Having just completed the Barefoot Coach Training Course for Business and Personal Coaching, it was a real privilege to speak to the founder of the organisation herself - Kim Morgan.
Kim is CEO of Barefoot Coaching, one of the most successful and fastest growing coaching and coach training businesses in the UK.
She was one of the UK’s first executive business and personal coaches and pioneered the development of university-approved coach education in the UK. Her lifetime contribution to the industry was recognised when she received Coaching at Work’s award of “Coach of the Year”.
Kim has over 25 years’ experience in the training and development of coaches. She holds a Masters in Coaching and Coaching Development and is a Visiting Research Fellow of the University of Chester and lifetime Fellow of the National Council of Psychotherapists. Kim is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.
In this podcast I get the opportunity to say thank you to Kim, and to reflect on the amazing experience I had on the course, the things I learned about myself, the new skills I've acquired, the new friends and colleagues I've met, and the journey I've been on since April.
I learned that I'm good enough, and if I can remain still, really amazing things can happen. Listening with every fibre of my body to the client that is with me.
The Barefoot organisation Kim has created now proudly boasts a community of more than 4500 Barefoot graduates.
I start by asking Kim what brings her to Barefoot today (one of my recently learned favourite questions). Listen to the podcast to hear her answer.
If you enjoy listening to this podcast why not check out some of the others in season 1 & 2. Or perhaps you fancy taking part yourself? If so why not get in touch. You can find me via LinkedIn or Twitter
All right, hang on a minute. Let me press the start button. Here we go. Welcome back to coach class with me, Dom Burch. This is the podcast where I get to speak to inspirational coaches and leaders from across the world. And oh my goodness, have I managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat this week because I have the one and only Kim Morgan. Now Kim is the CEO of Barefoot Coaching. Of course, if you've listened to any of my podcasts, you'll know, that is the course that I've been studying on. For the last four or five months now. Kim is one of the most successful and fastest growing coaching and coaching training businesses in the UK. She was one of the UK's first executive, business and personal coaches and has over 25 years experience. And Kim, I have to say is an absolute. I don't use the word lightly. It's an honour to have you on coach class this week. Thank you so much for joining me.Kim Morgan:
Oh, that's just so lovely. Thanks, Dom. It's an honour for me as well, because actually, I'm not just saying this. I listened to your podcast like I've listened to no others, not even Brene Brown's have had as much attention from me as yours. Because I I just loved being almost catapulted in back into a cohort, and hearing about people's learnings and challenges. And I in fact, I think I was very kind of obvious in saying to you, ooh Dom I really liked your podcasts on LinkedIn, hoping that you'd say, will you come and do one?Dom Burch:
I would have asked you regardless. Absolutely, I would. I just let's go back a little bit, then let's just set the scene. So you know, now here you are 25 years experience of coaching. And you'll have seen coaching, develop and change and be, you know, really moving towards this idea of being led by the coachee by the client rather than kind of advice giving and all that kind of stuff. But how did you end up getting into this world? What was your start point? And how did you you know, how are you arriving now into the Barefoot world?Kim Morgan:
Great question. I was always from a young child drawn to helping other people. I was always the kid in the playground who everyone I went to with their problems. So not surprisingly, I am trained to be a therapist when I was quite young, actually, I was really interested in therapy. I had posters on my wall of Freud rather than Marc Bolan or whoever it was at the time. And I was reading books on T.A. when I was a teenager, I don't quite know why that's a whole another therapy session. But when I was in my 20s, I signed up to do a course in humanistic person centred therapy. I left that feeling a little bit unsatisfied dissatisfied, because it was great. It taught me how to listen. And it taught me how to empathise. But I wanted a few more tools and techniques, I wanted a few more skills. And I then was working with families and women, particularly who were really disadvantaged in all sorts of ways. And I found that just that empathetic listening wasn't quite helping them in the way that I wanted to. So I thought I want something a bit grittier, I want something that's going to give me a bit more challenge and provocation and I then went and trained as a Freudian, psychodynamic psychotherapist, which was a mistake, I don't know if it was a mistake or not. It didn't give me what I wanted, either. You have to remember Dom it was a long time ago, it was probably 35 years ago, more than 35 years ago, when coaching hardly existed, and therapy was focused very much on what was wrong with people rather than what was right with people. It was also very much about diagnosing, and parent child kind of approach, and it really bothered me because I think what I came to realise about myself was that I'd always just been able to be alongside people in an adult to adult way, even the families that I was working with who were caught in those sorts of system, social services or police. I kind of helped them to believe that they had potential. So I did the whole Freud's training and walked away from it still thinking this is not what I need actually, this isn't what I want. Around that time, I started to look at NLP that was new and emerging and then what Other people doing work that was appealing to me for the first time looking at what was right with people and how to make it even more right for them. Robert Holden who was working a lot on happiness and various other things, brief solution focus therapy. So I did loads and loads and loads of other courses. And in the end, I found my own way of working with people, my own cocktail of working with people, my own principles, I guess, of working with people, and it works, it seems to work. So when I started to notice that coaching courses were happening in the States, mostly online, then I thought to myself, I've said this before, I actually can't believe it now. Because I feel like it was such it's such a arrogant kind of decision. But also I think I could do this because I you know, I've done all this kind of experiential study myself. And I'm going to put together all the different things that I think work to help people reappraise their lives, their self-image, their view of the world, their work their view of others. And I'm going to start a course.Dom Burch:
Wow. And boy, and boy, does it work, you know, and, you know, my reflections Kim, having gone through the course is, I think it is not very often in life where you, you seek something out, you know, and I stumbled into Barefoot via a previous colleague that had been through it, Jill, and she just popped up on LinkedIn. And it's one of those serendipitous moments last November when I was searching for something. And I'm just picking up on what you said, you know, when you were at that point, when you were looking for tools and techniques, I felt like I was I wanted a suitcase full of ideas. And I only had like the lapel pocket of I imagine sort of Del Boy with three sort of dodgy Rolex, Rolex watches, you know, I opened up my jacket, and that's all I had to play with. And I knew there was a suitcase of stuff that was out there. And then having gone through the course, it lived up to every expectation, I wanted to be with like minded people who had kind of a shared value set that want to help other people. I wanted to be stimulated, intellectually stimulated, having, you know, left uni 25 years ago, and not really studied that much since.Kim Morgan:
And I wanted to put some, I think a bit of rigour for my own well being, I wanted to know that when I was coaching and supporting people that I wasn't doing any harm, actually, I was doing as good as I could do. But the thing that I've really taken from it is, and I still have the post it note from one of the sessions is that I'm good enough. And actually, as long as I'm still, really powerful things will happen. And that was just such a learning for me going through the course, that ability just to be in the moment, to be still, and to listen with every fibre of your body to the other person. And notice, notice the changes and notice what's happening, and enquire and be curious. And those things have just been threaded through the last four or five months in a way that is just so powerful.Kim Morgan:
I'm resonating so much with so many of the things that you're saying. And the last thing that you said, you know, the last four or five months have been powerful, and you've been changed by them. I think this is what's at the heart of the programme for me. And that is that most of us don't learn these things in life, or at school or at uni, or at work. And actually what I've seen over all these years of teaching this course, and four and a half 1000 people now going through it, is that and you know, I've got a bigger dose of imposter syndrome as anyone else has. But actually four and a half 1000 people or maybe 4450 a few exceptions, just say it has changed the way I do everything. It changed the way I parent, it's changed the way I'm in a relationship with someone, it's changed the way I work, it's changed the way I value myself. And they're very simple principles. So my kind of mission is: let's let everybody know this, actually, because because they're not difficult to acquire. And they make a big difference. And actually Dom, yesterday and the day before I had to step in and, and teach a day on the course which I haven't done for years. And I referred back to Freud because of course there were things from Freud that I really loved. It was more the way of practising that I didn't appreciate but some of the concepts are really relevant to what we're talking about today. One of the things that Freud said was that human beings are the only animals who are ambivalent about their development, they longed to grow up, but they hated growing up in a way, and they sabotage them. And in their growing up, they develop limiting beliefs and survival habits and adaptive behaviours that weren't necessarily useful to them later in life. And he said, we're children for a long time. And I think what I noticed was that many people never examine those beliefs, or those behaviours, they tend to just go, Well, that's who I am. It's the way it is. And I'm really unhappy. But I've always been a perfectionist. And just teaching some of these really simple, simple, but incredibly powerful skills of listening, questioning, examining your life, it goes beyond giving you the opportunities to just be a self employed coach, or a coaching organisation, but it actually allows you to sort of reevaluate yourself on what matters to you. And that's, I think, what's most important to me, and I, I love, I love that four and a half 1000 people out there doing it for others. Sometimes I imagine multiplying all that all the people that Barefoot's trained, and all the people that they've coached and then all the people that they're in relationships with. And I know it sounds a bit like, I want to teach the world coach, but, but I still marvel at how many people don't know these things.Dom Burch:
And that impact that ripple effect of the people that have been touched and really, really embraced this sort of, I guess, the not just the theory, but really bought into what you've just described this idea that people aren't taught these things, and you have to relearn. I had to relearn how to listen, I had to relearn how to trust that the question I wanted to ask next would emerge rather than trying to find it. Because that was a distraction. I had to learn to be comfortable with silence actually, and with pause, and to trust the process. And what I've begun to realise, and we sort of, you know, we just josh about it a little bit on our on our group is, we've learned a whole new vocabulary that we've seen in action from Claire, one of our tutors or Liz, and actually we hear their voice, but it gives us the confidence to try it in the real world. And that was something I found just really powerful Kim going through the programme was, by encouraging us to have volunteer clients, as we were learning, we were able to take each sort of module if you like, or each new technique or tool that we practised on one another, we're able to take that into the real world. And I think the course gave us the confidence to actually give it a go rather than just leave it on the page.Kim Morgan:
Yeah, yeah, that's another great observation Dom. And that aspect of the course, is really from my training in adult learning and my sort of fascination for adult learning too. So that principle is very strongly embedded in adult learning. And that is that you do some learning, but because you're adults, you filter what you're being taught through your own experiences. And you're invited to make your own sense of it, given the life that you've lived and the knowledge that you already have. So it's not, you're not being told to do anything we're offering, offering to you, you might try to listen like this. And then not only do you do that in the practice in the classroom, but then the next component part is that you go away, you have a break from the learning, but you're going to the real world with the uninitiated, and you experiment. And you see, Does it still work here when I'm not in this rarefied environment of the of the course of my cohorts. And that said, that's a cycle as you know, three, three modules that continues building your acquisition of the theories, but then your own way of implementing them.Dom Burch:
And of course, you have had to experiment haven't you? Through the pandemic by moving away from what would have been quite an intense experience in a hotel with 15 people. And the benefit then of the coffee breaks and the drink in the evening and been able to read the room and be able to sort of feel the atmosphere to having to do that on Zoom. And of course, I only know what I know. But the Zoom experience was hugely powerful, high degrees of trust. built very, very quickly. Very, very high quality, peer to peer coaching, which actually, you know, in a positive way became a real drug, you know, we looked forward to being able to have a great 10/15 minute or half hour coaching session with a colleague. And then as we approach the end of the course, I think we were all a little bit jittery! It was like, we don't want to let go of this thing. It's been so magical, it's like, will I be able to survive without it, I mean, that sort of coming off the course, actually, I thought the way that that was handled was so elegant, because part of the last session was this really amazing opportunity to give all of your 14 other members of your team if you like, some feedback, and and the way I described it, Kim, was, when you've heard something 14 times from 14 different people who you really trust on a deep level, because you've coached one another and you've observed one another, and you've been very vulnerable with one another. When they tell you things that are positive, you can't hide from that feedback in a way that may be through life. You kind of go, I've heard that before, therefore, I'm going to devalue it. That experience was just, wow, it was one of those wow moments.Kim Morgan:
Yeah. Yeah, that's beautiful. Thank you, and you're completely on point with that Dom. Actually, that experience, multiplied by 14. Is, is kind of an it's the opposite of a microcosm. Coaching is a microcosm of that that's the one of the principles that underpins it too that, if you know, they are utterly going to tell you the truth, if you know that when they praise you, it's not an empty complement, they're not just doing it, because they're the coach, they're doing it because they have seen something in you that that deserves praise. If they behave with absolute integrity, and real care for you, then you will come to respect what they say. You will know that if they give you a compliment, it's true. And there's a lot of evidence to suggest that our self image, or our self perception is, is dependent upon the sort of reflected appraisals that we get from important people in our lives. We know that, don't we, we know that we've looked on the core set beliefs and how we develop beliefs in the first place. Sometimes useful ones and sometimes not so useful, but that it's exactly that it's people to whom we, you know, imbue a sense of they know what they're talking about. All of the things that happen on the course they're not by accident, there, because we know that that's how your beliefs about yourself change. We do them sort of warm heartedly, and authentically, but deliberately.Dom Burch:
absolutely. What does Kim look to next? Because you must look back was such a sense of pride, having built this amazing thing. And you said at the start, you know, you look back and you think, Oh gosh, was it arrogant to even say that I can do this, but you have done this. And you've created this amazing ecosystem. This amazing. tribe, if you like of people. What does the future look like? Because having adapted to this sort of hybrid way of working, and having seen that, that still has this powerful fundamental impact on people. How do you see it developing in the future Kim? What what's what's next? And and I don't necessarily mean in terms of your to do list, but just what are your hopes for the future?Kim Morgan:
Yeah, yeah. Another great question. So it sounds, it sounds probably a bit boring. But I just want to keep doing this Dom. There's one thing that I want to add to what we do, and that is, I want to start sort of Barefoot Foundation, because that's going back to my old voluntary sector roots, I think, we dabble a bit we do we do some things with pro bono. But actually, I want to make a bigger statement about that, and use these wonderful skills for even more good in the world for people who couldn't otherwise access them. And so that's my, that's my big plan. But beyond that, I don't think we're done yet teaching people coaching skills. So just more of it and bigger. And it can be now because you're absolutely right, the move from face to face in London hotel rooms or East Midlands hotel rooms to online was really scary, and I had no idea whether it was going to work or not. And to my astonishment, where I actually took on the first three groups who were caught kind of in the middle of the pandemic, who'd already done one or two modules, face to face, and they were really quite resistance to the idea of going online, but I persuaded them. And quickly, we all realised that it was exactly the same. Because I think the environment that coaching creates and remember that the coach training programme is a microcosm, if you like, of the coach, one to one coach training relationship, or the elements that exist within that: psychological safety, trust, empathy, unconditional positive regard, challenge, that co created relationship of two adults working together, honestly, and with fantastic intention towards one another with no pressure with just like, let's play with this, you know, let's see where we might go. That works anywhere, works on the phone, it works on Zoom, because it's about the attitudes and the heart to heart connection and the intention. So I just want to do more of it, and we can do more of it now. Because all of a sudden, we're really attracting people from all over the world.Dom Burch:
I love that you use the word play, because one of the things that I think I've grown into, through the course was finding my own identity, finding my own style. And going through that curve, right of going, I have no idea what I'm doing to Oh my god, this is far, far beyond me to Okay, I can do it, and I will do it, and I'm okay. And actually holding things lightly is what Claire used to say to us, you know, it was quite deep and quite challenging and quite thought-provoking. But then just before we went to try it out, in practice, she'd say, just hold it lightly. You know, just hold it lightly, and off, we'd go an hour to play, and I, I like showing my working out when I'm coaching people. So I like to say okay, well, what we're going to do is we're going to try this three chairs technique. And the reason we're going to do that is this, but let's play with it. Are you comfortable? Are you okay with that. And if you're not, you can just pull the ripcord anytime you like, and we will parachute right out of there. You know, and for me that works, because it's not that they're not going to go deep, or we're not going to cover some very challenging and sometimes quite emotional areas. But I like to keep it playful and keep it light. And I you know, I think that's been something I've really, I've just grown into, I think Kim through the course is is having the confidence to go the way that we coach is our way. But it's built on these just firm foundations and principles. And we've had five months of intense, but really challenging and really fun opportunity to learn our craft. And that's not typical is it in the coaching world, there's lots of people out there who just stick the word coach on their CV or on LinkedIn, and off they go. But what you've created is just this professional and high quality cohort of people. I mean, it's just it's amazing.Kim Morgan:
Thank you. I love that you love the word play, because I'm just going to link it to something else you said earlier, you said you learned that you were good enough. And actually a lot of the principles for this course, I took from somebody called DW Winnicott who was a paediatrician, and a psychologist, but most known for coming up with the term 'good enough parenting', which sort of says a lot about his balanced view of life. And I adopted his approach to the learning space. And he says that 'the learning space is the optimal development atmosphere, and vehicle for change in which meanings can be played with considered and understood'. He said, 'it's just a place a psychological place located between what we want, and what we've got'. In that space. you can allow some certainties about yourself to loosen, you can have some playful reflections and creativity and start to open up new possibilities for yourself. All to enable shifts in self identity. And that's my big foundation, this learning space approach, and I love how you picked up the good enough. And you picked up the playing because they're both right at the heart of the course.Dom Burch:
I've got one last question. And it's from one of my colleagues, Michelle, who said, Gosh, well done Dom, you're getting to chat to Kim, I'd like to know and I'm sorry, it's a bit coach-ey but you know, you've taught us I'd like to know. What would she gift her younger self at the start of her coaching career?Kim Morgan:
More confidence without question, to, yeah, to actually stand up against all the self professed experts who sometimes said I was too naive, too trusting, too emotional. Not business-minded enough. Yeah, those things knocked me a bit. And so yeah, more confidence and more self belief.Dom Burch:
Kim, thank you so much for taking the time to come on to coach glass. I share so many of your values and your principles and it's just just affirming to talk to you and to hear just the thoroughness that goes behind what we felt what we've seen what, how we'v developed. It's emotional for m because I've absolutely love loved every minuteKim Morgan:
Thank you so much. I makes me so happy and proud a d honoured actually to hear t at. I never take it for g anted.Dom Burch:
Kim, thanks for coming on Coach Class.Kim Morgan:
Thank you, Dom. It's been a real pleasure.