Book tasting: “A More Beautiful Question” Warren Berger

Sep 12, 17 Book tasting: “A More Beautiful Question” Warren Berger

Posted by in Books, Business, Thoughts/Ideas

After quite a long break of writing in English  on the blog, I’m back (you can find a lot of articles on the Romanian page – I’ll translate the most interesting ones and share them here too). This is the first article in a new series called “Book tasting” – where I will write, but also share short video clips, on the books I love and think might inspire you. As a coach, my mission is to ask, not to tell. Through questions and supported by a safe environment, deep listening and honest mirroring, the client finds their own path. Every time. But I haven’t always been so fond of questions, nor have I valued them as much as I do now. Or, better said, for a very long time, I thought my life was about “figuring it out”,  coming up with the right answer, and was convinced that my level of happiness would be proportional to the level of certainty I’d be able to reach. In the first years of life, children can ask between 150 and 300 questions per day. As a mother of a very verbal two year old, I can testify for that. In my conversations with my daughter, I sometimes count strings of 20 questions in a row. Sometimes she has trouble falling asleep at night because a new question comes to her mind. And then another one, and another one. I have memories of my own early childhood asking countless questions. I was about four when I spent a week’s vacation with my grandmother and aunt in a small thermal resort in the western part of Romania. I remember making the rounds among the other guests at the hotel where we were staying and asking them where they came from, what kind of work did they do, did they have any children and, if yes, how old their kids were. I remember my interrogations being met with smiles and people complimenting my grandmother on my loquaciousness. Then a...

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Mind Learners Coaching School

Jan 08, 15 Mind Learners Coaching School

Posted by in Mind Learners

UPDATE AUG 2017: I wrote this post two and a half years ago. They passed by in a flash. This autumn – Sept 2017 – the fifth group of Mind Learners coaches is starting their learning journey. This project has been a fabulous experience, by far the most meaningful one I have done so far. Friendships have been built, projects have been freely created by participants and implemented into their companies, the school has been ICF accredited and groups fill up on average six months prior to the start of the program. I have met some amazing people in this program and, as I get the chance to work with new groups, I feel ever more confident that the world is filled with brave people, people who are searching, finding, defining meaning into their lives, who are brave enough to do something worthwhile beyond themselves, for others, who have faith that the world can be made to be a better place and who are not afraid to pull up their sleeves and bring their own contribution to that brighter future. The journey continues. And here’s how it started: January 2015 In eight years of training, six of coaching and especially in the four years since I created  Mind Learners, I came to believe that nobody is too small to change the world. Because the world is changing one person at a time. I understood that each person who transforms can in turn touch the lives of countless others and I had the privilege to be witness of such transformations many times. This year I decided to bring together all I have ever learnt about human development and to create a framework where people who feel have a contribution to make, a mission to better the lives of those around them, to receive the confidence and know-how to further their calling. The mission of Mind Learners Transformational Coaching Program is to prepare exceptional coaches, who will become capable of facilitating profound transformation for the organisations they...

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“Must”, “It’s Impossible”, “I’ll try” and other Tyrants

Lately I have been working a lot with young people. Students. Members in NGOs or student organisations. Some on their first job. Other interns in different companies. Beautiful, curious, intelligent, ambitious, willing to learn. Every time my workshops are an invitation to introspection. We talk about authenticity, emotions, personal values, mission in life. It’s a difficult exercise even for people more experienced, let alone for 19-20 year olds who are just starting in their life journey. I’m always happy to see how bravely the throw themselves into these inner conversations despite their youth, or maybe because of it. Then I feel their confusion and even fear when the answers they give themselves to the question “Who am I” don’t match what they have been taught to believe is “normal”, “good”, “compulsory”, “possible”.  “There is no job where I can be completely happy, I need to compromise if I want to be successful”. “I will be happy when I get really high up on the corporate ladder and for that I need to work hard on the things I’m good at, not necessarily on what I like”. “Money comes first on my list of values, but that’s only normal at 21; now I have to find the highest paying job possible so I can raise enough money to have my own business by the time I turn 25”. “You can’t do only what you dream in life”. “I can’t see myself doing the job I studied for, but I have to carry on because I’m to scared to try something else”. “My parents told me that life is not easy and I need to fight and make sacrifices if I want to succeed”. “I was told that these are my talents and this is the most appropriate career for me, the one that will make me successful”.  These are all statements I heard over time from young people that I worked with. And not seldom did I leave these workshops with a nagging question: When exactly...

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Coaching, More Than a Fad

I talk about coaching almost daily- in leadership workshops, in one on one sessions, in meetings with students, in NGOs, in corporations, in casual coffee talks. Coaching has long ago crossed the border of my professional life and is filling up my existence in surprising ways. I sometimes get calls from my closest friends telling me: “Alis, I have a problem, I don’t want your advice, I need coaching”. Other times I find myself coaching Viorel, or he coaching me and, contrary to what the “norm” says (to avoid coaching your life partner) we, as a couple, have grown immensely from such earnest and non-judgemental conversations. They helped us become, separately and together, wiser and more self-aware. My relationship with coaching started over six years ago in bitter disappointment. I was keen to better understand what this fuss about coaching was all about, so I enrolled in a course – one of the few available on the Romanian market at that time. I got a lot of materials to read, I attended a few days’ workshop, where I listened trainers talking about techniques, types of questions, models, standards, ethics, process – concepts which I largely found cold and sterile. They talked more about ways to make money from coaching than about what coaching really was or how one could become a great coach. I was already working as a professional corporate trainer, I loved my job, I had no motivation to learn coaching just to make more money. I was keen to learn because I had an intuition that it might help me to reach people’s hearts and make a difference through my work. I left that course with a bitter taste, but also with a feeling that there was more to coaching than I had been shown thus far – I just needed to get that information from somewhere or someone else. Then, one year later, I met Sir John Whitmore. The man is a legend. Many consider him one of the founding fathers of...

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The Heroes You Won’t See in the News

Aug 24, 14 The Heroes You Won’t See in the News

Posted by in Leadership

I have just come back from Tărlungeni, a village near Brașov, which, until a couple of months ago, I had never heard about but which now has a very special place in my heart. For more than 5 weeks it has been hosting the largest camp for leadership in education ever organised in Romania – Teach for Romania’s Leadership Summer Academy – they are part of the international network Teach for All. 21 young teachers; over 50 volunteer trainers who worked with them; more than 600 hours of classroom teaching delivered to over 200 students who volunteered to come to school in the middle of summer holiday; over 12 hours of teaching, learning, mentoring, feedback and reflection every day for each teacher, over 6 weeks. The team from Teach for Romania, who worked day and night to make all of this possible, has a mere 11 members. These 21 teachers (primary and secondary school) are getting ready to go and teach, starting September, in disadvantaged schools all over the country. The NGO Teach for Romania will offer them support (including financial) to allow them to go off on the biggest adventure of their lives – changing the destinies of children whom nobody today is giving any changes. They will teach Rroma children, children whose parents are working abroad and who are being raised by relatives, poor children whose families can barely afford keeping them in school. They will teach in circumstances that are hard to imagine. And they are doing all of this because they believe that the education in Romania can and will change and that change starts in the classroom. I had two workshops with the teachers over the past two days. I laughed, I cried, my heart beat fast and my soul filled with joy and wonder at their unbelievable passion for “their kids”. “I dream of them at night” – one teacher was telling me, her eyes shining. Teach for Romania rigorously selected the best and brightest for this program, both professionally and character-wise. A...

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