Second Half Coaching – beyond competencies and tools.

Falling Upward and Exploring Spirituality

In the latter part of 2015, I read a book titled, “Falling Upward”, an exploration of spirituality in the second half of life. Richard Rohr suggests that at some point we move in spirituality from rules and structures and parent-child relationships to simpler and also more complex spiritualty in which individuals’ encounters with the divine become foremost. Engagement and relationship and personal responsibility for growth become paramount. The rules, creeds, structures of the first half are essential to Rohr – they are the foundations on which to grow more mature thinking. But they are not the all-encompassing end point and they may become substitutes for the real encounter.

Parallels to Coaching and – Second Half Coaching

It occurred to me that there is a parallel in the maturation of coaches, indeed of coaching. We must have the competencies, behaviors and skills which anchor coaching and allow us to do the job. But as our clients mature – which we hope happens as a result of coaching – so must we. There is a point in which, like an accomplished musician, when we move beyond the music, beyond the notes, beyond even the musical scales. We are at one with the music. We move, as coaches, beyond what we already know into a place of co-creation uniquely with each of our clients. In a very real sense, we move to a flow state in which we are inventing as we go – we and our clients enter an unexpected place of clarity and insight.

This is second half coaching!

If we are always on familiar ground in our coaching, if we know what to expect or know just what tool to use, I think we are actually advising or mentoring rather than coaching. Both of these are very valuable, but I think it is time to draw clear distinctions between advice giving, mentorship and coaching. A coaching supervisee just said, “I am becoming an “unprofessional” professional. I am feeling so at home in my professional identity that there is no need to “play” any professional role.” Prior to this, he has slipped into using his knowledge about change and his coaching methods that he did not truly collaborate with his client. He let go of that false certainty; his clients are flourishing.

If we really believe each client is unique, our interactions must be fresh and unique as well. The problem is – if we are constantly inventing in the moments of coaching, we invite the risk of not knowing what to do. That requires the coach to accept his or her own vulnerability, his or her very normal humanity. Rohr suggests there is confusion, fear, clarity, discovery and wonder in this space that are not available in first half thinking.

How do we get there? Not by more tools and techniques! There is no guaranteed path – However, learning to observe and reflect on our work can open doors to this new and exciting territory. For Richard Rohr, and others working explicitly in spirituality, the use of a spiritual director is common-place. This person is not a mentor, but one who accompanies the spiritual journeyer, helping him or her to experience and see what is happening in and to them.

In the realm of coaching, the parallel is a coaching supervisor who helps the coach see more clearly what is happening and to assist in processing those experiences.

Maturing coaches (a never ending process) who are ready for second half coaching – might want to explore the benefits of disciplined reflection offered through coaching supervision.

For more information, contact Sam Magill at, and


Seeking mature coaches who want to contribute to the profession

Why are some people drawn to provide coaching supervision?

As I go about recruiting participants for the Coaching Supervision Academy –USA certificate program, I’ve begun to notice a pattern among people who are interested. It makes sense and is revealing about supervision itself.

Age and experience – The people who are interested in providing coaching supervision are not beginners. In fact, they tend to be people who have had great coaching practices and are now taking a look forward – “Where do I want to go from here in my coaching practice?”

In my own case, I had taken a break from my normal routine and slowly unpacked what I most enjoyed about coaching-like work. I learned that I enjoy supporting people who help others. It might be called care for the care-givers. I also learned that I think coaching at its best is a wonderful force in the world. Then this image came to mind – an expanding network of connections and influence. I saw that if I helped a coach perform well and serve clients even better, then I could touch more leaders than if I worked directly with them. (I still enjoy leadership coaching also!) This fit my desire to be of service in the world and my desire to have a significant impact. So, as Sharon Daloz Parks famously framed Fredrick Beuchner’s work – vocation is where the hearts deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger. This is mine.

Supervision is an excellent fit for me as it seems to be for the people I know who offer professional coaching supervision. There is a depth and quality of inquiry in supervision that seems less often available in leadership coaching. There is an opening of heart and mind in service of clients.

To keep this brief – people who are interested in supervision training are typically interested in supporting the quality of coaching, in doing deep, reflective work with already skillful coaches and in taking time to step back from the fast pace of coaching to learn again and again. This seems to occur in the later parts of a coaching career, although especially wise mid-career coaches also make great supervisors.

If you want to contribute to the world of coaching as a mature practitioner who is looking to the future, let’s talk. Now accepting applications for January 2015 programs.