Change

Being ‘solutions-focused’ as coaches does not always serve our clients. Heresy, perhaps, but I think we can be more effective when we orient to the underlying need of a client, which is so often about a desire to be resourced through the quality of the relationship alone, rather than through solving a problem.

I learned some time ago that the best way to improve performance is to get people to relax and enjoy themselves. So picture me at the gym recently, facing the prospect of a fitness test to determine if I had made any gains since employing a personal trainer in December. I did not feel relaxed. I was not enjoying myself. No part of me believed in myself.

‘Mindfulness’ is the jaw-grinding word of the week, and mindless references to it in organisational work are driving me crazy! While one of its early Western exponents, Jon Kabat-Zinn, described it as ‘paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally’, I’m concerned that its careless use in business is another way of getting us to focus on the task at hand and so meet our given performance goals.

How do you go about realising your potential?

Our dominant cultural assumptions about personal and organisational development are usually about reaching goals; striving with effort; solving problems; constantly achieving… We are all looking for something, and often what we do is focus on The Next Big Thing To Achieve, rather than stepping back and looking at the pattern of our searching and striving, where there is always yearning, longing, and potential exhaustion.

One way or another, all coaching boils down to the rude pragmatics of ‘bodies in a room 1’. With the increasing professionalisation of coaching, and the resulting sophistication of coaching techniques, it is easy to overlook or to underplay this basic reality. Yet the soft animals of our bodies interact and communicate in subtle yet powerful ways that are often beyond our immediate awareness and conscious control. Our bodies hold, express, reflect and reveal an extraordinary amount of information.