Coach Interview Series: Jessica McClure

by Brandon

Jessica McClure

Life Design and Leadership 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 Jessica McClure. Jessica is a Life Design and Leadership coach based in Shoreline, WA.

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

Jessica: I work with two different types of clients. I work with corporate clients in which is more leadership coaching. I specifically like to work with emerging leaders or people who are not executives at the top of the ladder — though I sometimes work with those as well — but I really like the emerging because those are the people that I can work with to help find their own leadership, find what their own power is within their position, and how to move themselves in a way that has meaning and resonance in their corporate job, which I find can be difficult for many people to do.

The other subset of clients that I work with are those that are personal, typically those not satisfied in their current corporate job and looking to make a change. Figuring out what that change looks like and how to step into that alternative life that has more meaning for them, one that is more sprinkled with spirituality and really owning who they are. I do that as well with my corporate clients but I use corporate speak doing it, so that it’s the same ideas but maybe not as out of the closet in spirituality and how the universe can assist us.

NCA: Do you feel that with your corporate clients, do you change your tone with them because they’re facing different issues or because they themselves are not as receptive to that kind of language?

Jessica: I think oftentimes, people who come to me privately are people who understands what I’m all about and they’re seeking me. In corporate, oftentimes, I am hired by the corporation in order to coach them so that is something many people aren’t as familiar with, I find, and so I use the language that I think is most comfortable for them.

At the end of it, I just want people to live from a place of their own resonance and so however I word it, it’s the same. I really am of the belief as a coach that it’s really about helping them find what is important to them and understanding that and exploring that, so I help assist that with whatever knowledge that I have and whatever knowledge they have. I feel oftentimes when we fall into that “Oh, I’ve got the idea!” And they’re kind of like, “Eh, yeah.” And then you’re like “All right, well, how can we build upon that so that they can to their real true answers that has meaning for them because our answers aren’t going to do anything for anybody.

I was like, “I don’t want anyone to feel like [a fraud].” That’s really the switch, the catalyst, that got me working one-on-one with people.

NCA: What initially got you interested in this career path and what kind of degree or certifications did you need to complete, if any?

Jessica: I do have my certification through Co-Active and I’m an ICF member who’s ACC. I realized on just the first of the month when I was doing billing that I’m actually now qualified for my PCC, so that’s very exciting. I don’t know how long it takes but I’m applying now.

I am certified and I think it’s very important in this coaching industry to be certified. How I got into it is I was in corporate real estate for over 15 years and what I did is I helped businesses. I worked in large shopping malls, so I helped businesses expand their business and oftentimes work with solo entrepreneurs with their first shop and help them with their shops. After many, many years, I was having a hard time seeing the value of putting more stores in shopping malls, and really what I enjoyed doing was working with the people and helping them expand their businesses.

The real catalyst for me becoming a coach was I read the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It did not resonate with me and I remember there was a part of it that basically said that she, as the CEO of Facebook, felt like a fraud and what I read into that is, “Put your head down, climb the ladder, we all feel like a frauds. If I feel like this, so can you.” And I had such a visceral reaction to that because that is how I felt while I was in the corporate world and I was like, “I don’t want anyone to feel like that.” That’s really the switch, the catalyst, that got me working one-on-one with people. I had worked one-on-one with people for many, many years, but now switching from what their focus on their business was, to the whole person.

I heard someone say once that we coach those who we were 5 to 10 years ago and I found that really interesting. I started coaching saying I would never coach anyone in the corporate realm. That I wanted to coach everyone out of the corporate world. As always, when you say anything definitively, it comes full circle and now I’m coaching people within the corporate world because I’m like, “Who more needs it than people in the corporate world to be heard and seen?”

NCA: How do you have the conversation with the feeling in the back of your mind like this person doesn’t belong in the corporate world, but you can’t come out and say that?

Jessica: First and foremost, no matter who hires me, I am in service to the person that I’m coaching and it is fully confidential and I am in service for them. So, yes. I have said that. I might not have said it based on those reasons, but I have definitely said it with people.

I’m thinking of somebody just recently who wasn’t stepping into her leadership role in her current job. The more we drilled down on why, what became abundantly clear is maybe she isn’t in this role for a long term. Maybe she does need to find something where there’s more resonance and where she feels that she can make a bigger difference. I definitely have coached my corporate clients out of their corporate jobs. And I’ve had people come to me and say they hate their jobs and I say, “Okay, well, you have one foot out the door. Then let’s really explore how you can show up in this job while you’re looking for something else because I guarantee you if you don’t explore it, it’s going to follow you to your next job.

I liken it sometimes to real estate. I sold my house and two months before I sold my house, I went and changed out all the electrical outlets in my house because they weren’t up to date and they didn’t look nice and everything. And I’m like, “Seriously, why did I wait for 5 years to do this? How are the next people getting to benefit from this?” I feel the same thing is true for clients where once they are playing full out, they’re like “Oh my God! I actually do like this job. I actually am making a difference.”, but they didn’t know it before because they were playing too small.

If I was coaching the business owner and the CEO, which I have coached executives as well, it’s “Do you want people working for you who are only 50% in?” You don’t want those people because they are bringing down the collective overall. You should be okay with those who are ready to leave their jobs, because that brings down the culture.

NCA: What is the most rewarding part of your career and on the flip side, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do would you say?

Jessica: I would say that the most challenging aspect is putting my own outcomes and what I want to the side. Because to be an effective coach, we can’t be tied to the outcome of our clients and how they get there and how fast they get there. It’s their own journey and we are here to help them with that journey and that can be the most challenging thing. Because sometimes, you can see so much potential and you know so much and you want them to see it in themselves and take that leap and they have to go through it on their own process, on their own time, and all you can do is help them to get there.

I would say the most rewarding is when you see that happen. When you see someone completely out of their comfort zone and finally doing the things that they’ve always wanted to do and then feel a big shift.

The Wheel of Life— where you talk about the 8 different areas of someone’s life — I always do that with my private coaching. On the first session is we go through where they are in their life, rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Money, finance, health, romance, etc. And then we do it again on their last day and it’s always so fun to see people be like, “Are you kidding me? I said I was at a four? How was that possible? I feel like I was always probably an 8.” Because you don’t really see how far you do shift while you’re in it, while you’re in the muck. I think that’s the most rewarding.

To be an effective coach, we can’t be tied to the outcome of our clients and how they get there and how fast they get there. It’s their own journey and we are here to help them with that journey.

NCA: Can you think of a mentor in your own personal career who is the most vital to your success as a coach and in what ways did that mentor helped you thrive?

Jessica: Yes. There’s a book that I love. It’s called The Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. Anyone who knows me knows that I talk about this book probably way too much. It’s basically that person, that mentor, who is basically the coach to you that helps to see your potential and your greatness and wants to see you step into that.

I do contracting work and the head coach is that person to me. She sees the potential in me. She sees all of me. She allows me to fail and encourages that and then is there to have a conversation about it. I’ve had many who’ve said little things throughout my past who have given me the courage and the confidence to continue on the path but I would say as of now, she’s probably my biggest mentor.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is just starting out? They kind of know they want to become a coach but they’re not quite sure how or what niche they want to occupy. What’s the one piece of advice you would give to somebody in that position?

Jessica: Find a coaching certification. I’m a huge fan of Co-Active (CTI) just because it was in-person and I felt for me, that was priceless. Being able to get together once a month with a cohort for three days and really dive deeply into all things coaching and vulnerability and laying it all one the line. For me, I would say that it’s important to have your confidence in what you’re doing and make sure that you are using the right tools and learning the right process.

I will also say have a little grace, because with my clients, the reason that I require them to work with me for a certain few months is because there’s this dip. The first day, the first couple of sessions, you love me, “Oh my God, this is great! I love coaching.” And then three to six sessions in and you’re like, “I hate this. It’s not working for me. I’m spending too much money. It’s never going to work bla bla bla..”

And then they get through this dip, by actually doing the work, which is hard and then they start seeing a change and feeling the long lasting value.

I say that’s true too in becoming a coach. I feel you’re all excited on all of these things and then you get into this dip of “Oh, it’s so hard and I don’t want to market myself and bla bla bla..”, and you just have to power through that and continue taking the action which will eventually help you see your change.

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