Marie Quigley and Ren Wlasiuk

Co-founder of Empower World | Empower World Associate

Marie:  Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening wherever you are in the world. My name's Marie Quigley. As you know you're listening to empower world the coaching and leadership podcast. My lovely business partner Jeanine is travelling off as usual somewhere in the world. And of course, I am sitting here in beautiful Qatar this morning. The weather's amazing at the moment. So welcome to the show. We're going to do things a little bit different this morning. Normally Jeanine and I are either discussing or having a discussion between ourselves or we are interviewing somebody else but we're going to swap roles this morning and I'm going to be the one who's in the interviewee seat and we've got the amazing Ren Wlasiuk who's going to be doing the interview and we're smiling here because I always have trouble with that but I probably got it wrong again. Did I?

 Ren: You're nearly there:  Wlasiuk.

 Marie: I love the name by the way. A very powerful name. And Ren has been trained by Empower World and she's been mentored by Empower World. She's now an ICF accredited coach and she's got some fabulous writings out there about all things to do with personal development. So check out her site. We'll be letting people know how they can contact you at the end of the show and maybe find out even about you. So as you can see it's a little bit unusual for me to be comfortable sharing about myself, so I'm noticing as we're beginning the podcast this morning. I'm trying to turn it around to talk about you Ren.

Ren:  I noticed, Yes.

Marie: So I'm going to hand it over to you.

Ren: Thank you Marie. So relax, as we say, take a deep breath. Do you need any tissues?

 Marie: Hopefully no. You never know.

 Ren:  Right, so I'm gonna jump straight in OK and ask you who do you look up to in the Coaching World. Who do you model yourself on?

Marie:  So it's a big question. Who do I, I'm not sure that I model myself on anyone but there certainly have been people in the world of coaching that are hugely influential on me. Beginning with when I was in training actually. Every single one of the trainers that I came across I observed and got curious about how they worked. I can't think of some of their names actually. I know Jim Patterson was a huge influence, his work. He delivered the final weekend of coach training for me and it was the weekend where we broke all the rules and he was a really courageous coach. And I think that had the biggest influence on me as I watched him break all the rules, and with his courage and vulnerability, how he was with a client. It kind of spoke to my soul and I thought I hear all the rules that we've been learning, but this is this is how I want to coach, and I suppose when after watching Jim Patterson coach, I gave myself permission to coach like I did, like I do I believe.

Ren: And how do you tell what is your style?

Marie: I think how I coach now to how I coached at the beginning has evolved. So even though I'm saying I gave myself permission to coach in my style, I suppose at the beginning, because when I think back to that new coach Marie Quigley, I still wanted to do the right thing and I still wanted to get the results for the client, I would say is my role. How I coach now is, there's a, I don't know what the word is, but there's the dichotomy in coaching or the opposites of coaching is being fully present, but actually not being in the room at all. So how I coach now is in between I'm fully present for the client and actually it doesn't matter if I'm there. So I coach, I believe, I coach with courage. I coach with the belief that the client truly is resourceful and whole. They have all the answers and I think at the beginning I may have thought, I wonder if you know, I wonder if you know, I know all of this other stuff about personal development. I wonder if you do? The more and more I practice that principle of believing that the client has all the answers, the better my coaching is, the slower my coaching is, the more spacious my coaching is. I think.

 Ren: Well I know having been coached by you, which was a privilege, I can certainly validate everything you say and you certainly do make the client feel resourceful and you do coach courageously because you don't let go. You prod and you poke and that's great.

Marie: Yeah
Ren:  And I love the idea of being this and I'm quoting you correctly or incorrectly: the silent observer in the room. We are there but not there.

Marie:  Yeah, That's right.

Ren: I love that.
Marie: So we are there for a purpose. I believe I'm there for the purpose of witnessing the unfolding and the remembering what the other person is doing. But I'm also at the back because it's not about me, it's about the client. So it's that, it's that dance I suppose: the art and science of coaching is how much do we infiltrate and how much do we sit with the client and let them be in their world. Be in their stuff.

Ren: And for the new clients, the biggest problem is letting go of self-awareness, isn't it? I've done it and I see new coach come and say Oh I did this with a client and I'm sure I didn't do it right and I didn't do this and I didn't get that. And it's the power of listening and being listened to. That’s more important.

Marie: it is. I mean if we go back to talk about the eleven core competencies of coaching because we're affiliated with the ICF and it's about our coaching presence, who are we when we are in that room? If we are thinking about the next question even if we are having an agenda to move the client towards success or to the next step that takes us away from our presence that takes us away from actually being with this person and seeing inside them and observing them as they are going searching inside of themselves. So, it's interesting how I developed in that as well and I believe It's got to do with practice and self trust and the more I work on myself with courageous teachers and coaches the more I trust the process that happens within me. And so therefore that's going to have an impact on who I'm being with my clients. Does that make sense?

Ren: Absolutely. So if you were to describe in one or two words your style. What would you say you are?

Marie: it's hard to evaluate yourself. Look at myself. I'm silent and courageous.

Ren: Fantastic I love that. Silent and courageous: deadly. So in having coming into coaching and you look at your life before coaching and after, it makes us so much more aware of everything in those terms. What now. At this stage in life are you most grateful for.

Marie: Well I'm grateful for finding coaching as a way of self development. I'm grateful for the coaches that have asked me the tough questions and some of those coaches have been those people in training. I remember Peter Ackon, Peter was in training with us a few years ago and he asked the most powerful question about the goal I brought, it created a huge shift of awareness for me. And I think he was only on day four in the coach training.

Ren: Can you remember the question?

Marie: I can't remember the question. It was something about how I was sabotaging myself but it just hit me in the guts and so I'm grateful for anybody who's asked me a tough question. I grew up with a dad who asked really tough questions got us thinking all the time when we're together as a family we don't avoid the hard things so I like that supports me to grow. And so sometimes it really stings. It was hard questions really stinging. They get you they get you with an intake of breath. So I'm grateful for the hard questions. I'm also grateful for the awareness I've gained about myself I've uncovered lots of blind spots. There are still millions around the world. Somebody said the other day I'm a Dalmatian. I can't see my spots on my back. And that's we all are

Ren: well we all are

Marie: Yeah, we can’t see what we can't see

Ren: That’s why they are a blind spot.

Marie: So I'm grateful that I've uncovered some of my blind spots. I still get caught up by them. I still get caught in a trap of being human

Ren: But we are Human

Marie: Yes.

Ren: And just because we're coaches doesn't mean we are perfect.

Marie: That's really important for me. So many people think that just because you do the self development work you must have it altogether. I certainly don't have it altogether. I struggle with some of the principles in my own life. I get caught up in my emotions. I hold onto things when I shouldn't. I think Ram Dass said if you think you're enlightened. Go home and spend a week with your family.

Marie: Yeah truly. And I think that's really important for me especially when I was starting off I had the same questions as a lot of new coaches. Now I train, but I don't have all my stuff sorted. How can I be with somebody in that pain if I'm also in my pain? Then we're going to have all our stuff sorted but actually having the courage to sit with somebody in that pain is such a gift. Even if we've got our own pain and a lot of the times, we attract people into our practice that are learning, what we also need to learn. So coaching has a double edged benefit of supporting others and supporting ourselves.

Ren: Absolutely. I agree with that. So if you were starting out again in coaching, what advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now? Do you want to go back and be fresh and do it again with this insight?

Marie: Yeah, I'm not sure that I would change anything because the road that has led me to where I am now, I believe it was, it evolved as it should have, even now. I suppose I'd still tell myself ‘Believe in yourself more.’ So step up don't be afraid of showing your light fully. I think that's been something of a pattern that I've had to learn to step into the light throughout, not just since coaching, but always. It's been a struggle for me to acknowledge things about myself. So, I would even now Ren, I would say to myself ‘You've got some gifts, believe in yourself.’

Ren: Fantastic: and do you believe in yourself?

Marie: I'm getting more used to accepting and acknowledging what I can bring. So I'm noticing if I'm invited to, I had a terrible debilitating fear of public speaking. I've had that for years, so bad that I couldn't get on a stage at one point because of fears. . Practice makes perfect right. But it's not just that, it's as I began to realize that the work I do is important and the way I deliver it is also important, because I can only do it my way. I can't model somebody else. You asked that question who do you model yourself on. I actually don’t think that we should be modeling ourselves on anyone. We can take the lessons from them. But if we are, we are being authentic, then that comes across, so that stepping up and practicing my authentic nature. You know this is who I am and this is as good as it gets for me because I can't be any better than I am, then that allows me to say yes to things that I know years ago I would have said no way am I getting on stage to talk about that. So yes.

Ren: Not only do you coach courageously, it is giving you courage!

Marie: Oh, without a doubt because when the fear comes in and you know I know from what I've learnt about the research about fear, it's not fear that stops us from being courageous. It's our armor. This comes from the book of the research of Brene Brown. So it's our armor that stops us doing brave things. By armor, I mean the fact that we think we're not good enough; back in the days when I couldn't get on the stage, I thought I had to be perfect or I had to be like Tony Robbins or Ellen DeGeneres, who I both love. But I had a belief that I wasn't quite good enough, so I would armor myself up to stop myself from moving forward. So it isn't fear that stops us. It's an armor that stops us from being brave. And as I've kind of ripped off my armor, I've still got some scars there that are sensitive, but that allows me to be braver and practice being brave because I'm not always brave.

Ren: Well you are brave to step into something that gives you so much fear. I mean that is the definition of bravery. You know the easy to turn around and not do it.

Marie: Yes it would. And I can feel some days when it's a big audience that I will think the night before I'm going to cancel. I'm going to turn around and not do it. And I have to coach myself to say you're enough, you are OK. It's OK.

Ren: I remember when I used to teach in England. Did you know during my teacher training year. The first time that my mentor said, right you're taking this, that's your turn. And I remember the morning coming into school with this dread in my heart because it was a tough year 10. Climbing the stairs, and I remember looking downstairs and I could just walk out right now. There, there's nothing on earth that can make me go in there if I don't want to. And I stood half way on those stairs and I looked at the door and I looked at the classroom door and I thought. I've got to do this. And I wasn't easy on myself and doing it was sort of like ‘if you are going to do it’, rather, ‘I know you are going to do it.’ You know I did it. God knows I remember as I opened the door I was literally shaking and I had to go into these 30 wolves, that’s what they were. But I did it and carried on. And I did it again

Marie: and again and again until you got the courage to face it every day

Ren: Until it was walk in the door right. Yeah.

Marie: I think that's you know a part of who I am. I'm quite a loyal person. So if I say I'm going to do something, I won't let people down. So that's a good thing sometimes and it's a bad thing. But that said, if I said I was going to do a speaking event and I was terrified, because I put my word down and my word means everything. That's another way that helps me, you know, step through the fear as well, because I've committed to somebody.

Ren: Do you enjoy it now, stepping on the stage?

Marie: When I'm in it, it's like I'm, I feel in flow. Just before it, I have that question: Am I good enough? So, I know that question still appears and I hold it, hold the ‘I'm not good enough’ part of me with it, with a, with a hug and say ‘Come on let's try it.’ But when I'm in the flow, actually it feels amazing.

Ren: And do you have an anchor at the edge of the stage.

Marie: Anchor? For anybody who's listening, what does that mean to you Ren?

Ren: So, an anchor would be a ritual that you use just before something you have to do, want to do, free to do, so it could be anything from a chant, an incantation, affirmation. It could be just holding your hands over your chest to sort of give you comfort. Whatever it is, it's a ritual that does get you into a mindset, right?

Marie: Yes, so my process is to be in the venue early to walk the venue to feel like I'm part of that space. And again this comes from Brene Brown when she said she has a mantra that she said that they're just people, they're just people, they're just people. So if I'm working with CXO’s and CEOs or like I was with this amazing group of MBA students who are highly intelligent men and women - that my saboteurs could come in and say ‘Oh Marie, who the hell do you think you are?’ - I have that mantra of: ‘they're just people, they're just people, and men and women who are going. Also they might be highly intelligent, but they're also going through their own struggles. So that helps calm that ‘I'm not worthy side of me.’

Ren: Yes. So, what advice would you give to young not yet but new coaches starting out today.

Marie: Gosh well I think anybody who's been through training will know we support coaches to step into their courage more and more. I think there is some great role models of coaches who are new to the world of coaching who are determined to get certified, which honors our profession. Because I do believe it gives us something extra when we're certified, because we know there are hundreds of thousands of people who call themselves coaches and they potentially are not certified; doesn't mean they're not good in any way. I don't know, if they're good or not. But I think the professionalism and the due diligence that happens when somebody is certified makes a difference. So, I would say, go towards certification and do it in your own time. Then I would say be brave and experiment and be transparent about where you are on the journey. So, again the research, I don't know where I got this from, but the research says that actually people learn and respect you more when they know where they are with you, it's not like a magic show and they don't know what's going on but when you can say as a new coach, I'm a coach in training, and these are some of the things I want to practice with you in our sessions, your clients are more likely to feel a connection and feel equality with you. And support you to want to achieve what you want to achieve rather than if you are pretending that you know everything about coaching.  So I would say be transparent with the work you do and keep doing it. Keep practicing. Practice makes perfect. I'm a much better coach now than I was in those early days. I know that right.

Ren: So be transparent, be courageous, experiment and be authentic and practice. Yes. There we have it. And so, one last question if I may. What has been your greatest struggle in coaching?

Marie: Potentially overcoming the fear of standing in front of groups  -that was my greatest struggle. So it was easy for me to do the one to one. But working with groups potentially was my great struggle. It's funny, I think when you get over the fear it's hard to remember what it was really like sometimes, because I don't have that fear anymore with coaching groups. As a young coach, potentially I was, like we all do, when I was starting, like many of us do - generalizing - but we want the client to get something. So letting go of that has been my greatest gift to myself. I don't have an agenda. Just be with them

Ren: Yes. And that takes a lot of courage again.

Marie: Yeah. We keep coming back to that word - back to courage.

Ren: So you are courage. Marie thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to put you in the hot seat and to prod and poke at you. And I hope this is of help to other coaches out there.

Marie: Yes. Thank you. It was unusual talking about myself when we were usually in the other seat. I've enjoyed this morning it's been great fun. And like you said I hope, it's beneficial for coaches, wherever we are in our career. Whether it's reminding ourselves as MCC coaches that there's always still more to learn, or whether we're right at the beginning of our journey, even thinking about stepping into this world. So thank you for your time today.

Ren: Thank you.

Marie: Ladies and gentlemen thank you for listening in. We hope it's been a useful podcast this morning. I look forward to speaking to you again soon. Have a wonderful day.

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