My blog series, Bridging the Gap, with Tracy Whitworth, Survivorship Care Coordinator for Cancer Treatment Centers of America®, Western Regional Medical Center continues as we catch up with her after her second in person training weekend.
Tracy, you recently completed Mod II, the second of three in person training modules with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching – three very full days of learning coaching skills. What was your biggest ah-ha moment of the weekend you’d like to share?
Wow….great question! For me, the biggest realization was the importance of vulnerability. This wasn’t a new concept as it was introduced to us in the Life and Leadership Potential module (Mod I). But it wasn’t a concept I fully grasped…until Mod II.
For those of us who have chosen the field of healthcare as a career, caring and nurturing are often at the core of our being. I would dare say many of us are uncomfortable with the whole concept of vulnerability. This is an area that is private and not shown often as it may be looked upon as a sign of weakness, inappropriate behavior or a loss of control.
What I discovered was that I was among many wonderfully talented people in my iPEC coach training class who come from all backgrounds of education and professions and many were embracing this whole vulnerability concept. The amount of sharing of vulnerability that occurred in Mod 2 was nothing short of amazing. I was moved to share my own struggles and story and guess what happened next…….RELEASE! Release of that negative energy that had been dragging me down in life, and, instead, embracing the idea that life is always going to move forward, and it’s up to me to take the steps to move through it. I have the control — no one else does. By displaying that I am not exempt from vulnerability and, instead that I embrace it, I get to show up as a more empowered person.
How are you now approaching your role differently with what you learned in Mod II?
I’m truly coming from understanding how to “have no agenda.” As much as I thought I had been living this mantra, I admit, I wasn’t. I was not aware of this until I arrived back from my Mod II training. I had clarity like I had never had before while working with a client. When I allowed the conversation to flow naturally and not try to guide them to the areas I felt were warranted to address, we ended up there anyhow.
To see the concern the client had change from fear of life to concern about what he wanted to experience in life, and then witness their realization that they have the control to live by their rules — not their diagnosis — was phenomenal. I have to say it was very exhilarating for me as well.
What is your favorite new skill and what shifts is it creating in your client appointments?
Currently I am partial to the 3 Step Process. This skill helps to draw upon previous positive experiences where a person was successful in achieving their goals. By being able to reframe this information and remind the client they have been successful in other areas of their life, we help them see they do have what it takes to move through this block, and by planting this idea, they are more engaged in their outcome.
At iPEC, we have a strong emphasis in our programs on what we like to call our “Monday Morning” strategy – which involves having a clear plan in mind as to how you will show up differently in your role on the Monday morning after the training – immediate integration is what we’re looking for. How has this approach made a difference for you versus waiting until certification to really start looking at how to apply what you’re learning in the field?
Oh my goodness, all the difference in the world! If I were to have waited until after I completed the entire course to start using my skills, I would have missed out on the opportunity to integrate them right away into my life and nursing practice. This is a program where mastery is best achieved by working on these skills, not unlike clinical in nursing school. If you don’t have the opportunity to try these on then the skills taught may never be used effectively. Also, one skill builds upon the other, so you really have to practice and work on mastery of one and then the next and so on.
What have you noticed around your own wellbeing and stress levels at this point in the training?
Having a better awareness of not only myself, but those around me has helped me adjust not only how I react to a situation, but how I show up to the conversation. Prior to coaching, my family would describe me as a kind and loving person, but one who also had a “short fuse.” If I felt I was right, then I stood my ground. If there was a perceived negative situation to discuss, it was generally brought up as a last resort out of concern for how I would react.
The same situation now would generate a whole different scenario. I take a broader view of the scenario and identify the possibilities. So you could say coaching has helped my own wellbeing by providing me the opportunity to find more clarity and peace in life. My professional and personal life has matured in such a positive direction I would have never imagined a year ago.
What else, if anything, would you like to share with your followers?
It’s important to know that this is a continuously evolving process. Just as life changes and new life experiences are gained, we can find ourselves in a learning mode, if we are aware and open to it. Sometimes we may be the student and other times the teacher. If we embrace this journey we call life, we will continue to grow in ways beyond imagination. Truly anything is possible.
The power of iPEC’s training methodology is the integration of the skills and so many opportunities to get feedback and practice that gives coaches-in-training the confidence to begin working early on in the program in an appropriate way with clients. Just as Tracy has been using the “Monday Morning” application, many coaches are able to effectively take on barter, pro bono and even paying clients by mid-way through the program…a valuable consideration when deciding where to invest your training dollars.
What I love is the symbiotic connection between the values of CTCA AZ and iPEC…looking to serve and help others improve the quality of life through empowered care. As the Managing Director of the 7th Level Wellbeing Division at iPEC, I’m excited to see how the rest of this journey of bringing coaching into cancer care unfolds. For more information on the Coach Centric Leadership™ and Engagement Program for Healthcare (CCLEP for Healthcare) and how your survivorship coordinators, nurses, case managers and other healthcare professionals can improve quality of care and engagement for themselves, their patients and your organization, email me at tleighn@iPECcoaching.com.
We’ll close out 2013 with some great Holiday Tips from Tracy in our next “Bridging the Gap” interview!