Below is an interview with AceUp Coach Paul Tripp. Paul has been a coach for almost 5 years and has been coaching with AceUp since 2018. He brings a breadth of experience to our coach community and has some excellent experience and insights to share with both new and tenured coaches.

AceUp: What led you to start coaching?

Paul: The first time I really got curious about coaching was a day in my late 40s when I was sitting in a big, luxurious conference room, with my nice fancy title, working on a strategic plan that had statewide impact, and I was bored out of my mind. My thoughts kept wandering to why this leadership team, all of whom had Executive Coaches, couldn’t pull the trigger on decisions. I found our collective inability to  pull the trigger mesmerizing. 

Paul Tripp 1 LinkedIn

All these senior people in a room cogitating on the same ideas they had shared six months ago while the operational needle of progress hadn’t moved. I wondered what in the hell their coach was doing for them, and if I were to become a coach what organizational change could I affect? A few years later, when I was in a different C-Suite position with the same non-trigger pulling circumstances, I was invited to a “coaching weekend” through iPEC, and the following Monday I went in and gave my notice and have never looked back since.

When you were a new coach starting out, what was the hardest part? How did you overcome this?

After graduating from my coaching program, it took me a while to give myself permission to relax back into my intuitive listening skills. I remember being so focused on trying to get the verbiage, process, and cadence of my initial calls correct that I forgot about how to relax into listening to my own intuitive voice to help guide the call. Intuitive listening is a skill set I acquired as a Cryptologic Warfare Officer, and it just took me a while to put this skill set back into motion within my coaching practice. The way I remember overcoming it was to actively give myself permission before each call, and before long, I was swimming again.

What are your favorite parts of being a coach?

My favorite part of being a coach is when my clients experience a breakthrough moment. I derive a tremendous amount of pleasure when the bolt of lightning hits my clients – seemingly out of the blue – and they have a breakthrough that causes them to WANT to change. In these moments, I can hear my clients move from curiosity to willingness – and suddenly – nothing is going to stop them from achieving what it is they realize. That is pure gold.

How long have you been an AceUp Coach?

I have been working with AceUp as a coach for about 15 months. The important part about my relationship with AceUp is that I believe in the integrity and honesty of the leadership team. In every single encounter, they have displayed consistency within their messaging, their positional growth and their viewpoints on strategic vision. Will has built an organization with a solid group of people who also happen to be wicked smart, forward-leaning, and talented.

What do you think has changed about coaching during your tenure as a coach?

I no longer hear the story that the client is telling me. Instead, I hear how they are associating with the story and begin to wonder what it is they aren’t saying, or what it is they might not see about their association. My job isn’t to help them fix their story. My job is to shine a light around the dark corner they either didn’t see or chose not to see, so they can become more conscious of their part in whatever story they are telling themselves.

As a seasoned coach, what is most challenging for you? How do you work to overcome these challenges?

The most challenging thing for me is the tenacity of the human spirit. I am lucky enough to listen to people describe circumstances in which they often repeat the same patterns of behavior in different contexts of their lives. Just when a client gains a conscious awareness of a pattern of behavior in one area that they want to change – for example, their professional life – it can sometimes become active in their personal life. The patterns of behavior that we have learned to survive – and they are different for everyone – are so tied to the tenacity of the human spirit and our will to protect ourselves that it sometimes takes my breath away.

My truth is that I don’t have any ability to take this away for the client. All I can do is help them talk through the pattern, so the next time they run headfirst, they do so with a bit more conscious awareness and some light to help them see a way through it.

What occupational self-care do you recommend coaches do?

My occupational self-care involves mountain bike riding in the summer and skiing in the winter. There are days I get on my bike or my skis and go out in total silence, and then there are days I listen to Ted Talks or other Podcasts to stimulate my mind. Giving myself permission to unplug is my form of self-care and keeps me at the top of my game.

What would you recommend to new coaches starting out

Get a coach. Just like our clients, it’s impossible for any of us to have all of the answers as to how our coaching practices will move forward. The only way I have experienced success is by being kind to myself. As a retired Naval Officer, this didn’t come naturally, as I wanted to plan and achieve and then measure my success and then do it all over again. My own coach helped me realize that what I yearned for was personal kindness, and when I put that into practice, my entire outlook changed.