Ep10: Awareness is the Key to Nurse Coaching – Joni O’Neil, BSN, RN, NC-BC

About Joni O'Neil

Joni O’Neil has been a registered nurse for 23 years with experience in the emergency department, outpatient surgery, clinical nursing education and medical surgical floor nursing.  She completed her Bachelors of Science, Nursing Degree at the University of Central Oklahoma in 1997. She has been a fitness instructor for 14 years and a health and wellness educator for seven years, planning and presenting health and wellness programs within the hospital system and throughout the community.

As an avid health and wellness promoter, Joni produces a monthly Employee Wellness Newsletter and is featured bi-monthly on Triple Play Sports Radio’s Morning Scramble with Steve Daniels discussing everything wellness.



Joni ONeil awareness

Ep10: Awareness is the Key to Nurse Coaching – Joni O’Neil, BSN, RN, NC-BC Highlights

“Becoming aware of our thoughts, our feelings and our actions in the moment, and having the ability to become aware when we’re not. So many of us live our lives on autopilot.”  Joni O’Neil

  • Nurse Coaching brings people an awareness, becoming aware of your thoughts, your feelings and your actions in the moment, and having the ability to become aware when you’re not.
  • Awareness can help you recognize you have an autopilot brain, and that you have, (what Joni calls) a ‘thought genie’. Your frontal brain, and your ability to make conscious decisions.
  • When you can tap into the thought genie and recognize that your autopilot computer brain is running on habit and can just breathe and decide that you want to reprogram that computer, that auto-brain, you can.
  • Awareness is knowing that you have the choice. If you want to stay in the autopilot, fine, choose it, own it, be there. But if you don’t, knowing that you have the power to decide what you want to think about. And it’s not that you just say, “Okay, I’m going to think this” and then you think it.
  • Nurse Coaching helps you become aware of your power. To frame your brains, focus your brains on what’s important to you and what serves you and what’s valuable to you.
  • Begin with what you are passionate about, and work from your strengths and where you can use that in your coaching.
  • Nurse coaching is its own skill and its own science.  In Nursing education, you can often learn how to educate, and coaching and education are two distinctly different skill sets.
  • A Nurse Coach does not need to be the expert of everything, instead it is all about the person, their feelings and what they are going through, and where they want to go.  It is not about the disease or illness process.

Ep10: Awareness is the Key to Nurse Coaching – Joni O’Neil, BSN, RN, NC-BC Transcript

Nicole Vienneau  00:00

Welcome to Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! This is Nicole Vienneau, your host, and I’m also a board-certified Integrative Nurse Coach. And I am so excited today and thrilled to invite Joni O’Neil, from Joni O Coaching, and she is here to talk with us all about Nurse Coaching, all the things she’s passionate about and all the things she’s doing in her community. So welcome, Joni.

Joni O’Neil  00:26

Thank you. I am so excited to be here. I’m just buzzing today.

Nicole Vienneau  00:29

Awesome. So, we will buzz together and share lots of juicy information, I’m sure. So, let’s dive back into your history a little bit and just explain, very briefly, how you got into the Nursing profession.

Joni O’Neil  00:43

I went to college straight out of high school, not knowing what I was going to do. And in that first couple of years, I was one of those college students that changed their major multiple times. I literally had no idea what I wanted to do. I switched my majors from education to speech pathology to political science to Asian studies. I mean, I was all over the board and I just really had no idea what I wanted to do.

So finally, I stopped going to college. I got married and got a job. And throughout that time, my husband had said multiple times, why don’t you look into Nursing. And for whatever reason, I was resistant, and I didn’t want to go there. But after working a couple of years managing a dental office, I realized that I needed a career. And so, he said it again and I said okay, let me look at it.

And so, I quit my job and I took a job in a Nursing home and got a CNA certification and worked in a Nursing home for six months to see if Nursing was for me. And I really did fall in love with it. It was the hardest job I’ve ever had, for the least amount of money, the physical work that was required, but it was amazing.

The Nursing home that I worked in had an Alzheimer’s unit, and so I had experience there. We had the heavy lifting and where, you know, we have lifts, and it was very— actually, probably, looking back, it was very dangerous work that I was doing with very little training. It was a real learning and growing experience and it made me realize that yes, I think I do want to become a Nurse. And so that’s what I did. I went and finished up the pre-reqs and started in the Nursing program.

Nicole Vienneau  02:30

And then, once you got your Nursing degree, where did that lead you?

Joni O’Neil  02:34

Well, this was back in the 90s and for those people listening that were around then, ER was the biggest show on TV. That was my passion, I loved the show. And while I was in Nursing school, I got a job as a tech in an ER. I finagled my way to an internship in the ER, got hired on as a new graduate in the ER, which was not very common back then, you had to get there by way of the floor or other ways.

But by the time I had graduated from Nursing school, I was already an LPN. I did that my junior year and just rolled over and, really, within a year, I think I was charge Nurse on some shifts, because I knew that ER from the ground up. And I loved it, I loved being a jack-of-all-trades. I loved that I knew a lot… or I knew a little about a lot. And I loved the variety of people that came in and the various cases and looking back, I remember we would trade around.

“Oh, I’ll take that MI for that bowel impaction” and we would switch around to do the things we loved, and it was just very exciting. I didn’t have any fear. I didn’t have any kids, so I didn’t have any fear about what was coming in the door. And, you know, I always looked at it as something new, something different to learn.

Nicole Vienneau  03:56

And I hear this beautiful connection of continuous learning, as you went along your journey into Nursing, starting with CNA role and then moving into LPN, but then learning the ground floor of the ER and then all of a sudden you are working as an RN in the ER and then you’re charge Nurse within a short time. So, I can tell that you’re a real go-getter as far as moving up the chain and seeing things and opportunities in which you can reach for.

Joni O’Neil  04:26

Yeah, it was such a wonderful experience. And I did that for a number of years, and I also expanded out from my original ER and worked PRN in multiple ERs which is, again, just kind of expanded on that variation, you know, each hospital– I mean, your Nursing scope of practice is always the same, but your hospital policies are different.

So, you know, one ER we were very limited and another ER we were completely working out the patient before the physician ever saw him. And we were allowed to put in EJs and do all kinds of things which, at the time, you know, I didn’t really know that was unusual because that was how we started.

In another hospital that I worked, it was a teaching hospital, so they would do procedures for teaching, and it was just really exciting. There was always something going on. So yeah, I’ve always loved growing, learning, and variation.

Nicole Vienneau  05:32

I feel like all of that foundational work that you did in the ER then moved you further along in your career because you’re no longer working in the emergency room now. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing these days.

Joni O’Neil  05:35

I spent many years in the ER and then I started having children and stayed home some, worked in outpatient surgery, worked in education– kind of in and out, raising small children. And then about 2009, I went back to work full-time in the hospital, back to the ER, that was my comfort zone. And they didn’t have a full-time position, so they shared me with outpatient surgery. So, I did both of those things.

And somewhere along the way, I found fitness. I had a brand-new baby, I was a little bit angry, a little bit overweight, a little bit stressed out. And I fell into this weird class called Zumba by accident, and it really did change my life as far as my perspective, my energy, the way that I felt and connected with people. And so, I started teaching that within two months of finding the class. I found certification and then was working in the hospital.

And so, what happened slowly over time is my passion for fitness grew and became my new persona in the hospital– the fitness Nurse. And it was kind of weird at first. People would start showing me their plates in the cafeteria, as if I’m judging it, and I’m like, “Okay, great. Why are you showing me your plate?”

But anyway, so that grew and then I started bringing fitness to the hospital, doing lunchtime stretching and lunchtime fitness classes and trying to just share my passion for fitness at work. And then a few years later, a position came open at our medical fitness facility and I got a call that said, “Hey, are you interested in this?”

And I was a little bit confused at first because I thought, well, I’m a Nurse, I don’t know anything about managing a fitness facility. And he said, “Well, are you saying no?” And I said, “No, I’m not saying no, I’m saying yes, but I’m saying I don’t know what I’m doing.”

And so that’s where it started. So, I moved– at my current position, I’m the fitness supervisor for our medical fitness facility of our hospital. And we have 902,000 members. And that varies, of course, with COVID. It has hit us pretty…in a devastating way but we’re coming back now. And so, I manage our fitness facility, I am the employee wellness coordinator for our hospital, and I manage all of our employee wellness events. And I do a newsletter, I do a local radio program, I work with our cardiac rehab department to teach relaxation classes.

And then we have just recently created a program called CORE, which is Cancer Optimization Recovery Endeavor, where we’ve partnered with our Cancer Center and offer programs for them, which includes Nurse Coaching, which is very exciting. And that’s just less than two months old and so I’m really excited about that.

Nicole Vienneau  08:26

Oh, wonderful. So, we’ll talk about CORE in a few minutes. But before we get there, what attracted you to the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy program and Nurse Coaching in general?

Joni O’Neil  08:38

A couple years ago, my mentor and the Nurse that hired me at my facility, who’s also a good friend of mine, said, “You should look at this, you should look at holistic Nursing or Nurse Coaching.” And she was in a graduate program at the time, so she had been looking around. And she said, “This is you.” And I kind of laughed and I didn’t know what she was talking about and said, “Yeah, I’m busy.”

The seed was planted, and so I kept thinking about that. And so, I started looking online at coaching. I found, with the Nurse Coaching, what she was talking about. I found the American Holistic Nurses Association, and just started digging into everything I could find. Different podcasts, not just Nurse Coaching, life coaching, health coaching, wellness coaching, reading articles, doing all the free programs online I could find, and then I decided that this was something I wanted to do.

And I selected INCA, really, based on the image that they have of being more academic, because I was going to try to get it funded through my work. And I thought the way that it was presented and looking at the people who founded it, you know, the authors of the coaching textbooks, would be more beneficial in my endeavor to get it paid for.

I’m really glad that I did select INCA because it is really growing. Just since I’ve graduated, they’ve updated the website. The platform is so much more beautiful and more friendly and more accessible. And so, I’m really ecstatic that I chose that program.

Nicole Vienneau  10:08

Wonderful. We are glad you chose that program, too. Maybe I’m a little biased about it, but you know, I can be.

So, tell us a little bit about any transformation that you experienced since taking the program, or during the program, that has helped you become a better Nurse.

Joni O’Neil  10:26

Oh, my goodness, so many important things. First of all, the awareness, becoming aware of our thoughts, our feelings and our actions in the moment, and having the ability to become aware when we’re not. It kind of gets confusing because you’re talking about thinking about thinking and it gets really out there. But it’s true. So many of us live our lives on autopilot.

One of the things that I remember recognizing was I used to listen to music or talk radio all the time. And I think I did that as a way of just keeping my mind full and busy. And through the program, I recognized that and realized that I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about my thoughts, or deciding what I wanted to think about, I just listened to whatever was there and let that direct my thoughts, which really, is a waste of… a lot of wasted time. And so that was powerful.

Recognizing my part in relationships in my family and at work and how that affects the outcome, the results, was huge. So many of us have so much power to make decisions that affect our life, that we just give away.

Another thing that really transformed for me was the awareness practices that we do in the program. In the beginning, I was completely resistant to them, even during the coaching practicum portion where we were encouraged to do them with every client. And I really resisted at the beginning.

And while I had resistance, the clients I was coaching let me know that that was the part of the coaching they didn’t feel comfortable with. But as it went on, and I realized the value and became a believer in awareness practices, now people tell me that that is one of the most valuable parts of their coaching. So that was a huge transition for me, letting go and being present for those awareness practices that we do.

Nicole Vienneau  12:26

And for some of our listeners, they may not even know what an awareness practice is. So, can you explain a little bit about what those are and what they mean to you?

Joni O’Neil  12:33

For me, what it is with each client, and the way it went from unimportant to important, is I had a client come in for a coaching session, and she was near tears, she was very excited and had just come from a stressful situation in her job. There was no way I could just start the coaching session. I mean, she was not present. And so, we did an awareness practice. Just deep breathing, concentrating on our breath, letting your brain focus on something outside of all the thoughts that are running around in your head, probably two or three minutes of just breathing, a little bit of, maybe, guided imagery.

But it was so powerful for her when we were through. We had one of the best sessions I’ve ever had. And she said, “Thank you so much, you transformed me in this moment.” And really, I didn’t transform her, she transformed her. That’s how it becomes powerful.

And by awareness, all we’re doing is recognizing that we have an autopilot brain, and that we have… I call it a thought genie. I always imagine like Aladdin genie up there. That’s your frontal brain, that is your ability to make conscious decisions.

And if we can tap into our thought genie and recognize that our autopilot computer brain is running on habit and can just breathe and decide that we want to reprogram that computer, that auto-brain, that we can. But it takes some sort of focus, mental focus, to do that, and the easiest way is through breathing.

Nicole Vienneau  14:09

I’m imagining the genie up there. Beautiful colored smoke and coming out of the bottle very slowly. But much of what you just discussed is all, you know, I link it back to that neuroplasticity and our brain’s ability to reprogram itself. However, there’s a component in which the person has to make a choice on whether or not they’re going to choose to reprogram their brain or whether or not we stay on the autopilot, which many of us are.

Joni O’Neil  14:43

And I think that the awareness part is just knowing that you have the choice. If you want to stay in the autopilot, fine, choose it, own it, be there. But if you don’t, knowing that you have the power to decide what you want to think about. And it’s not that you just say, “Okay, I’m going to think this” and then you think it.

I mean, it’s kind of like learning to play a sport or, I don’t play tennis, but I imagine playing tennis, you know, you work on your swing. And after enough practice, you can do your swing in a perfect manner without thinking about it. And it’s the same thing with reprogramming our thoughts.

People think that, “Oh, I’m just gonna think it once and that’s it.” No, you have to refocus and rethink and maybe write it down and read it to yourself and then every time you start to go back to the automatic thought, you have to refocus. But over time, you build that new neural pathway, you build that new thought, until eventually, that becomes your thought.

And you think about things that you know how to do. The easiest one that I always use is driving. We don’t think about getting in our car, turning the key, putting it in gear, putting your seatbelt on, looking over your shoulder or your camera, backing up. We just do it, it’s automatic, but it took practice to get there. And that’s the same thing with our brains, it takes practice to think what you want to think.

Nicole Vienneau  16:01

Awareness practices are a tool, one tool, that can tap into creating that ability for ourselves, personally, as practitioners. A tool to utilize when we’re in Nurse Coaching sessions with our clients or with groups or in our communities.

Joni O’Neil  16:20

And it’s so powerful that it’s not just focusing your brain, but it’s actually creating neurotransmitters within your body; producing serotonin by your thought. There’s so much we can do and that we can– I hate to keep saying the word control– but there are so many things that we can signal in our bodies to do that create those responses that serve us tremendously.

Many of us are so at the mercy of just our automated thoughts and automatic body reactions. And so, it’s a process, it’s teaching people how to do these things that are so powerful for them.

Nicole Vienneau  16:54

That’s a wonderful skill of Integrative Nurse Coaches, using these tools within a coaching session for all of those physical manifestations. I think of relaxation response, heart rate reduction, respiratory rate reduction, blood pressure reduction, then in addition to what we discussed of neurotransmitters floating around in our bodies, and then all of the neuroplasticity implications, all of that.

And many people in our world we know, coaching a lot of different people in communities and groups, have never even experienced such things. So, Nurse Coaches coming into the world and exposing people, in their spaces, to these new tools and new ways where people can choose to make a difference in their own life, and that choice, without us forcing anything on them, it’s just a beautiful thing.

Joni O’Neil  17:45

Yeah, it’s really transformational. And sometimes, people, when they first recognize that it is within their power, they almost feel a little bit like they’re getting the blame because they have the power. But once you realize that you do have that power, it is– I keep saying power– but it is so empowering because then you recognize and realize that, really, nobody has the ability to make you, to make you, feel any way at all without your approval or without your consent.

We have that power. Frame our brains, focus our brains on what’s important to us, what serves us, what’s valuable to us. And, so often, we think that people make us feel a way, and they really don’t. We decide. And the reason we know that is because you can have two people in the exact same situation, exact same situation, who have completely different thoughts about it, and have completely different outcomes in that situation. And that’s how we know that that’s true.

Nicole Vienneau  18:51

Alright, let’s change gears. You let me know a little bit about Nurse Coaching, about how you got into Nurse Coaching, awareness practices and how those can benefit people. Let’s talk about your program that you were discussing about working with people who are going through cancer.

Joni O’Neil  19:09

This is so exciting. And I do– right now I’m still a new Nurse Coach and I’m in the beginning of my Nurse Coaching career and so I have two pathways. I have my private business that I’m creating, and I have coaching within my current position.

And in my current position, this new program called CORE is allowing me the opportunity to coach people with cancer, anywhere on the diagnosis spectrum. They could be newly diagnosed, they could be in treatment, they could be post treatment, they can be cancer-free, or they could be in a treatment-is-done-this-is-the-end-of-the-life transition. So, it’s anywhere on there and it’s just been phenomenal.

I think I mentioned earlier this program really is only about eight weeks old now and I’ve been working with two clients and their journey has just been remarkable for me to see. Their feedback has been tremendous. Because with cancer, when you have cancer, when you’re in the process of being treated, people are always telling you what to do, what you should do and shouldn’t do, giving you advice, giving you lists.

In Nurse Coaching with people with cancer, it’s not about that at all. It’s about asking them what’s important to them? What do they want? What matters to you right now? What do you want to focus on? And oftentimes, they haven’t had the opportunity to really just talk with someone and share their fears. I mean, their real fears about death and about dating after cancer. When do I tell them I already had cancer? So, it’s been interesting for some of these topics to come up and I’m learning, too.

Nicole Vienneau  20:48

Right, I remember when you were first talking about this program, and there was a little tweak, and I know our fellow colleagues can relate to this, the tweak of: oh my gosh, I’ve never worked with people with cancer in this way, how will I ever be able to do this job? So, tell us a little bit about that transformation for you.

Joni O’Neil  21:11

Yes, I did. I had a moment of panic. And I thought, oh my gosh, I’m not a cancer Nurse, an oncology Nurse. I don’t know about the medicines, the treatments. And so, I reached out through our INCA alumni page saying, “Hey, does anybody on here coach cancer recovery? Is there anyone who can help me?” And several people reached out. I had a great conversation with a Nurse Coach and she kind of reeled me in, kind of like that slap in the face when you’re freaking out.

She said, “Wait, wait, wait, you’re not a cancer coach, you’re a Nurse Coach. You’re coaching the patient; you’re coaching the client. And as you peel back the onion layers, it’s not about the cancer, it’s about the person and their feelings and, you know, what they’re going through and where they want to go.”

So that was a huge relief because I had started thinking I needed to research everything about every kind of cancer. And what’s interesting in our conversations with my clients, we don’t even, for the most part, talk about the cancer, we talk about everything else. But that’s one thing they’re pretty well covered with, with all of their other health practitioners and people that they’re working with.

Nicole Vienneau  22:27

So, Nurse Coaching allows you to remove the expert hat and move more into: what does the person in front of you really need?

Joni O’Neil  22:38

Yes, and you know, we’re not an expert in whatever it is, most of the time, whatever it is they’re seeing you for, but hopefully, we’re becoming experts in the art of coaching and that can be used in almost every area. I haven’t found one yet, that relying on some of these tools and techniques that we have, is not beneficial.

Nicole Vienneau  23:02

That’s definitely one of the freedoms that I’ve experienced in this new role of Nurse Coaching, is the ability to release some of the: I must know this, everything about this, to help this person in front of me, whether it’s from neurological, whether it’s from heart issues, or whatever it is, I no longer have to hold all of that information and be the expert on that.

Instead, I can be the knowledge that I have from being a Nurse, from all of the work that I have professionally done in Nursing, and my life experience, as well, and combine all of that, and then move into: okay, what does this person really need in front of me?

And I now use my expertise in Nurse Coaching skills and tools instead of having to have the answers. Because I often tell my clients, when they ask me, “Well, what do you think?” And I say, “Who cares what I think! It doesn’t matter what I think. Let’s talk about you and then explore your thoughts about this.”

Joni O’Neil  24:07

And that’s what’s so exciting, I think, about coaching. When people realize that they have the answers and when you’re listening to them and asking the questions that cause them to kind of look inside their own head and heart and then they say, “Oh!”

Or they’ll say something like, “You said” and I say, “No, you said. I just repeated what you said. This came from you.” And so, it’s very empowering for people to realize, when they realize, that it’s within them, the knowing is within them. And I love seeing that spark of light that occurs.

Nicole Vienneau  24:45

Yeah, we relate this back to our present healthcare system where there isn’t a lot of time. And sometimes in situations, of course, in healthcare systems, if it’s an acute situation, we don’t ask the patient what they need because we are just doing things to them.

Where Nurse Coaching has a unique space in that it offers a chance for the patient, for the client, for the community, for the group, to offer their own thoughts about what’s going to happen to them. Yeah, it’s a whole different space and a whole different way of providing health care.

Joni O’Neil  25:22

And it’s not because they don’t want to. I’ve spoken with, just recently, some physical therapists, so Nurse practitioners and other Nurses, you know, they want to ask those questions, but they literally do not have time. They have, you know, X amount of minutes with their patient and they have to give them education, they have to teach them, show them what they need to do. They have to, you know, whatever it is for their particular specialty, they don’t have time. And you cannot ask a question that’s not a yes or no, because you literally can’t wait for the answer.

And so, when I’ve talked to them about what I do, many of them are already thinking of patients they would like to send my way because it’s not that they don’t have the tools in front of them, they need some help with getting started with either something that’s emotional or some other part of their holistic being that’s preventing them from doing the tasks.

Nicole Vienneau  26:17

I definitely relate back to what you said about it, of course, it’s not the clinicians’ fault that they don’t have time. You think about the studies that have been recently done– general office visit of going to see your primary care provider, you can have an average of, I think it’s 12 minutes, in a clinic visit. So that’s like five minutes for you, maybe, and a few other minutes for your practitioner to develop a plan and give it to you and out the door you go.

So, it is not the clinicians’ fault, it is the healthcare business model that has created this roller coaster for our clients. And I really see Nurse Coaching filling the void and creating opportunities for patients, for clients, communities– I keep saying that because we’re not just one-on-one, we’re with everyone. We can be everywhere in the communities, in hospitals, wherever. Which brings me to my next question, which is: where do you see Nurse Coaching leading to?

Joni O’Neil  27:15

Oh, my goodness, I think it’s so wide open. I think in my area, you know, no one even really has heard of that. I didn’t know what it was until a year and a half ago. And so, I think as people find out what it is and see the benefits that come from it, and we are able to do coaching in various settings, then it’s just going to explode.

Just in my short time as a coach– I graduated from the INCA program in October, so that’s, what, six months ago– I can already see how the horizon for me is changing. I had no thoughts, initially, about working with cancer patients. I had not even really, initially, thought about building my own practice, I just wanted to do it for employees at work.

And so, yeah, it can go in any different way. And I’ve spoken with different coaches who do coaching in incredibly different ways, in hospitals, in private practice, with specialty niches, from inflammatory gut issues to… I don’t even know… I can’t even think of all the things.

There’s so many ways that we’re working. Because we’re the most trusted professions, for so many years running, people are open to what we’re offering, because our history is known as being someone… being people who care about people. And so, as long as we keep coming from that place, I think it’s just going to explode.

Nicole Vienneau  28:41

It is exploding. And we’re seeing this transformation of many Nurses coming to Nurse Coaching. And just for our listeners who’ve never heard about Nurse Coaching, we’re glad you’re here. And Nurse Coaching is just the actual term of Nurses providing health and wellness coaching. We can coach Nurses, yes, but we also coach everybody, anybody, everyone on this planet, to find their purpose, potentially, or whatever it is that their desire is.

I also wanted to connect back to something where I’ve heard from fellow Nurse Coaches who are starting in Nurse Coaching in their own lives, they are trying to figure out: what should I do? What my interests are and all of that. And I listened to your story, and I can’t help but see this thread through your story, which is you’re seeing opportunities within the spaces that you’re in.

For example, when you started thinking about Nursing school, well, you took the initiative and you became a CNA and then when you were in Nursing school, then you became an LPN and, you know, transitioned into ER, looked for a job that normally new grads are not hired in, and yet, you got that job.

And then you transitioned into your future, gaining more experience and more experience in that role and being in diverse spaces, learning to do the same thing, but in different spaces, in a way, which is not the same thing.

Then you move into this fitness role. You said, “Okay, I want to bring Nurse Coaching here, to my facility. And there are Nurses out there who are like, “Gosh, I just don’t know where to begin with that, I don’t know who to talk to, I don’t know where to start.” And so, maybe you could give us a little bit of… some of that… a generalization of, like, some oomph behind: how do you start yourself doing those kinds of things?

Joni O’Neil  30:37

The very first thing that you have to do is decide… well, maybe not decide… recognize what is innate in you, what are your skills and your values. For every person out there, whatever you have to offer, there is a group for you. So, you know, what my coaching looks like may not be what your coaching looks like and, you know, we don’t have to replicate somebody else’s path.

Through the INCA, they do the VIA strength survey and I think that’s incredibly powerful. You know, you go in and you figure out what are your natural, innate strengths. These are not things that you’ve learned or talents that you have, these are things that are just innate in you.

And then when you know what your strengths are, expanding on those, incorporating those into your life, finding out what is it that people come to you for? What do they ask you advice about? What would you do for free? And then what would be your dream job if you could get paid for doing it for free? Really knowing yourself first, before you dive into it, because it’s such a varied field, we can get easily distracted or confused or think that we have to do it just like somebody else. And you don’t.

So, the place to start is what you’re passionate about, what are your strengths? Where can you use that in coaching? Because that’s where you’re going to succeed. And there’s a term called “ikigai”. It’s a Japanese term, but it’s kind of a culmination of your talents, your abilities, your passion, that little, tiny circle in the middle. When you can figure out what that is, then it’s going to be a, pretty much, easy journey.

But I think, sometimes, we think that we’re doing something that somebody else is doing, it’s not our thing, we just want it to be our thing. But you have a thing, we all have a thing, we just don’t know what it is. That would be my advice, is to start with yourself, find out all of those things, and then use that in your Nurse Coaching.

Nicole Vienneau  32:42

Wonderful advice. Definitely the self-exploration really leads us to more possibilities than trying to replicate something that someone else is doing.

Joni O’Neil  32:51

We all have these unique characteristics, and sometimes we want to hide them or diminish them. But if over your life, that’s the thing that people keep commenting about, that might be your thing. Embrace it, whatever that is.

Nicole Vienneau  33:07

Right? Quit diminishing it! Those Nurse Coaches need some coaching from fellow Nurse Coaches.

Joni O’Neil  33:09

And there are some groups out there, especially for coaches that have just finished the program, just finished with all your practicum clients and you’re like now what? You’re in between starting your business, coaching clients.

There are groups out there where you can connect with other coaches and barter, swap, trade out coaching. It’s extremely powerful. And for many of us, we didn’t really have coaching until we went to the coaching program and then we kind of have that in our small groups. And we were getting some coaching from our instructors and, you know, that was incredibly powerful, but what I have found, since graduating, is some groups where you can trade coaching.

And so, for what, the last four months, I’ve had a different coach every four weeks. I have learned so much from them, their style, their technique, approach to coaching. Some of it might be things you don’t want to do, but it’s all valuable. And in return, I’ve been coaching coaches. And again, it’s such a great experience because they’re able to give you feedback because they’re a coach, too. So, it’s just a great way to help you when you’re first starting out because that’s, you know, that’s tough.

Nicole Vienneau  34:24

It is tough, just starting out. And I will say that I’ve been doing this for quite a few years, and I also have a coach. I feel that coaches do need a coach. So, coaches for coaches because there are things that come up and everybody needs a coach.

We’re looking ahead to the future to see, you know, what we can accomplish moving forward and everyone can really use that, those ears, to hear things that we’re stuck in our own head about. But once we start talking about it, all of a sudden it becomes real and then we can choose to take action and move ourselves forward or not.

Joni O’Neil  35:03

Right. It’s 100%– I mean, it’s so magical, the process is magical. People being able to just really talk with someone who they know aren’t going to judge them, who are in a safe place, they’re in a safe space, they can say what they want. I mean, that in and of itself is powerful.

I did a little blog or a post about the difference between talking with your best friend and coaching. And the difference is, you know, when we’re talking with our friends, we have a certain expectation that we’re going to keep the relationship positive and… there’s just an expectation of give and take.

And with coaching, it’s not, it’s not a give and take. It’s a: “I’m here for you. This is your time. I’m not judging you. I don’t need anything from you. You don’t need my opinion.” And it’s just such a freeing space for people that is, again, magical.

Nicole Vienneau  35:55

It is magical. At the same time, that magic comes with skill behind the magic. So, there’s always someone behind that curtain performing, making things work, right? And that is the skill and tools and techniques of coaching.

Joni O’Neil  36:12

What I find interesting is, before I was a Nurse Coach, I probably would have told you I could easily coach someone. And I see this on someone’s social media, people saying, “Oh, I’m a Nurse, I don’t need training, I can coach.”

And I was probably that same person. But coaching is its own skill and its own science and what we, as Nurses, primarily learned, or at least in my training, in my career, was how to educate. And that is a completely different animal than coaching. And you can educate with compassion and be really great at it, but it’s still a completely different animal than coaching.

And so, for me, anyone who is going to coach– and, you know, there’s a lot of coaches out there that don’t get training and don’t get certification and there’s lots of conversations and debates you can have about whether that’s needed or not– but in my personal opinion, I don’t know how anyone could coach without training, of some official science of training.

Nicole Vienneau  37:11

I agree with that 150%. There is definite value in taking a certification program to begin to understand the true science behind behavior modifications, and the way in which we communicate with people, the way in which we communicate with ourselves. I mean, there’s this beautiful parallel, specifically in the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, where we do learn the tools and the tips and how to do the coaching.

But then you have this other side, which is really transformative for our own personal and professional sides, where we’re really learning about ourselves, and how to be, in essence, better humans, in a way, but just really understanding ourselves so that we can then be our best self for our clients.

Joni O’Neil  38:03

Yeah, 100%. And I think you just hit the nail on the head. For me, it’s authenticity. We can’t coach people if we’re not living the life. I am a firm believer we have to walk the walk to talk the talk, because people can sniff out inauthenticity in a heartbeat. And if we are not being our true selves and living this life, they’re not going to buy it.

They’re not going to buy it financially and they’re not going to buy it in their brain because we are not providing that to them. And so, I think it’s incredibly valuable for us to practice all of these things in our own lives so that we can share it with others.

Nicole Vienneau  38:45

Joni, is there anything else that you’d like to share with us?

Joni O’Neil  38:48

I did mention that I am starting my own practice. And that is just so very exciting and there’s a lot going on there and it is so scary at the same time as it is thrilling. And so, I’m just encouraging everyone out there, coaches, to jump in with both feet. I mean, there’s a big world out there and there are people who are just waiting for us to offer our services.

Nicole Vienneau  39:18

Awesome. So where can they find you if they’re looking to work with you or connect with you?

Joni O’Neil  39:24

Well, my website is coachjonio.com. My email is info@ coachjonio.com. And I have a Facebook group, where I really like to share content and just connect with people, called Nurse Coaching with Joni O. You can find me through Facebook, my name is Joni Lozano O’Neil. I am in the very beginning of my practice of Nurse Coaching and I’m just so excited to connect with people.

Nicole Vienneau  39:53

We will have all of your information in our show notes, and we do look forward to hearing about your success going forward and wish you all the best.

Joni O’Neil  40:03

Thank you so much. I appreciate this time and I love these podcasts. I’ve listened to every one of them. And it’s so exciting to hear what everybody’s doing and just how diverse our opportunities are.

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