I want my daughter to be discerning and exercising good judgment as a driver, but not get caught up in reacting to and judging others. It echoes a key agreement with my partner, in which she and I speak up for what we need rather than judge what we don’t like about the other person in the moment. It is about attending to the present more than assessing the person; about honing our wisdom more than honing our criticism.
This stance has a lot in common with narrative coaching and design, bodies of work that are often described as the intersection of East and West. We teach practitioners how to be radically present to what IS without judgment (East). This enables them—and those they work with— to connect more honestly with themselves, each other and the stories in play. This based in our experience that people learn and develop best when they can first notice, without judgment, the stories they are currently telling and living. This gives them a more accurate point of reference for exploring what IF so they can achieve new results (West).
In working narratively, we refrain from making normative judgments such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Instead, we work with a nonjudgmental openness and a trust in the potential usability of all experience in the service of growth. It is about working with compassionate candor (East + West) so that we can have real conversations in real time. If you favor one, do you coach more for the East or the West? How might you develop the other stance to grow as a practitioner, particularly in releasing your judgments?
Thinking about judgment this way reflects three of the paradoxes in working with people’s stories:
Would you like to learn to coach like this?
Next online narrative coaching course starts June 6th!
This is the last chance to take the course as part of a smaller group. ONLY FIVE SPACES LEFT! It is a wonderful and intimate opportunity to learn the essential elements of this work with colleagues from around the world. It gives you plenty of opportunities to work closely on issues that matter to you in your life and work. This is based in our core belief that it is developing ourselves as an instrument that we can do our most powerful work for others. The course includes over 200 pages of material, over 20 tools, and coaching by David and your peers. You can find out more and register at http://www.narrativecoaching.com/narrative-coaching-for-practitioners.html.
To meaningfully engage with change, people need to see themselves as an:
The photo above from the Wizard of Oz offers two important insights to guide us in approaching change in a new way: (1) We don't have to wait for burning platforms (or wicked witches) to bring about change—but can trust that we have the capacity for choice within us at all times; and (2) meaningful and sustainable change cannot be forced from the outside or 'managed'—it can only be engaged from the inside and leveraged.
This feels particularly relevant in these turbulent times. As Václav Havel writes, the main question before us is whether or not we can succeed in "making human community meaningful, in returning content to human speech, in reconstituting, as the focus of all social action, the autonomous, integral, and dignified human ‘I.’ ”
Would you like to learn how to help people move through change like this?
Next online narrative coaching course starts June 6th
This is the last chance to take the course as part of a smaller group. It is a wonderful and intimate opportunity to learn the essential elements of this work with colleagues from around the world. It gives you plenty of opportunities to work closely on issues that matter to you in your life and work. The course includes over 200 pages of material, over 20 tools, and coaching by David and your peers. You can find out more and register at http://www.narrativecoaching.com/narrative-coaching-for-practitioners.html.
In thinking about hope, I came back to the paradox from eastern traditions that nothing matters and everything matters. I find it liberating when I can release my attachment to and dependencies on outcomes (over which I often have little control). Across our lives and careers, some 'wins' vanish as a result of changing circumstances and some 'losses' become our finest hour as a result of changing perspectives. Hope, then, is more about how we live in the present than about how the future turns out. Hope is more about spaciousness for our full humanity than certainty about our final impact.
When we allow ourselves to truly be accountable in the moment, we can often make better decisions and take more courageous actions. This enables us to do the same for our clients. For example, we can pull ourselves and others out of the trance of busyness to focus on what is essential. We can pull ourselves and others out of analyzing whether something is good or bad to get on with learning from and making the most of what is.
As Viktor Frankl noted, “Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way…every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom.”
What is ours to do?
• Be more courageous with our questions: Be willing to ask, "Is this the conversation we need to be having?"
• Be more compassionate with our presence: Be willing to notice, "What does this person need most right now?"
• Be more conscious with our time and energy: Be willing to discern, "What is mine to do in this situation?"
Want to learn how to work this way?
The work by Angela Duckworth and her colleagues on grit is useful here. They define it as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals." People with high grit are characterized by a loyal determination and a focused direction; they are able to sustain their motivation and effort despite experiences with failure and adversity. These attributes are particularly important for people when they are going through a big change.
So what might this mean in terms of how we work with our clients (either a person or an organization) as guardians at their proverbial gates? It means recasting resistance as a resource that reminds us to pause at the threshold to ensure we are prepared (without getting stuck in the trap of 'enough'), to discipline ourselves to remain present to what is unfolding (so we can make finer distinctions), and strengthen ourselves with the grit to stay focused on (and adapt to) the new course ahead.
Tips for each phase of the threshold process:
What do you need most right now? How about your client?
In the News
Next online narrative coaching course starts June 6th!
This is the last chance to take the course in its current form. It is a wonderful and intimate opportunity to learn the essential elements of this work with colleagues from around the world. The course includes over 200 pages of material, over 20 tools, and opportunities for coaching by David and your peers. You can find out more and register at http://www.narrativecoaching.com/narrative-coaching-for-practitioners.html.
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.