, I factually and unemotionally expressed numerous concerns.  I also contrasted the behavior of the second tour guide to that of Yogi, offering specific examples of how the second tour guide's behavior was inappropriate.  

The pastor's response was, "Yogi was lying."

I was confused and asked him to help me understand.

He went on to explain that because Yogi wasn't a Christian, he didn’t personally believe anything he was saying to us.  Hence, he was a poor tour guide.  

(Spoiler alert:  due to these and other concerns, the cost of my trip was refunded.)

Setting aside my reaction to that comment, let’s circle back to coaching.

While Yogi didn't coach us, he embodied -- perhaps even epitomized -- ICF Core Competency 5, #6:   Maintains Presence - Creates or allows space for silence, pause or reflection

As a tour guide, Yogi led the seven of us... but did not direct or script us in how to experience, what to feel, or what to believe.  

He pointed things out for us to consider, and allowed us each to process those places and moments individually, with each other, or in conversation with him -- whichever each of us chose.

He did not superimpose his beliefs on us; rather, he spoke from an objective historical context (not an easy thing to do).

He answered questions knowledgeably.  

He listened more than he spoke.

He did not pontificate.

He gave us space.

The second tour guide?  Not so much.

And, as for 'lying'?  Yogi didn't lie.  He provided history and context and encouraged each of us to create meaning at each location, and around the experience as a whole.    He was a host, as well as a guide.  He pointed out things for us to consider, or to ‘consider considering.’

So too, coaches do not need to "believe in" the things their clients believe, or support the choices that their clients make.  Coaching clients have agency -- just as each of us on The Jesus Trail had agency.  

Yogi and I are still connected today.  I will never forget him, or the experience he co-created with me and with us.

I strive to be like Yogi -- in many ways, including when I coach.

I can only hope that I have impacted some of my coachees in such a powerful and transformative manner.  And, that I demonstrate ICF Core Competency 5, #6:   Maintains Presence - Creates or allows space for silence, pause, or reflection as competently and humbly as Yogi did.

For me, reflecting on Yogi reminds me of the responsibility that each of us has, as ICF members and aspiring ICF-certified coaches, to learn the competencies.

To embody the competencies.

In short, to live the competencies every time we work with a coaching client.

That takes time, training, and practice.

Ferrymaster invites you to partner with us on this journey towards strengthening your own adeptness with the ICF coaching competencies (and to clearly communicate your coaching savvy to current and potential clients) by earning an ICF credential.

Your Ferrymaster and Guide - Cathy

PS - If you are looking for a guide to support your ICF exam preparation, consider checking out our monthly membership to Ferrymaster's ICF Credential Exam Preparation Kit! 


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