There Is No Shortcut To Coaching Mastery

Jan 18, 2024

“The very desire to find shortcuts makes you eminently unsuited for any kind of mastery.” Robert Greene

While discussing my book The Transformational Coach with a fellow coach described it as a “shortcut to mastery." The subtitle of the book is Free your thinking and break through to coaching mastery, after all, and it is definitely intended to enable you to break through to mastery. However, simply reading a book cannot create a shortcut without effort from you

The book can give you ideas and guidance, but it is up to you to put in the necessary work. I appreciated the description “shortcut to mastery,” but I also realized that my own journey to mastery was lengthy and required a great deal of efforts had to unlearn so many habits that were getting in the way of my progress. 

My book will provide you with the insights of what I see in my rearview mirror from my own journey. If you are closer to the start of your learning journey, I hope it can help prevent some unproductive habits from even forming. However, please keep in mind that the book is not a miracle worker or magic solution. 

From a marketing point of view, I probably shouldn’t say that, should I?! But I want to be realistic with you and set clear expectations; there are no shortcuts to coaching mastery. 

“The highest level of mastery is simplicity. Most information is irrelevant and most effort is wasted, but only the expert knows what to ignore.” ~ James Clear

Intentional mastery is a gradual process that involves passing through stages, starting from being a beginner, progressing to novice, then to practitioner, then to experienced and finally, if we choose to, to mastery (William Buist, 2022). Each stage requires something different from us and from the people who support us to learn and grow. 

There is a rich seam of learning to be had by watching experienced coaches and masterful coaches, that vicarious learning that we get by paying attention to what they do differently to us. For myself, watching others as they coach has been a vital part of my development. 

But after you have finished your training, where can you go to be that fly on the wall to observe others as they coach? 

One resource you can utilize at any stage of your career is a mentor coach, either in an individual or group setting. 

As explained by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), “Mentoring provides professional assistance in achieving and demonstrating the levels of coaching competency and capability demanded by the desired credential level.” ICF further explains that “Mentor Coaching should take place over an extended time (three-month minimum) in a cycle that allows for listening and feedback from the Mentor Coach while also allowing reflection and practice on the part of the individual being mentored.”

“In the course of my work as a mentor-coach for the International Coaching Federation (ICF), I’ve observed and given feedback on more than 700 hours of coaching conducted by more than 200 coaches.” (The Transformational Coach, xv)1

In individual mentor coaching with me, for instance, you bring a recording of your coaching, and we listen to it, pausing throughout, to reflect on how you show up as a coach and how your mindsets might be preventing you from being the best coach you could be.   

In group mentoring, you get to coach in front of other coaches and a mentor coach and receive feedback on your coaching in real time, with a set of competencies as the benchmark for objective feedback. You also get the valuable opportunity to watch the other coaches in the group do the same and learn from how they coach. You’ll also see how you are all unique because who you are informs how you coach. 

If this piques your interest, there are plenty of mentor coaches available (just search the International Coaching Federation’s website for example). If you want to translate what you read in The Transformational Coach into your own coaching, mentor coaching can help fulfill that need.


About the Author

Clare Norman, founder of Clare Norman Coaching Associates, is a Master Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation, mentor coach, and coach supervisor.


Book References:

  1. Norman, Clare. The Transformational Coach: Free Your Thinking and Break Through to Coaching Mastery. Right Book Press, 2022.
  2. Buist, William. Intentional Mastery: Step beyond your expertise and Build a Better Business. SRA Books, 2022.

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