What happened before you discovered Clean Language?
I had worked for many years in a large manufacturing and support organisation in a number of roles; marketing, communications and change management. I was often stressed, working too many hours and juggling too many things at work and home and it couldn’t be sustained. My children were also going through big changes in their education, moving from school to college and college to university. My husband and I discussed this and together we decided that I would leave my job to spend some quality time with the family and step in to support my youngest son Max who has special needs, during his transition from school to college.
And then what happened?
Having worked since I was 13, the thought of not working was a bit hairy. I wanted to be there for my family but I also wanted to do something to earn some money once my son had settled into college. I knew that the corporate world couldn’t really provide me with the flexibility I wanted and that what would work better for me was something I could manage from home.
I had previously subscribed to the Clean Learning newsletter and had spotted a qualification in coaching and mentoring. The blogs about metaphors and how coaching can help people had always fascinated me and I had received some coaching many years before when Marian wanted a case study for her book, Clean Approaches for Coaches. (I am case study number 10: Twisted Wire.) The business I worked in also used coaching as a development tool, some of which was delivered over the phone. I decided to take the plunge and registered for the ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring.
The timing was a bit tight. I needed to get the money together, organise to have some leave during my 3 months' notice period and make sure I could get a place on that year's course (I didn't want to wait another year). The planets came into alignment. A place was available and I was able to spread the cost by paying in installments. And I got agreement from my employer to release me for the days I was taking the course. The benefit to them was that I could practice my coaching with people in the business during my last 3 months of working.
What happened next?
I did my pre-reading for the course (Clean Approaches for Coaches by Marian Way, From Contempt to Curiosity by Caitlin Walker and Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace by Jackie Arnold) and then attended the first 2-day module.
This was the first time in ages that I had been to a training course that was just for me. I had travelled to London many times for my job but never before on my own. To keep costs down I was staying in a youth hostel. It all felt like a complete adventure.
The course was different to how I had imagined. To start with we were asked, "What would we like to know before we begin?" Then cam an exercise called the "5 senses" during which we explored how we all sense things differently. I could immediately see that Clean Language has a particular way of getting to the heart of things very quickly. This meant that we all got to know each other very well in a short space of time.
Those first 2 days taught me so much about the fundamentals of coaching and of Clean Language. It opened my eyes to the world of coaching and how I could benefit from a personal and professional perspective. We learnt about the Triune Brain, did Clean Set Ups, practised Clean Feedback and began using Clean Language with each other. We were then put into peer coaching triads to practice our coaching skills in the period between this module and the next.
And then what happened?
I took my new skills back into the workplace. It was very empowering. I looked back at some of the things that had created my busy work schedule and the stress I was encountering at the time. The ILM course was giving me the skills I needed to manage these things in a much better way. I was using the Clean Set Ups at meetings and we were getting more things done in a quicker time. I also used Clean Feedback and Development Tasks to do the annual performance reviews with my team. I also used Clean Language when we had our performance conversations. Using these techniques I was able to tackle things that would have created some anxiety in me before. It is a very respectful approach and things always came out better and got a better response from people than my previous methods.
Is there anything else about the ILM?
During the following two modules we explored how to manage drama and conflict and then learned how to use Clean Language to help people move from 'Drama to Karma'. We also learned about the business approach for coaching and contracting and then how to manage ourselves in a coaching situation. We looked at patterns in ourselves and how to form an outcome and operate at our best.
The most significant outcome from the course for me came from when we modelled 'Time'. This was a really useful exercise as I was worried about the following year when I wouldn't be working. I created a metaphor for what I wanted the next year to be like. I visualised a beautiful journey on an old fashioned train with steady hills that were nicely paced with resting points along the way. My family were with me and we were going up and down the mountains and taking time to stop and enjoy the scenery together, I was also able to stop and get out and explore on my own occasionally but not too much. This has been such a helpful metaphor. I used this approach with a number of clients after the course and it has always worked really well.
In between the training days we were also working on our ILM assignments as well as undertaking coaching with people to put what we were learning into practice.
Is there anything else about those assignments?
The ILM qualification is based on three assignments: a written review of coaching and mentoring (based on information taken from published works); a review of your own ability as a coach or mentor; and undertaking coaching or mentoring in the workplace. The assignments pull together everything that we learned on the course and helped fill in the gaps. I am still working on my last two assignments as I decided to take some time out when I finished work because I wanted a nicely paced year! Fortunately the ILM allows 3 years for people to complete the assignments.
And what difference has knowing Clean Language and doing the ILM made?
I have brought my journey metaphor to life and had a fantastic few months off with my family. We travelled around Europe in our campervan, went to see 'Wicked' together, and I have helped my youngest son gain more independence in his life. My new work schedule fits perfectly and I have completely changed my diet so that I am now entirely vegan and gluten free (something that came out of one of my coaching session on the ILM). As a consequence I have lost weight and am much fitter, healthier and happier.
And what's happening now?
Now, I am working with the team at Clean Learning by supporting the business with Marketing. I am enjoying using Clean Language with marketing. I am also delving deeper into the wonderful world of Clean Language and have taken several courses, Core Skills,Clean for Teams and Systemic Modelling, I am now working towards becoming a facilitator in Symbolic Modelling and Systemic Modelling and have plans to attend the Symbolic Modelling Fine Tuning and Systemic Modelling Rolling programmes. I have started coaching people and am getting more and more confident in my abilities. Somehow I also manage to fit in some voluntary work with the Samaritans whichis a really good fit with clean. Plus I get to work from home and be here for my family which is like a dream come true! Life is good!