Coach Interview Series: Halli Bourne

by Brandon

Halli Bourne

Transition, Meditation & Creativity Coach

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Halli Bourne. Halli is a Transition, Meditation & Creativity Coach based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Halli: I have been coaching for about 6 years now and I’ve gone through a number of iterations. At this point, I work with creative people who are dealing with anxiety that gets in the way of their creation. I put together a program that I take clients through in 9 to 12 weeks. I have a long history in yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, and that has really transformed my practice by helping me figure out who I wanted to work with and what I wanted to help people with.

NCA: What initially got you interested in becoming a coach and on the way, what kind of degree or certifications did you need to complete, if any?

Halli: I have been teaching yoga and meditation for around 20 years. I think it was about 8 or 9 years ago when I found out that my students needed and wanted more support. They were trying to figure out how to incorporate these ancient practices into their modern lives. I was trying to find a way to make these teachings more relevant to them.

I pursued a graduate degree in Psychology initially but I found the time and expense far too daunting, so I decided to go another route and chose life coaching.

The International Coach Federation is the only national body that helps to regulate the coaching industry, although regulation is a loose term. I really wanted a good education although you don’t need to be educated to call yourself a coach. However, I felt that I would be doing my clients a disservice by just calling myself a coach without actually getting trained as such.

So I found an ICF-accredited program — the International Coach Academy — which is actually based out of Australia but is able to work with people all over the world. It really transformed my ability to listen because there were so many different dialects and perspectives. It took me about two years to complete the program while working full-time, although I hear that some people can finish that program in 6 months (though I don’t know how they do that). It was really great. I had to write a thesis and I had to do all of this life coaching that was supervised, so I feel like I really got an exquisite education. I felt like I also had the credentials to back up calling myself a coach.

In coaching, our role is essentially to reflect back to our clients because they are the expert in this relationship. We’re not counseling them. We are guiding them into self-discovery. I think coaches who don’t get certified actually muddy the waters between therapy and coaching when there is a really important professional difference.

NCA: You mentioned that you don’t have to get certified but you felt that you needed to get that education for yourself. And that’s really what certification does — it helps students learn the unique modality of coaching and how it differs from related fields like consulting or therapy.

Halli: You don’t know what you don’t know. I ran into coaching feeling like I was a really great listener and that I probably knew everything I needed to know. Humility is a really wonderful thing because just a quarter of the way through the program I was sitting with friends of mine and I thought that I was listening to them, but I hadn’t been listening at all. It’s really revelatory to learn how to listen openly and to listen for the things that people aren’t saying.

Coaching is distinctive from therapy. Because in therapy, you’re diagnosing people. You’re essentially labeling particular pathologies and identifying past traumas. In coaching, our role is essentially to reflect back to our clients because they are the expert in this relationship. We’re not counseling them. We are guiding them into self-discovery. I think coaches who don’t get certified actually muddy the waters between therapy and coaching when there is a really important professional difference.

NCA: In the work that you do with your clients, what is the most rewarding part of that process for you and on the flip side, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Halli: The most rewarding is to watch people break through the judgement. Something I love about my background — with mindfulness, especially — is that it provides a landscape and a foundation through which we see ourselves. Talking about that reflection in the mirror, we move beyond the level of ego into something that’s a little more ephemeral and mysterious, where the personality can kind of retreat for a bit and people can see themselves more truly.

Watching that happen over and over through this work with the client — especially teaching them how to be quiet and still through the meditation training — is really lovely because it gives people an internal source, especially in a material society. I feel like we’re really geared towards being external. Getting external validation. We get our job, our approval from our family, our friends, our society, etc. This work is really rewarding because it helps people ground in their own actualization and their own realization.

On the flip side of that is when that doesn’t work. I have to say it’s happened rarely but there have been a few people that I’ve worked with that were rather resistant to changing. Actualizing oneself or becoming more of who you are can only happen if you’re willing to let go of the shadows and the misunderstandings, and I think therapists would probably say something similar. Sometimes, people just aren’t ready. And that, too, is something that’s unique about coaching, in that we’re working ideally with people who are ready to transform.

Therapy is at a different stage of the process, whereas coaching is for people who have a specific goal. They want to move through something and I feel like sometimes, people can get into the process and then realize, “Okay, I’m actually not quite ready for this kind of transformation.” Because self-change takes a great deal of work and a great deal of dedication. That makes me sad when people don’t want to or can’t quite make the change.

NCA: How much of a challenge, if at all, has it been to take care of the business side — the non-coaching aspect of being a self-employed coach? Has that been a real challenge for you?

Halli: Yes, it has. In my schooling, I feel like this part of the conversation was really neglected. It’s such an important and distinctive component of the coaching world. Just because you’re good at coaching doesn’t mean you’re good at business. I’ve probably done as much training, if not more, in the realm of marketing since getting my coaching certification. It’s an incredible challenge. I also find it really challenging because self-promotion is not natural to me. It’s the reason why we are attracted to this industry.

After 6 years of doing this business and having a business for more than 10, it’s important to get a team together that can help do things that we’re not good at as well as being willing to learn things and get better at things that we’re not good at. I think the other important thing to realize about entrepreneurship is that it ebbs and it flows. There are times that business can be really easy and fluid and going great. Sometimes business ideas work really well, sometimes they don’t work at all.

NCA: Can you think of a mentor who was the most vital to your success as a coach and in what ways did this individual help you thrive in your career?

Halli: The person that comes to mind first is someone I ran a business with for close to 10 years. She and I had a yoga and meditation retreat business together. Our relationship began as a partnership. I moved out of that business in 2015 because I realized that I didn’t love traveling and I didn’t love the year-and-a-half of work it took to make any of those retreats go. But we still meet together about once a month and support each other with business idea. We’re always bouncing ideas off of each other and trying things out.

There’s kind of a popular term now that you get an “accountability buddy.” We have way transcended that idea because we’re not just keeping each other accountable; we’re keeping each other excited and really sharing with them in order to support success for us both. That person has been so amazing to me. She is a dear friend now and anytime I need to bounce an idea off someone, she is always available for that and likewise.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody in the very early stage of their coaching career?

Halli: I would suggest research. I think research is a really great way to discover what it is that you don’t know and what it is you want to know. I think it can be tempting to listen to “experts”, people like Tony Robbins and people who have really big names. It’s also really important for people to spend time looking for people who maybe aren’t as well-known. Just because they’re not celebrities, it doesn’t mean their work and their wisdom isn’t valuable.

If I were to advise future coaches, I would say that it’s about really defining what it is that you’re passionate about and what it is that you feel that you can really guide people into. Really sit with, “What is it that I would like my business to look like?” Really take the time to dream and visualize and let the intuition and the soul speak about what it is that you have to offer the world and what’s going to fulfill you in bringing more life to the client.

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