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?
Surrender seems to be a prerequisite for our growth — a truth that often becomes more available to us when we step away from our 'normal life', but which is present in each and every moment. Much of the work we do in narrative coaching is about inviting ourselves and those with whom we work to:
Who will stand next to you as you head out?
What will become possible for you as a result?
Here's to the power of surrender into the unknown, the richness of 'time on' and the potential across the threshold. What new story awaits you?
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.