Interview with Mary Shindler, co-founder and Chief Storytelling Officer of Coaching for Social Change
My guest today is Mary Shindler, Co-Founder of Coaching for Social Change. Welcome to OpEdNews, Mary.
JB: You've been working hard to bring about the Thriving Changemaker Summit. What can you tell us about it?
MS: The Thriving Changemaker Summit is a four-day transformational leadership training to give tools and skills to bring clarity, focus, and greater fulfillment to our lives and work for social change. 60 leaders from across the country will be attending the Summit in Washington DC this November. This is the third time we've led the Summit, and the first time it will be in DC.
JB: Give us some examples of the kinds of things that will be going on during this summit, please. I like the idea but need some specifics to get a handle on this.
MS: Each training is a little different! We look at how to see clearly our dreams and goals for our lives, and how to move past our familiar "stopping points", and do what's most important to us. The four days are filled with activities and teachings - and some very practical tools for creating successful change with ease. Folks leave the Summit with greater clarity, tools to take action on their goals, and feeling a sense of meaning in the contribution they most want to make to the world.
JB: I like it. How did you get started with this? Where did the impetus for having a Summit come from, Mary?
MS: In college, I helped to organize young people around climate change and environmental issues on my campus. I experienced a lot of "burnout" and exhaustion. It wasn't very fun. There was one particular moment in Copenhagen, Denmark - where I was organizing a group of 18 young people to attend the United Nations climate negotiations in 2009 - that it really hit me. If I'm "burning out" as an organizer, then there are likely a lot of other people "burning out" as well. And, this isn't how we are going to create the kind of change we want to see. So, I started looking for other kinds of support - and found coaching. Since then, I've been working with a team of six of activists-turned-coaches to put on the Summit.
JB: Yes, burnout is definitely an issue with continual activism. It's really challenging to stay "up" indefinitely. What is coaching exactly and how did you become a coach? Is there some kind of professional training or are you winging it?
MS: I really appreciate that question! The International Coach Federation defines coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential." We all attended the Academy for Coaching Excellence in Sacramento, California - a rigorous, year-long coach training program certified by the International Coaches Federation (ICF). The course leaders are Maria Nemeth and Zo Tobi. Maria is a Master Certified Coach (MCC), has a PhD in psychology, and has been leading this course for over 40 years all over the world. Zo is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC). So, the participants are in good hands!
JB: Good to know. Who has come to the Summit over the years? Once an activist attends one Summit, is that enough to last a lifetime? Or do you have some who come annually to refresh and reinvigorate themselves?
MS: Lot of different folks have attended the Summit. All ages. On our website, there's a list of all the organizations and companies whose employees have attended the Summit. Some people take the tools and just run with them. And, a lot of people keep coming back to refresh and review. It's really great to be in that kind of supportive community - which is why I've stayed involved. I mean, if there were a community of folks who supported you 100% to go for your biggest goals and dreams, wouldn't you want to continue to stay involved?
JB: Yes, indeed. I went to your website but I wasn't really familiar with any of the groups participating or sponsoring. Superficially, it looks like a generally progressive group. Can you give me an idea of the range of issues or organizations participating? For instance, everyone isn't working on climate change, are they? And I'm assuming that right-wingers wouldn't be flocking to your Summit or your site.