There are 2 fundamental cultural belief systems that create big problems around this nebulous idea and practice called “Coaching.”
1. Many people, to some degree, want to be Gurus, and they want others to see the world the way they see it and to adopt their own viewpoints and behaviors, and given the opportunity, they would often be willing to use force, subtle or overt, to make that happen; they then project these beliefs and desires to control onto the potential coach.
A very light but tragically common example of this would be giving someone unsolicited advice without properly understanding their situation first.
I call this the “Guru” model of what people perceive as “coaching.”
Many people are ready to barge in with their “expertise,” whether you’d like to hear it or not, whether it applies to you or not, and they become resentful if that advice is not well received. They want to be gurus, experts, superior on the basis of their superior knowledge.
That’s the petty, less consequential end of the spectrum.
To name a few examples on the heavier side of the spectrum, of how we are so culturally entrenched in control/power-over belief systems–think centralized government, centralized banks, centralized (medical) monopolies, centralized military planning, and other quagmires of control and suppression, only kept in place by force and the abuse of individual consent.
Those are heavy, society-level examples, so let’s just take a simple symptom of this collective program/belief system at the interpersonal level.
Why do people often get so angry when confronted with an opposing viewpoint? (on social media, for example.)
Why do they often feel personally threatened when someone disagrees with their viewpoint?
At least partially, it’s because they have attached their identity to their beliefs. They “identify” with their ideas. In other words, they think they ARE their ideas. So if their ideas are challenged, they feel *personally* challenged. You challenge their ideas, you challenge them.
We can readily see some of this in our language when we say “You’re wrong!” as opposed to “that idea is wrong.”
YOU are wrong?
*You* are not wrong! You’re a human being with a particular set of experiences that have led you to believe what you believe!
🌟You are doing the very best you can with what you know.🌟
Now, your map of the world (your ideas about the way things are and the way things work) might be a little misrepresentative of the actual territory (or in some cases a LOT misrepresentative, are you with me?😉), however, that doesn’t mean that YOU are a misrepresentation.
YOU are not broken.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m going to trust your MAP.
See the difference?
Next time you find yourself in a conflict of ideas, remember this simple shift in language: If you must, say “*That* is inaccurate. That is wrong.” Never call someONE wrong, even when you are convinced their IDEAS are inaccurate. (extra points for saying, “I see it differently, and here’s why:”✅
🕺Honor and respect the individual; compassionately question the ideas.🕺
In the past, people have literally been tied up to wooden poles and burned alive for disagreeing with the fashionable cultural ideas/maps…
In some places today, horrific executions, mostly in other ways, but for similar, ideological reasons, still routinely occur.
So, let’s remember we’re still collectively unwinding a lot of those old violent, power-over, control-based paradigms and karma.
A good coach truly believes that his/her coachee is doing the best they can, no matter what, and that their intentions are good, AND that their “maps” can always be upgraded, like everyone else’s can, infinitely.
The aim of a good coach is to explore the maps of the coachee to help the coachee see what is working or not working (for *that* individual), what is producing the fruit or not, what’s under the hood of this Ferrari, and how can we gently remove any accumulated debris as well as supercharge the engine so you can get to where you want to be, and maybe even enjoy the ride?😎
It tends to be confident, strong-minded people who get coaching. People who already have an above average degree of self-awareness and self-confidence, in my experience.
They like to examine what works and what doesn’t, and they don’t mind learning that they have ideas and beliefs that need to be upgraded–actually they love it, because they see it as an opportunity to create better results, in terms of what they are looking for.
As Don Miguel Ruiz wrote in The Four Agreements, “A clean mind loves to be touched.”
When there is a place inside you that is painful to be with (“being with is how I define “love,” or touching with awareness), chances are there is some “debris accumulation” that can be dissolved with the compassionate light of awareness.
It’s wise to be gentle when “touching” a delicate area, and a good coach will go extra slowly around the “painful” places.
A beautiful, strong, productive coaching partnership is predicated on a clear agreement between the coach and coachee that both are autonomous, whole, good human beings, and one is not more “right” than the other.
One is not the guru and the other the student.
There is simply an opportunity to examine the beliefs/habits/inner workings of the coachee and find out what works and what doesn’t, for the coachee.
2. Many people believe that being in a masculine energy is more honorable, more respectable, or simply “better” than being in a feminine energy. They confuse giving up control and being consensually “held” with giving “over” control and being weak or dominated. They are not familiar with switching polarities/with playing different roles, and they feel threatened by the idea of temporarily taking a feminine polarity role.
So who has the power in a coaching partnership? Obviously it would be the coach, right?
Well, then, is it the coachee?
The answer is, of course, in a proper coaching agreement, *both* have the power. (They’ve made a win/win agreement; a mutually beneficial agreement.)
Power doesn’t come from the masculine, nor does it come from the feminine energy.
⚡Power is when you put both of them together with awareness and agreement.⚡
The coaching relationship is based off of two people playing clearly defined roles, temporarily.
The coach IS in a more masculine polarity of curiously asking penetrating questions, holding space, offering presence.
That’s the temporary pre-agreed role the coach is playing.
The other person is in a more feminine polarity of being seen, of revealing themselves, of letting go of holding things together for the designated amount of time.
And this is all within the framework of a clear agreement between two sovereign human beings.
Don’t confuse a clear agreement between two people to play two specific roles for 45 minutes for a giving-over of autonomy, self-authority or power.
Power, in the neutral sense of the word, is ENERGY or potential.
You can DO something with Energy.
With power, you have the capacity to act.
Power does not equal domination.
It’s easy to see why it’s confusing because we have so many examples of domination and submission in society, of the exertion of power-OVER someone, of the abuse of power, of the disrespect of consent at every level of human interaction; and we are only recently remembering the principles of radical consent, self-sovereignty, and of mutually and universally beneficial interactions, aka win/win/win relations.
So, because of points number 1 and 2, it is clear why there is concern here.
Masculine energy doesn’t exist without Feminine Energy, and vice versa. Light doesn’t exist without darkness.
Neither one is better than the other.
I suggest we rethink our flippant phrases like “The Future is Feminine” because, with this meme, we will literally just try to suppress the masculine, as opposed to suppressing the feminine, and then NO ONE WILL BE HAPPY again.
We don’t need the future to be feminine anymore than we need it to be masculine.
We don’t need to be masculinists, or feminists, or even humanists. I suggest we endeavor to be universalists, in the sense that we recognize and honor the universal principles that sustain every part of the whole.
(“But we need to fight the patriarchy, right?” …where is that coming from? Why is there violence built into this language? What is the hurt place inside that has us “fighting” instead of asserting ourselves, demanding punishment instead of accountability and healing, perpetuating the victim/persecutor/hero drama triangle? These words stem from hurting/unhealed/wounded places within ourselves. When will we stop pretending acts of violence can create peace, or the abuse of consent can effect harmony, and remember that the means always inform the ends?)
If Self-knowledge, or Power/Energy, or just plain old balance and harmony are things you’re interested in, then it’s worth learning to honor the feminine polarity as much as the masculine one, and to give neither a dominant position over the other, but to allow them to switch, as they do, daily, seasonally, whenever the time is right, and always with consent.
When coaching, I am generally in the more masculine polarity of the two people–holding or protecting the container/agreements surrounding the call, asking penetrating questions, offering presence, and allowing the “dance of the many forms” of the person on the other end to come forward and to be known.
What I find that people need more than anything else is a place to hear their own voices and experience themselves in an amplified way (with the volume turned up), which allows them to see what’s working and what’s not, and to release their pain.
Something that experienced coaches know is that when *they* see it, or when it’s their idea, it’s much more powerful than me trying to tell them, anyway.
💩Advice is almost never what people need more of.💩
(Yes, advice deserves the #poopemoji.)
And besides, their Rubiks cube of their life and karma may need twisting in a direction that wouldn’t make sense from the point of view of my own Rubiks cube and its unique karmic situation. That’s ok.
Being in a masculine polarity isn’t better than being in a feminine one. It’s just different.
I put myself in the different roles all the time.
Same male body, of course, but I can switch between these energies, as we all have the capacity to do, especially when we practice.
We all have a left brain and right brain, a feminine and masculine side, although most of us have preferences about where we like to reside within those options, which is great.
Preferences are fine. And, the capacity to hold our preferences a little more lightly *may* sometimes engender greater competence in certain situations. #punintended
I find the more deeply I allow myself to go into my feminine, out of control, wild, expressive, uncontained side, the more I’m able to be competent in my masculine side, and to channel all that life and energy with precision and efficacy, to know that I can handle the intensity of whatever situation presents itself.
When masculine meets feminine is when creation happens.
I have multiple people I work with where we consistently switch roles as the coach and coachee.
I don’t do that with everybody, of course, because I have a strong, sensitive feminine energy that often needs a deeply structured, highly trustworthy, highly competent masculine container to come out.
And most people are a little clumsy and subtly intrusive with my feminine, if they haven’t practiced, and, naturally, she can be quite particular… Can I get an amen?😆
So, in summary, I find that, culturally speaking, fears and beliefs around power dynamics (like the “guru” model) as well as the fear/discomfort/lack of clarity about temporarily playing roles between masculine and feminine energies can affect the way we perceive “coaching.”
I’ll end with a few questions:
Do you find that you are easily angered by opposing viewpoints, and are you afraid a coach might try “to make you” see the world from his/her point of view? Do you want to be a guru, and do you assume others operate from that same desire?
Do you love discovering where your map does not match the territory, or are you afraid this type of discovery would mean not that you have an opportunity for a belief change and to see something in a new way, but that YOU are wrong?
How comfortable are you switching roles/polarities? Are you as comfortable in your feminine as you are in your masculine?
Are you familiar with creating clear agreements that keep both parties fully empowered during a temporary, dynamic process like this?
I’m extremely grateful for your feedback and interaction.
Be fully ALIVE!
(featured image by Alex on Unsplash.com)