The Story Behind The Numbers
“Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos.” —Feng Menglong
The last few months have become a vivid example of this old Chinese expression. Entire countries on lockdown, empty streets, fear, uncertainty, social media that is out of control with often contradictory information—all of that has become an ultimate representation of chaos. How do we survive this? What can we do to minimize the negative impact and move forward? Is it even an option nowadays—moving forward? So many questions and not enough answers.
But one answer has been found. Since 1999, International Coaching Week (ICW) has been an initiative that celebrates and promotes the power of coaching—allowing people to experience coaching firsthand and highlighting its incredible effect on so many lives.
This year’s ICW was not an exception. It was different in many aspects but kept its fundamental values. As a member of the ICW Organizing Committee for the ICF Toronto Charter Chapter, I was privileged to experience it from the front row.
Forty-two coaches and members of the Toronto Chapter offered their time, energy and enthusiasm during ICW 2020. They gave 93 pro bono hours of virtual coaching to 83 people. These numbers might not seem very impressive, but behind every number there is a story, a struggle and a victory—a long-lasting and even life-changing impact.
In the post-event survey, we asked participants, “How many people do you believe will be impacted and benefit from the coaching you received?” Only 12% of respondents said “themselves only.” The vast majority said the impact of the coaching they experienced reached far beyond themselves, touching the lives of dozens of people around them.
So, it came as no surprise when ALL respondents said they would recommend coaching to others based on their experience.
During preparations for ICW 2020, my colleagues and I were brainstorming what kind of message we wanted to convey. Ultimately, we decided that our mission this year was to support and help individuals navigate through these challenging times.
Based on survey responses, it became evident that even in times of hardship and confusion, many people choose to grow and thrive, instead of just getting through the day and surviving. And what a humbling and honorable opportunity coaches have as a part of this amazing process!
This is what some of the participants shared about their experience:
- “In only one session, my coach enabled me to see a blind spot that was holding me back.”
- “It was an eye-opener and helped me realize the importance of having a coach and the unspoken value it would bring to me.”
- “My coach was a great professional, empathetic yet knew how and when to push me to dig deeper and got things out of me that I didn’t know were there.”
- “Mind opening and inspiring.”
And that’s not all. In their testimonials, participants talked about clarity, comfort, sense of direction and confidence they’ve gained after a coaching session. Some were stunned by the magnitude of change they felt after only one hour of coaching.
As coaches, we often witness a sudden light in the eyes of our clients: the aha! moment during the session. But what is more important, in my opinion, is what happens next, when the excitement of the self-discovery fades away. That’s why we asked our participants what the one takeaway they are committed to act on as a result of their coaching experience is.
My favorite answer was, “Keep pushing through. Not to be scared to take the next step.” This response alone justifies the hours of effort that was put into organizing this year’s ICW.
As often happens, the client became a source of inspiration to keep doing what we love and bring more coaching into the world.
I would like to thank my fellow Organizing Committee members, Basma El Manialawi, Fabricio Avila, Gaby Cameto, Joy Morassutti, Meena Kaila-Gambhir and Michael Kobrin for creating an unforgettable event and showing me and the rest of the world the uplifting power of coaching.
I also hope the Toronto Chapter’s experience will become an inspiration for many other chapters to participate in next year’s ICW and to share their experience with the rest of the coaching community.