Friday, February 20, 2015

Are you a credentials person or a "prove it to me" person?

In some ways, I have the ultimate credential. A doctorate is the end of the line, the highest credential in academics. Mine took eleven consecutive years of post-secondary study. The graduate study was seven years, twelve months a year. Now I am working in a field (NLP, but also coaching) where people think a credential is something to be earned in one year (at best) of part-time study.

In the public sector, a rigorous (if not always adequate) process ensures that students only get a credential if they complete work to a specified standard. There are exams, and in good courses there are also assignments and projects and peer-review. There is an effort to ensure that some common standards are represented by the credentials earned. And lots of people fail. They don't make it through the process. There are lots of reasons to question the ethics and the wisdom of failure rates, but they do show that people are being judged not by what they pay or what they attend, but by what they can do.

It's significant that in the coaching and personal development fields, people are eager to demand credentials in order to develop common standards. What no organization seems willing to do is publish their failure rates. In the personal development and coaching fields, very few people are taking the approach of charging clients for the opportunity to fail.

When people earn a certificate from me, it means they have attended all hours and participated in all parts of the program I have developed. It's a program based on practice, not on preaching, and everyone gets better over the six days. They haven't passed anything: they have experienced something.

Their certificate means that I am satisfied to have my work judged by the way they communicate. When people are thinking about taking my program, I encourage them to visit the websites where I showcase my clients and they, by implication, showcase my work.  This, I say, is what you can expect.

I keep my Ph.D. in a box, under my bed. I lost track of my NLP certificate almost as soon as I took it home. I am not really a credentials person. Don't show me a paper to tell me you are a leader.

Show me. Prove it to me with your skill and your vision and your action. Stimulate discussion and discovery that grows your field. Be first across a line, even when it means falling into the mud. Risk failure.

Build something and let people judge you by that.

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