Being Part of the ICF Oregon Leadership Team
“I think you would make a great addition to the ICF Oregon leadership team” then president Sarah Graves told me. We were at the 2019 holiday party, where I was quite excited to be surrounded by other coaches. Real coaches, in real life. I was in my first year of pursuing this passion-turning-profession known as “coaching”, and it was energizing to be in a place where people knew what that meant. Not only did they know, they lived it. These were real professionals, happily chatting and sipping wine in Christmas sweaters. And here was the leader of it all, asking me to help run the organization. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, starting this next chapter in my journey as a coach.
Fast forward a few months and I’m on a zoom call with the ICF Oregon leadership team. We are talking about the organization’s goals, brainstorming solutions, and working together to serve this profession and community. It felt good to be on a team. A lot of us coaches can get pretty isolated in our businesses, and that was certainly true for me. In fact, this had been the case for much of my career. I left college to start a business, an excessively independent and ambitious young man. Though I had great friends and was part of some solid teams, both in my paid and volunteer roles, a lot of the work I did was in isolation. I was in a rush to lead and contribute to society and its ability to continue on this planet. As it turns out though, before I could lead, I had to get better at following. There was a lot I needed to learn, or perhaps unlearn, about being part of a team.
And learn I did! Not only about teamwork, and not only about coaching, but about the means and tools through which a community is created, maintained, and developed. When I joined the chapter I thought that the online presence could use an upgrade. I had some experience building websites and the determination to figure things out. The next thing I knew, I was working on remaking the whole online system. It turned out that the website couldn’t be upgraded without also remaking the membership management system, mass emailing, accepting payments, and more. I had played with some of these online tools before for my own business and projects. However, I had no substantial following on my own platforms, so the learning was limited. Now I got to learn these tools with some real energy flowing through them. And learn I did. The new online system was launched at the end of 2020. By that time I was the resident expert in a number of programs and processes. I can’t really imagine a better way to have gained this knowledge.
Nor could I have picked a better set of skills to apply to the rest of my work. I was able to use them to great effect at my other non-profit commitment, a civil rights group called Rose City Justice, which organized the non-violent protests of 2020 in Portland. I’ve also used these skills to support my fiancé’s band, Wren, and am currently preparing to launch a crowdfunding campaign to support their first album. And of course, I get to use these skills for my own business- Decision Coaching.
Technical skills aside, I grew more as a person than I knew to hope for. I learned to take up less space in meetings and chill out a bit in sharing my own ideas. I learned the importance of working on not just what I think is the best idea, but on what the group’s energy is behind. I moved in the direction of taking on less and delivering more. The accountability and immediate feedback for my work helped me become a more punctual, dependable person. I also got to develop my delegation and management skills. I learned to share work with my teammates. I got the opportunity to hire and manage both a virtual assistant and computer programmer. This was an invaluable experience and confirmed my suspicion that I am an awesome manager. All these things and more helped me have some of my greatest years of growth to date, and it wouldn’t have happened this way if I hadn’t joined the leadership team at ICF Oregon.
I now write with a completely new level of confidence and clarity than I had when joining the board. I remember how foggy it felt a couple years ago, sitting alone in my room, facing the blank sheet of paper that was starting my coaching career. I thought I was ready, but something was missing. Maybe it was collaboration, or humility. Maybe it was a set of business skills, or exposure to the coaching world. Who knows. In any case, by volunteering at ICF Oregon and contributing to something larger than myself, I gained something necessary in order to be able to work for myself. Surely, I’ve still got a lot to learn. But I wouldn’t trade my experience in these last couple years. I am grateful for all I gained, and I love where it brought me. It is a privilege to be able to turn one’s passion into a career. And I couldn’t be more excited as I start this next chapter.