Student Sumbal Ishrat tells her story

Sumbal joined our Phase 1 in March 2020 only just one week after she found out about our course.
It may sound a but rushed…
But we invite you to read about her personal journey to see what led her to this decision and beyond.


So, you told me that by accident, algorithm, or law of attraction, you found out about us.

Yes. Just a month after we arrived in The Netherlands, I started working in child care. But I was researching what I could do to answer my calling: to live big, to make an impact. Something sustainable, something I can do in other countries as well, something that had an impact.
One day, while I was Googling for a life coach to help out, out of nowhere, the advert for The ICCI appeared.

Everything I read about the course made so much sense. Everything written about the phases was so simply put, it was so clear. But the course was starting in a week. My husband encouraged me to call, have a talk and if it still felt so good, to go for it. I had a call with Noa, and the conversation I had with her gave me even more clarity. It felt like all the little pieces of the puzzle now felt together. And that was it. A week later I started…


Can you tell us a little bit about your background? What led to your calling to grow bigger and make an impact?

I was born and raised in Pakistan in a rather privileged family. Yet, because of illness and an accident we struggled as a family. At 18 I started working, very unusual in our culture, especially for a girl. From then on, I worked a lot: child day care, summer camp workshop leader, tuitions, volunteering and I was going to college at the same time.

All these experiences gave me a lot of insights, and mostly they made me trust to try and fail all the time. I had the guts to stop with the accountant study that was making me very unhappy and at 20 years old I went to the UK to study to become a teacher. Over there I was thriving!  I studied hard, worked, saved money, travelled quite a bit and got my heart broken. After that I asked myself the biggest question: What do I want from life? It made me realize that I loved my independence and I want to grow big and never stop developing.


You started a path of self-discovery and growth. What did that bring you?

Actually, while I was discovering all these things for myself, I had very many and meaningful conversations with my friends and siblings back home. Even though there was a physical distance, we were also connecting at a deeper level. Haseeb, who has always been my best childhood friend, made it very clear that he loved me for who I had become now, with all my experiences and life lessons. That was so brave of him, that was the man to stand by my side. We got married and a little while later he got a nice job offer. We both decided on moving abroad again. This time it was The Netherlands. And here I found the ICCI!

What were your expectations when you started Phase 1 with us?

Honestly, I thought, I am already a skilled helper, I have so much experience by teaching, volunteering, and leading in camps. I thought that this Phase 1 is going to be peanuts. Until we got that poem about listening on the first or second day! That poem touched my heart, it made me realize that all what we want, what all humans want, is to be heard!
And that, I needed to learn to do better.


How did you feel while advancing in Phase 1?

From then on it was a turmoil. The 2020 world health situation affected all of us. I got hurt by a friend, I lost an uncle. Meanwhile, this course was turning my world upside down.  It made me revisit my childhood memories, my relationship with my parents, my view on life. We were talking so much about feelings and emotions, something that we never do this way in real life. I started to ask questions, open ones, direct ones, authentic ones. I was questioning everything.  The material we were reading was so good and profound.  It got my shield out.


What did this turmoil bring you?

It refined my definition of empathy and sensitivity; it polished my own learning about life. I started looking at things differently. There were things buried away, it’s human nature, I know, but I addressed them. And actually, all this practice and discussions we had with our peer group, they were absolutely gold. We have all learned and experienced so much because of our peer group gatherings. And of course during the practice during the course.


Can you name a few aha-moments?

During one of our peer groups discussions, another person was sharing. I could relate with her story so much, I was so moved. We connected in a deep way. And that made me realize that life experience should not take your softness away from you. I realized that my empathy is a good thing.

Another aha-moment was not a moment, but a sequel of moments which taught me how to help the person according to their situation. I used to think, “O, I have been through that, I did this, this should work for you too”. I was giving advice. But then I realized I should listen to what the other person needs. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, even if they are not always aware of them. As a coach I help you see that you make your own medicine, custom made.


How did all these new or improved skills affect your daily life?

If not totally, I do feel that I am half a new person inside me. I know what serves me and what does not. I was holding onto relations that were not good for me. I was trying to fix everything. I have learned that I was not being authentic, I was forcefully doing things, judging. Now I am letting things flow, take their course, trust the other. I am still learning, but I am not sad about that. I now have a positive regard to the person opposite me!

What made you decide to go to Phase 2?

When I signed up, I didn’t know if Phase 2 was for me. I didn’t get the discount for doing both phases. I took time to evaluate my learning. Phase one was amazing, but it was also overwhelming. For a moment I contemplated taking a break first.  But at the end of Phase 1 I was so wired, so enthusiastic. I was hungry for so much more. This is the big thing I was looking for. I am so looking for exposure to practice new skills, new depth.


Where do you see yourself next summer, after you have finished Phase 2?

First, I am just looking forward to experiencing it all. But if I dream big, in an ideal life, I see myself starting my own business. I will be a 30-year-old with all my assets and gifts, coaching children and young adults.  But no matter what, finishing Phase 2, will be my greatest achievement so far. It will be something I did totally for myself and I love it already.



This was part one of Sumbal’s portrait. Keep an eye on our website, in February 2021 we will publish part two. You can catch up with Sumbal and see where she is standing half way through her journey of Phase 2.

Thank you Sumbal for such an inspiring interview.


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