American, Christi Byerly is a nomad who has lived in many parts of the world. America, Europe, Africa, she has digitally coached people from all over, not hesitating to go and sit in the fields in the most remote regions. This professional coach is ICF PCC certified, among many other prestigious diplomas, and is currently working towards obtaining the ICF Master Certified Coach certification level. Married and the mother of three children, Christi embraced a career in corporate communication for an international energy company before turning to coaching. For more than ten years, her experience allowed her to climb the ladder, lead an international team, and move to France, where her life took a radical turn. Coaching since 2009, having started an online coaching training course in Kenya, her approach remains focused on aligning the individual’s behaviour with their values and beliefs. Her positive regard helps her clients find the resources they need to contribute to a better world, in line with their beliefs. In 2020, Christi founded her own coaching school, Awaken Coach Institute, to train those who wish to become loving and courageous coaches.
CoachHub: Why and how did you become a coach?
Christi Byerly: I discovered coaching and its benefits through a friend who was training to be a coach. At that time, I was living through a difficult situation. I felt exhausted, not very valued despite the long hours I was working, and not very satisfied though my career was full of success. My friend’s coaching helped me so much, and I started to aspire to become a coach myself. So I started an online training course in September 2009 while I was in Kenya. Sometimes I had to go and sit in a field to get a good internet connection to attend my classes. Initially, I was thinking of becoming a professional coach with a clear “business” and “results” orientation. I wanted to help women progress in their careers, learn new negotiation or communication techniques and achieve their professional goals. Then, following a personal event that brought me great inner peace, my vision of the world and of success began to change. I wanted to be able to listen to people with a lot of love and depth. For me, success was no longer focused solely on career but on aligning the individual with their beliefs, values, behaviour and purpose so that they could live out of the true self. When my coachees find their identity, they are able to reach the heights in their personal and professional life, in a natural way that aligns with their convictions. In my ten years as a professional coach, I have had more than 2000 coaching conversations with over 300 people, and my clients continue to surprise and delight me. I am launching my own coach training school in June, the Awaken Coach Institute, where my students will learn more about coaching, coaching techniques, and how to change the lives of their clients by seeing them with powerful acceptance.
CoachHub: Can you tell us more about your coaching school?
Christi Byerly: During my career as a coach, I have been regularly asked to create coach training programs or to mentor freshly graduated coaches myself. So it seemed natural for me to start my own program and that’s how Awaken Coach Institute was born. I called it Awaken because I want everyone to experience the awakening that I myself have experienced as a coach. My desire is to enable these beginner coaches to have a rigorous and structured approach to coaching and its principles, while allowing them to accompany their clients with more kindness and compassion. Courses, exercises, videos, I use many different resources to accompany my students on their journey. A mini-training session is available free to give a taste of the program to anyone interested. With Awaken Coach Institute, I wish to go beyond what many coaching schools offer today. I hope that more and more people will awaken to themselves and build a world where compassion and empathy are the norm.
CoachHub: What is your approach with your clients during a coaching session? Do you have a favorite tool?
Christi Byerly: When a client starts a session with me, I pay a lot of attention to his or her behaviour, emotions, beliefs, posture. It is important to be able to understand what the coachee wants to get from coaching. Then I know where to go in the conversation to obtain the desired behavioural change, as naturally and sustainably as possible. Listening deeply to my client, sympathetically and non-judgmentally, is essential to grasping his or her vision of the world. To be a good coach, you need to be a loving, creative, listening coach but also tell the truth that was observed during the session. This phase of observation and understanding is very important. I love to use Robert Dilts’ six neurological levels coaching model when my clients are ready to go deeper into their coaching. This tool allows me to deconstruct the limiting beliefs that my clients think they have about themselves and that prevent them from achieving their ambitions. If someone is convinced that they are incapable, it will be more difficult to achieve their goals than when they know they can do anything. It is these beliefs, which are sometimes very old or ingrained for too long, that must be successfully changed. I also like to guide my clients towards a search for their true identity so that they can align their behaviour with their beliefs. When there is true internal alignment, there is an incredible sense of peace and power that I can see, hear and feel in my coachees. I also ask my coachees to look at themselves with compassion regardless of their situation, following Kristin Neff’s method.
CoachHub: How can coaching help you overcome your blockages?
Christi Byerly: Coaching helps you to know clearly what you want for the future while at the same time managing to find your true identity. A blockage is always located within oneself, often linked to messages of fear or shame. It is important to go deep into oneself, to get to know oneself, to discover the messages of the critic that lies within us, to accept them in order to be able to overcome them and make one’s outer world a reflection of one’s inner world. The coach is a companion who accompanies exploration of the self, and opens the field of opportunities. Coachees can take responsibility and make the best choices for themselves in accordance with their identity and by turning fully towards the future. The coach will also accompany the coachee in the decision-making process, deepening the client’s desire to achieve their goal. In my personal experience, the client is usually not even aware of what is possible. In the beginning, the client sets achievable goals for success that seem insurmountable. By the end of the coaching, they may be such a different person capable of reaching the highest peaks that they even wonder who set the initial goals. The best questions to ask oneself during a coaching session are: “What do I really want? What makes it so important to me? By imagining that I achieve what I want, what will be the benefits for me, my career and the world? What stands between me and where I want to be? How does this desire fit with my goal? Who am I?”. When the answers are found, the blockages disappear.
CoachHub: What types of profiles do you coach?
Christi Byerly: In my coaching business, I tend to attract mainly ambitious and courageous women in their 30s and 40s. They often still have a certain inner insecurity and feel that they have to fight perhaps too hard to succeed. These women are learning to drop their armour and live their lives in a bolder and more true-to-life way. I had the privilege of studying with Brené Brown’s organization in 2015-2016, so many of the concepts of empathy and compassion, trust and vulnerability, and courage have been fully integrated into my work. I really enjoy working on women’s leadership. It’s an exciting subject that attracts me because I’ve had these same thoughts during my career as head of corporate communications. My dream client would be Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I admire her strength and courage. I also coach men who are often willing to go into deep inner work to regain their identity and manage their emotions. I enjoy working with very creative people who are willing to move their bodies, play, keep a journal and adopt all sorts of original practices that will change their current restrictive paradigms and move them to a place of love, courage and power.
CoachHub: What do you think makes a good manager?
Christi Byerly: In my opinion, it always comes back to the inner alignment. When one is aligned with one’s beliefs, it becomes natural to manage with compassion and caring. Good managers know themselves in depth so that they can act according to their beliefs and goals and keep promises. They must also be able to accept feedback, to step back and improve themselves. A good manager is also a person who is ready to listen to the other without judgment, to see and bring out the best in the other, and to understand the other. A bit like a good coach. They must be observant and open to the other person and to discussion. When you know your team well, you know how to make the best decisions together, even the most difficult ones. Indeed, firing someone who is not in the right place, or transferring them to another position more suited to their personality and aspirations, takes on its full meaning when you really care about your team, its members and their well-being.
CoachHub: Why did you apply to CoachHub?
Christi Byerly: I like the start-up spirit, the energy that comes out of it and the creativity of the people who work at CoachHub. I met Sara-Lynn, Coach Relation Manager for CoachHub, at a coaching conference in Prague and I immediately loved her energy. She is my point of contact at CoachHub and does everything in her power to ensure that I receive truly fascinating clients every week. What’s interesting about CoachHub is that I can fully focus on coaching my clients. I don’t have to deal with marketing, which allows me to focus on coaching my clients and launching my coaching school. CoachHub also has very rigorous selection criteria regarding the recruitment of their coaches. This allows them to have an exceptional and qualified community of coaches with whom to exchange. Also, CoachHub offers their employees the opportunity to follow a coaching program, which I find particularly enriching. For coaches, why not apply? You could listen to interesting people that you would not otherwise have met!
CoachHub: What do you think of digital coaching?
Christi Byerly: I started my coaching training online, so it’s natural for me to coach at a distance! I’ve been coaching online for more than ten years and it has never stopped me from creating a powerful and caring connection with my clients. On the contrary! I like to use the full screen to capture the nuances of my coachee’s facial expression, emotion and movement. There are many exercises that can be done at a distance as well. I often ask my clients to stand up, move, literally shake, sit in different chairs or stay very active during the conversation, just as if we were face to face. Also, with remote coaching, I never cough on anyone!
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