Your Path to Coaching

Robb Garrett, ACO President

Quite often I am asked, “What was your path to coaching?” or, “How did you decide to become a coach?”

Like most in our community, I have a very long list of interests and experiences. That was and still is true for me in the area of academics, business and other trainings.

My Story

In college, I elected to integrate a deep overview of both the social sciences and business into my curriculum. It seems that I was always interested in some form of individual empowerment, entrepreneurship and business/industry.

I was excited to accept an offer from a Fortune 500 company for their management trainee program after I had completed college. During that experience, as a management trainee, I realized that in addition to the obvious financial benefits of working at a higher level in an organization, I found myself thriving in the strategy meetings. I realized that I could use more of my strengths and then have more satisfaction in my work working at this level. It was also during that time that I was sorting out if I would go on to pursue the path of medical, law, business or a Ph.D. program. It seemed I had just enough talent and interest to make the choices difficult.

Continued Focus Led to Professional Excitement

It turned out that I decided to develop some of my interest and skills in the way to communicate in organizations. So when I returned to graduate school, I focused on organizational communication/industrial psychology and business. That focus led me to discover the world of management consulting…the excitement of going from business to business…learning about a particular organization or industry at an accelerated rate and completing projects to enhance the growth or strength of that business.

I liked getting paid to learn. I really liked the stimulating variety of locations, people, projects and subject matter. There was excitement flying across North America, meeting and working with new people while getting good and important work done. However there were pitfalls: I did not love spending five nights a week in hotel rooms and having meals alone or with clients and/or co-workers most of the time. Along the way I started and ran some businesses and also took sabbaticals from consulting and was hired to run corporations.

Decision Making for Growth Opportunities

I wanted to find a way to keep what I loved about my work, gain more control and reduce my travel schedule. I did that by signing up my first consulting client for my private consulting practice and within a few months of that hanging up my own shingle for a full time management consulting practice of my own. I gained control of my travel schedule, reduced the nights away from home and made more money working and traveling less.

I then had the freedom to practice consulting more fully my way as well. I have always tended to address the whole person in my work and tell more of the whole truth than my fellow management consulting colleagues. The pieces were coming together more and more. Yet, I wanted to somehow expand or deepen my work.

Laundry List of Rigid Qualifications

I did a nationwide search of who I thought would be the best adviser to me on selecting the right profession or form of work for me. I had a list of a number of rigid qualifications I would want that person to have and found one that seemed to be the perfect fit for that time. She guided me to coaching as a profession and to the new organization of professional coaches (ICF). Within a few years, I had completed training at several coaching schools and begun more advanced training at others. The rest, as we say, is history.

What’s on Your List?

What has been your path to coaching and what path are you mapping out for 2012? I would love to hear your story at

Happy New Year,
Robb Garrett, MA., MCC, ACT
ADHD Coaches Organization