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Coaching to Flourish Season 3 | Episode 14

April 24, 2023 by Coach Training EDU

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Raj Anderson and guest experts answer your coaching questions each week!

In Coaching to Flourish Season 3 Episode 14, Raj Anderson with CTEDU founder John Andrew Williams discuss reflections from travel, the nuances of health and wellness coaching, and the relationship between stress, exercise, and motivational habits.

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[Raj Anderson] Welcome everyone to the Coaching to Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Raj Anderson. I'm executive life coach and coach assessor. And I'm really excited cause we have John Andrew Williams. He is back, he's been traveling. He's the founder of Coach Training EDU. Welcome back John. 

[John Andrew Williams] Thank you. Yeah, it's good to be back. It's, uh, we were in, Rome, in Florence. And, uh, Amoise and I, we spent semesters in college, me in Rome, her and Florence, and it was sweet. We haven't been back, uh, yet. And there's some business opportunities in Italy too. We're looking to maybe put on, uh, a couple of European workshops and things like that.

So it was, it was sweet. It was a, like a mixture of college reunion, uh, business exploration, and seeing some friends we haven't seen in a bit, and showing the little ones some of our favorite places. Uh, but it felt like, like almost like a school field trip. More of a field than a true getting out of things. But it's lovely and the opportunity was amazing, and I'm very grateful to have gone and grateful to be back. 

[Raj Anderson] What, what was the best thing about your trip? 

[John Andrew Williams] Uh, I think it was, seeing our, our two teenage daughters appreciate some of the stuff that I really enjoyed as well, and just seeing them like see it and experience it. And, you know, our old, our older daughter, she's studying art history and so she sees that, and, you know, here we are at the Uffizi, and all of that. So, yeah, that, that was amazing.

And then, my six year old, we've been reading space books a lot, and we got to see, uh, Galileo's Telescope, which he saw the moons of Jupiter with in 1610, January of 1610. So to see the, the original telescope of Galileo was kind of a big deal. And uh, I think it really sunk in. Like, it - so that was my, that was my favorite part, just seeing that. Just like, okay, he gets it. And, uh, and wow too, right? 1610. 

[Raj Anderson] Yeah. That's super cool. John, what inspiration have you brought back for the coaching world? 

[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, thank you. I feel like there's an, you know, anytime I come back with fresh eyes - my eyes feel refreshed. And I think there's an element of, um, I didn't understand quite, like the history. I mean, I studied classics, you know, Greek, Latin, uh, after 500 AD, things go a little fuzzy. Uh, but then this trip, it really clarified, you know, what happened between 500 AD and let's say 1800. Uh, and just seeing the interaction between you know, state, power, and art, and understanding like what, how education fit into that, really got me thinking about the education system that we're currently in, and seeing it from this like historical, this deep historical perspective. 

So that was my biggest insight coming back in terms of coaching, and understanding of where this fits in. And how I feel like right now we're in a state of cultural flourishing, much like the Renaissance. And how there's an, an opportunity here for people to go and explore that inner world, and art helps us do that. Uh, and yeah, that's my big takeaway. 

[Raj Anderson] And I, I know there's also, you know, there's this inspiration here. There's so many great things happening at Coach Training EDU, and there's been lots of new kind of - there’s master classes, and taster sessions, and I'm getting really great feedback out there from people that are attending. What would be awesome to share with the audience around some of that today?

[John Andrew Williams] Uh, that we're just getting started. That over the past three years, uh, I've really taken a deep dive into developing the product, which is the training, you know, really looking at, uh, what's the latest research out there. You know, now we have, you know, the essential program, a strong executive program, the wellness program is now health board certified. Uh, the academic, you know, we even strengthened that, which I felt like was our previous strength. 

So I think there's a lot of inward process that we've done as an organization that's completed. Now we're taking all that energy and putting it towards outward community building. You know, all, all of the outward energy that's happening now, and we're just getting started with it. So, uh, we're open to feedback. We're very excited. And I think with what, what I'm basically doing is packaging everything that I've learned in the past 15 years, uh, from entrepreneurship, and putting it into the very, like, being as generous as I could possibly be with, these are my best ideas of what I've learned in this process, for the purpose of furthering the field of coaching.

So, uh, that, that's my perspective. If you wanna join me for the business masterclass, please do. I'm gonna put them on twice a month, you know, an evening and a morning, once a month for 12 months, and then we'll see how it goes from there. And if I keep it going, we keep it going, or we might move to recordings and then different topics. We're not sure yet.

[Raj Anderson] Okay, so look out for those business masterclass everyone. Uh, John, I heard you talk about the health board certification. And we've had some, uh, health coaching questions come in, which I think is quite timely actually. It's April, and often, I don't know about anyone else round about this time of year, you know, perhaps people have set resolutions, have weaned off a little bit, or maybe people's words of the year is not top of mind. So before we get into some of those questions, what, what words the wisdom do you have for people to kind of get rejuvenated for spring?

[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts about this. I think, I mean, alright, where to go with it. Uh, I have an, I have an idea around, physical limits. Where our, I feel like - I know for myself, I'll just, I'll go for me first and then we'll go the layers out. Uh, so for me, I know that I operate much better when I have physically pushed myself to some physical limit.

And for me it's mostly mountain biking in the spring, and you know, when the weather's there. The weather's turning to mountain biking weather now, and I am over the moon excited. Uh, I feel like it is, it's just a complete reset. And, uh, I feel like we don't have many, our, our culture doesn't give us many of those. So instead what we get is we get endless scroll, which also activates, you know, a kind of a dopamine pathway. You know, there's a state of, you know, excitement, like what's gonna be next? And, you know, small surprises either way, really get us going. Uh, the, I think physical exercise does that for us too, but in a more meditative, mindful way, where I know after a good swim or after a good bike ride, I feel amazing.

And if like that, that's the secret sauce. Like, you find your exercise, find your flow. And you know, it, it, I think it's missing. I think it's one of the biggest things that's missing from our modern society. And um, yeah, that's what I do. 

So from there, you know, you go level out with what the research says, is if you really wanna exercise, you have to do three things, or these three things help the most. One is actually schedule it, pick a time and date when you're gonna do it. Two, meet someone there, whether a friend, a trainer, a group of buddies you ride with. Or, and three, uh, pick activities that you actually like doing. Do those three things, you are very likely to follow through. Do none of those things, you're very likely to not follow through. So if you're really asking yourself, how can I get there? That's how you get there.

[Raj Anderson] Great tips. Thank you John. So that helps me to kind of connect a question that we've had come in around coaching. Um, you know, we've got more and more coaches or people that are interested in learning to be kinda health and and wellness coaches. So what's the difference between health coaching and wellness coaching? 

[John Andrew Williams] Yes. This is an important distinction, and one that I think is not, not well understood. And I want to go even back further to, we'll call it ‘Coaching’ Coaching. 

So, uh, the number one misconception, the number one myth that people have when they think about coaching, is they think that coaching is about giving advice. It's about telling someone what to do. And one of the first things, that most surprising thing, is people, when they get into coach training, they realize, wait, coaching is about asking questions. Becoming extremely and openly curious. And putting yourself in the perspective that, I am the student of my client. Like, you're, you're literally teaching me how to live your best life.

Like if you were to teach me, Raj, how to live your best life. Right? Like you, you know, you just feel the perspective shift, like that's what you do as a coach, right? So that's ‘Coaching’ Coaching. 

Wellness Coaching does that, but with the topic of a wellness topic, So it's - sleep. So, okay, so if you were to get your best sleep, how do you know you sleep best? Right, that that would specifically be wellness coaching, people who wanna work on wellness topics within that coaching framework, which, which is an empowerment framework, different from a knowledge-based framework, which is what health coaching is. 

Health coaching is a knowledge-based framework, where the health and wellness board, the health and wellness class is a knowledge-based class. So it's a class that's giving you topics, it's giving you information, it's giving you all the things that you need to learn in order to pass the health board test. What health coaching does is it combines, ‘oh, you have an issue with sleep’, or, ‘oh, you have something that you wanna work on with food choice, or exercise.’ It's, here are the best practices for each of those areas. Let's look at your blood work. What does your blood work say? Let's look at your nutrition, what does that, what does that say? 

That's what the health board coaching gives you, which is massive. That's so much knowledge in that knowledge basis. And then you combine that with coaching questions afterwards. That's health coaching. 

[Raj Anderson] And what's the benefit of combining that with the coaching questions? 

[John Andrew Williams] It's very similar to academic life coaching, which is when you're working with a young person, they often don't know what topics should we work on. Or, what, what are, what are useful topics to coach around? So what the academic life coaching program does is it provides those topics, provides frameworks, exercises, uh, different, different scaffolds for your curiosity to, to work from.

And what, uh, what the academic does then, is you work, when you're working with a student, you're asking yourself, well, how can I take this topic and have my student learn from it, make it their own, and then shift it as quickly as possible back into an empowerment mode? This is the same process as with health coaching. It's, Hey, this is what needs to happen with sleep, for instance. And this is what, uh, you know, this is what the next action steps should be. How do you wanna make those your own? And then, how do you want to use even this challenge in your life so that you can gain an insight, or gain some knowledge, and ask yourself, how can I apply this insight or knowledge to some other area of my life? Does it even apply? How does that work? And that's when you're, that, that's when you get into the coaching process. 

So some of the feedback that we got, before we were Health Board Certified, people would take our beginning coaching course, and then they would go to another program and get health board certified. And the feedback was that, um, you know, a lot of the health board programs were very heavy on the health board. And the other students in the health board classes would ask the students we trained, how did you get your coach training? It's like magic. It's so good. The questions you're asking are so good. Where do they come from? 

So it's the combination of the two. You know, amazing just coach training, that you can work with any person, combine that with very specific knowledge, like domain knowledge. Uh, that to me is an amazing combination. 

[Raj Anderson] I would agree. I think that's really powerful. I was talking about this to, um, somebody just this morning, who, um, kind of focused on more of that knowledge based and doing. And I've had a few different coaches who, you know, I've hired for say, personal fitness, and I have a spiritual coach. And what's worked well for me, my spiritual coach is great, cause she has the knowledge. Yet we make it - it’s personalized for me. Because actually I can pull things offline, right? And I have tools and apps, and all the rest of it. But we needed to get to the core of making it meaningful for me, or why I wasn't following through, or actually, it's not being top of my list because it's not part of my value set. And we got to knowing that it wasn't part of my value set through the deep coaching. 

[John Andrew Williams] That's amazing. That's amazing. Yeah. What, uh, so I imagine people hear spiritual coach, and there's all sorts of misconceptions about what that is or isn't. What has been your biggest takeaway, or what's the thing that was most surprising to you when you started working with a spiritual coach?

[Raj Anderson] I think for me it has been focusing on understanding and appreciating self worth through the spirituality, and knowing that I am enough. Which wasn't really where I thought it was going to go. You know, a lot of what I initially wanted was to find peace. And going deeper with meditation. And faith, all of those kinds of things. 

I am Sikh, I’m religious, yet prayer had fallen off of things. You know, for various reasons, that I was hiding from things, right? We were able to go deeper where I was kind of rejecting part of my identity. So we were able to look at those diversity facets. Um, so for me it was about faith and, and religion. And yet what I was really yearning for was finding peace. Yet I couldn't find peace at that time, because I still was not believing that I was enough. 

[John Andrew Williams] Yeah. It's amazing to me how many coaching sessions go to that space, of ‘Am I enough?’ But there's so many avenues to get there. Like, almost every avenue leads to that big question, am I enough or not? And the coaching perspective with that is to, you know, to have clients explore. Not judge them, but just simply explore. And it's a beautiful process. And I think it goes hand in hand with a lot of other helping professions. 

[Raj Anderson] Absolutely. Yeah, that's a great point, isn't it? I do executive coaching and we go there too. So, and in executive coaching, we aren't doing essential oils or crystals, we're not talking about angels, and we still get there.

[John Andrew Williams] I mean, and what I love about executive coaching is that there's very clear metrics. You know, am I enough? What do the metrics say? And sometimes the answer is no, you're not doing it enough. Or, this needs to change. And that is, whew. You know, that's where it gets real, very real, very quickly. Uh, and this, that's why I love the profession. 

[Raj Anderson] Yeah, I agree. Uh, so I have another question here then. How does the term ‘holistic’ apply to life coaching? Does that really mean anything? 

[John Andrew Williams] That's a great question. It's very good branding. That, that's, that's one thing. And that's not nothing. Uh, I think it's a signal more than anything else, that, uh, there's a certain mindset that's gonna be adopted, uh, that is not one that's going to, um, label. So, uh, that I think that's on a very, uh, you know, on a measurable scale, a  holistic coach is one who would not label somebody, um, you know, something. Which no coach would do anyway. So from, I guess from that, you know, no coach at the ICF, if they're using their ICF guidelines, would do. Uh, so from that sense, maybe all coaching is holistic.

Uh, the other meaning I think attached to it would be, you can look at your whole life. Where it's, all these things are connected, very much in the sense of, am I enough, that question that each of us asks ourself. You know, going in that space. But does it mean anything other than suggesting those two things, I don't think so. Uh, I do think it's good branding - would it be my branding? No. But, uh, I think for some people it does make sense. If you wanna own that word, go for it. And, uh, people will know that you're approaching it from a certain mindset. 

[Raj Anderson] Thank you John. And the final question that we have sort of sent in: How does chronic stress lower functioning, or impact health?

[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, I think it’s one of the big ones, right? The idea of, you know, stress as, uh, an element. I just talked to my coach about this. What day is it, Tuesday? Just yesterday. Uh, and it was the coolest session. I said, cause I told him, I said, we went on this trip. It's lovely, but I feel, I feel tired. I'm, you know, gone away from the organization for two weeks. It didn't really fall apart, it's amazing. It's actually, things gotten even moved forward in good way. I mean, really positive ways. And that's amazing. Uh, but do I feel stressed? Yes. Have I felt stressed for decades? Yes. So my coach - and it's a, it's a thing, right? So I think exercise is key. I mean, I really do. There's, uh, a book, um, by Robert, I forget his last name. I mean, jet lag is real in some ways, I'm still getting over it. Zebras, uh, why Zebras don't get ulcers. Uh, I think he's a professor out of Stanford or something like that.

And he talks about the idea that in the, in the wild, animals, there's a stressor, like something chasing you to eat you. Uh, and then you have to get stressed out and run away, and then you're safe and then you calm down. Uh, but our human beings, we have that same, oh, something's going to eat me, but it's constantly there.

Uh, and I think this idea of why we feel the way we feel is really useful, because then you can address it and tell your body, look, body, I know you're here, but the thing's not going to eat me. We're safe. And this idea of being - what I've had to do, and think what I’ve done naturally through the exercise routines I have, is I've choose exercise that involves all of my, that that takes such concentration that I have to wipe clean that slate. The slate has to be wiped clean, or else, uh, I don't stay upright. 

And, in that sense, you have to, um, find that for yourself. I really deeply believe that if you're going to do something stressfu,l or if you're going to try to do something, uh, deeply meaningful, to have one of these practices is, is nearly essential.

I have it seasonally and I feel it, and like, I can get cranky if I don't get out there and do something. And the gym, they, they closed the pool. Like that's not even - we have like one gym with one pool and they closed it. So I feel like that's not even fair. Uh, but I, I think there's, there's definitely, you know, that element of dealing with stress. 

My, my guideline is, if I feel stressed out and I haven't exercised, that's step one. If I still feel stressed out after exercise, uh, you know, you know, then, then I go to my coach and talk about it. And what we did yesterday is he's like, okay, you're there, you're here. Of course you are, of course you feel stressed out. It's natural. Look what you're doing. 

And, so then the idea is, uh, you have to find the metrics that matter the most. So, uh, this is something I've been working on too with, um, a planner that I've been designing. It's not a time planner, but more like a life planner or strategy planner. We talked about this in a couple podcasts ago. And, this work completely aligns. 

And, uh, so we went out and we, I wrote down the metrics, things that you could actually measure. And the metrics are actually pretty good. They're not, they're not bad. I was like, you know, known, this is all known, but still there's this old residue, there's an old stressed out mindset that's very easy to slip into because it's a good motivator. It's a good motivation away from, it's a good thing, oh, I'm so stressed, like, let me get something done, kind of thing. That, that is an engine. That is an engine that can run. But, so when I was looking at the numbers thinking, okay, they're actually solid. 

His thing was, don't let your emotion get ahead or behind the metrics. Let your emotion be with the metrics. You know what I mean? Because it, it's wild, right? Like you can almost feel the - let's call it a, uh, jetlagged or an old limiting belief perspective that can just hang around, because we've gone through something traumatic, or we've been in a situation where money's been super tight for a long period of time, or, uh, we're in not a healthy relationship. 

You know, whatever the thing that is, the stressor is. I think it, it creates a certain stress habit. And that stress habit can hang around even when things, even when the conditions have changed. And so there's this element of, yeah, there's stress habits. And when the, when the work, when you look at the real metrics and numbers, that's how you know you're not deceiving yourself.

Cause I think there's, on the other end, there's another way of thinking, oh, everything's gonna be great. Everything's so awesome, everything's so positive. I don't need to be worried about this. No, that's, that's challenging too. That's, I think that can be just as dangerous, because it gives people an overly optimistic idea of, of what can happen or what needs to be done. And then you run into, uh, you know, getting overstretched, disappointing people, all those kinds of things too. So looking at the metrics is the answer. What I would say. 

[Raj Anderson] I love that. Looking at the metrics. Speak with your coach, who will be that sounding board, gonna hold the mirror up. Um, I like what you, you were talking about, kind of sleep and that physical activity. 

And you know, um, instead of working with my spiritual coach, I have an Ayurveda coach as well, we looked at things like supplements. You know, I live in Florida, but um, I am regularly low on vitamin D. Being Indian, it happens, you know, I'm regularly low on that. You’re fatigued when you're low on vitamin D. I've been taking Ashwaganda and, and one of the mantras he's really helped me with is - sleep is medicine, food is medicine, movement is medicine. And it helps me be more mindful around those things, and just get grounded. 

[John Andrew Williams] I love that. I love that. Uh, last time I was talking to you about how emotion is medicine, where you have to be careful with the kinds of emotion you like, subject yourself to, uh, as well. It's an interesting idea to choose, you know, this idea of, you know, it's, what's that distinction between choosing emotion versus toxic positivity? And that is a very interesting, uh, space to play in. 

One thing too before, just because - I just was this morning, I was reading, I was reading. So this morning I was reading the, uh, I just picked up the Odyssey and opened just a couple chapters of reading about Odysseus. And he was fleeing the sea, and before Athena's helping him, which, just for maybe five minutes. But it struck me how many times Odysseus had in the, in the Greek, like a division of the heart. So like, of two minds. And Homer puts out, this is choice one, choice two, this is what Odysseus did. Choice one - he did that maybe four or five times in a really short period of time.

What struck me about each time was the interplay between what was happening in the outside, the choice, and then how Odysseus had to make a choice, A or B. And what, what I know to be true from coaching standpoint, is coaching helps you make better decisions. And even Odysseus, I was thinking, if he had a coach! Just - Athena was basically, you know, pulling strings.

But anyway, it just struck me how, even back then, this idea of, you know, point - which, which choice, and the implication that that can, you know, the difference that each choice, each of the choices can make. Really struck me how, yeah, it's very similar to modern day humans, still making the same kind of choices, figuring it out. So, here we are.

[Raj Anderson] So, thank you, John. That coaching helps you make better decisions, what a great note to end on. 

[John Andrew Williams] Thank you, Raj. You're brilliant. Thanks for these questions and holding space. It's so fun to let me riff and do my thing. I appreciate you. 

[Raj Anderson] Thank you. I appreciate the audience. Send us your questions and we look forward to seeing you next week. Bye bye.

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