Coaching in a cold climate

This paper builds upon previous papers such as Towards mindfulness: an holistic and spiritual model of coaching and facilitation, where I offered an alternative view of the place of health and mindfulness within a holistic coaching and facilitation relationship in the workplace.

It seems to me that coaching and facilitation has not moved very far in the last 30 years. I would venture that it is currently stuck in the mud of modernity and suffers from all the ailments that currently plagued our society. Coaching a team or facilitating a group is generally still a directive exercise where the recipients are ‘trained’, ‘educated’ or ‘instructed’ by a person who knows. The working relationship is a process where the skilled direct the unskilled. The progression has been through the quantitative and sophisticated use of language in its various subtle forms, to disguise the inherent power relationship hidden within. But why are we still clinging onto this outdated method of control? Is it fear of the unknown or an unwillingness to bite the business hand that feeds us?

To be or not to be; that is the question

Employers like their employees to be predictable and controllable. Keep them focused on the sales figures or targets or the endless pursuit of the routine required to get the job done. Keep the business wheels turning and generating the money. But are not these same employees our fellow travellers and the very mirrors of ourselves? So what is the role of the coach or facilitator within this cold system? Do you maintain the status quo within our facilitation style or do you honour something deeper within yourself and in others?

Is it not obvious that coaching interventions are sourced from our own past patterns of our knowledge, our memories, our past training? The person who knows, who has acquired, has learned, wishes to teach, to impart to those who do not know; the classic teacher/pupil relationship. I, as myself wish to teach you, the learner, the wisdom I know and wish to share with you.

I question this traditional approach and method. Surely knowledge should be transmitted? Yes, knowledge needs to be transmitted and the traditional method is an effective means of delivery. But knowledge is a small part of the whole and the whole person should be the focus. As a coach, do I wish to honour the whole or focus on the part? The coach or facilitator primarily are whole field practitioners, and exist to meet the whole person rather that the mere delivery of knowledge.

Knowledge is the circular movement of the mind, it rises from memory as a reaction to the fact of itself. When you see the whole process, the cunning mind, self-talk of thought, the movement of the self, how it covers itself up through identification with its virtue, its experience, its belief, its knowledge; when you see that the mind is moving in a circle, in a cage of its own making, what happens? Are you aware of yourself as a centre and the thing observed? The fact is, you are the thoughts you think and the thinker who does the thinking!

When you recognise that every movement of the mind is merely a form of strengthening of the self, which you may observe directly, you can see it and be completely aware of it in action, you realise that the mind creates in a circle within the field of itself. How is the coach to proceed in facilitation, health, spirituality and all aspects of the whole person when trapped within a self-reflected self? After all, the content of consciousness is consciousness. A self-reflective self imposing its will and its knowledge on another’s self-reflective self continues to create isolation and strengthen the need to ‘be’ in both parties. This the way of the avoidance of spirituality and love within relationship.

Not to be

For truth to come, belief, knowledge, experiencing, the pursuit of virtue – all this must go. The virtuous coach who is conscious of pursuing virtue can never find reality, let alone foster it in another. He/she may be a very decent person; but that is entirely different from being a person of truth, a person who understands. To the one of truth, truth has come into being. A virtuous person is a righteous person, but a righteous person can never understand what is truth, because virtue to them is the strengthening of the self because they are pursuing virtue. When a man says ”I must be without greed”, the state of non-greed which he experiences only strengthens the self. That is why it is so important to be ‘innocent’, not only in the things of the world but also in belief and in knowledge.

A coach rich in knowledge and belief will never know anything but the darkness and suffering inherent of the growing self, and will be the centre of all mischief and misery. But if you and I, as individuals, can see this whole working of the self, then we shall know what love is.

Love is not of the self and the self cannot recognise love. You say ”I love” but then, in the very saying of it, in the very experiencing of it, love is not. But, when you know love, self is not. When there is love, self is not.