Coach Interview Series: Catherine Wood

by Brandon

Catherine Wood

Professional Certified 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 Catherine Wood. Catherine is a Professional Certified Coach and the founder of Unbounded Potential based in Washington, D.C.

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

Catherine: I am a Professional Certified Coach credentialed through the International Coach Federation. I’m specifically trained as an ontological and a facilitative coach. The ontological approach to coaching lets me dig deep with clients and look at the mindsets and the limiting beliefs that are sabotaging our thoughts and holding us back from being and doing what it would take to achieve our goal. The facilitative side of things helps clients with the accountability to take sufficient the action that it takes in order to reach their outcome.

In my experience, combining both the mindset work with the facilitative approach provides more transformative results. I’m not necessarily looking at having my clients just achieve their goals. I’m really looking at working with them so that they can have a distinct experience of their life and then consequently, a distinct experience of all the goals that they achieve. The clients who work with me often create much more life-changing results. A long-lasting impact of our work is that they shift who they’re being in all areas of their lives.

I work with a lot of women business owners and women in leadership. We talk a lot about imposter syndrome and how to show up more confidently in leadership roles as well as in business owner’s roles as their own boss. We talk about how to stand for what they’re worth, increase their prices, honor their own time, and put the systems and the boundaries in place that will have them thrive.

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

Catherine: The most rewarding aspect of my work is when clients tell me when we complete our work together that they are happier in life. For me that’s extremely rewarding because I am very much a high performer and a lot of my clients are, as well. One thing I noticed about high performers is that we oftentimes need to constantly be achieving and accomplishing goals in order to prove ourselves and feel good about ourselves for getting something done or achieving a goal.

The challenge of that mindset is that it’s a never-ending feedback loop. Because if you need to be achieving something in order to feel good about yourself, then you’ll constantly have to be achieving. I work with my clients on having them gain access to happiness outside of external validation or accomplishment. When I hear that they feel happier, then I know that the work is working and they’re shifting the places where they get validation and their sense of worth from. I just love that. It makes me so happy.

One of the challenging aspects of my work is that coaching doesn’t work if you don’t. A lot of people have an intellectual understanding of how they’re getting in their own way or how they’re sabotaging the results or what they want, but there’s a fundamental difference between understanding and being willing to do something about it. It’s challenging and heartbreaking for me when I see clients talk themselves out of changing their life or be unwilling to do the work to create the outcome that they want.

To be honest, it’s why I have a love-hate relationship with the self-help industry . Insight without action won’t create a new result. We’re learning how we’re getting in our own way and understanding better how we’re sabotaging ourselves and yet, we’re not willing to take on the practices or do the recommended exercises in the book. It can bring us right back to where we started and it can create a greater sense of resignation around how we are and less possibility that change is available to us. That’s hard to watch.

I work with my clients on having them gain access to happiness outside of external validation or accomplishment. When I hear that they feel happier, then I know that the work is working and they’re shifting the places where they get validation and their sense of worth from. I just love that. It makes me so happy.

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

Catherine: I have been a coach for 6 years now. I’m going into my 7th year in the practice. I have had my own coach consistently throughout that whole time who I work with weekly. I’ve worked with three different coaches over that time frame. Each of them has been really foundational to my own transformation as a human and my own effectiveness as a coach.

Someone who I would consider a mentor — and to be honest, if I would ask her she might relate to me as the same — is a friend of mine who has really established herself in her career. We have some overlapping work and there have been times in our relationship where I’ve tried to pass referrals off to her or send business her way when I didn’t think I was ready for it or capable to take on the contract. And she has passed it back to me and told me, “You totally got this. You are absolutely prepared for this.”

Sometimes others believe in us before we believe in ourselves. I am no stranger to that notion. Her belief in me, on multiple occasions before I was ready or believed in myself, has made a lasting impact on how I view new opportunities for myself and what opportunities I slam the door on versus which ones I stay open to how I could make this a yes for me. “What are the components that I would need to have in place in order for this to be a ‘hell yes’ opportunity?”

NCA: One of the most common challenges new coaches face is self-doubt. Some coaches call it Imposter Syndrome, where early on they feel somehow inadequate to take on the role of coach. What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stage of their coaching career and dealing with these doubts in their mind?

Catherine: I am a huge believer that just as a therapist needs their own therapist, a coach needs their own coach. We often will not see in other people what we are unwilling to see in ourselves.

One piece of advice: if you notice yourself getting constantly blocked by the same conversation or constantly stuck in a certain area, then you likely have some work to do on your own or with your coach or a trusted colleague.

Another piece is having a community. I think that as coaches, we can be very isolated because we often work remotely over the phone or over video and we’re sometimes talking to people nonstop throughout the week. We’re constantly being of service to other people. We as coaches need community, as well. Really look into creating that community for yourself to get supported and to get seen and to get witnessed just like the gifts we provide for our clients all the time.

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