005: Going Deep with Vladan Reljanovic
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How to get in touch with Vladan
Jo-Ann Harris: https://www.linkedin.com/in/coachatwork/
ICF website: https://coachfederation.org/
Vladan Reljanovic: This is changing the world. This is changing the way that human beings, the citizens of the world, the players of this world game that we’re playing, this is changing the way that they’re behaving. It’s changing the rules they play by. All of a sudden, they’re no longer enslaved by their circumstances, they are rather empowered by their circumstances!
Fabian Luetzig: Welcome to the Global Campfire of Coaching, an ongoing discussion between coaches, coachees and anybody else interested in the Art and the Science of coaching, spreading information and exchanging opinions so that we learn and grow together as a community. I’m Fabian Luetzig.
Before I introduce today’s guest, I would like to share with you that you can be a part of this show: If you have a comment on something that was said in an episode, if you have a question for one of my guests or for me or if you want to share a success – getting your ACC, taking the next step in your business, finding an amazing coach for yourself – get in touch on Skype by either typing or, even better, leaving a voice mail.
Joining us at the Campfire today is Vladan Reljanovic. He holds a Specialized Honors Degree in Communication Studies. Previously, he was working in the corporate world excelling in a high-pressure sales and account management position for a large multinational corporation. Making a decision that he could no longer go on the way that he had been, he quit his career and headed to the Jungles of Peru in hopes of recovering his self. Now, years later, he has a successful coaching practice called ‘Total Ascension’, which he strengthens not only by working to upgrade his ACC credentials through the International Coaching Federation but also by consistently and studiously working with Plant Medicine(s).
Disclaimer: nothing in this episode should be interpreted as encouragement or advice to consume illegal drugs or to self-medicate. Always consult a doctor before working with any form of medicine, plant-based or otherwise.
Vladan Reljanovic: I first heard about coaching from a client perspective. A family member of mine had been seeing and working with a coach for, I think at that point it had been probably close to a year. Initially, she didn’t directly tell me that she was working with the coach. Rather, I started to notice these significant changes in not only the way that she was coming across and showing up in our conversations or in our interactions with one another, but in the decisions and choices that she was making in her own life. When we were having coffee together, I’d ask her “You really seem to have transformed as a person” in both her professional life and her personal life. I started to ask “Why is that? What is it that you’ve been doing?” That’s when she shared with me that she’d been working with a coach. So then I ended up booking a session with that person. Right at that moment, after the first session, having worked with therapists in the past and having approached my self-development from that angle – right at the first session I fell in love with what we were doing. That was my first and initial introduction into coaching and what it really was.
Fabian Luetzig: What was it about the coaching, what made it different from therapy that made you fall in love with it so much?
Vladan Reljanovic: I think both modalities… So, I don’t want to discredit or discount the value of therapy. I think especially for me at that point in my life, I needed to go through therapy. I needed to understand my past, to come to terms with it, so that coaching would have this beautiful platform to begin.
What I liked about the process was that it wasn’t about taking the focus backwards in time. I was at a point where I was hungry and I was really, really motivated to start making change and seeing change in my life in terms of the present as well as in terms of what I wanted for the future. Looking at the future and seeing “How am I going to get to where it is where I know I want to be?” Or in some cases, figuring out “Where is it that I do want to be?” Ok, now we know that, and how do I get there? It was so action-oriented, but at the same time provided such deep insight that I didn’t know I had within me. I was almost like a spark, a spark of action that would allow me to move forward. The energy of the session was so different from anything I’d ever experienced, because it got exciting as the session continued, even just within the first session. What I mean by that is starting the session off and trying to get my feet wet, not really understanding how we would get to where I knew I wanted to go. But through maybe the midpoint of the session starting to notice that that wheel was turning or that that snowball was starting to get bigger as it rolled down the hill. It was something I’d never experienced before. It also gave me so much confidence, because here was this experience that I was having where I felt as though I was placed in – almost like if I think about an airplane, you have the pilot and the co-pilot, it felt as if there were two pilots and were both navigating this plane together. That was very empowering: to harness and to tap into a power that I didn’t know I had but somehow arriving at the destination that I knew I wanted to arrive at.
Fabian Luetzig: Flying the plane together, huh? I really like that picture! How did you realized that you wanted to take a seat in that other pilot’s chair? How did you realize you wanted to become a coach yourself, then?
Vladan Reljanovic: After the first session, possibly during, something inside of me said “This is something you need to do!” Now, I’ve had a history in the past of getting ahead of myself and wanting to jump right in, so I allowed that thought to sort of sit with me. It was quite a while ago, maybe 5 years ago, I said “Ok, I’m going to become a coach. I’m going to go to an information night at a school that was accredited by the ICF.” I was going to enroll myself in this program. Lo and behold, I showed up to this information night and it was almost like the universal intervention: I couldn’t figure out the passcode to get up to the building, the elevator wasn’t working – everything thing was just stopping me. So, I actually couldn’t get up to the top floor, nobody was answering their phones. At that point for whichever reason, I decided “Let me just take a pause, take a step back. Maybe it isn’t time.”
Then I explored a career in corporate; it was at a very large multinational tech software firm. Although I did enjoy my time while I was there, as my career there was starting to come to an end, I noticed that I was really enjoying coaching-kind of relationships; be it with my clients or co-workers or people who were coming in underneath me. All of a sudden that image of showing up to that building, not going in, started to pop back into my head. So, when I realized when I was becoming unsatisfied and misaligned with what I was doing in that role, I went and spent some time in Peru. the entire time that I was there, coaching kept coming back, kept coming back, kept coming back. Finally, I think I might actually still have been in Peru, where I emailed the school that I went to, which was Erickson. I think within a week of returning back to Toronto, I was enrolled, and I was starting my certification. So, everything re-aligned and it aligned at the appropriate time, I would say. It was that moment to take the next step.
Fabian Luetzig: While you were in Peru and coaching kept coming back to you, what were you doing in Peru?
Vladan Reljanovic: When I quit that corporate role, I really found myself completely depleted, I would say, in all aspects of life. Professionally, I was achieving and succeeding and exceeding not only the company’s expectations but my own expectations and the goals that I’d set for myself, almost to a point of achieving goals that I thought I would achieve three years in the future; I had achieved them early. So, on paper, everything was – everything should have been – fantastic on the inside and out. Unfortunately, how I felt on the inside was, as I mentioned, not only depleted but also disaligned and genuinely unhappy. I was chasing this dream that was not my own dream anymore, that had become the dream of either a past version of myself or something that I’d subscribed to that just wasn’t quite fitting at the present moment. So, when I quit that role, I sort of sat in my apartment, at that point in Vancouver in British Columbia. I had found out about this plant medicine that the indigenous people of Peru were working with. There was a couple of documentaries that I watched about it, it was called Ayahuasca. Something inside of me at that point, call it intuition or higher self, really felt called to say: “Ok, you’re going to be transforming your life completely. You’ve left a role that you moved completely across the country for – what now?” So, I packed my bags took a quick detour to Toronto and then headed off to the jungle for a month.
What I was doing there was working with this plant medicine and working with these indigenous healers. This medicine, really, the more I learned about it and the more I experienced it myself, the more it opened up these doors. It allowed me to essentially get out of my own way. I honestly believe it was the best therapist that I’ve ever had and the best coach I’ve ever had. It not only showed me my past self and my past experiences in a dissociated way. What I mean by that is from a third-person perspective. Imagine receiving clarity or coming to terms with something that had happened in your past but not being attached to that feeling or that circumstance from your own eyes. Rather, hovering, possibly from the top or to the side, and gaining a new perspective and a new understanding and coming to a new place of healing completion and acceptance for many things that had happened in my life. Once that sort of took place, I’d done eight ceremonies over the month – the first three were I would say past-focused and the next five were very future-focused.
It was through those ceremonies, where – and I feel so grateful that I was given this – the name of my coaching practice, the logo, how I would design and structure out my business, the school that I would go to; everything was shown to me, which I know sounds very out of this world. And, really, that’s what it was, it was completely out of this world. Sitting here now, almost three years later, everything that I was shown in those ceremonies has not only come true, but has given me such a beautiful platform to really gain confidence in my coaching and to explore “How do I take this incredibly beautiful and tested and accredited modality and how do I now apply it going forward? How do I structure it such that it will not only be coaching as the art & science of, but also what other pathways can I bridge to allow for the greatest possible transformation for my clients and to again remain completely aligned with all of my passions and everything that I truly stand for?”
One thing that I made a promise to myself about going forward is that I would unapologetically remain true to myself. My dream, really, after that experience in the corporate environment was to be able to exist in and of this world, both personally and professionally as my true self. Which means not changing the way I speak, the words I use, my energy level, who I am. My goal really was to be the same person with my family, my friends as I was with my clients or professionally. Thankfully, I’m so grateful to say, and I hope that that really is the case and the truth that I’m living through and living in today.
Fabian Luetzig: That sounds like a real watershed kind of moment for you.
Vladan Reljanovic: Oh, it absolutely was!
Fabian Luetzig: How would you say that experience has shaped the person that you are today, but maybe even more importantly the approach that you have to coaching and how you work with your clients.
Vladan Reljanovic: To the person, let’s say first to the person that I am today: The only reason that I am who I am today – be that good, bad, all the positives and the negatives – is because of this experience. I continue to work with the medicine and work in Peru to this day. It continues to allow me to check in with myself, to examine “ok, how am I satisfied; am I happy and content with who I am, how I’m coming across, the decisions that I’m making and who I’m being in this world.
Now, professionally, how does it impact how I am with my clients or the experience that I hope my clients have or I hope they would say they have? It is giving so much trust into that intuitive place that I think all coaches use; we use that intuition, that sense of knowing, that sense of asking a powerful question, that creates a breakthrough or an aha-moment for a client, not even knowing where that question came from. So I think it’s giving me a new way of life such that when I’m moving through a coaching process with a client, the flow and the trust I think that I have in the process and in my client’s highest capabilities has 100% been influenced by the work that I’ve done and by the work that I continue to do in Peru, specifically with this medicine and with the Shipibo people.
Fabian Luetzig: What is one of your favorite coaching success stories, apart from, obviously, yourself?
Vladan Reljanovic: Oh, that’s a fantastic question! I think this one experience comes to mind. Most recently, I’ve been coaching and facilitating at a retreat center in Peru where I’ve had the pleasure of coaching people face to face who are not only there for healing, but who are also there to really move forward in an impactful and powerful way into their futures once they leave the center. There was this one experience. Ah, there’s so many to choose from now!
Ok, let’s choose one: There was one experience with a client who had been struggling for two years with … I wouldn’t even say it was an existential fear, but it was a true block and the fear of dying, a fear that many people, I think, have. He was a first responder and had been faced with death through his professional career from the beginning. This was coming up for him, it was blocking him from having that breakthrough moment that he was looking to have, not only through the medicine, through Peru, but aside from that in his own personal life. Having had that block for, I believe it was one or two years, we had a session. He found out what I was doing, and he said “Ok, let’s do a session together!” In that session, what was so beautiful – and I say this to all my clients, specifically in the first session: “For this time, that we have together, be it 45 minutes or an hour, just stepping into a realm of possibilities, a realm of blind faith and trust. If I’m asking you to visualize a hot air balloon or a bridge leading to the future, though that inner critic may say ‘why is he asking this? How could this possibly help?’ Just for one hour, give yourself permission to silence that voice and see what may happen.” He really embraced this. He said “ok, I’m going to trust the process. Worst case, we spend an hour together and that’s that.’ In doing so and in stepping into that trust, what that allowed for him was he moved so beautifully through not only the questions and the investigation but the visualizations, which I love utilizing in my sessions because they’re so powerful. He allowed himself to do so so powerfully, that by the end of session he had created, I would almost say a visual mantra for himself, a key character for himself. A character that embodied everything that he wanted to be in his day-to-day life. This was done, for those who are aware, the Value Based Self Image, for the most part. We used a chunk of that and really built on through some logical levels. The beauty of this session was that it was done right before a ceremony that he was to have that night.
Although the session completed beautifully, this was when my ego kicked in, because I knew that just within a couple of hours the true success of the session would be tested. He would have a ceremony and all of his ceremonies up to that point had been challenging and terrifying; the idea of death had kept coming up and kept coming up and kept blocking him. Halfway through that ceremony, he stepped outside, and he called me outside and he was in tears, completely in tears and in such gratitude for the process and for the session. Not only was he using the tools with one of the most medicines on the planet that we’ve ever been able to come across as human beings for healing, that being Ayahuasca; he was using the tools that he gained through his coaching session and the awareness that he found through his session and applied them with this medicine and not only swam through; he exceeded any and all expectations that he had had. Not only was he able to work through this idea of fear, but he was able to then see what comes on the other side, when you let go and when you embrace confidence and when you embrace love and when you embrace positive energies, what can happen as a result.
To this day, I communicated with him maybe a couple of weeks now. Not only were the action steps that he created for himself in the session still holding him through and he’s adding to these action steps, but everything has just aligned for him. This fear that he had has not come back and he’s continued to work through and work above and beyond what can happen for all of us when we let go of things that are holding us back and step into that which we do want for ourselves. I’m very proud of him. I think it speaks so beautifully to the power of coaching, because there was this beautiful moment, this beautiful opportunity, to test the session with something as powerful as Ayahuasca.
Fabian Luetzig: What really stands out to me – and that’s also one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on the show – is that you’re not one to dabble on the surface. You really go deep. You really go where it is uncomfortable and existential. I’m wondering, how can I, or somebody who’s listening to us, emulate that, maybe even if they don’t have access Ayahuasca?
Vladan Reljanovic: That’s a great question! It’s interesting, in my practice I coach people who have worked with the medicine and who have not, people who are students, people who are CEOS. It’s so widely spread, and some people would say “You have to specialize!”. But I say “I specialize in Human Development. So, if you’re human and you’d like to develop, let’s do it!”.
How can somebody tap into this? I really think it can come back to the coach that you choose. Before, in my coaching practice, sometimes a question would come up intuitively that I wanted to ask, and I knew it would be a little bit uncomfortable if I did. These are questions where, and I say this to my coach all the time, basically, if you could be the devil’s advocate or if you can hold the mirror or if you can say “aaaah”, maybe give that little bit of “are you sure” or give that little bit of perspective – I want to know where my pitfalls are, I want to know where my weaknesses are. To be completely honest, if I knew what those were, I wouldn’t need a coach, I wouldn’t need a therapist, I wouldn’t need ayahuasca. I need these processes and tools so that I can see parts of myself that I don’t’ otherwise see in my day-to-day.
So, how do I think we can do this without the medicine? It’s by surrendering and saying “ok” – and I mean it to this point and it’s going to sound dramatic what I’m about to say and I find that it works – is saying to yourself “If this was a life or death situation, how badly do I want the success that I seek? Am I willing to literally lose everything so that I can gain awareness so that I can gain clarity, so that I can gain success, so that I can have a plan?” That’s to the point, I think, that we need to bring ourselves, is to a full moment of surrender and to say: “Not only do I have nothing to lose anymore, I want to lose it all, so that I can gain everything in return!”
I think it’s a mindset; I think all that we need is a shift in mindset. Talking to our egos if it helps and taking a seat back, being not only open to but desiring to be challenged in our ways of thinking, because that’s the only way I’ve found for myself that I grow. If I attach too much to that which I think or even my story of who I think I am and what I think I’m doing in this world. If I place too much value on that, then all of a sudden, I start to close off the realm of what could be for me. I’ve said to myself or I’ve declared to myself this or that. Well, what about the things that I may become, or if I just let go of a certain way thinking even if it may not be not serving me – double negative there – what would happen, what would come in its place? The idea of surrender, the idea of being willing and wanting to lose it all to gain something and the idea of being open-minded from a detached place just to see what may come could open the door and could transform everything for ourselves.
Fabian Luetzig: Wow, that sounds like it might be so perfect for some people and completely alienate some other people. Have you ever had that? How do you assess whether your client is up for the task or whether they’re willing to go into that mindset that they might not be comfortable with, or that they might be not able get into?
Vladan Reljanovic: What I do first with clients is, before we even speak, I put them through a coaching checklist. It’s almost a little quiz, it takes them through “do I want this or that? Am I ready for this or that?” By the end of it, the quiz itself recommends whether coaching is the modality for now or for the future or if other modalities, something like consulting, counseling, therapy or mentoring may be a better fit right there. That’s one of the first checkpoints. What I’ve found with most clients is, if they’re excited about coaching, they might do the checklist, but their answers may be biased.
Where I find the answer to your question comes in is within the first session: I’ve had clients who say “Yes! For this hour I will let go of everything and I will surrender to possibility and I will be willing!” The difference, I think, between a client that is ready and a client that isn’t, isn’t so much what they think of their level of readiness. It’s rather in terms of their responses and the flow within the session. I’ll give you an example: a very successful gentleman from the States, had been in business his whole life and been very successful in business his entire life. He wanted to be coached. He was ready to surrender, he was ready to have his mind opened up to possibility and off we went for our first session. That session was an hour long. I would say that within that session we probably got – and this is being generous – possibly 10-15 minutes of actual coaching. What the session was, it became very apparent, he realized this at the end as well, was bringing up the past and adding story to it; bringing up the past and adding story to it. Refocusing with my questions to the future and then all of a sudden, a future-based question got tied to the past. So, he kept going back, kept going back, kept going back. That was a very clear indication that although his best intentions were to move forward, it wasn’t yet time for this specific topic that we were coaching around.
How does someone assess? I think it’s by jumping into a session. Of course, the client needs to have willingness and the desire to move forward, but then testing that willingness and desire. Seeing “ok, is this truly something that does float for you? Is this really something that you’re ready to let go of and to move forward with?” I think a lot of times – and this has happened to me before in coaching sessions as well – I would think that I was ready to let go of a story or to let go of my history; and I wasn’t, I truly wasn’t. So, at that point, I would go do other kinds of work on let’s say that specific circumstance we were coaching around. Sometimes that came through action steps, which was wonderful. Then when I was ready and resolved, having another session around it and the test proved true that I was ready at that point to keep that spotlight of my mind and my being on the future and not even have to put any energy or effort towards not having it regress towards the past.
Fabian Luetzig: Have you ever doubted your own abilities as a coach?
Vladan Reljanovic: Oh, every time! Every time before I have a session with a client. Every time before I have a session, about half an hour before. I don’t if it’s an energetic thing, if I start connecting with the energy of the client. Because I really at the heart of hearts love what I do and want to be the best coach that I can possibly be, I doubt myself every time. I doubt “Am I centered enough today? Is my energy enough today? Have I prepared enough for this? Did I sleep well?” Everything, these doubts come up.
The way that I’ve worked around those doubts … to be honest, I’ve almost befriended them at this point, and I like them. It adds to this excitement. It’s almost like those people who talk about having stage fright but the minute the spotlight hits, the stage fright goes away and off you go. It’s very similar to the experience that I have with coaching, so it’s very exciting and a little nerve-racking before. The way I found that I curb myself and I bring myself to a really centered coach position, is: I have a small ritual, it’s through mediation, it’s through incense, it’s through silence that I put myself through before every client, such that anything that I may be bringing to the table; be it that expectation or anything, can be shelved to the side and then I can truly show up in the most grounded, centered and cleared way so that both my client and I are able to step into the session with blind faith. I think that’s what it comes down to.
I’ll tell you, Fabian, by the end of every session, still, it’s the same effect that I’ve had when I did my first coaching session, which was “OMG, how did we get here?” It’s this humility and this humbleness and this gratitude to the process of coaching that I feel at the end of every session. Be it that session that I spoke about where the gentleman had the breakthrough or the session where I spoke about how the gentleman wasn’t prepared. In both of those, I had no idea where it would go when the session started. But at the end of the session I was so filled with energy and happiness and a renewed sense of faith every single session. Every session I have, gives me a renewed sense of faith in this beautiful process of coaching.
Fabian Luetzig: I love how you put it that you befriended your doubts at his point. I think that’s such a strong statement, having recognized the positive intentions that all these feelings have for you, right? How they enable you to be better, even better than you would be without them.
Vladan Reljanovic: Absolutely, absolutely! I hold so true to what you’ve just said and what I shared as well. Anything that doesn’t serve us, let’s say that fear that I spoke about or that anxiety that I spoke about, the hope that the session went well, anything like that – all of these things like you mentioned have a positive intention. And when I let go of attaching … so, if I think of two boxes, and I think of one saying ‘fear’ and one saying ‘love’; and I take all those things I just mentioned and I put them in the fear box… if I just shift them over to that love box, all of a sudden those things are workable, I’m embracing those things, I’m actually excited when I feel those, because I know something amazing is going to happen. It’s just shifting them from one box to another; the feelings remain the same, but the way that I interact with those feelings and the meaning I give to those feelings completely changes. All of a sudden, it becomes this fuel, this excitement. That, I think, can hold true to everything. Sadness, if I think on a less professional level, on a personal level: something happens in life and all of a sudden you become sad. Yes, I think it’s important to go through our emotions and to feel them, but I also think it’s important to check in and to see:
Why am I feeling this?
I’m feeling this because this and this happened.
Ok, but why? That question ‘why?’ It’s a beautiful coaching session that we can do with ourselves on the fly: just keep asking yourself ‘why?’
Ok, I feel sad because this happened…
It wasn’t the outcome I was looking for…
I actually wanted this outcome.
Because I truly wanted to be happy.
Ok, so I’m feeling sad because I wanted to be happy.
How beautiful is that? That’s a beautifully positive intention! Something that I work through with myself whenever I start to feel disaligned. It may not always happen immediately, though I think with practice we can become better and have it become a response, an automatic response where I take myself down that ‘why?’ Pathway. Usually, by the end of that exercise, I may not feel 100% better, but I have new awareness and then with the awareness comes possibility of action. Sometimes it may be that I just want to feel sad for a little bit and other times it’s ok; let’s get to the action steps, let’s change this way of being. Because I understand it now, meaning I have power now, so now it’s workable.
Fabian Luetzig: Yeah, what just stood out to me, what just came to me when you were talking is that that is something that requires radical honesty with yourself. In most cases, I think, you probably need a coach to go through that process. If I think of myself, I know, cognitively, I know that to be true, but I might not be in the headspace to go through that. I might try to cheat myself and that’s really where a coach brings so much value, even when you understand and know what you just said already. But just to be in that moment, I think, that’s where we as coaches still need an external coach and many, many people might require coaching to hold them accountable to themselves.
Vladan Reljanovic: Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more with you there. When I mentioned “this is where you get the power and this is where you get the awareness and now it’s workable”, usually what ‘workable’ means for me is saying “ok, I now need to book a coaching session, because now I’m ready to let go” or I feel empowered enough to make a change, but now how are we going to make that change. So, 100%, I agree with you.
Fabian Luetzig: With that fuel, with those doubts that propel you and your positive intentions, how do you impact other people’s lives for the better?
Vladan Reljanovic: I would like to hope that by holding a space and allowing for the people that I work with or have worked with or hope to work with, to give them the space to explore and to empower themselves. I think that this is creating – not only I but every coach that has a coaching session with a client – this is changing the world. This is changing the way that human beings, the citizens of the world, the players of this world game that we’re playing, this is changing the way that they’re behaving. It’s changing the rules which they play by. All of a sudden, they’re no longer enslaved by their circumstances, they are rather empowered by their circumstances. They are not the subordinate players of a game, be it a corporate game, personal or professional, whatever. They are all of a sudden now the rule makers of these games. I think it is completely changing the way that people are behaving. Not only is it changing the way they behave with themselves, their families, their networks etc. but then it starts to change the way that those inner circles are behaving. Much like I told how I heard of coaching; it was through somebody who was exemplifying change in their life. The most basic word I can use is ‘change’. They were exemplifying a change in behavior, a change in self. That then got me impacted, which then I started to explore coaching. I then become a coach. You see how this beautiful domino effect works?
I truly mean it; I think if everybody in the world could experience three coaching sessions. Three. This world would transform so radically. Even acknowledging that not everybody would be ready for coaching, so just taking a percentage of people that would be. We would experience such a dramatic and profound shift. This is such a powerful modality. What does it do? It empowers the person to become the driver in the driver’s seat of their own life again. When someone taps into that creator’s sense of self that we all have within us, limitless potential is the result. It’s just how much do we want to take? That’s it. It’s everything the transformations and the impact are limitless as to what could happen not only in that person’s life, but generationally as well. We know that if we change, those around us will be impacted by that change and it just becomes a beautifully profound trickle effect.
Fabian Luetzig: Looking ahead to the future: How do you want to develop yourself that you impact other people’s lives in the future?
Vladan Reljanovic: I hope that I continue to gain confidence in myself, in this process. That I continue to take risks, that I continue to challenge myself and to move sessions into places where I may feel nervous going, but where I see the best benefit to my client. I hope that my practice and the different modalities, the different that I’m reaching continues to grow. I hope that I can continue to reach people who never would have thought about coaching and that all of a sudden, they’re exploring it as a modality and that they are believing in the process, regardless of results. That people continue to grow, continue to evolve, continue to believe in this process. I think in the most general terms, that’s what I would love to see for the future. Not only for myself and for my practice, but for the whole discipline of coaching. I hope that that’s what it does, the doors continue to be opened. That we can clearly, as an industry, define what coaching is, because it’s such an incredibly outstanding – in the true meaning of the word – process that more and more people, corporations, governments, insurance companies, they start to recognize this process as something that is so powerful and that we as global citizens invest in this industry such that the greatest amount of people be affected positively by what truly is the art and science of coaching.
Fabian Luetzig: What’s your take on that? What is your personal definition of coaching that you think really represents this outstanding nature of it?
Vladan Reljanovic: You know, I struggle with this so much…
Fabian Luetzig: We all do…
Vladan Reljanovic: I read a beautiful article on that, that it’s one of the biggest hurdles facing this industry, and I believe it. Though, my answer tends to change, more or less. I keep it the same, but it does change depending on who’s asking it and the day and the energy. So today, what do I feel coaching is? I feel coaching is a profound and impactful process by which we move from where we are to where we’d like to be. Even just saying that, I’m like “Maybe I should change the answer…” It is a powerful and profound conversation through which we move through a process that moves us from where we are to where we’d like to be. That’s the best I feel I can do today.
Fabian Luetzig: I’ll take it, I think it’s beautiful!
Vladan Reljanovic: Thank you, thank you! But as you know, it’s so challenging because even with the sentence I just shared – that’s even just the beginning. What do we mean by ‘a powerful and profound process’? How is it that we move? I think maybe that’s the beauty that we have a challenge with the definition, is it truly does incite conversation. So maybe, looking at it as a positive, maybe it’s a good thing that we don’t’ have, as an industry have a solid gold… Well, we do have a gold standard definition, but one that is so clear and concise that someone who has never heard of coaching would completely understand it in one sentence or two. Maybe it’s a good thing, because it does open up conversation at that point. A conversation, hopefully, that then leads to having an experience.
Fabian Luetzig: Yeah, I love that approach. So, it’s really an invitation to experience it, because it’s something that’s so much more easily shown than it is described.
Vladan Reljanovic: Absolutely, absolutely!
Fabian Luetzig: What is one tip, being somebody who has fairly recently taken up coaching and heard that calling, what one tip would you give aspiring coaches?
Vladan Reljanovic: To aspiring coaches, what I would say is: If you feel that call, if there’s that something inside of you that lights up when you’re either being coached or when you’re moving through a couple of coaching exercises or when you’re investigating or researching about coaching as an industry – if you feel that, lock on to it and hold on to it. Just do it.
There will be moments of doubt, there will be moments of trying to compromise. If you feel this is your calling, you can call it your destiny. There’ll be moments of saying “You know what, I could just take this role and it involves a little bit of coaching and maybe I’ll be satisfied”. Maybe you will be. But if you feel that fire within you, nurture it, hold on to it and much like with any other business or any new endeavor we may undertake in our lives: Just go with it. Put on some blindsiders, know where your goal is and just move forward.
Luckily enough, you’ll be surrounded by many, many people – be it through your schooling or through your network you will develop thereafter – that will be willing to coach you, or have you coach them. So any time you step out of it, how beautiful to be in this place of saying “Ok, I need to refocus, I need to realign, I need to be re-inspired.” You’re going to have many, many people ready and willing and able to help you move to that process. So, really, when you connect with that, just go with it. Just keep going and know that you’ll be supported by people who are either in the same boat as you, people who are ahead of you, people who are wildly successful in this industry and who are willing to help you along the way. So, it’s really not going to be a solo process, should you not want it to be. You can really, really feel a team of people behind you. So much so that I don’t’ know that I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced this kind of support with like-minded individuals in any industry that I’ve been a part of.
Fabian Luetzig: Yeah, and hopefully by doing this we can give a little bit of that to the coaching community; give a little bit of that support in knowing that if you’re struggling, if you are surrounded by people who just don’t get it – there’s always somebody you can turn to refresh your faith and bathe in that community, to get in touch with that again. I find that so important, that’s why I love promoting the local ICF chapters and the community that you build through your schools, like you said. I completely agree with you.
Vladan Reljanovic: And thank you, Fabian, for starting this podcast! I think even in so much as someone may be listening or may be new to coaching would gain from coaches speak of their experiences. To be honest, even just reflecting on my experience, as you’re asking me the questions – I’m getting inspired by this conversation, because it isn’t often that we take the time out of our days to really reflect on how we’ve come to where we’ve come and why we do what we do. So, thank you so much for starting this initiative, I think it’s absolutely wonderful for the entire industry.
[For whatever reason, the recoding was electronically distorted for the duration of the following paragraph. So, for the sake of your ears, I took that part out of the episode, but you can read it here.]
Fabian Luetzig: I think it’s just something that coaches deserve, you now. So many of our colleagues are not ready or not that good at promoting themselves, not really. So, I just hope I can shine the spotlight on them a little bit. And there’s so many interesting… I don’t think I’ve ever met a coach that wasn’t interesting, you know what I mean? We all have convoluted CVs and things that are crazy and out there. And that’s just interesting to hear about and to value by giving it a bit of time.
Vladan Reljanovic: Absolutely, 100%, I agree.
Fabian Luetzig: What would you say makes a really, really great coach?
Vladan Reljanovic: Someone who is curious. I think the best coaching experiences that I’ve had with coaches have just been with a coach who is … simply curious. I don’t even think I can add anything more to that answer. It’s just being willing to not allow your client to sit at that surface level and explore there. Yes, you can still receive profound shifts and have a wonderful awareness gained from a surface level. But a coach who is curious … you know what? Curious and brave, is what I’ll say. Curious enough to dig deeper and brave enough that when you dig deep, you continue to explore at that level. I think with those of those qualities is where the magic of a coaching process can happen.
Fabian Luetzig: Who is somebody, besides of course yourself, who people should follow or check out?
Vladan Reljanovic: One person who I would say has made a significant impact in my coaching education and somebody who I just love the confidence and the skill with which they coach, is Jo-Ann Harris. If you’re looking for somebody who knows this industry, for somebody who knows this craft and truly … there’s just so much I could say about Jo-Ann, but if you’re looking for someone to follow, she would be such an incredible coach to follow.
Fabian Luetzig: Nice, thank you for that! What coaching tool or resource would you recommend to listeners?
Vladan Reljanovic: Coaching tool or resource… You know what, if you’re starting off with someone who’s never been coached, the place I go for all of my coaching resources is the ICF website, the International Coach Federation. Whether you’re a new coach, whether you’re accredited or whether you’re looking to find a coach – this is the hub to begin with. This is where I look at all of the peer-reviewed journals or any of the research documents, where I stay posted on the latest and greatest in the coaching world. So, I would say: the ICF website would be an incredible place to go to.
Fabian Luetzig: What’s the one thing that you want listeners to take away from our conversation today?
Vladan Reljanovic: I would say there’s so much potential through the modality of coaching that it really is – and I know I’ve said this throughout our conversation – that it really is limitless. You can approach and receive benefits from coaching, from such a wide spectrum. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, so long as you are desiring, you’re hungry for change. You can see this process work in incredible ways in your lives. Nothing short of miracles have I seen happen, everything from a one-year marketing project to somebody who was suffering from mental health issues and wanted to get back into the work place. It’s that wide, from CEO to those that are unemployed. It doesn’t matter, so long as you have the desire to change, this is a process that will work. That’s I think the most profound message, I hope, that people can get from our conversation today.
Fabian Luetzig: Tell us more about Total Ascension. What is it, what are you working on, what are you developing right now?
Vladan Reljanovic: Total Ascension is my coaching practice. With Total Ascension, I would like that it’s right now … it’s developing all the time, it’s like watching a plant grow. It’s a great process. Total Ascension is a space where whether you’re looking for 1:1 coaching or whether you’re looking for group coaching. Whether you’re looking for coaching seminars or whether you’re looking to apply coaching in non-traditional ways as an integration component to work you’ve already done - it’s a place where people can come.
I really like to believe that Total Ascension as an entity has remained open-minded to working with individuals all across the spectrum who are likewise open-minded. I think that’s what differentiates my clients. It’s not so much that I specialize in terms of one specific field, but what I specialize in is maybe the kind of clients that I attract: it’s people who are open-minded. People who are open-minded enough to try something different but to know that they want to see a result. So, I’m looking forward to developing it to - hopefully, although this has been a process for years, so maybe you’ve inspired me – hopefully to have a podcast. Maybe not necessarily on coaching itself, but on sharing experiences and how coaching applies in so many different ways in the world. Maybe having more of a social media presence with videos or just exploring what avenues group coaching could bring. What I am is truly hungry to understand how and in how many ways coaching can be applied in non-traditional ways to benefit the greatest amount of people. So, hopefully that answers your question, but as I mentioned, I’m so open and willing to having Total Ascension grow such that it serves the greatest amount of people. My hope is that my answer to your question will change and continue to change as I continue to work within this field, so that I’m constantly evolving to keep myself excited about what it is I’m doing and to, again, effect the greatest change in the greatest amount of people.
Fabian Luetzig: Hey, if you do start a podcast, you definitely already have a listener in me. You are so easy to listen to – and I mean that in the best sense. You are just such a pleasure to talk and to listen to, I’d definitely subscribe to that.
Vladan Reljanovic: Hopefully subscribe and be a guest, that would be wonderful!
Fabian Luetzig: Yeah, if you want to do that to yourself, absolutely! Now, we went way, way over, but I honestly just don’t care. I think that people will get the value from it, so that they will stay tuned. And if not, then maybe that wasn’t for them. I just decided to throw the corset of “let’s have these questions and only questions’ out the window. Wherever the conversation goes, that’s where it needs to go at that point, is what I’m taking away from our conversation today. So, you’re helping mold this format as you’re on it.
Vladan Reljanovic: Thank you! This has been … it felt, honestly, like it flowed. I got lost in the conversation, just like a coaching session. Thank you for creating that space. It really did, that same experience that I have in coaching where I kind of forget the room that I’m sitting in; even though I’m looking outside. That space, that vision space is where I really feel we could go today.
Fabian Luetzig: To wrap up, then: how can people get in touch with you if they want to have more of Vladan?
Vladan Reljanovic: The website is www.totalascension.com. There, prospective clients can take that quiz that I was talking about, learn more about Total Ascension, my process, as well as keep up to date with my blog which I like to keep updated on a regular basis. So there’s the website, then you can also email me; my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, for fun snippets throughout your day, in a more fun and quick way, you can also follow me on Instagram, the handle is @TotalAscension. So, yeah, hopefully some of those ways work.
Fabian Luetzig: I’m sure they will. Well, Vladan, thank you so much for all your insight and for all your … I don’t even know how to put it… for you! Thank you for you, basically!
Vladan Reljanovic: Thank you, thank you so much, Fabian! Likewise, thank you to you for all the effort that you’ve put in creating this space for us to really be able to have this dialogue. So, thank you, thank you very much for having me on.