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From PhD to Life

My priority is learning


Earlier this month I completed the coaching supervision course. It started in the spring, and consisted of biweekly 90-minute classes and six 1-on-1 sessions with the supervising coach. The individual sessions involved listening to one of my own coaching calls, followed by me receiving feedback on my coaching, with an eye toward passing the Professional Certified Coach exam and receiving this credential from the International Coach Federation. Earning this credential is still a ways away for me. Completing supervision has given me more confidence in and understanding about coaching, and I’m moving forward knowing there are a few areas I need to work on, and others that I’m much more comfortable in than I was earlier in the year.

My larger point here — that I’m still learning how to coach as a higher level — is something I do well to remember when I worry about all the other things I’m trying to do. It’s like, “Hold up, brain!” There’s only so much a person can focus on at one time. Yes, I can work on multiple projects during the course of a day, but I do need to prioritize my energy. And right now my priority is learning.

In the summer I finished a career coaching course (also from MentorCoach, my training provider), and am now enrolled in a course about self-control, taught by one of the biggest names in research psychology, Roy Baumeister. I’m learning on the side, too. Earlier this week I watched the second in a series of webinars jointly presented by the Wholebeing Institute and the VIA Institute on Character. These have been useful to me because they’re about using character strengths in my work as a coach, something I already do but want to do much better.

When I finished my PhD after 7+ years of ups and downs, I had no desire to take a course ever again. (I’ve written about this before.) Now that I’m launched into a new career, I’m excited to learn information relevant to my profession and pick up useful new skills.

An aside: I wonder if the old Jen would be rolling her eyes at me right now. Who is this business woman?! Profession, skills, career? I used to think — implicitly if not explicitly — that academics / “intellectuals” didn’t have to worry about such things. This is an exaggeration, but not an enormous one. I’ll have to think more on this. All I know right now is that I’m enjoying this brave new world of mine.

Jennifer Polk
Jennifer Polk is a career coach and entrepreneur. She earned her PhD in history from the University of Toronto in 2012. For more information and resources, check out her website:
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