Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Zornitsa Stefanova (Bulgaria).
Coactive Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives
A couple of years ago I learned to ask myself: What do you pretend you do not understand? Every one of us makes thousands of choices every day in our lives. What time do I wake up tomorrow? What will be the sound of the alarm clock? Shall I get up immediately? Shall I meditate? Shall I exercise? Tea or coffee? Or just water? Shall I go to the office or work from home? When shall I write the critique of the book? Shall I turn left or right? And because of all and each one of the choices I’ve made in my whole life, I am here and now, writing.
Some choices click with the yearning of the heart. They are in line with our values and we feel the deepest fulfilment of reaching our full potential. We say ‘yes’ to things that make way for our learning and personal growth and “no” to others that keep us away from our heart. At the same time we decide to make choices that are in our way to living a fulfilled and meaningful life. If a person keeps close to his heart and makes empowering choices, he enjoys the wonderful journey of a lifetime.
Having read ‘Co-Active Coaching’ I leaned back in my chair and realised that from that point on my life would be different, and I’d make a difference. For the book had made me ask myself many questions and find some answers, and thirsting to find yet many more. The book helped me realise coaching is the thing I’d love to do. Because coaching is a wonderful way to support a person in his quest of his own powerful Self.
In an extremely concise yet picturesque way, the authors lead me through the 4 co- active coaching fundamentals (focus on the person as a whole, people are naturally creative, evoke transformation by dancing in the moment), the core principles of coaching (balance, fulfilment, process), the 5 contexts that the coach brings into the relationship (listening, intuition, curiosity, deepen and forward, and self-management). The masterful use of metaphors made it all so crystal-clear to me and so interesting I just went on and on. I’m a person who perceives the world using the 4 representative systems. In ‘Co-Active Coaching’ I had it all: pictures, sounds, feelings, analysis, by real-life sessions, illustrations, practical exercises, easy to follow reasoning, and wonderful metaphors – all in a wonderful blend that I enjoyed a lot.
Co-Active Coaching is a powerful and insightful walk through the process of active collaboration between a coach and a coachee, a relationship of two equals to meet the needs of the coachee. When two people meet in a coach – coachee relationship and decide to integrate, they begin their dance. Co-Active Coaching gave me this powerful metaphor which tells everything. Coach and coachee may decide to create and nourish a beautiful relationship of confidence, trust, openness, and truthfulness. The coachee may enter with his enthusiasm, willingness to change, yearning to reach his best in Life, thirsting to learn and develop, and find and be his real Self. The coach may enter in the relationship with eyes wide open for the magic of the transformation of the coachee and crate a safe place of love for him.
At this sacred place of love, support, and understanding, the two of them may begin their heartfelt dance. The dancers may change their costumes. The tone or rhythm of the music may change. Igniting tango may follow the wild hip-hop. A dignifying waltz may melt into a rock ballad. Sometimes the coach leads the dance, sometimes the coachee leads and at these magical moments when the two souls meet, no one notices who in fact leads and who follows in the wonderful process of self-discovery. And although the whole process of coaching is centred on the coachee’s transformational change, the coach also learns and makes his choices and gets insights.
The relationship between a coach and a coachee may be quite timid and superficial at first, and then deepens. The conversation goes on focused on the coachee’s topic or goal, or result. However, the coach listens below the surface of the words.
Conversations are often like high mountain lakes: calm surface, cold water, small waves from accidentally fallen leaves or insects. Below the surface you find a whole universe of hundreds of different creatures living their own lives, with their own tempo, own needs, own habits, own odours, sounds, colours. Yet, everything combines in one whole. So below the meaning of words chosen by the coachee, the coach hears, sees, and feels their true meaning, their true significance. Moreover, there is the meaning of the words not spoken, or whispered, or shouted; the sound of silence; the meaningfulness of pause. There is also the tone, the highness and the pitch of voice, its depth and colourfulness, the truth in it or pretended kindness, politeness, masked anger, whirling resentment, deep sorrow, igniting guilt. Yet below this deeper layer of the conversation is the energy of the coachee. This energy shifts at every insight. Simple awareness’s are often curative. Blocked energy may be freed and its flow may lighten up sleeping or long-forgotten potential.
Just one conversation and yet many peels may be peeled off, many fears may be faced and overcome; many internal hidden or unconscious barriers may be over passed. In just one conversation the coachee may remember words, phrases, whole sentences from his own inner language.
And, as the authors emphasise, this process is often transformational because from this moment on, the coachee does not have the excuse: I don’t understand. From this moment on he takes charge of his own life. The coach is like litmus for the coachee’s process. The coach sees today’s topic or goal as a leaf in the tree. He also sees the branch of which the leaf is an integral part. Then down the trunk the coach reaches the roots for there is always the possibility of deeper connection. Deep-rooted believes, old habits and patterns that are in the way of coachee’s learning and inner power. And the dance continues right in the moment. The responsibility of the coach is to use his skills, intuition and inner knowledge to feel where in his own process the coachee is at the moment, and serve him. The coach holds the vision that sees the specific topic as an expression of something even more valuable to the coachee. This particular action at hand during the session is the means to a higher end, life fully lived in all areas the coachee finds important. Be present in the moment and fully aware of what is going on is a wonderful gift the coach gives to the coachee. Gracefully the dance goes on.
What a beautiful movement! Two whole human beings meet with the richness of their hearts and souls, their life-time experiences. They embrace each other and dance. Although the coachee’s topic is danced around, the coach makes a step back and observes the process.
He knows: the coachee, the person who has trusted the embrace of his love, is whole. Health, family, relationships, career, spiritual life, entertainment as the Wheel of Life clearly shows… are just facets of the whole lovely Self in front of him. The coach’s stand is that the wonderful essence with whom he is dancing is naturally knowing, creative, and resourceful. The coachee has the capacity to find answers, make choices, take actions, learn and stand up after he has fallen down. Having this stand, the coach becomes curious what is, open to possibilities, exploring with the coachee, and like a small child – expecting to be amased.
The coach also knows that coachee’s process is like a metaphor the authors use – a winding river. It has its ups and downs, still waters and fearful torrents, frightening rocks and light waters. The coach is aware that many times in this process of self-discovery, the limiting character of the coachee will step in his way to mastery. This treacherous, tempting, soothing inner saboteur will regularly and restlessly come on stage: Why bother? You are not good enough. There’s no way you can do it. Even if you do it, what will others think of you? Especially in such cases, the coach reminds the coachee of his own inner light and serves the coachee find his own way again naturally. What a beautiful dance!
After such interventions of the inner saboteur the coachee may become even stronger and more self-assured. There is an enormous potential for self-learning. And there is often a shift from the satisfaction of ‘ahh’ to the deeper awareness of ‘aha’ and often there is the deep knowledge that the coachee has expanded and has richer options to reach his ultimate goal: fulfilling life.
Co-Active Coaching emphasises that while at the beginning of the coaching process coachee may often include outward measures of fulfilment like more money, promotion, new lover, social status, eventually he will move to a deeper understanding of fulfilment. While at the beginning of the process he may focus on ‘do’ and ‘have’, he will eventually look deeper in his ‘being’. The coach is there to serve the coachee sort out his values and live according to them, in synchrony with his heart, reach his full potential.
Often the coachee initially has the idea what exactly he wants more of: money, sex, love, joy…. He lives unbalanced life and is blaming himself for not being god enough. And then eventually he gets aware that life is about change. He is tending towards equilibrium and when he reaches it, the change continues. So he basically all life moves either towards the point of balance or out of it. So happiness, balance is not a state, but a journey. Along the way supported by the coach in his process, the coachee decides to say ‘yes’ to some things, however equally neutrally he learns to say ‘no’ to others in order to open new space for new experiences. So that the dance may continue.
The coach serves the coachee in this wonderful process of finding the light. The outcome of this process is action and learning that lead to change. So, the coach is a change agent and he ‘forwards the action’ of the coachee. The coach broadens the perspectives. In order to move ahead, the coachee has to choose and commit to certain actions. The coach is there to feel, hear, smell the turbulence and name it. He curiously explores it from all sides and turns it upside down, and looks at it in all ways that serve the coachee in experiencing it. The “aha” insight happens for the coachee. However, he may need some time, a long time sometimes to experience it. And sometimes the coach may find everything so obvious! Exactly in these moments, the coach knows more than ever he has to keep out of the way! He puts aside personal opinions, prejudices, pride, ego, judgments, and defensiveness, and just Is there at the place of love, understating and compassion. Eventually the coachee integrates the change. And then the movements happen. The dance goes on.
It is all so simple, yet so powerful. Coach and coachee meet, create a relationship of confidentiality, trust, truthfulness, and openness and while dancing a transformation towards more love, fulfilment, balance, and understanding happens. The coachee is the focus. The coach is holding the love. The beauty of all this is that the two of them are creating this unique magical place where they both can be their beautiful selves. Just dance!
Zornitsa Stefanova is a professional Life and Executive Coach, APC (IIC&M). She is passionate about coaching as a tool for transformational changes in people leading to more fulfilling, balanced, and meaningful life. She helps her clients in Bulgaria, USA, Spain, Lithuania, Slovakia, Germany, and Russia reach their personal potential, be even more successful as business and community leaders.
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