One Thing’s For Certain, and It’s That Nothing’s For Certain!

Your Values Could Change. Here’s How to Become Comfortable With Changing Your Mind As Well.

Think about the last time you made a well-informed, thoughtful decision that seemed absolutely appropriate at the time, only to rethink your choice in the future. Were you able to change your stance? Did you face internal resistance to your reversal? Was it difficult to announce to the world your change of heart?

Many professionals like to think of ourselves as decisive, and not appearing as wishy-washy. I certainly find myself uncomfortable in the company of the habitually indecisive. Sounds judgmental, but it’s important for me to stick to my values once I’ve weighed different perspectives. This remained the case, at least, until my values changed.

Wait! Values aren’t supposed to change! I thought the same until I got certified in Point of Value. This protocol is a ranked values assessment which presents values in three dimensions: Foundational Values, Focus Values, and Vision Values. Turns out that values are fluid! Once I recognized this, I was able to change my mind in unexpected areas. Now I’m living with more mind space to assess other values-driven decisions.

Let me fill you in on a predicament of mine, with the hope that it will free you up to question if some of your own beliefs might be based on statistics, facts, figures and thought processes that are no longer important to you.

A Post-Nominal Quagmire.

I recently received my ACC Certification from the International Coaching Federation. As much as this proved to be a milestone, it was something I’d actively determined NOT to do five years ago, concerned it would appear I was simply hoarding certifications, motivated by “bragging rights”. Then again, when I received my first certification in coaching, I had no interest in achieving the ICF recognition, for similar reasons— a clear-cut example of “never say never”.

So why did a younger version of myself say “no”, while an older, wiser me went ahead and invested time, energy and money in the certification process? Here’s my Joycean train of thought:

A person’s title or post-nominal letters are telling indicators that they’re good at their profession. However, it is not necessarily a reflection on their intellect or aptitude. Similarly, these indicators have no direct tie to their personal values and ethics. To flip this around, while it’s true that I did graduate from college, it was with a Bachelor of Science degree. I’ve not felt disadvantaged because of this modest level of education. And despite the fact that I’m a lifelong learner, I didn’t even consider getting an advanced degree.

Then came the mindset shift following my first certification in coaching. It was in Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ) in 2017, after which an ICF certification was not a priority for me. And rightly so— I had these great tools and mindset to work with. Why would I need to add letters to my name other than for marketing my coaching status? It wasn’t until 2020, when I earned my credential in diversity coaching, that I began a thoughtful debate in my head about getting certified by the ICF.

I was truly torn.

Accountants, for instance, use post-nominal letters to demonstrate that they follow certain practices and protocols. Coaching, by contrast, is an individual “art” or “craft”. Whereas Conversational Intelligence® and The Coach Approach taken in Diversity Coaching provide the guardrails, they don’t provide the ingredients needed for successful coaching. Those ingredients vary depending on the client’s neurochemistry, their willingness to being coached, their history, and their motivation.

And if I did decide to get coaching credentials, which would I choose? There is no coach’s equivalent to the BAR Association, Medical Doctorate, or CPA Exam that represents a specific cognitive competence. And here’s another twist: Technically I could offer a program to become a Certified Intentional Productivity Practitioner. This would mean anything I deemed it to, but it’s only one person’s assessment of excellence. This was part of my 2021 decision to achieve my certification in the ICF.

Case In Point.

I’m on the board of SEEK, an NFP created to keep seekers of self-help safe while engaging in $11 billion/year unregulated industry. At SEEK, we’ve created a practitioner’s promise, illustrating that doing things with the best of intentions doesn’t automatically mean they’re done as safely as possible.

So, I decided that although the letters ACC don’t mean anything in the greater scheme of life, they do represent a code of conduct— certain ethics and behaviors to embody and employ that insure clients are in the safest care possible. Thus, I changed my stripes. I gave myself the space and the grace to change my mind. I went for certification to commit to the ethics of the federation that I respect.

This is not an inexpensive proposition, and yet, ponying up the bucks was a tiny part of the process. It was more involved than I’d thought, the application process cumbersome, and frankly, a bit daunting. The final step in the certification process was a three-hour, 155-question test. YIKES! The last time I took a test was last century!

I’m thrilled to report that I’ve now joined 40,000 other ICF-certified coaches who adhere to a common standard of ethics. I know that I’m doing what it takes to keep my clients safe, and that is something I’ll never change my mind about.

How about you? What have you’ve decided against in the past, but have since reversed your outlook, prompting you to go for it? How about going from a “yes” to a “no”? Remember, only one thing’s for certain, and it’s that nothing’s for certain.


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