There are big actions to take and big problems to solve—and we need to show up to them. It is also true that brief interactions with others make up much of our daily lives. Part of my practice now is to look for 'moments of meeting', often in unexpected encounters, where we can simply connect as humans. It might be acknowledging a difficult experience (safe haven). It might be providing an opening for an expression of joy (secure base). It might be creating more spaciousness to formulate a new story (working model). These moments remind us that we can always pivot toward our shared humanity.
For example, I was walking by a city playground on the day the President announced his intent to impose a travel ban. I looked up and saw a teeter-totter with a Muslim woman and her child on one side and another Muslim woman (sister?) on the other side—smiling as they went up and down. We caught each others' eyes and shared in their happiness as the young girl and the other woman giggled with glee. It was as if they had vowed to carry on with and celebrate their lives despite the fears others were projecting on to them. At the end I said, "I am not sure who is having the most fun (the little girl or the other woman)—to which they all laughed with even greater joy. That minute, largely in silence, was the highlight of my day. Note: I didn't take a photo out of respect for them that day and because I wanted to feel the exchange rather than succumb to a need to 'capture' it on my phone.
Look for moments to cut through the noise and connect with the signal of your shared humanity.
It is about shifting frames, witnessing others and being vulnerable ourselves.
Give it a try, then post a comment about your experience.
IN THE NEWS
To learn more about using attachment theory in coaching, join us for our next online course starting February 28th!
It is a great opportunity to join with other coaches from around the world to learn about radical presence, applied mindfulness, Three Chairs, serious play and more. If you already know about the work, you can sign up here. If you would like to find out more first, you can do so here. We have only a few spots left. Is one of them yours?
To learn about moments of meeting and narrative coaching, check out my interview at last year's Harvard Coaching Conference.
If you are in the Seattle area on February 11th, I am doing a workshop at the Society of Consulting Psychology Conference. Check it out here: Using Attachment Theory to Develop Coaching Capabilities in Managers and Leaders
This is just one of the reasons why I am making some significant changes in my business over the next few months. I am forming new partnerships, taking on a new company name and developing a new website to be able to reach more people with this work (and in new ways). Stay tuned as we grow our network and build on narrative coaching to bring our latest work to the market.
I am also launching a new weekly BLOG SERIES to introduce you to what is coming next. The focus is on using this work as post-professionals (Drake, 2005, 2009, 2014) to address the issues we face in organizations and communities. I will use the A-Z format again and focus on key principles and practices you can use straightaway. The aim is to provide a grounding for our unsettled energies so that we can move through the four levels of applied mindfulness (from coping to contributing) to care for ourselves and others in deeper ways. Look for the first one next Tuesday!
For now, come join us for our NEXT ONLINE COURSE starting February 28th! This intimate and interactive program is a convenient, exciting way to join with others from around the world in developing yourself to work in some profoundly new ways. It is about so much more than coaching . . . The 9 modules include sessions on using radical presence and generative silence, creating moments of meeting to get at the crux of matters, addressing social narratives so people can make sustainable personal change, and more! GET THE DETAILS AND REGISTER BY CLICKING HERE ON OUR WEBSITE.
What new stories and new conversations matter most to you now?
Registrations are open for next online narrative coaching course starting February 28th. It is a welcome resource for these unsettling times, for you and your clients!
I am presenting on Moments of Meeting in Leadership at APA Consulting Psychology Conference in Seattle on Feb 11.
My alliance with WBECS continues to move forward, and I am inspired by their vision for coaching and the world.
The reference-level Sage Handbook of Coaching I edited with Tatiana Bachkirova and Gordon Spence is out!
We are seeking graduate students interested in doing research with us. Email me if you're interested.
Let me share with you three connections I think are invaluable as we look ahead to what is next for our profession. They all relate to insights from my recent solo backpacking trip in the Sierras in California.
1. I was guided by the same topographic map we had used before. However, I soon discovered that many of the trails it depicted were no longer there and others I needed were not on the map. As a result, the hike became much more technical and difficult than I had anticipated in several places. I adopted the simple principle "ease and safety" to stay focused in each moment. The power of zero as an emptying of all that is a distraction. What old maps are you still using to guide your life or practice?
2. My original destination was an alpine lake I had loved as a young person. However, I discovered when I got there that it had largely disappeared. It was now just a small river running through the valley, the victim of a drought that had eroded the glaciers that once fed it. It was an 'empty place' that invited me to seek a new destination and purpose for my trip. And so, the reflective retreat became a powerful vision quest. The power of zero as a pivot between negative and positive, as with numbers. Where do you need to make a pivot in your life or practice?
3. On the last day, I saw this piece of wood. Somehow it reminded me of the cross in the Christian tradition. I was reminded of the great line, "Get off the cross, we need the wood." What I saw in this artifact was a person shedding the burdens they had carried, often on behalf of others. What was being revealed in the process was the deeper core and essence of their unique humanity. The power of zero as freedom to more fully express ourselves. What can you put down so as to travel more lightly?
I returned home a different person than the one who left, largely because I shifted the narrative frame for why I was there. It reminded me yet again about why narrative coaching focuses on what we can subtract from our practice rather than add. Where could you use the zero?
And with Zero, this series comes to an end and creates the space until we start the next one. Enjoy....
Tomorrow I head up to the Sierras (mountains in California) for a five-day solo trek. I look forward to the opportunity to attune to the rhythms of nature and my own authentic desires. It will be a nice re-set before heading into two amazing projects which kick off next month. I take with me this wonderful quote from Patanjali via Graham Williams:
For now, I leave you with this related thought, "You don't need that". It emerged from a retreat with Samir Selmanović, who is partnering with me to build my next business in support of the new projects. I will say more later, but for now take it with you into your day. Where can you release your need for more? Where can you create spaciousness for what brings you alive? Consumerism, in all its forms, has infiltrated so many aspects of our psyches, our societies and our economies. The new business and programs will focus on what is next after coaching—to enable us to do what matters to us and makes a difference for others. It is about keeping close more than keeping up.
I hope that you will join us for these new (ad)ventures in which we take narrative coaching and all it stands for to new places.
Three way to get started . . .
Now, you may ask, "But what about a client's goals?" My observations: Water always finds its way to where it needs to be . . .
Stories are like water in that they are told in hopes of achieving a purpose. Listen closely and you will hear what they are seeking on behalf of the teller. What does this person and this story need most right now to reach its destination?
You can find out more information about our online course on narrative coaching on our website. This will be our last one for 2016, so sign up soon! You will learn how to work with flow and your own presence using simple practices such as pivoting.
Here are three key elements for what could come next for coaching. Which one speaks most to you?
Deepen our relationship with and narratives about fear. Thresholds are not for the faint-hearted or ill-prepared. Be a guardian at those gates so people can embrace their fear and move through it rather than have to project it onto others and move away from it. Create safe places where they freely express their fear, learn to self-regulate, and transmute its energy into something more generative. Bring people into contact with the Unknown so it becomes their ally not their enemy. What is your story about fear?
Deepen our commitment to be proactive not just reactive. Our work as coaches is often about responding to the needs our clients bring to us and in terms that are 'in' at that moment. While this makes for a solid business strategy, it often means we are addressing symptoms not causes and enabling people to merely cope instead of boldly create. For example, rather than making schools more 'positive', why are we not supporting efforts to completely reinvent them? It is about proactively stepping toward the Unknown not just reactively attending to the Known. What is your story about your role?
Deepen our willingness to see our shared humanity. Coaching has largely been about facilitating growth through one to one conversations. It seems time now to move beyond that to see whole organizations or communities as a coachee. Time to move beyond what separates us to focus more on what unites us. It seems now that everything becomes polarized so quickly as expressions of our anxieties about the Unknown future. In response, I've started to focus on compassionately seeing each person first and foremost as a human and each group as part of a shared humanity. What is your story about people?
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.