Coach Interview Series: Kim Iglinsky

by Brandon

Kim Iglinsky

Life Coach, The Evolving Center

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 Kim Iglinsky. Kim is a Life Coach and owner of The Evolving Center based in San Francisco, CA.

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

Kim: My life coaching practice is essentially helping people who are going through life transitions. One of the biggest challenges people face is change and transition. Many people end up employing ‘coping strategies’ to avoid feeling pain, such as eating, drinking, watching and generally numbing, which can become its own problem. My specialty is helping people face challenging and intense emotions and experiences in a healthy and constructive way.

NCA: What initially got you interested in this career path in becoming a coach?

Kim: I’m very much the ‘wounded healer.’ I’ve come to coaching through my own path of seeking well being and a positive life experience.

I was a fashion runway model for 12 years, living a lifestyle that was glamorous but destructive. At some point, I hit my max on that life but I still wasn’t sure what to do. A few tragic losses in a short span had me spiral into a clinical depression from which I had to find the way out.

I’ve studies many modalities over the span of 7 to 10 years. I dove deeply into transformation work in an effort to get to the root of what was it that created such a painful life experience for me. In the process, I’ve learned a lot of modalities — mostly in the arenas of human relationships, emotional hygiene, and mindset. In addition I’ve explored Yoga and Ayurveda, spiritual connection and communication techniques as well as Ancestral work and Shamanism, working to address what wasn’t working from many different perspectives.

At some point, I incorporated all these tools that I picked up along the way into my coaching practice. I completed a coaching program, but most of my tools came from many additional programs that I’ve done along the way. I strongly recommend to people who want to be effective coaches to continue educating themselves after finishing their program. Go ahead and get curious about what’s out there and try it on. This will add tools to your coaching toolbox, as people do respond to different modalities.

For example while studying to become a Kundalini yoga instructor I lived at an Ashram in SF. I’ve watched Yogies who have been practicing for 30 years have a tenacious devotional practice, but poor interpersonal relationships and communication skills.

I was an EFT, (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner for a while. Some people know it as Tapping. EFT was an immensely helpful practice for me at the time because I had terrible emotional hygiene. I did not know what I was feeling. I did not know what to do with them once they came up. I would smoke and drink to keep my feelings down. Practicing EFT taught me how to safely feel even intense emotions and release them from my nervous system. It created spaciousness and deep acceptance in my system.

However, some of my teachers were quite dogmatic about tapping; tapping was the only way they addressed everything. After a while, it felt a little limiting to me as not all of our problems are emotional. Some of our issues are related to mindset and some are spiritual or ancestral or Somatic. This is why I like coaching so much, we get to draw on many modalities to help our clients overcome obstacles in their path.

NCA: In the work that you do, what would you say is the most challenging aspect of that process?

Kim: The biggest challenge to coaching anyone is what I call ‘Ecological Objections’. Ecology as it pertains to this work is what makes us who we are and what we know to be true about ourselves and the world.

People’s ecology is what keeps them from making meaningful changes in their lives. Usually people reach out to a coach when they realize that they are unable to create real and lasting change from within the system or mindset that has created the issue they are having.

But our sense of self and need for belonging depends on things staying exactly as they’ve always been. For example, if I come from a working-class or lower-income family, where wealthy people are considered ‘heartless’ or ‘evil’, even if I work hard to make a higher income and live a more abundant life it will, sooner or later, create dissonance in my life and I will likely sabotage those achievements and land back at the familiar and survivable state.

None of this is a conscious choice, our frontal lobe wants more for ourselves, it wants to evolve and aspire for greatness; this is the part that is making the phone call, reaching out to say “I’m ready to do the work and go after the life I want.”

But then the brainstem, the oldest part of the brain, which is responsible for regulating breathing and other unconscious functions, and is also in charge of safety and belonging by keeping everything familiar and survivable says, “I don’t know how to have abundance. My system never learned how to thrive financially and still feel belonging and safety. Will wealth make me evil, heartless? Will my people still love and accept me? Forget it! I rather go broke, I know who I am, I know how to survive it, I’m with my people… ”

This is a dramatization of what’s going on the sub-conscious mind of every one of our clients and it is crucial to identify their belief system that supports their current circumstances and evolve it so it’s safe for them to have what they want. Any good Neuro Linguistic Patterning (NLP) program can help you with that.

You can start building credibility with your clients from your first conversation by asking the kind of questions that let you get their world. We all hold a ‘map of reality’ and each map is unique. Listen for your client’s belief system and the meaning they make of their world.

NCA: When you were first getting started, can you think of a mentor or a coach who was the most vital to your reaching success in your career and in what ways did this mentor help you thrive?

Kim: As I said, I’ve worked through many programs and at each one I had a mentor who was vital to the process.

One of the first teachers on my transformation path was the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. He wrote extensively about Mindful Living and the radical act of just being present in our body and breath while going through our day.

To take a break from NY and the fashion industry I spend three months at Plum Village, a beautiful monastery in the South of France where his community resides. The most impactful lesson I picked up is the practice of mindful living. I experienced what’s it’s like to be present and aware of my state, actions and words. It’s a simple yet profound practice of simply paying attention to what we are doing and saying. He describes it as “kissing the Earth with your feet” with every step and “wash the dishes like washing the baby buddha.”

These images stay with me; when I’m speaking to and about people, am I offering flowers or am I stabbing them with daggers?

Up until that point, I would say that I lived a pretty mindfulness-less existence. That experience had me shift my life dramatically, I moved to the SF Bay Area and started to shine the light of awareness on my inner self.

NCA: Thinking back on the beginning of your career again, what is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody in those shoes?

Kim: When I first started my healing practice I was mostly concerned about how to deliver value to my clients with the little experience and expertise I had.

Most people think that in order for your client to trust you and value your coaching you must seem like an ‘expert’ and already ‘know everything’. Many coaches will go on about what they can offer to the client without asking enough questions, and so the coaching, good as it may be, doesn’t land in the client’s system in a useful and helpful way.

You can start building credibility with your clients from your first conversation by asking the kind of questions that let you get their world. We all hold a ‘map of reality’ and each map is unique. Listen for your client’s belief system and the meaning they make of their world. When you think you understand a piece of it, check with them, summarize what they said and ask if you got it right. If not ask again till you truly get their world. Once you are fairly certain you understand, you may offer a piece of coaching that fits their map of reality. Make sure to check if it landed with them. At the beginning your questions to coaching ratio can be 70%/30% respectively.

Once you demonstrated to your client that you get their world, they will trust you to lead them to where they want to go.

In addition, the way I got experience is by doing as many sessions as possible. I offered sessions and circles to people in my world for low coast until I got confident enough to raise my prices. In the process, I’ve learned 2 things –

First- Not to offer free service. When something is free people don’t value it. You’d think people will jump on the opportunity to get free coaching but I used to run EFT, Non-Violent-Communications and Meditation circles in SF as service to the community, and I consistently had 2-3 people show up, which was bad for morale and my confidence. Once I started charging $20 a circle people began to show up and my practice grew. The psychology behind it is that if something is so valuable, how can it be free? We need ’skin in the game’ to show up, even for ourselves and financial fee is an important part of that.

The second thing I’ve learned is not to coach family members, partners and close friends. Who we need to be for our client is a mixture of cheer-leader, tough lover and compassionate truth-teller, or at least that’s how I see my role. It doesn’t work with people who are close to us because we have our own dynamic with them and also, their Ecology may start to push us away and it’s not worth it.

And remember, even as a beginner, you are always at least a couple steps ahead of someone, so look behind you and reach out your hand to those who are straggling back them and pull them along. It’s the most rewarding work I’ve done.

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