Failing as an MCC with Cherie Silas and Diana Ideus

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Keeping Agile Non-Denominational, Episode 22

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Alex Kudinov   Hello, everyone. This is Tandem Coaching Academy's Keeping Agile Coaching Non-Denominational and I'm your host today, Alex Kudinov. Today I interview two absolutely fantastic ladies. They are both MCCs, Master Certified Coaches, with ICF and I'm talking to Cherie Silas and Diana Ideus. Hello ladies. How are you doing?

Cherie Silas   I'm doing well

Diana Ideus   Thanks for having me.

Alex Kudinov   Absolutely. So today, we are talking about failing MCC. So you know what, when I think about MCCs, it's like gods or demigods. Gods don't fail

Diana Ideus   Oh they do

Alex Kudinov   What happened?

Diana Ideus   Yeah, so I'll start with that. So even though it's kind of known, the MCC pass rate used to only be 7%. I think now it's about 50% but the process of actually submitting a call or calls that your mentor coach is like, "Okay, there's no guarantee" but your mentor coach potentially puts you in front of other people and says, "You've got this" and then for myself, getting that back, and having basically two red X's, you don't get a lot of feedback. It's just like," Hey, you failed. Do you want to reapply? Do you want to reapply within six months?" and after having been -- so I'll speak for myself -- having been a coach for 15 years, but then also a PCC for the last 10 years, getting the hours, and the training, and all of that, it's incredibly disheartening to be at the very, what you see as, the top of your game and this transformation in your coaching, and then to fail. But if you reapply and kind of keep working at it and through that process, and also hearing from other MCCs who made it but only after failing, that was part of my journey. So I'll hand the mic over but I know we can get into more detail.

Cherie Silas   Yeah. Failing was like falling from a skyscraper. I hit the ground hard when I failed.  I submitted my recordings. My mentor coach was like, "You've got it, it's great. I mean, you're all the way." and then submitted, then got back an email that said, 'You're rejected' with almost no feedback. I was like, "What do I do with this? I have no idea what to do with this." I brought it back to my mentor coach and she was like, "I don't know what to do with this either" and then she went back and reviewed and she was like, "Okay, they're right. I know what to do now." but it was-- they give you six months to reapply, I took a year and a half because there is not gonna fail again. I'm not gonna lie, the first year, I just like..when I got-- I didn't even read the thing. I just set it aside and said, "I don't know if I can do this. I'm done."  I was so heartbroken and embarrassed and didn't know what to do. Then, after a year, I finally said, "Okay, I've got to-- my whole life is on hold, I've got to do something." So that's when I stepped up and moved in.

Alex Kudinov   So definitely not experience you wish anybody would have

Diana Ideus   No

Cherie Silas   No

Alex Kudinov   It is like that, like Diana was saying, for me, it's kind of like the train going for 15 years and then he runs into a wall and then somehow keeps going.

Diana Ideus   I mean, it's so discouraging and it's interesting to see-- I think support comes into play and having a support network but having your mentor be like, "What!?! You failed? What!?!" you know, it helps in some ways but then it's also frustrating, because you don't necessarily know what to do. It's interesting, I was talking to a friend of mine and they were like, "Well, you're not a failure."  and I was like, "Actually, I just failed. You know, technically, that is the definition of failure." They're like, "No, no, you'll get there." I had clients who were up in arms, who don't even know what the ICF is, and were like, "You're the best coach ever! How could they not let you in?" but I think it makes me a better mentor because people are so averse to failing and we don't look at it as learning and especially for MCC, that kind of demigod or God-like level where, it's just kind of a mystery. How do you get there? How do you coach that way? There is no spoon. So getting through that process, I mean, I'll say for myself, what I learned between my first submission and my second submission was significant. I changed as a coach and it also changed me as a person. So I think that that's part of it, too. It's hard to be told 'No Entry', and not know if you're ever going to get in after you've been pursuing it for so long. Every MCC says that the learning continues. I think for us, it was just the learning had to continue. Otherwise, we weren't going to get the MCC.

Alex Kudinov   I would like to get back to your learnings and how you proceeded there but before that, I want to, a little bit, dig deeper into Cherie, how did you scrape yourself off that ground under the high scraper, and just found strength to keep going?

Cherie Silas   Well, I guess once I got over the shame, because my mentor coach was like, "Nobody I have ever said was gonna pass has failed before."

Diana Ideus   Same! That's the other thing, right? You're breaking someone's flawless record. That's awful.

Cherie Silas   Yeah, and so I guess I took some time to heal, and then I went back and I said, "Okay, I can either go forward or I can stop here" and so I took it as a learning experience. I actually hired multiple mentor coaches that I worked through in that next time period, and worked with multiple, because I wasn't going to get a thumbs up from one mentor coach. It was like, "Nope, not doing that one again", and so I worked with several mentor coaches. I'm very thankful that I was rejected the first time. I am worlds greater than I was when I first submitted. It's like night and day; I thought I was good. I didn't-- I had no clue. So what I learned after, really put me at the next level and yet, even being an MCC, I find myself again thinking, "Okay, now it's time to start learning." It's almost like I'm starting at the bottom again, and like, "Okay, now I need to fulfill this big thing. I need to learn even more."

Alex Kudinov   So I keep hearing this theme, this constant theme, is learning. You run into the ground, you run into the wall, and then you kind of keep on going and keep up learning. So what have you two focused in your learnings that got you from this failure to the eventual success?

Diana Ideus   Yeah, so for me, part of the process was knowing that my mentor highly recommended me not being sure whether, and I was talking to her about this before, whether I should go fast or slow. I said, "Look, I can take an extended time and try to learn a bunch more things but I might just fail again. Or I can go really quickly and just see what happens"  because I failed both calls. So I was like, "Maybe I'll only fail one. Maybe I'll get a little closer." What was interesting as well is, I was talking to one of my clients and I said, "Well, I could always try again but if I try the third time, and I don't get in, maybe I shouldn't pursue this anymore and she looked at me and she's like, "Really? Really you're're gonna give up on it?" So that was helpful I think, for me, having that support but I talked to a friend of mine, and I said, "I don't know if I should go fast or slow. I'm looking for a recommendation." He was like, "Why don't you go fast? Why don't you just see" because it did take eight months from when I turned in my calls to when I actually was rejected.  So that's the other thing to think about. It's gonna take time for your calls to even be reviewed. So I had learned so much in that time, I was able to kind of do some soul searching and try again. As far as what changed in my coaching, I did look at the feedback. So one of my calls, I had been hesitant because I felt like I had an agenda and I did, I had a very positive agenda. I didn't want my client to beat themselves up. So I was actually concerned that I had too much of an agenda. At least two assessors agreed that I had too much of an agenda on that call. So we have to be careful with our glasses, even if they're rose colored glasses. If we're trying to put our perspective in any way on the client, that is our agenda. For the other one. It was really frustrating. I still actually feel that that call should have passed.  The client and I started on Zoom which, for my mentees, I don't recommend. Since your assessor is only going to hear you, I recommend you don't actually see your client so there's not things happening that the assessor can't see. She was on Zoom but she was uncomfortable because I was like, "Oh, you know, you made this motion" or "you're doing this" I was bringing out her awareness. It made her very uncomfortable so we switched off Zoom, and when we switched off Zoom, I didn't keep bringing those things up; especially because I had made her uncomfortable. The assessors main feedback was I should have kept doing that.When I saw that feedback, I was like, "You gotta be kidding me." Like I literally-- I did something so I wasn't making the client uncomfortable and then I'm supposed to keep doing that. When I looked at the MCC markers for the minimum requirements, it does say that if a coach observes behavior, tone, etc, they have to do it for the duration of the call. Now, should that one technicality have failed the call completely? I disagree. On the other one, I can say I had some of an agenda. So for me, it was about what are you doing consistently from a technique perspective.  Some of the calls, when I reupped, some of the calls that I think were more life changing for the clients, I didn't necessarily submit. I made sure that my technique was really clean and we'd love to say that MCC isn't like that, that it's just your best coaching ever, but I place a lot of stock in what the client takes away. Whereas that's not how you're being measured; you're being measured on your technique. Then for me, the biggest evolution and I actually knew this, when my MCC asked me in my final mentoring hour, "What do you want to focus on? What do you need to keep learning? I said, "I need to hold better space for when people are broken, when they want to be broken." So a friend of mine read my Hogan results, right before I recorded and I even thought, "Why am I doing this in the midst of trying to resubmit my MCC?" What she said about my Hogan results that were really helpful. She said, "Look, there are people who need to see the cracks in the pot in order to develop." She's like, "You don't think about it that way. Like, 'why are we crying over this cracked pot, we'll just make another pot,'" and she said "Other people don't have that much clay and if they're not looking at the cracks, or filling the cracks with gold, like that art form, then that's their development." So I had to be better at taking the kind of sheer positive strength and force of my personality, like, "Let's not cry, let's look at this the positive way" and also seeing, if a client really needs to feel broken but that's part of their process, what does that look like? So that, for me, has changed my coaching, and also changed some of the relationships in my life.

Alex Kudinov   So a lot of learnings and a lot of really deep revelations. So Cherie, what did you learn in that year and a half or six months intervening?

Cherie Silas   Yeah, for me, the biggest thing was coaching presence. What really kind of cracked it open for me was when I sat down with my mentor coach, and we walked through the transcript, and I was able to read it and see, 'The client said this and you said this. The client said this and you did this" and some of it was still kind of in that realm of checking the boxes, right? So the client would say something, and then I would do something like, "Okay, so then what do you want to get out of this" or, you know, so and I would be kind of disregarding what they said, rather than pulling on it, and bringing it in. So after listening to those transcripts, and really hearing that I was not really hearing...that was big for me. So I really began to work on my coaching presence and also the coaching agreement. I say all the time you're going to work on the cooking agreement until you retire because you'll never get it right. It'll never be strong enough. You'll just keep trying and you'll keep working on it, and it'll get stronger but there's always going to be space to get better. So those were, I think, the biggest things that were not working well. I'd like to say keep in mind back to what you said that when you turn in these recordings for review, it's your best work. It's you're showing that you can coach at this level. That doesn't mean that every call you do is going to be at that level. I have some really crappy calls and I'm like, "What was THAT!?!" and it just is what it is. So, yeah, it's all out there.

Alex Kudinov   So I keep hearing 'my mentor' and in Cherie's cases, 'my multiple mentors'. So I know that you two are mentoring beginner coaches and coaches who are going to apply for PCC and MCC. Before we get there, what is the role that mentors played in your success?

Cherie Silas   For me, they were vital. They were the ones who were saying, "Nope, not there." They were the ones who were encouraging me but that wasn't what I needed. I needed that hard, kind of, slap in the face, "This is what you're doing, stop doing it."

Alex Kudinov   Crashing into the asphalt from skyscraper

Diana Ideus   It's painful!  It is pain

Cherie Silas   It's painful, you know, when you're really good at stuff, and the world's telling you you're really good, and then someone says, "Yeah, not that good." It is painful and I got a lot of humility after the fall, and I don't know, just working with my mentor coaches and I purposely worked with multiple people who had completely different styles. That way I can learn from them and get perspectives from them that the others didn't have. When they all kind of came into alignment and said, "All right, you're good. Good to go." That was when I took those last recordings and submitted them. Yeah, the mentor is vital because you don't know where you're going. You coach to the best of your ability but then a lot of times, when you're knocking on the door of MCC, you're usually the one providing the guidance, or providing the mentoring, or providing the insight. So it's difficult to know-- yes, we all have blind spots and things that-- signature strengths and things like that but it's difficult to know where we're going. With the PCC markers, you can at least look at the PCC markers and say, "Okay, do I execute on this?" or "No, I only sometimes do this." MCC is very, "How do you bend the spoon? There is no spoon." No one can tell you how to get in. "Well, you have to know the rules in order to break the rules" but it's like if you don't know the rules, and then artfully bend or break them, then you're gonna fail.

Diana Ideus   So it's just this really nebulous, "Where am I going and how do I get there?" I definitely, as I progress through my required 10 hours of mentor coaching, you get to the point -- and my mentor told me that. She was like, "Okay, at first, you're going to be really excited. Then you're going to be like, 'I don't know how to do this and I don't even know what this sounds like.' and then you're going to get to a point where you're just trying to grow as a coach, and you don't even care about MCC." Those things all happened and of course, I still wanted to learn but it's like you've gone through this fire and this journey to what does it mean to even be a coach and how do I be better as a coach? The theme for me that I had to continuously work on, because often what I find is that it's thematic, so the same theme when I became PCC was a more advanced version of me being MCC, which was, "How do I make sure I'm holding the client as resourceful and whole and not accidentally taking over the agenda?" How do you do that? How do you-- especially because I have a strong personality? So how does my strong personality make sure that I'm holding the space for the client without taking over?  So it really takes someone else's feedback and mentoring to say, you know, my mentor identified. Okay, you know, I find that there's kind of a couple skill building areas and a mindset shift. She listened to a baseline call and was like, "Here's your skill building areas, which no surprise is the coaching agreement; time spent in the coaching agreement always pays dividends. So spend time there. Then she said, "I don't know what your mindset shift is, do you?" and I did because it was that similar vein, and I didn't know how much of myself to put in my sessions while still honoring the client as resourceful and whole. So it's like, you can't see what you can't see but then what she and I both experienced was your mentor knows you and understands you and then I was also mentored by someone from my ACTP program. So the thing is, I got assessors that did not agree with us. That's the other thing. It's also it's a highly subjective process. One of the things they did when the pass rate went from 7% to 50%, is they found out that there were some MCCs who had never passed anyone. So you know, as one of my client says 'Gatekeepers be gatekeeping" right? So it's hard to figure out, "How do I get there?" when it's like, "Oh, well, you just have to embody it" but nobody can really tell you where you're going. It's a really frustrating process and what I'll say, I always wanted to be an MCC. I was always planning on pursuing MCC. When I double failed, or got my two red X's, I understand why people don't keep going; it was the first time I understood that.

Cherie Silas   So, you also said that this failure, it's kind of a reflection on somebody's work on your mentor coach work, right. That whole shame is like, "Not only I failed, but--

Diana Ideus   but I failed my mentor! Yeah!

Alex Kudinov   So you two are mentor coaches now. What do you do to keep that perfect record? What is the secret sauce?

Cherie Silas   I don't think the perfect record is the goal. I do find that people in mentoring will say, "I feel like I failed you" and I'm like, "That's not it's not a thing. I-- there's no such thing as you failed me. I don't even understand that language." It's really about where are you, and how do we get you where you want to be, and holding them as whole through the process, which means being honest, being straightforward, and really being able to be neutral so that I don't let my like for you make me like, "I know you're a good coach" and then you end up overlooking something they're doing because you know they can. So that familiarity can be rough. So yeah, I think it's just being with them through the process, not worrying about-- it's not about me, just like when I'm coaching, it's not about my perfect record. I did have one person fail in one of the lower level certifications, that I thought was the next level, and they failed at the level beneath and I was like, "What? Oh my god..." So now...that will never happen again. I will never let somebody pass. I'll be way harder than any assessor will be before I will let somebody do that again. It broke my heart for him and I felt like I had just completely failed him.  I was just like "No. Can't do that again."

Diana Ideus   Yeah, I mean, I resonate. For me, I just talk to my mentees about it. Actually, in my PCC mentoring, my PCC mentor, there was a point at which I had my scheduled final mentor coaching session and she was like, "You're not there." Like basically I had regressed. She was like, "Now you're just doing coaching" because I was trying to do it so correctly. Thankfully, I stayed with her one more, like she gave me one more hour, and I flew through my exam, whereas my friend, who had had no problem with her mentoring, didn't pass her exam. So for my mentees, it's just a matter of  knowing that this is how the process goes. Now, I think in some ways, it can be intimidating because they're like, "Oh, this person who's teaching me how to coach has failed. How can I ever get through?" but I feel like if failure is something where you're like, "Hey, I got a 50/50 shot" or "This pass rate on the first time is only 7%." That's the other thing. I don't think we know what the-- I think we know what the pass rate is overall; I don't think we know what the pass rate is for first attempt. So, to me, it's about kind of the exposure and just saying, "Hey, I failed. I learned. How do I support you?"  Then also I tell people, I just had a session today with someone who is absolutely at the PCC level. The calls that this person are submitting, I said, "Look, I don't think you're going to get through. Like I think you're going to get hit on this one for this call and you're going to hit it on this one. If you want to take the chance that your assessor is not as harsh or greater I am you can and here's what happens." and they chose to take that risk. Now usually what happens is I'll say something like "Hey, intuitively, I feel like you can get through on this. We could keep going or we could keep working" because that's the thing, it's a time investment and it's also a money investment as we keep going. So I always tell my mentees where we are. Whether it's like, "I feel this is very strong but heads up, you know, assessors are human", or "Hey, this is a bit of a risk, do you want to take a chance?", or it will be really interesting to see with the person that I talked to today, whether or not they either get PCC get ACC, or just get the door closed in the face. I mean, it's an interesting feedback for us as mentors, because in addition to learning as coaching, we're still learning as mentors, then plus everything changes. We have new core competencies; there's new markers. So it's a constant evolution and I think if--  a friend of mine, who talks about generational poverty, would speak to groups and she'd say, "When does learning becomes a failure?" and I think if we can continue to look at it as learning as opposed to looking at failure, there's something about the word failure that indicates that it's over but if someone knows, "Hey, I might fail. It might take a couple of times. I'm gonna keep going." It's a very different experience.

Alex Kudinov   So something just say, for "I haven't failed, I learned. I learned and moved on." So you both mentioned that the feedback from your recordings that you submitted to kind of MCC was pretty much non-existent and how do you approach feedback to your mentees in your mentor coaching engagement?

Cherie Silas   I think very differently. I tend to go line by line. "Here's where this question fell in the competencies, here's what it covered, here's how it could have been better." or "Here's how it violated-- its contra-evidence to this competency." So I go line by line, everything that happened, and then also look at the wider view of when I look at the entire recording, is coaching presence there; not 'have you hit the markers' because markers are only a piece of the equation. You don't coach to the markers. If you are competent, those markers will show up. So really trying to help them understand both aspects of it. You can hit all of the markers and not be at an ACC level if you don't truly embody the competencies.

Diana Ideus   Yeah, so I give very detailed feedback as well in the notes in the transcript or using something like RaeNotes, where you can actually code the markers, and then it exports as a transcript is really helpful. What I will say, though, being an assessor is just how time consuming it is. So I do have, you know, listening to a 30 minute call, I mean, it will take hours. It's like medical coding, it is not my favorite thing. I'm gonna admit that right now. It's like medical coding because, with a good question, someone can hit like five markers with a good question. One of the things that-- so I have a I have a book called Listen: Mentor Coaching for Coaches; the use of silence or listening hits like seven markers. So some of what you're talking about, there's so much present and also, as an assessor myself, I relate to how time consuming it is but they're not giving you a bunch of feedback on the transcript, they're just giving you overall comments. I also think, honestly, when you're at the top of your game, and your mentor tells you you're at the top of your game, and then someone else fails doesn't...I don't know that it matters how much feedback you get; it's still gonna hurt, it's still gonna be painful, and I don't know that you're going to understand, at least on the call where they were like you have an agenda, that was my concern with submitting that call. I agreed with that. Now that other call where it was, 'You should have kept talking about this' I was like, "Really!?! What a technicality! You're going to fail my whole call on a technicality?" That one felt like...that one felt like a cheap shot. I'm gonna be honest with you on that one. I didn't agree with that one. What I even thought was, "Is this someone who had listened to both calls and then is giving me a cumulative fail?" Then you'll have other assessors who say that they only get one call at a time so that's not necessarily the case. I think we try to give as much feedback as possible to equip people but in the reality-- I just spoke to someone who was saying that, as a mentor, they were giving their mentee feedback and their mentee wasn't- it's a blind spot. Their mentee wasn't accepting it and so they said, "Go ahead and submit because you need to get this from someone else." When that person submitted, and failed, and that assessor gave the same feedback, they were ready to listen. So, it wasn't particularly helpful feedback. It was frustrating but because it was my barrier to entry, I think it was gonna feel like that anyway.

Alex Kudinov   A little bit sounded like opportunity to do 'I told you so' dance. Go ahead, submit, I told you that you're going to fail.

Diana Ideus   Well, no, I mean, I think for that mentor, it was a matter of, we can only coach people if they want to be coached and people only listen if they want to listen. So we can say to our mentees like, "Hey"-- it's the same thing with the mentee that, you know, I said, "I think she might come back with two red X's" but I feel like it's my role to say, "If this call doesn't pass, this is why. If this call doesn't pass, this is why." It's not about 'I told you so.' I think it's about our relationship with risk.

Cherie Silas   One thing that I did realize, not until later, is that the lack of feedback was kind of a gift because as you grow, you will figure that out, and it's not the assessors job to teach you how to coach. It's the assessors job to say, can you or can you not and at what level? So they're, quite frankly, not there to give you detailed feedback and tell you how to fix your coaching.

Diana Ideus   It would have been nice, though.

Cherie Silas   It would be nice if they just passed me.

Diana Ideus   Exactly. Learning Schmearning

Alex Kudinov   It'll probably cost you different money  with feedback. So we keep talking about continuous learning, learning after the failure, learning as you go, learning kind of in the process, after you became MCC. So I'm wondering, what are you learning from your mentees, when you work with them, when you review their recordings, when you give them feedback, what is that?

Cherie Silas   I know that I learn a lot through their questions and through the things they do like as I'm listening to them, or their recordings, or we're doing live action feedback, where they're coaching me and I'm responding and giving them feedback as I'm being the client but I learned a lot. You don't know what you know until you start to actually pull it out and talk about it. So I realize a lot of things as I'm mentoring, I realize a lot of things that I'm teaching. That's why my teaching tends to grow and evolve. So yeah, I think it's important if you have the right level of humility, you can learn from anybody. I learn from my students all the time and often when I'm grading, I'm like, "Oh, I like that question. I may have to put that one in my memory bank and see if I might use it." I mean, you can learn anywhere you want to. Yeah, so I trained as an internal coach. So we were surrounded by other coaches, and we could hear people coaching all the time, and then they would switch our seats, and we would hear other people coaching. So you could do what we call 'ear hustle', you can ear hustle all the time. There's benefits to that because you learn things you can try. You also learn effective language that you're like, "I would never say that" but you hear it work for someone else. I think that that's important when we talk about diversity and inclusion, right? We need that diversity. We need to hear different perspectives. That's part of why I love group mentoring so much because they can hear each other but in group mentoring last night, the coach asked a question that I wouldn't recommend. When the client was asked for her takeaway, her takeaway was that question. So what I brought up to them, I said, "Look, this is why, in the group mentoring, we ask the client what their takeaways are, because here's my recommendation as your mentor but here's what resonated with the client. I think that's the thing we have to be able to have an arsenal to try other things on.Then as far as the mentees, working with coaches is one of the best things ever. People who want to learn and grow so they can help other people learn and grow, that's a pretty sweet group of people to hang out with.

Alex Kudinov   So we know that to become an ICF certified or ICF credential coach, you have to work with a mentor coach, right. I kind of heard that it pays off to work with different mentor coaches, maybe with somebody who didn't train you, maybe with somebody who you didn't know spend a lot of time or learn your kind of coaching skills from. So what's your recommodation would be to those coaches who are to apply for ICF credential and they are looking for a mentor coach, what should they be looking for?

Cherie Silas   Someone who knows what they're doing. Anybody can call themselves a mentor coach but have they been trained in the ICF PCC markers and how to actually assess recordings. If you can get a mentor coach, who is either an ICF assessor for ICF applications, or an assessor at an ACTP program, they've been trained in exactly how ICF grades their recordings, their assessors. So those are going to be the most valuable because you know, without a doubt that they know what they're doing as far as greeting recordings. For others, I would ask where they got their training, if they're certified as an inter coach. Yeah, I think those are the big things for me. Yeah, I think diversity is helpful. I don't know that it's a 'have to', it's just something to be aware of. So I have a coach, who I trained as a coach, and he continues to work with me. My doing his MCC mentoring is a little bit of a risk, because he's trained in my image, to my style, and we've been together for so long. Now, as an MCC. I'm hoping he gets through first time, no problem, but at the same time it's something that I'll need to talk to him about. It may be worth-- even if it's one session, or having someone else review the call that, that's important. I also really think it's important that you feel that you're meant-- like you have a high level of respect and understanding for your mentor. I had someone who completed their mentoring with someone else and came over to me and was like, "Listen, my mentor coach is not telling-- they're telling me I'm great but I don't know if I can pass." and I said, "Well, in their defense, we're not allowed to say" but they wanted someone to say "Hey, submit this call or don't." Also, you know, that person felt like my mentor is trying to make me coach like them versus figuring out what coaching like me is. To me, that's a red flag. We don't need a bunch of Diana Ideuses. I'll tell you that right now, we'd be in trouble.

Diana Ideus   So it's not about creating someone in your own image. It's figuring out like, what's that coach's voice? What did the core competencies sound like? How do they show up? So, I think that's one of the beautiful things about credentialing is that it's so much authenticity goes in there. It's authenticity and mastery of whatever you're good at. I do have some people who feel that their mentors weren't supportive or don't listen to them. So that's absolutely a no go on that, in addition to some of the other qualifications, but I do think it's about fit, because ultimately, there's at least a 50% chance that you're going to fail. So you really want to make sure that you trust that person and that's something that you're willing to work with. Or the other thing is, and this is when it comes down to risk. You can stay with someone the whole time but they should be aware of what their blind spots are. So I feel like if a mentee was asking me, "Hey, what are your blind spots?" I'd be able to say, "Hey, I'm a really light touch on creating awareness and I'm a light touch on managing progress and accountability. So heads up there, we may need to work a little bit more." So as a mentor, I should be able to say what my blind spots are so we can work with that. If someone isn't sure and doesn't know, that's a concern. For me, my PCC mentor was one of the original MCCs. She was incredible. I loved working with her. I learned so much from her but when it was time for me to pursue my MCC, I wanted a PCC who had then become an MCC, because so much has changed. I think that's one of the things that will potentially play to our advantage is that we're 2020 MCCs. So the rules continuously change, but five years from now, people coming to us because we have more experience may be going to someone else because they've recently gone through the process.

Cherie Silas   Yeah. I think it's really important when you're working with a mentor coach, get the 'I want to apply for MCC' out of your head and learn.

Diana Ideus   Which is hard. We do want to apply for MCC and that's why you're shelling out the money, just for the record.

Cherie Silas   I I get it. I get it but I've seen it over and over. "I'm so on the goal that I won't listen." So learn everything you can. I do advise if you're working towards MCC, get a couple, at least two, different mentors. Maybe the lower level certifications, you might not need more than one mentor, I did, or I wanted one and I went that route. It gives you a completely different perspective and Diana, I got one mentor who had just passed her MCC, like a month later. So she was fresh through it. She knew and she was able to say, "I don't think this is going to pass" in certain areas. What's really interesting was my original mentor, who was wonderful, the recording she passed, there was a spot in it where the other one said, "I just don't think this is going to go" and I listened to the other one, because, of course, she had more experience. The newer mentor, the newer MCC, because she had been through that experience, she actually had a better grip on it.

Alex Kudinov   So I want to change topic here a little bit. So we know that coaching through emotions is hard. I would imagine that it's hard for MCCs. Sitting in a session where somebody burst into tears...I mean, you can get comfortable with that; it's always an experience. The first thing we tell the beginner coaches, just shut up. Just be there. Just be there for them. How is that experience parallel to you're talking to somebody who just failed?

Diana Ideus   So the friend of mine, who I talked to about it and I was just so discouraged and so devastated, he was like, "How do you want me to show up for you right now?" I think that's the best question, right? Because, you know, it's, "Do you want me to burn it down? Like, should we- Are we strategizing? Like, what are we doing?" I said, "You know, I want your opinion", right? I wanted to know, fast or slow, what do you think I should do? So it's interesting because in that moment, even though I know that I'm resourceful, and whole, and I'm celebrating my clients as resourceful and whole, when you fail, you don't feel resourceful and whole. So it can be helpful to get someone else's opinion and I also, for me, part of my process, and I think this about knowing your patterns and knowing your process, I like to get support and opinions of the people who matter to me, and then I take that in as feedback, and then I decide what I'm going to do. I think the more you know about, "How do I process failure? How do I process extreme emotion? Have I ever had something before that I really wanted and a door got closed in my face?" If there's things proactively you can do, I think that's great.

Cherie Silas   Yeah. For me, it's kind of the same way I would respond if they have any other kind of tragic thing happening in their life. 'I'm sorry, you have to go through this.' Validate that feeling; allow them to feel it and be there to say, "This sucks. It does. It sucks and I'm sorry", and "What can I do to help?", and "When you're ready, let's move forward." Right? When they come to you and say 'I failed', that's not the time to say, "Well, let's look at everything." That's the time to say, "Let's process this."

Alex Kudinov   So now you both MCCs, sitting on top of that Mount Olympus, looking down at populace that's walking there. Now that you have this experience, what is one thing that you would have done differently on your journey to becoming an MCC?

Cherie Silas   Oh, I can eat you not. For me it was the place between PCC and MCC. So I went through all this learning. I went straight to PCC; I never went to ACC

Diana Ideus   Me too

Cherie Silas   So I went straight to PCC, I thought I had arrived, and I stopped learning. I didn't understand that it was the beginning of a journey, not the end of it. So it wasn't until I began to understand that I was able to progress and I had to back up. So there was a time when I was doing a lot of learning and I had to say "Stop. Stop going to classes, stop reading books, stop all of it and take what you already know and do it. There's a huge difference between knowledge and execution. So when you're done executing, then start to layer more knowledge on top of it. That was the best advice I've ever given myself and it's the advice I give to others; don't go so fast. This is about being the best coach and ranked among the best coaches in the world. It's not about how many little gold stars and certificates you can hang on the wall. That's not where it's at.

Diana Ideus   Yeah, I mean, there is no Mount Olympus, right? Like there's, you know, about 1100/1200 of us globally, and I'm happy to be in those ranks but the thing is that, I've had MCCs not listen to me, be dismissive, you know, and I'm like, 'What?'  I'm trying to get to your level and what? It's-- we're talking about humans. This is a human process. For me, it's really about believing in the process. So even though it really hurt to be rejected, and it was unexpected, and you don't know what you don't know, those were the best calls I had at that point. It had been eight months until they got back to me, which I don't know if that's because some people said, I passed and some people didn't, I have no idea but when we throw a pandemic in there on top of everything else...but I also believed in the process enough that it was like, 'Well, if I can't get in, we have two options. I could send in the same calls and get other assessors and see if the other assessors will let me in', which I did not do but I had a moment, you know, like I you know, and then and then also kind of believing in the process to say, 'Okay, I am gonna learn from this' because I did, I was a much stronger coach, in the second round. I think though, you have to make space and time for the stages of grief, right? Like, are you angry? Are you bargaining? Are you sad? Do you need a timeout? For me, sprinting and being like, "Well, if I am going to fail once, I'll fail twice" and then I'll go really-- it's just figuring out what are your stages of grief and what do you need to do?  I think, when I went into my second round of recordings, I was like, "Well, am I supposed to be a coach robot and just have perfect and flawless technique and not be myself?" As soon as I got on -- I did so many recordings just to kind of like, so you don't even think about the facts being recorded -- as soon as I got on with the client I was like, "No, you know what, I'm just going to be the coach I am, and I'm going to learn what I can learn, and if they say, 'Sorry, kid you can't get in' then I'll learn from that, too." So I think that there just has to be always the question 'What am I learning from this?' The reality, as nice as it would have been for me not to fail, it makes me a better mentor and it makes me more focused on asking other people for help, instead of always being the supporter than if I had gotten through.

Alex Kudinov   So it's been an absolutely fantastic conversation and aside of the fact that you both made it; you both made it from the second attempt, which really doesn't matter, you made it. What my personal take away from that is there are many more than one path there. You can succeed going this way or that way and it takes perseverance. It takes hard work. It takes learning open mindset. Well, thank you so much for today's conversation. It's been enlightening. This was Tandem Coaching Academy's Keeping Agile Non-Denominational podcast and I was your host, Alex Kudinov. Bye now.

About Episode Guest

Cherie Silas, MCC, CEC

Cherie Silas is an ICF Credentialed Master Certified Coach (MCC) and a Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) and Certified Team Coach (CTC) with Scrum Alliance.
She has a strong desire to help people arrive at the place they define as success in both personal and professional life. Her goal is to invest the experience and talents she has gathered through years of learning, oftentimes the hard way, into people whom she hopes will become greater than she can ever dream to be.
Cherie often focus is culture transformation work in the corporate environment and development of team and enterprise coaches. Cherie serves as an executive coach to employees and leaders of non-profit organizations that works with rising leaders all over the world at crucial points in their careers to help them manifest the change they want to be, and see, in the world.
Cherie serves as a mentor coach helping coaches improve their core coaching competencies and skills. She also provides coach supervision to experienced coaches helping them look at the work they are doing with their clients and strengthen those client relationships to have more effective coaching engagements.
Cherie’s life mission that drives every interaction with every individual she encounters is simply this: To leave you better than I found you with each encounter.
Professional Certifications: Master Certified Coach (MCC), Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), Professional Scrum Master (PSM), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified Scrum Professional (CSP), Project Management Professional (PMP)

Diana Ideus

Diana Ideus is a Master Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and has her Masters in Organizational Behavior and Executive Coaching.  Diana currently leverages her coaching, management, and leadership development experience supporting leaders in education, tech, finance, and healthcare. 

Diana founded Hawthorne Union to create a company for coaches, by coaches, to support ongoing coach and professional development.  Hawthorne Union provides mentor coaching, coach supervision, and continuing education approved by the International Coach Federation.  Diana’s book Listen: Mentor Coaching for Coaches is available at

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