Reigniting the Spark
A conversation with Maddie Weinreich, MCC, ORSCC, CPCC, CTPC
Master coach Maddie Weinreich believes that when you give relationships the attention they deserve, the whole system will flourish.
A faculty member from the early days of Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC™), Maddie first worked in travel and accounting before becoming a yoga instructor with a keen interest in personal wellness. Now recognized for her decades of coaching team effectiveness, transformational leadership and organizational development, Maddie has a passion for empowering couples to become the architects of their own relationships.
Many ORSC Trained coaches will recognize Maddie from CRR Global’s course rooms. In addition to her ORSC certification (ORSCC), Maddie is a Certified Team Performance Coach (CTPC), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), and holds the Master Certified Coach (MCC) credential with the International Coach Federation. She has trained and mentored professionals working in the field of relationship growth and development for close to two decades.
When Maddie is not leading an ORSC course, coaching couples, leaders, or business teams, she is hiking in the woods or sailing off the gorgeous coast of Maine. She recently celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary, and has two grown sons who are great men with fabulous relationship skills.
In this Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI™) Concepts in Action interview, Maddie reflects on ideas from yoga and Taoism, describes how coaching couples lights her up, and explains why ORSC co-founders Faith Fuller and Marita Fridjhon are heroes for her.
What I love about coaching is that it's about human potential, about what’s possible. That doesn't ever end. It's not so much about your history or your problems. It’s more about - How can you move forward? How can you grow? How can you develop your talents? It’s also trusting yourself, which is really important. We don't do that enough.
Coaching really empowers you to think and look at things differently. In coaching, the client has the answers. That’s very freeing.
ORSC helps us reshape conversations using tools and skills. (When I first started doing ORSC, we called them gizmos.) They help people to see things a bit differently, to stand in a slightly different place, and have the conversation coming through a different portal. When that we do that, we depersonalize whatever the problem is. We start to speak from different places and step into other people's shoes. It opens up all kinds of doorways to move forward.
On how she came to coaching
I taught yoga and meditation for about 20 years while I was raising my kids. I really believed that was my life’s work. I went all the way to the professional level with Kripalu yoga and teacher training, and thought I was going to die with my yoga teacher training manual on my chest.
Then I started to realize that as much as I loved it, you can't actually make a living as a yoga teacher. My kids were becoming teenagers, so I brought my attention back home. I was still on my own personal development path. I took a one-week program called the Quadrinity Process at the Hoffman Institute. Looking at all of the different patterns that came from childhood, I realized - oh, I don't have to operate from ‘shoulds.’ What if I went towards what I wanted to do and what was interesting to me? I was open to doing something different.
In another training program, I watched everybody in the room get empowered. All 20 people in that program were ready to go out and be community leaders. I was very curious, and said to the leader, “How did you do that? She said, “Well, I'm a coach.” I wanted to learn more.
I took a Coach Training Institute (CTI) basic training course and was fascinated by it. As our homework, we had to coach somebody. The person I coached asked if they could hire me, and I said “Yes - and I’d better take the next class!” My clientele was built mostly word of mouth, people who knew of me or heard of me. My yoga students actually came for coaching because it was another form of development. That was really fun.
On when she is most on purpose
I'm most on purpose when I'm being well-used - when I’m growing, my skills, talents and abilities are being tapped, and I can draw on my personal and professional experience.
On her inspirations
The yoga philosophy is helpful for me - the Patanjali sutras and codes of conduct called yamas and niyamas. They are basically moral guideposts, a way to live and to have heart and compassion. They provide a moral compass of how to be in society. It’s really just about being and doing the best you can. It's not about being perfect, it's about staying and being persistent, and excellence rather than perfection. Just do your best and stay.
On what first piqued her interest in ORSC
I had always been fascinated by couples, and wanted to figure out how to coach them. Then I saw that CTI had an advanced training. Before I reinvented the wheel, I thought I’d see what they've come up with for coaching couples. Everything in the ORSC program made sense to me.
ORSC was the first coaching program to really address relationships systems work. It's very humane and very human, and that is exciting to me. There's a wide variety of tools and skills - I think we have around 40 tools - and they're all interesting. The ORSC approach keeps systems alive and lively.
CTI taught me basic coaching skills. I learned how to listen properly. I learned how to ask questions that evoke wisdom in the other person, and how to work with an individual. I’m really grateful that I started there. I had a really solid foundation of basic coaching skills, and ORSC built on it. First I was coaching one person, and with ORSC I could coach 12 or 200.
My couples’ coaching business blossomed, and I started to build a clientele of business teams and partnerships. Then I got the juicy piece of coaching family businesses. Family businesses have complex relationships. Maybe a couple owns it, their offspring are coming up, and there's a whole succession thing. There are multiple dynamics going on in that relationship that include couples coaching, and my passion has always been for coaching couples. I like a challenge, and this was a way to keep growing. It was something I could really do a deep dive in.
Now I coach business teams, partnerships, leaders, individuals and couples - a wide range. I train participants in all of the ORSC courses and for certification, so I'm deeply steeped in the work. Part of what I take great pride in is making it really accessible, and easy to understand, so students can go right out and put into practice what they learn in the program.
On her favorite ORSC tools and skills
Every time I coach, I design the alliance first. Whatever kind of conversation we're going to have, we first talk about their best hopes, their biggest concerns, what kind of atmosphere they want to create together, and how they want to be when things get difficult, uncomfortable or awkward. What would have them thrive? What can we count on them for? It sets up a sense of “we” for the system, and has them start to tune into the topic that they're going to discuss. That’s really useful and important.
I use alignment coaching when there's a lot of conflict. It’s really about hearing everybody, letting everyone express their voice, sharing what's going on for them, and being understood and known.
The third tool I often turn to is Lands Work, which is about empathetic understanding of the other, whether it's the other team or the other person. Really getting a sense of what's valued. I use that a lot with teams.
I might actually do all three, depending on the system that I'm working with.
On using ORSC to coach personal relationship
Coming into this work, my passion was working with couples. I’ve been working with them all along. It’s very different than with a business team. Couples want to work together. Maybe they parent together, they've been together for a long time, or they long to have more intimacy in their life together. It really doesn't take much to turn a couple's relationship around, because they're so invested in wanting it to be better. They will often experiment, and that's pretty exciting.
On where she lives
I live in the deep woods. It is idyllic and gorgeous, and I felt very blessed and lucky to be here during the pandemic. Before that, I’d be on a plane twice a month going to China, Singapore, Australia, Dubai, Europe, South Africa, Canada …. It was a very busy life leading courses. Being at home during the pandemic was a gift. Even though I was leading more courses virtually than I had been in person, I was able to watch the seasons change, ducks making a nest, the ice melting on the pond, the green buds. It was wonderful to be more connected with nature. Now, I'm ready to get back out there.
On what's lighting her up right now
Alive in Love is lighting me up! I've had this couples workshop in my mind for 10 years or so, and delivered it in different forms many times over the years. It’s just something I’d pull out once in a while, when there was a group of couples that wanted to brighten up their relationship. This time, it feels more official, like it's making its debut.
We ask questions. What that would help you to have a happier, alive and thriving relationship? How can the friction in the relationship work for you instead of against you? What might be some ways to amp the relationship up that aren't too hard? We are launching this as a two-hour workshop. People can come alone, or couples could come to it together as a date. They can get ideas about how to have constructive conflict, and what might increase positivity in their relationship.
I just ran it in China as part of International Coaching Week. The day we ran it was a special day for couples in China. 5/20 means I love you in Chinese. There were probably 60 or more people on the call, and it was very well received. That's what inspired me to say this must be the right time. The workshop is very interactive, and people had lots to say and to contribute.
On ORSC Certification
Certification is definitely about mastery. It forces you to get masterful.
You just take one step at a time. The whole program is broken down into bite-sized pieces. If you just do one thing and then the next and get your 100 hours of coaching in, by the end you are a much stronger, more solid, more masterful systems coach.
I didn't get my 100 hours right away. I think I took the full year, because I like to learn and then go out and practice. What I also loved about certification is there's so many different things that you do. Some weeks, you do a skill drill, sometimes group coaching, team coaching, a colleague call or something on your own. The variety really spoke to me.
On world work
I support certification students doing their World Work projects. It feels like I'm a midwife. I see a lot of babies get born in terms of World Work projects! That's pretty cool.
On Faith, Marita and the ORSC community
I'm part of that generation of ORSCers who were trained by Faith and Marita (the ORSC co-founders). I had one of them for every course that I took, and Faith for Certification. To learn from the masters has been a beautiful gift.
Faith and Marita have really fostered the building of this community in a thoughtful and caring way. They were like magnets, drawing us to them. They trained the faculty to be Front of the Room leaders - they took us by the hand, partnered with us, basically loved us up from start to finish and found us right. There was a lot of acceptance of who we were.
I’d say that I've had what I would call corrective life experiences, fostered by Faith and Marita. I don't really know how to explain that other than that I could have a conflict with a colleague, and we would find our way through it because we both knew to stay. We both had relationship skills that we'd learned in the program. I hadn't had that experience of conflict being good, of finding my way through it or seeing it have positive results. That was different for me than anything I had learned earlier in my life.
Faith and Marita created an environment where whatever we had to offer or donate in terms of ideas is always welcomed. That really grew us as an organization and as a community of faculty. We share that sense of community in our course rooms. We also share it with the larger community, which is growing by leaps and bounds at this point. We were invited, accepted, welcomed and appreciated as who we are. We didn't have to do anything different or we weren't criticized for being somebody we're not. That made a difference.
It's a pretty interesting group of people who are interested in relationship development and growth, who want things to be better and to hang out with each other. I don't know how Faith and Marita found these people, but there's some magnetism, something they sourced that we were drawn to. I feel like they dreamed us up and we dreamed them up.
On her heroes
Faith and Marita are my heroes, because they stuck with it. They got the message, they answered the call. I’m sure it has not been easy. I also have a hero named Linda Fitch with the Four Winds Society. She's a leader in shamanic training.
Barack and Michelle Obama are also my heroes, because they changed history and did it in a good way. I read somewhere that they knew that their relationship was going to be under scrutiny and in the public eye, and they made a commitment to each other that there wouldn't be any scandals. They would be role models as a high-profile couple that cared for each other and treated each other well. I greatly admire that!
Most recently my heroes have been all of the journalists and news anchors for CNN. These folks have brought us the unsettling, upsetting, and unprecedented news of the past few years in a clear and honest manner. They have kept the world informed. I can’t help but notice and appreciate the way these folks work together. I see the CNN news anchors publicly demonstrate what a cohesive high-performing team with purpose and integrity looks and acts like. These folks are human and humane. Each member of that team has their own unique style, each one a star, and together they form an outstanding constellation of world workers.
On what she's watching and reading
I've immersed myself into the work of Drs. John and Julie Gottman, and studied with the Gottman Institute. The Gottmans have done extensive research compiling empirical data that dispels myths about romantic relationships. They open our eyes to better ways of being together as a couple.
I also studied with Dr. Tammy Nelson, who specializes in the area of sexuality and intimacy for couples. Her book "The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity" is a keeper. Even if there isn't infidelity in the relationship, Dr. Nelson’s book is filled with lots of ideas about how to craft conversations to create the kind of relationship you want to have together. The work of Steve and Vera Bodansky is another resource in the area of sexuality. Their claim to fame is "the extended massive orgasm - how you can give and receive intense sexual pleasure." Who wouldn’t be interested in that?
One of my favorite resources for cleaning up communication is Susan Campbell's book "Saying What’s Real."
Recently I've been coaching some high-conflict systems. To support this work, I took a deep dive into Tony Roffers "Reciprocal Sovereignty." His approach is quite similar to the ORSC Alignment Coaching tool, and offers even more subtleties for getting underneath the conflict in a respectful and evolutionary manner.
My go-to resources for systems coaching are Marita Fridjhon’s two books, co authored with certified ORSC faculty members Dr. Anne Rød and Frank Uit de Weerd. I also enjoy CRR Global's Relationship Matters podcast, and have been interviewed by Katie Churchman for a few of them.
On why systems coaching is important now
The world right now is not as much about me as it is about we. There's too much going on for people to do it alone. We need systems coaching because it's a slightly different approach. It depersonalizes the issue and opens people up to be able to solve problems more easily. Saying that something in the system isn't working as well as it could be, and asking how can we make it better gives us more possibilities, more openness, and more potential.
Maddie's Couples Workshop
Want to connect with Maddie? Get in touch via her LinkedIn profile.
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