Friday, March 2, 2012

The Coaching Caravan

Posted on Friday, March 02, 2012 by International Coach Federation

International Coaching Week (ICW) is a weeklong global celebration of the coaching profession held annually during the first full week in February.  It is a designated time each year for coaches and clients to educate the general public about the value of working with a professional coach and to acknowledge the results and progress made through the coaching process.  Coaches around the world offer a variety of activities and pro-bono services in their local communities to share what coaching has the ability to do.

We South Africans are known for our innovative approach and triggered by the annual challenge issued to us all by Madiba (Nelson Mandela) to contribute 67 minutes as a way to celebrate his birthday and with ICW 2011 in mind, in June 2010 Anne Heslop – a member of the Board of the Gauteng Chapter of ICF - shared her vision of how these two events could be brought together for maximum impact.  And so the Coaching Caravan was born! – “Making a difference in the lives of others, one coach, one person and one coaching conversation at a time!”

The dream was to mobilise as many coaches as possible in South Africa to give 1 hour of their time during International Coaching week, to coach a person who would not normally have access to coaching.  This was the way that we, as coaches, could spend the 67 minutes doing what we do best.

A Coaching Caravan logo and website was created and we invited both ICF and non ICF members to participate.  Sponsors were asked to register projects on the website and volunteers were asked to register with the project that appealed to them.  The ball was rolling.  And then the Coaching Caravan grew arms, feet and wings and became so much bigger than any of us could have imagined.

International provider of Webinars – WebEx a division of Cisco - made a generous donation of 2 weeks of their very sophisticated and successful webinar services over the period and with that came free calls and training for the facilitator of the service – that was me.  What was a dream for South Africa was within our reach and started to become a reality.

Nine very generous people from our community gave of their time and talent, hosting webinars on a variety of topics.  We were able to reach people not only in South Africa but also extended North beyond our borders to include other African cities as well as Singapore and New Zealand...  I was the recipient of the training as to how to operate the back end of the service and in a short time entered a steep learning curve that was challenging, exciting and stimulating.

To name just a few of the projects that benefited through the coaching offered by our volunteers aboard the  Coaching Caravan:

  •  Coaching Matrics to Success;
  • The Amy Biehl Foundation;
  • Heartworks;
  • Diepsloot Youth Projects; and
  • Mothers2Mothers.
At one point I read on one of the social networking websites that coaches in the United States were thinking about what they could do for their clients in coaching week. 

I posted Anne’s vision:

International Coaching Week: Boarding the Coaching Caravan in Africa

When Monday dawns, the Coaching Caravan will be ‘pulling out’ for its epic pilgrimage around Sub-Saharan Africa with many, many excited, passionate travellers on board. We do believe in the potential for transformation in the lives of others through coaching and we want to write our collective signature on the potential of this awesome continent. One of the cornerstones of our profession is generosity, so we will give of ourselves and our skill warmly and abundantly, without any expectation, for this week.

A gentleman contacted me to enquire how we did this. I wasn’t sure what he meant and so he further explained that he tried something along those lines in his community but the coaches wanted to know what was in it for them in monetary terms.  This started a discussion among us.  The conclusion was that in countries where there was low unemployment and where things generally go well – people may have lost their compassion for one another.  This was so sad for me and on the other hand made me feel so proud of our country and our people. May we South Africans never lose our compassion for one another.

The Coaching Caravan was a huge success – I am sure the pebble (coaching conversations) that was thrown into the pond will continue to ripple through Africa for a long time to come.

We, ICF Gauteng Chapter, were nominated for an ICF Global award for the work we did during that week.  I had the privilege to travel to Las Vegas in September 2011 to receive this award.  This in itself was such an experience. I had the opportunity to share publicly in a forum of some 140 ICF leaders from over 50 countries, what we had done and to read aloud some of the testimonials from those who had benefitted.  There was such generosity in that room and I lost count of how many people came to me during the 4 days of conference, wanting to know how we did it and to express their admiration for what we had accomplished.

A young man from Japan came to me and said that he wanted to start a project like this working with people affected by the earth quake.  We have stayed in touch and I shared as much detail as I could about how we did this.  Their chapter is working hard to launch their first project this year.

I was also contacted by the Singapore Chapter and they too are starting their project this year.

How wonderful that a dream that started in South Africa, spread into Africa is starting to move into the rest of the world.  What a privilege it has been to be a part of this amazing journey.  It was only possible because more than 100 coaches gave generously of their time and talent during that week – and not just 1 hour.  Some coaches flew around the country at their own expense to touch the lives of fellow South Africans. How proud I am to be South African and to be part of a great nation. We have many problems AND we have people with huge hearts that open each year at the request of our esteemed and special leader – Nelson Mandela – and give in unique and unselfish ways.  As coaches we will again this year – 2012 – be climbing aboard the Coaching Caravan to continue “Making a difference in the lives of others, one coach, one person and one coaching conversation at a time!”

Anne-Marie Sevenster, Member ICF Gauteng Chapter.

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