One thing I quickly realized was that it was not about more information, a trapping of our consumerist culture. Rather, it seems to require a re-orientation of our personal and collective compass. One resource I've found helpful is a fascinating new book by William Martin called, "The Activist's Tao Te Ching". He has spent the past forty years studying this ancient text of wisdom, and offers a fresh and timely interpretation. He writes:
We don't know what the future looks like.
Transformation will surprise us with its form.
If we knew what it would look like,
our vision would be limited
and our efforts would be futile.
We act in service to the formless Tao,
not to the forms and functions of our restless minds.
So we let the tensions recede,
our bodies relax,
and our minds open
to the future.
It is an invitation to be of the highest service in any moment or encounter. It is about connecting more deeply as the world seems to fracture more quickly. It is about sensing patterns not staring at pixels. It is beyond hope and fear, each of which is fed by our illusion of control. It mirrors the work of my friend Gregory Kramer who invites us to pause, relax and open. Where will transformation surprise you today? Where can you nourish its potential? I will share more reflections on this book in the weeks ahead . . .
If you want to spend time with others like you who are seeking new ways of living and working, I invite you to come to one of our retreats. They are designed for practitioners who are ready to leave behind an old narrative and step fully into what is calling them in their life or work. The retreats lead into our new mastermind groups for practitioners who work with people at thresholds of change. These times call for a new level of maturity and mastery. Interested?
Crossing Your Next Threshold Retreats
Two of the key elements: (1) pausing in order to act from a proactive rather than a reactive state and (2) co-creating healthier collective narratives not just healing personal stories. This requires developing our abilities to self and mutually regulate, be generative not just palliative with our mindfulness, and be more authentic and agile in our narration. We can see all around us the consequences of immature narratives in which we are often pitted against one another rather than rising up to work on solutions together. A lot of this comes down to our inability to work at a higher narrative level. At the heart of my mission with narrative coaching over the last 15 years has been to develop people who facilitate transformation through narratives and stories. Our new Institute will focus on this even more, particularly in applying coaching in new ways to address larger issues.
Life is meant to be lived fully not hacked efficiently.
Four levels of narrative maturity framework
It is based in the extensive work I've done in recent years to bring attachment theory into coaching and to extend how we think about and practice mindfulness.
In coaching yourself or someone else in a given situation:
Level 1: To what degree am I accountable as the Author of my stories and able to Cope well?
Level 2: To what degree am I authentic as an Actor in others' stories and able to Connect more deeply?
Level 3: To what degree am I agile as an Agent in the larger narratives and able to Create new options?
Level 4: To what degree am I adept as an Activist for new narratives and able to Contribute to better outcomes?
There are strong links between greater attachment security and greater narrative maturity. How would this work enable you to make more of a real difference in the relationships in your life and/or work?
THRESHOLD RETREATS ARE HERE!
Would like to experience this for yourself and learn more about how to use this frame with your clients? If so, join us for our new Threshold retreats in either Seattle, New York or Amsterdam. Please note: There are only a few spots left for Seattle and the registration closes September 25th. To find out more, go to: http://www.narrativecoaching.com/crossing-the-next-threshold-retreat.html
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.
2. Time is art. Our lives these days seem dominated by time as science: the clocks that schedule our lives, the algorithms that guide our choices, the billable hours that shape our business, the marketing that drives our consumption, and more. There is value in the science of time as evidenced by the formation of the drop as it falls into the water. However, there is also value in the art of time as evidenced by the reflection of the flowers in the drop. This led me to engage the beauty in the moment more often as a way to remember our shared humanity.
3. Time is. In our narrative coaching programs we talk a lot about how stories are formed from disruptions and point toward desires. It is easy to get caught up in all the disruptions around us, which often leads us to feel like we are not getting to our desires. This photo was a reminder of one of the questions we teach coaches: "What is this story trying to achieve or resolve?" Time just IS, but we can define it by our disruptions (or our distractions) or by our desires. It is about allowing ourselves to remain present to what is so we can connect more deeply to ourselves and others.
How can you experience time differently today?
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 me and your peers. You can find out more and register at http://www.narrativecoaching.com/narrative-coaching-for-practitioners.html.
In August we start building our new program in collaboration with WBECS.
Interview by the Institute of Coaching
I am doing a webinar called, "Mindfulness in Motion: Creating Real Change in Real Time through Coaching" on June 21st. You can find out more and register here.
One of the strategies you can use to deepen your trust in going deeper:
Striving to catch up is often driven by the fear of missing out (FOMA). I have been experimenting with working as if I already had what I needed. I notice and ease my fears when they come up by sharing kindness rather than grasping. I notice and release others' fears when I am allowing them to define me. I more intentionally self-regulate to let my fears pass through me as much as I can. As a result, I can use that energy to get done more of what truly matters to me and my clients. There is no need in organizations for false urgencies like setting platforms on fire or false destinations like 'caught up'. There is only going below the surface of our fears and descending “with the grandeur of our ordinary tears” because it is the right way to behave.
We are already caught up. Everything we need is already here.
IN THE NEWS
ONLINE COURSE IN NARRATIVE COACHING
To learn about working with fear and self-regulation in coaching, join us for our next cohort 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. The course features nine webinars, an abundance of resources and tools, and an active online discussion forum. You can find out more and register here. We have only a few spots left. Is one of them yours?
INTERVIEW ON MOMENTS OF MEETING
Check out my interview at last year's Harvard Coaching Conference prior to presenting on the use of attachment theory and narrative coaching techniques to increase our clients' ability to transform their lives.
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?
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.
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.