Continuing to grow and evolve

“Working with learners over the years has really humbled me,” says John King, a Student Success Coach with InsideTrack for more than 15 years. “They've allowed me to come into their lives. They share and collaborate on their goals, intentions, and dreams. It's made me realize that all of us are the same — we all share a goal of trying to advance ourselves in our lives for our families.”

To that end, John sees coaching as something requiring constant practice — much like his yoga. He’s always working to find balance, discovering new areas to develop and continuing to find inspiration in what’s possible. “There’s always something new to learn in coaching,” he says. And he’s inspired to this day by one of the first learners he ever coached.

That person was a teenage mom. She was living in Michigan’s upper peninsula with two children from a previous relationship and a husband with three children. All five kids were under the age of six. John remembers vividly how regardless of all the other demands going on in her life — and there were a lot of demands — she was determined to get an associate’s degree, then move on to Marquette University (spoiler alert: she did!). “The fact that she was someone who could really want something, set a goal and be disciplined enough to achieve it was really inspiring. But her vulnerability to work with me and to share her goals, her intentions and her obstacles made such an impact on me as a coach. Working with her through all of that and seeing her succeed, it stays with me to this day.”

What John loves most about coaching is the fact that every day, he gets to come to work and talk to people and be part of their lives. He describes it as “incredible” to be able to jump into somebody's life and gain their trust. “There are lots of really, really terrific smart people out there, and I learn just as much from them as I hope I'm sharing with them.” 

“Coaching creates awareness around a situation, an idea, a thought or an opportunity that hasn't yet been explored. Many people approach a challenge with a black-and-white, yes-or-no, either-or mindset, and coaching creates awareness around other possibilities.”

One of the things that has fueled John’s career at InsideTrack is the opportunity to continually develop his coaching abilities. “The better I get at coaching, the more excited I get about talking to people — meeting them where they're at and helping them move forward in their education and their career.” Honing his communication skills drives him to learn more and practice more. “It's been a huge evolution in my time with InsideTrack, but it's one of the things that makes me want to come to work every day.”

Becoming a better coach has influenced John’s communication outside of work as well. He loves to read and write poetry, he enjoys playing the guitar, and he’s a real fan of folk and blues music. Before coaching at InsideTrack he taught English and writing courses at a community college, yet he still credits coaching with bringing him to a place where he is a much better communicator. John acknowledges that some of his interests play a part in informing his coaching. When he thinks about yoga, for example, and his love for poetry and music, “They're all meditative in a way, because they're all about communication and channeling a dance, so to speak.”

John shared more about the evolution of his development as a coach. “About two years into my time as a coach, I found a lot of confidence in the science part of it, the frame, the linear part of it. Then I became confident in being transparent and being a really good active listener.” As a result, he found that he was no longer married to the outcome. Instead, he was fully committed to the process of listening and letting someone be heard. 

“Having a purpose and a frame is important for the structure, yes, but being a really good listener is the most important skill you can have. My goal is to be there to let learners be heard in a non-judgmental way.”

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