My Coaching Journey with Paul Wagoner

Paul Wagoner is a mental fitness and career coach for lawyers and other executives, as well as the founder of Pathless Coaching. He is certified in Leadership and Performance Coaching through ACT Leadership/Brown University. His passion is helping lawyers develop the mental muscles to succeed in their careers and leadership roles. Read Paul Wagoner’s story below and hear how he is applying coaching skills in his career.

Paul, recently chatted with Erin Hutchins on ACT’s Student Experience Webinar, to watch the recording, please click this link.

Please tell us about your background and work experience prior to starting the LPCC program?

I spent more than a decade practicing law in public service, private practice and in-house. I’m most proud of my time as a US Navy JAG, or uniformed military. In that role, I advised commanders on legal issues and led a team of my own sailors overseas. This is where I discovered my interest in developing leaders and helping them increase their impact.

What led you to coaching?

When I left the military in 2020, I began working as a corporate biotech lawyer. The work was engaging, but I struggled to find a legal role in which I could use the leadership skills I developed in the military. So, I hired a coach myself! Through coaching, I began to explore shedding my identity as an attorney – no small feat since I made the decision to practice law as a teenager. Eventually, I realized that the basic skills of lawyering translate quite well to executive coaching: engaging with clients, keeping confidences, instilling trust, writing, public speaking, considering strategic issues and exercising sound judgment. It turned out that these were the pieces of being a lawyer I had always enjoyed the most.

Why did you choose the ACT & Brown Coaching program?

Initially, my most important consideration was International Coaching Federation (ICF) application support. I sensed that as the coaching industry matures, ICF is becoming the gold-standard for accreditation. It is not wise to hang a shingle and call yourself a coach anymore, especially if you want to work in or for those in corporate America. Second, I was attracted to ACT Leadership and Brown’s reputation in the leadership coaching space. The faculty were either Ivy League instructors or trained at Co-Active Training Institute (CTI). The rational/lawyer side of me wanted an evidence-backed and neuroscience-based approach that could hold up to the skepticism of some of my clients, many of whom are lawyers. Finally, ACT offered a remote learning option. I was in the middle of starting a business and moving overseas, so this was critical for me.

What was your overall experience of the program and what has been the most rewarding part of your coaching journey so far?

The experience was truly impactful. I can honestly say I am a different person in the world because of the skills I learned here and the deep relationships I made with my cohort members. I left each of the 3 weekends stunned at the level of connection and meaning the facilitators were able to create even in a distance-learning environment. To be sure, I learned the art and craft of coaching. But I was not expecting the significant increase in my patience and curiosity about the experiences of others. My hyper-rational, analytical mind is now balanced by skills that I did not know I had been missing in my previous life: empathy, emotional intelligence, active listening and intuition.

Tell us about the work you do now and how you are applying your coaching skills?

I struggled as a new attorney with long hours, tight deadlines, unrelenting standards and exhausting workloads. Then, once I finally learned the craft of practicing law and managing my time more effectively, I was soon thrust into a leadership role with little preparation. Like so many lawyers, I knew I should have asked for help in navigating these transitions, but I didn’t in order to avoid appearing weak. So, now I am a mental fitness coach for lawyers. I help lawyers develop their mental muscles and explore the next stage of their career or leadership development from a place of confidence and authenticity. Often, my clients hire me during a career transition and we continue to work together as they transition to roles of greater responsibility leading organizational teams.

Paul Wagoner on LinkedIn:

About ACT

A Leadership and Performance Coaching company focused on developing exceptional leaders, helping leaders become Aware of their impact so they can make better Choices leading to Transformative results.

Our commitment to transformative learning, innovation and diverse thinking, and making an impact in the world is at the core of what we do. We are a family-owned, service-driven company who partners with the Brown University School of Professional Studies, organizations and government agencies to deliver our life changing programs.

ACT, in partnership with Brown University School of Professional Studies, an international leader in executive education, is excited to offer ACT’s ICF accredited Leadership and Performance Coaching Certification Program. ACT shares Brown University’s mission to develop reflective leaders, to effect change in the world, and to improve human welfare.

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