Tales of people using a coaching approach to our climate problems.
Charlotte is a Lecturer and Career Coach at Kanda University of International Studies in Tokyo. She speaks six human languages and three computer languages. Charlotte was a participant in an early Coaches Circle from the Climate Change Coaches. She loves coffee, design and nature. She spoke to Zoe Greenwood from the Climate Change Coaches about her journey into this type of coaching.
Zoe: Tell us about your passion for coaching on climate change, what ignited and developed your interest?
Charlotte: I’ve wanted to help people learn about nature and science since I was seven years old. I studied Ecology and Physical Geography at the University of Toronto. My interests expanded to research and photography and my graduate research led me to the Canadian Arctic where I studied how changes in environmental factors influence the treeline ecosystem. Being there and seeing the effects of climate change really upset me (I wish I’d had climate change coaching back then!)
I decided to change fields and became a photographer. My photography focused on humans and their environments – it was a really exciting time. I went back to University three years later, in Scotland, and then became a full-time lecturer at Kanda University of International Studies in Tokyo. My research and teaching focuses on creative problem solving, design thinking, learning technologies, self-directed learning and career development.
In 2017 I certified as a career and academic advisor, which really got the ball rolling on coaching. Then in June of 2019, I woke up to this article and that was it; I knew that coaching people on climate change and supporting their move into climate-related careers was what I had to do. I found the Climate Change Coaches and I’ve been working towards this goal every day since then and I completely love it!
Zoe: How have you brought coaching and climate together, what has worked well and what has been more challenging so far?
Charlotte: Honestly, I did not know how to coach climate change at first. I kept relying on my background in ecology because I thought I needed to be an expert in environmental sciences to have this kind of coaching conversation with people. Luckily, I was able to join the first Coaching Circle with the Climate Change Coaches – the demonstrations, discussions and live practice we did showed me very quickly that the root of our inaction or frustration is a behaviour problem, not a knowledge problem.
As a result, for my students, I have combined coaching and career counseling approaches to help them explore and apply for opportunities in the green economy. I have guest lectured to help students in other universities reflect on climate change, sustainability, global issues, ethics, etc. The most challenging thing I’ve had to deal with is clients who want to do something but believe that the world is going to end. It’s hard for me because I personally don’t believe in this scenario. Even if it is true, my design background has instilled in me a belief that there is a solution for everything. I’ve been reminded through the Coaching Circle not to project my beliefs onto my clients – now I work with different mindsets through clear contracting and I focus on finding hope, motivation and love.
Zoe: What are your hopes for the future – for your own practice and for the world?
Charlotte: Everything I have done so far regarding climate change coaching is within the university, so naturally I would love to expand my reach. My husband and I are working on our own coaching practice together, which will support climate action and green growth. We are moving back to Canada and would love to meet other people in North America who are passionate about advancing this cause.
My hope for the world is that people will develop stronger and deeper connections to nature, and that more people will understand how nature is omnipresent in our lives. My observation is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. I have observed a beautiful phenomenon in my clients – once they start to get in touch with nature and work to help it, they feel a sense of fulfillment like nothing else and they describe it as a life-changing experience.
Big thanks to Charlotte for taking the time to speak with us. You can reach Charlotte at https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-lin-b923b533/