I thought I’d never call myself a coach – mostly because of Those Coaches. We all know the ones. The ones who give generic, sweeping “advice” that feels like you must do as they say, or else.
To be clear, I don’t think all coaches are like this. There are a number of coaches I’ve always admired for their ability to hold space for people’s transformations. I have also always thought that having a coaching certification was super important — at the very least for the sake of standardization. You don’t want someone just calling themself a coach without the credentials to back it up.
So… I have an announcement to make: I — the woman who didn’t love the word “coaching” for the longest time — am (hold for dramatic effect….) earning my coaching certification.
How in the world did that happen?
As some of you may or may not know, I started on this “entrepreneurial journey” (*eye roll*) when I got my Pilates certification. I was a Pilates teacher and found out that I was really good at helping other Pilates instructors focus on their messaging and branding.
While I thought that was all well and good, I was still pretty set on the whole Pilates Business Experiment, so I invested in a brand clarity session to help me build my Pilates business with Tiffany Han (while she and Erin Cassidy were running BrandCrush). During that session, Han basically said something along the lines of “Megan, I’m pretty sure what you really want is to be a life coach.” They knew I wanted to help people move their bodies, but they also pinpointed that I had this really deep interest in helping people get to the root of more than just their musculature.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Pilates training and have not let it go to waste (I can put together a mean reformer sequence). But during this whole process, I also realized that I really loved helping people tell their stories, connect with their audiences, and just lead really human-focused businesses.
Thus MD&Co was born — and I considered myself a consultant and strategist. Still do, in fact. But Tiffany’s comments stuck with me, and I kept my ear to the ground about coaching in general. Did I love what I saw? Mostly, nope.
For me, my biggest challenge in shifting to The Role of Coach was this missing component of DEI training (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in most of the coaching programs I saw. I have always had a strong sense of justice (well hello, spicy Enneagram 9), and I just had this persistent gut feeling of all the stuff I wanted to bring into a coaching practice, should I adopt one. However, I didn’t feel informed enough to actually do so in a way that honored other people’s lived experiences (as a white woman from the American Midwest).
I just didn’t feel like most of the programs out there reflected enough of the diversity in the online space. People of color, nonbinary folks, neurodivergent folks, disabled folks — all of these people flock to the online space because it’s not built like traditional corporate structures. But my god, it can still be problematic.
If I was going to be a coach, I wanted to be informed on how to foster transformation and growth in a way that also honored systemic challenges that could affect my clients. Because it’s not just “hustle through it” when you’re facing racism, sexism, ableism, and heteronormative expectations.
So… I waited. And waited.
It wasn’t until I attended Trudi Lebron’s Show Up and Serve workshop that I finally found my match made in coaching certification heaven. During the workshop, they announced the opening of the Institute for Equity Centered Coaching®.
When I tell you that it was love at first listen, I’m not lying. After they did a rundown of the curriculum, I knew it was EVERYTHING I had been looking for. I’m 75%(ish) through the program now, and will “graduate” (with honors, because I am who I am) in late Summer ‘22.
Soon, you can call me Coach Dowd 😉
The difference between consultant & coach
In case you’re wondering how this new certification will change my current modus operandi, the answer is… Not much. I’ll still have the offers you know and love, like Offer Architect and Creative Curator.
Now, though, there will be 1. An even stronger coaching element to those packages 2. A separate coaching-only offer (join my email list if you want to stay up-to-date as I develop this).
The main difference is? A harder line between consulting and coaching. What’s the difference? So glad you asked, my dear.
I like to think of it like ballroom dancing. The key difference between coaching and consulting is: Who is leading? Coaching will and should always be led by the client, whereas consulting is, you guessed it, consultant-led.
There’s also another element: What you are getting out of the process and how it’s delivered. With coaching, the client comes in with what they are struggling with and the coach asks questions, teases out answers, and facilitates self-discovery.
With consulting, the process is a little different. Essentially a client will come in with a similar list of struggles and the consultant will tell them what to do to fix them, or direct the client’s team to help reach a specific goal. It’s more of a direct approach with less of a teaching element.
In both scenarios, the coach and the consultant don’t necessarily execute on anything. Coaches can help you unlock what needs to change or what needs to be done, and consultants can help create a plan. But neither of them are behind-the-scenes, writing emails or setting up Zaps.
I talk more about these differences on my Instagram, (mini Spicy Soapbox!), and I will for sure be talking about this even more as I step more into my role as a coach.
My point with all of this? Your values will guide you.
Now that you’ve heard my Tale of The Coaching Certification, you’re probably thinking, “Cool. Great, Megan. Now… what did I just read??” Fair.
My whole point with this is:
1. I’m going to be calling myself a coach soon (and have actually started shifting that language). I wanted you to be prepared. And –
2. I wanted to show the path that led me here so we can talk about the importance of values.
I knew that, before I stepped into the coaching title, I had a few things that were non-negotiable. Enrolling in an equitable program, a curriculum focused on anti-racism and diversity, and a bit more experience under my own belt in the form of working with clients 1:1. I also already knew my values — which made the process of elimination much easier.
But what’s this about values? Well…
I was first introduced to core values through a business lens with the aforementioned Brandcrush and I freakin’ loved it. It was like a character study, except the character is me. I was built for this shit. Thank you, theatrical training, for character development and parsing text.
Because of that, I knew exactly how to tease apart my initial values to drive to the core (ha!) of what I deeply valued and how I feel best living my life. It also became really clear that not everyone understood this from the word “GO.”
I’ve also worked with clients 1:1, establishing their values and aligning offers and models with what truly matters to them. So yeah… you could say that values are hella important to me.
With the IECC® certification, I found myself revisiting those core values — and it brought the JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, inclusion) angle to them. Now, I have an even deeper understanding of the same values, through all-new lenses that I would’ve never even tapped it had I not laid this groundwork beforehand.
Having all of this work in place before started the coaching certification has helped me find the program that was right for me — and really unlocked even more from it than I initially even thought I’d get. Because I already knew those values, because I had an idea of what was a non-negotiable in my life and business, I see even deeper into the curriculum of this program.
I’m not saying you need to invest in a coaching program to really understand your values. Not at all. I’m just saying that, with whatever goals you have or whatever evolution your business undergoes, having clear values can help guide you — and they can also help you access new possibilities, offers, and people you may have not even considered or connected with before.
If you don’t have your core values sorted out, stop right here. Hold the phone. Hold your horses. But don’t hold your pee.
Of course (because you know me and free shiz), I created a (free!) Core Values Workbook that will help YOU evaluate your own values, and help guide you as you and your business shift — so you can find the path that really honors you and what you stand for.