Peter Koijen – owner of in2motivation about core competences of a coach, facilitating change and true intention

What, in your opinion, should be the core competences of a coach?

Ok, let’s start with the competences. For me, a very good coach should be able to detect patterns with clients and therefore not getting too much sucked up in the content of what someone is saying. So, these can be patterns of results, of behaviour, of emotions or mindsets. One of the things that are really important for a coach is not to impose anything from his own being, history or experience, because then it is no longer coaching. Then you should call it being an advisor or a mentor, it even goes more in the direction of counselling. The second competency is to be as free from imposition of content and process as possible. I’ll explain what imposition of content means – for example your coachee says: “I had a dominant father and therefore I’m having trouble to relate to dominant men” and then the coach himself recognizes his own story of the dominant father, he might impose some kind of a way that worked for him and then starts to become an adviser, suggesting a certain course of action. Anything that you put on the table from your own belief system, your own map of the world, or your experience, that is not from the client, is an imposition of content.

The imposition of process is anything you do in a session that is directing the client the way you want it. So, you could work with the intervention and ask the coachee to go to the past, present and future and show to 3 spots on the floor. Now, imposition of process is asking client to go first to the past, then present, then future. Maybe the client has a completely different way of seeing the time and it was better to ask to point out the spot in the room that represents the past, present and future. A good coach makes sure that client makes his own choices without distorting any of the perceptions, otherwise it will be very hard to help them.

Another competence is ability to calibrate. Calibration is noticing differences and everything that is going on. It could be something in the facial expression, body movements, certain tone of voice. When you calibrate really well, you will find out information that is beyond the words. Maybe the voice starts trembling when they talk about the relationship with a partner, or work. Calibration for me is a key competence, as it makes the coach very aware of what is going beyond the story, and more in the structure of what somebody’s doing.

Another important competency – coach should be able to build rapport with any type of client, be flexible. Every client is different and at a certain moment you challenge yourself.  So, if you have a standard way of working, that might be easy.  But sometimes you have to think out of the box, be more provocative, go beyond what you normally do in order to be more effective.

What is coaching for you?

Let’s say in general it’s facilitating a change process from point A to point B through questions, interventions and tasks in the area of mindset, body motions, behaviour and results.

In our coaching training we use a sentence that says – coaching is coaching. So, there is no such thing as life coaching, career coaching, although if you go to our website, it seems that I’m contradicting myself, as we also have life coaching, career coaching and so on. For me they are pure marketing labels. What I mean is that even career coaching or executive coaching comes down to facilitating someone from A to B. In my experience, when I’m doing career coaching 10 out of 10 times I’m touching upon the life of this person, because the patterns that someone has in their career and the reason why they are stuck has everything to do with who they are. If you want to be effective helping someone in a career coaching question like: I don’t know what to do with my work, what step to take or I’m stuck in my leadership role, you need to take a holistic approach. Of course, you can specialize in certain field in order to find your target audience. The downside for me is that you start to become very narrow, but as long as you keep yourself open and broad to complete package of patterns and the influences, accepting that everything has the other context, that’s fine.

How was your path to becoming a master coach? Which steps and decisions were the most significant?

I think a lot of different factors played a role. Even when I was younger, I played in classical orchestra and in bands, I was singing, playing in theatre. It also contributed to my desire to do something with groups, for example, training groups.  After graduating University, faculty of industrial relationships, I worked in recruitment, HR, training. When you are in the fields of HR you come into many different questions, like, why people are stuck in their work and then in their lives. Another big impact was my own struggles in life, having a burnout once in my career. It brought me to NLP course which helped me a lot. I was really mind blown by the power of these tools to change my mindset and my perspective on things, to reframe events and emotions that happened in my life.

I launched my company In2motivation 10 years ago in 2008. It came from a very strong desire of freedom. I wanted to be free to do things that I love to do in the way that felt good for me. Later on you discover that everything is relative and that when you’re an entrepreneur, you work so hard that you have less free time then working for a boss. That is still my choice and I enjoy being my own boss.

What is behind the name in2motivation?

Well, that time I was looking for a good name that represented what I was going to do. We had to combine standard training or coaching with services that are more experiential, involving theatre and rhythm. I don’t remember exactly how the process went, but at a certain moment we came up with the name of in2motvation. Motivation is a motor for action, your inner driver. In a lot of trainings, we talk about intention as something truly different from a goal. Often, it’s subconscious, you cannot consciously grasp it, and it’s also something that you are fully in control of, it doesn’t depend on others. If it’s not in your control, if it’s not the driver, if it is not close to a feeling where all the Christmas lights go on – it’s not really an intention. For me that is close to what motivation is. What we do usually is help people discover the motivation to do things differently. You can have a really impactful intervention, or training, or coaching session, but if somebody doesn’t pick it up, then nothing will change.

Did you ever have a moment you were ready to give up? What made you go on?

What has helped me so far is making sure that in these moments I am coached and provoked myself. For me it has to do with belief. Finding faith and also the intention is a way to keep going.  I can give an example, when we introduced a new training course, and then it wouldn’t sell much in the beginning, it would be easy to think that it was not the right thing to do. But you can also say that we have to improve the marketing and the sales, take a critical look, reframe it, because we believe in this product. Of course, just to believe is not enough, but a lot of times reframing or changing your belief system helps to do things differently.

If I think about all the moments of disappointments, it’s really going back to my intention. I’m focusing on what goes well to find the energy to do something else. I think, most of the times I had to reframe whatever I did and to change the pattern that was stopping me.

When you look back at your career, what brought you the biggest satisfaction?

It’s a very powerful question. I think it’s the realization that I don’t believe anymore in things I used to believe in the past. Of course, it gave me satisfaction that I started my own company and now it’s successful and I’m proud of it. But if I really think about it, I realise that it was something else. For example, in my very first job as a temp in a recruitment agency I internally applied for the position of project manager and was turned down because I wasn’t commercial enough. I was so upset and my ego was hurt and I was disappointed. And I kept with me the belief that I wasn’t commercial for a long time. But now after 25 years, I know that I enjoy sales. I enjoy providing sales trainings and I’m good at it. So, the belief about myself and my ability to sell has completely shifted. Now I have a different belief and I’m confident about it.

It seems that your personal growth brings you the biggest satisfaction.

Yes. That’s a nice summary. You can say it like that.

How would you describe the impact your professions has made on your personality?

They say that’s 1/3 of the people you meet like you, 1/3 of the people does not like you, and 1/3 doesn’t give a f***. Over the years doing this work I have become more assertive and clearer to people and to clients. I accept that I don’t need to be liked by everyone and I’m fine with that. My profession has helped me to be a better person in relationships. Now my wife and I are doing the same type of work, so we have same type of language. It’s great to have someone that understands this language and is also able to live in a way that is freer from judgments. We are more able to enjoy the patterns of people, the patterns of our kids and the patterns of people who relate to us. We can take more distance, accepting that every human being is different, that everybody comes from a good intention, although the behaviour might not be so good. But I also know that apparently, they’ve chosen the wrong behaviour for the right intention. I also came to know myself better, because when you’re busy with development the whole day, you can relate to your own examples. The feedback that you get as a coach and a trainer is the feedback on how you come across.

Do you believe in self-coaching or you agree with the Russian saying “the shoemaker without shoes”?

I strongly believe in self application of whatever you are using. That ability makes you a good coach as long as you don’t impose anything. If you as a coach had great results with some interventions with yourself, don’t start to copy it with every coaching client. Self-application and practicing what you preach is different from imposing whatever you’ve had experienced. And as long as you can separate that, you are on the right track.

What would you suggest to someone who just starts his/her journey as a coach, like me? 

Get as much experience as possible with a lot of feedback from professionals. If you really believe this is your calling, go for it, do everything in your power to keep being motivated yourself in every aspect. So, that means not only coaching skills, but how you sell yourself as a coach, as a lot of coaches fail in the end because they cannot sell themselves. How you can sharpen your coaching skills even further? What type of coach you want to be? What type of clients you want to have? Be honest and be true to yourself, so that you get energy from it. Every entrepreneur goes through ups and down in their path to become more successful. It has to do with belief, with the people you surround yourself. What matters is your intention for being a coach. Go beyond – I love to help others. What is the intention for you in helping others. What drives you, what do you get out of it? Then find different energetic ways to satisfy that intention. And when you feel that you are getting away from it, find it back and see what needs to be done differently in order to continue.

Interviewed by Irina Musuc