Coach Interview Series: Mike Duralia

by Brandon

Mike Duralia

Life Coach, Magic Stone Teaching

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 Mike Duralia. Mike is a Life Coach and Owner of Magic Stone Teaching based in Rock Hill, SC.

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

Mike: I primarily work with people either trying to get a little bit better organized, they might have some financial things that they need some help getting past or folks that are stuck in a career or relationship and are trying to figure out what the next step should be.

NCA: Can you talk a little bit about how you initially got interested in coaching and what led you to choose this career?

Mike: Coaching has been something that I have done my entire life whether or not I had the official title. I was always the person in school that others came to for help and I just have a knack, I guess, for being able to take complex information and put it into very simple terms that anyone can understand. It was just a natural fit for me as who I am and what I’ve done all my life.

NCA: What is your educational background and did you have to get any certification or training to become a coach?

Mike: I have an undergraduate degree in Electronic Engineering and a Master’s degree in Business. Then I went through a certification program through the Certified Coaches Federation. You don’t necessarily have to have a certification, but I personally chose to go through some kind of a formal process to see what other people were doing and how they recommend that you start things up. I use some of the things that they suggested and other things I do a little differently, but that structure helped me get started.

If you have a client and things don’t work out, that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not doing the right thing as a coach. It just may not be a good fit.

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

Mike: The most rewarding thing is seeing the light bulb come on for somebody or have someone who was at a fork in the road or not even able to figure out where they were on the map get their location and know where they want to go next and have the confidence to do it.

The frustrating part is that a lot of times, people will have a few sessions, they’re headed in the right direction, and then they don’t check back in. That’s not to say that I need to talk to them every week, but I will go long periods of time without hearing from someone and then all of a sudden I hear from them again and when I find out what’s happening with them, I think to myself, “Man, if we would have talked about this 6 months ago instead of now, we might have made some different decisions back there that might have helped them have a better outcome.”

NCA: Picking up on that a little bit, why do you think there is a drop-off sometimes? Why do clients fall off, in your opinion?

Mike: I think some of it is time. It’s a fairly big thing going on in our society: we are always engaged with a screen somewhere. There’s often not a lot of time to just be with your own thoughts, think about things, planning, doing a lot of the things that a coach would try and help you bring forward. Our attention is always so gobbled up by what we’re doing on our screens and all the apps that are on our phones, etc.

I think the other piece of it is there are times where you think you’ve got it and you don’t yet. They tell you, “Everything you told me was very helpful and now I think I’ve got it all and I can handle it.” And sometimes that’s the case. Other times, it’s not. The guilt and/or shame of having to come back and say, “You know what, I thought I had this and I didn’t and I need to talk to you some more” is very difficult. Saying, “I need help” are three extremely powerful and extremely difficult words to say.

One of the things to keep in mind is if you have a client and things don’t work out, that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not doing the right thing as a coach. It just may not be a good fit. And that’s okay because it’s more important for that person to get the help they need and to turn their life in the direction they want to go than for you to be able to put a checkbox on your sheet that says you were the one that got them there.

Clients need to be aware of that, as well and be able to say “Hey, I’ve been talking to this person for 6 months and I don’t feel like I’ve made very much progress from where I was 6 months ago.” There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I appreciate everything you’ve tried to do but I need to try something different.”

NCA: Can you talk a little bit about a mentor that you’ve had in your coaching career and how did this mentor help you thrive in your coaching practice today?

Mike: I don’t know that I have one particular mentor. My style has always been to carve out my own path and to approach things in the way that I feel is best. If the matches occur then they do and if they don’t, they don’t. That’s all okay with me because it’s more important for me to be true to who I am than to try to change myself just to meet someone else’s expectations.

However, what I have done is pick up specific traits, actions, and approaches from a variety of different people. A virtual mentor would be a good way to describe that. I’ve taken all of these capabilities, approaches, and personalities of these folks to refer to as well. So I might think “In this particular situation, I thought this or that person always handled that kind of stuff the best. How would they handle this situation?”

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would offer to somebody who is just starting out in their coaching career to help them get started on the right path?

Mike: Figure out where your talents and abilities are around coaching and focus your energy there. It’s very difficult to be a one-size-fits-all. You almost have to specialize in some areas.

Understand the areas where you have the capabilities and strengths and focus your energy on developing your message there. Focus on how you communicate with folks there and then be willing to tell a client, “Look, what you’re asking for is not the right fit for me but here is somebody I know who would be a better fit to help you with that.”

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