• Mystery of Mastery

The Mystery of Mastery or the difference that makes a difference

The Mystery of Mastery.  How would you know if a ‘top coach’ stands before you? When I say ‘top coach’, I mean in comparison to a very good coach, an OK coach or simply a coach.

I never thought about it really. I had assumed I’d just instinctively know. It would ‘feel right’. Maybe someone else would tell me ‘Miss X or Mr Y is a top coach’ and as I trust their judgement – I’d value their perspective. Then again – what’s ‘top’ for them might not be ‘top’ for me and vice versa.  For we all start at different places. Hmmmm.

Dr Stephen Burt (who writes a great blog by the way) extended an invitation to a group of European Mentoring and Coaching Council  (EMCC) coaches and coaching supervisors to explore and play with this question at the 2017 EMCC International Conference. There was standing room only in the room – clearly lots of us were curious to find some insights.

Rational minds, like quality control inspectors might check off competencies articulated and categorised into neat boxes by professional bodies. I too have found these frameworks helpful as I sought to design coaching training or support coaches climb up the professional status ladder.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how much attention does the typical consumer of coaching services pay to those I wonder?

Stephen took us on a tour along the journey of the making of a master coach akin to the one to become a master jazz musician, elite sports person or abstract artist. People who make the experience of their work not just a great performance but also an un-forgettable and magical one.  We are somehow touched by what they do and the way they do it.  As a parallel, in each of these fields, top players may have earned their stripes through formal training. Perhaps they crossed the so-called 10,000 practice hours ‘expert’ threshold. There is something else though. Biographies and interviews record them saying they are guided by something else too. An inner wisdom perhaps.  There is an element of mystery of mastery in how they are.

When we experience someone ‘in the zone’ – they are being guided by their intuition in a creative process that works in the moment. The skills and technical capability may determine which level of zone they can comfortably play in.   Their way of being opens us up to new ways of being too.

Julia Cameron, author of ‘The Artists Way’ talks of being free to explore what interests, ‘think mystery not mastery’ she says. I have a feeling that this is what ‘top coaches’ do. They hold a space where it is absolutely safe to go beyond the coaching toolkit and jointly explore and support you through the creation of new possibilities to zoom into a totally new performance zone.  It feels a bit mysterious as we can not easily articulate what goes on – we have a felt sense of something shifting for us.

Maybe the questions to consider now are – ‘What’s the difference that makes a difference to me?’  and ‘How will I know?’  And ‘What would it mean to me to work together with someone who can add that certain magic to the materials at their fingertips?’

If on the other hand you are seeking to become more masterful in your own coaching capability – perhaps a coaching supervisor can help you explore some of the mystery of mastery for yourself.

By | 2017-06-09T14:37:17+00:00 June 9th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Shirley is a Fellow of the CIPD and certified coaching supervisor. Shirley is passionate about the continuous development and coaching capacity of HR professionals, Leaders and Change Enablers - taking care of their own resilience & wellbeing in a dynamic world

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