I am presently in negotiations to join into a collaboration arrangement with an international team of associate coaches. Before I am offered the green light, my potential partners want the heads-up on my coaching philosophy. They want to be sure that my philosophy aligns with that of the coaching group and with that of their high-profile clientele. Being a philosopher by nature and a prolific collector of ideas, I am not short of philosophies to share. (see some of them under the About Michelle button on my website at www.motivcoach.com). In my research-rich-style, I love to explore the philosophies of other coaches whom I truly admire. Amongst others, I want to share with you this wonderful insert from Ian McDermott & Wendy Jago’s book The Coaching Bible. Chapter 15, called Living the spirit of Coaching, begins with this beautiful quote from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Adventure;
“This, I believe, is the great Western Truth: That each of us is a completely unique creature, and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else’s”
McDermott and Jago go on to share, “Coaching is not about techniques for doing skills but skills for being. It rests on these fundamental assumptions:
√ Human beings are resourceful
√ People have a much greater ability to understand and direct themselves when they are invited to explore and reflect with curiosity and without judgment.
√ You can help others best by assisting them to stay engaged and focused, and by encouraging then to ask powerful questions that stimulate internal search.
√ No one exists in isolation. We are involved with others as part of many different systems, be they family, formal organizations, informal groupings, specific cultures or even nations. The interplay between these is dynamic and mutually influential.
√ As individuals, we are also made up of interconnecting systems: mind and body, intellect and emotions, reflection and action, muscular, organic and cellular. Conscious processing is only part of the story: we also need to draw upon wisdom of the body and understanding of the unconscious mind.
√ When you cultivate an attitude of respect and curiosity about yourself, about others and about the systems in which you are involved, you rapidly begin to wonder, and then to marvel. You begin to enter a state of reverence. Wonder and reverence are the foundations for a life led in the spirit of coaching.
√ Techniques can be good tools if skillfully applied, but like all tools they are only effective at the right places and in the right times. They are valuable servants but poor masters.
√ The best use of a tool is not solely to assist in the completion of a task but also to open opportunities for leading a better life.
√ Coaching that delivers what’s expected may be useful: coaching that delivers something beyond expectation may be more useful still.
√ If you regard yourself and others with wonder and reverence you will more readily seek explanations for what disappoints or doesn’t work, and you will open avenues rather than close doors.
Living in the spirit of coaching is to cultivate an ongoing awareness that is sensitive and fresh, that acknowledges frustration and lack of fit as a signal for possible change, and that celebrates lightness of heart, the joy of committed involvement and the power of playfulness. It deconstructs the clichés that there’s no gain without pain, that there have to be winners and losers, that ’better’ and ’worse’ relate to measurable external criteria or benchmarks, that effort has to feel effortful and that work and play are opposites. It rests not on a blind optimism that all is well, or ’she’ll be alright’, but on a well-founded faith that in spite of disappointments, setbacks and disasters, in spite of anger and frustration, misunderstandings and brutality, we have, as both individuals and as social beings, the means to enjoy life and to make it worth living.
Above all, the spirit of coaching helps you move from preoccupation with everyday necessities to a sense of how even the routine or mundane can, if viewed in a different light, give us cause to wonder and marvel. It’s all a matter of using your senses freshly and allowing yourself to encounter familiar things and happenings as if you were a stranger to the planet and its ways.
To be prepared to do that, and to then take delights in doing it and experience the awe that comes with seeing its fruits, is to live in the spirit of coaching.
Michelle Clarke is an Executive Coach based in Cape Town. She works locally and internationally with Leaders, Executives and Executive Coaches, helping them to navigate the complexity of 21st century leadership. To learn more about her work please visit her website www.motivcoach.com, and be sure also to subscribe to this blogfor future updates.
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