Be Open to Outcomes
Most of my clients are individuals and small organizations that come to me because they are at a major transition in their lives. They come to me with life goals they want to reach, a professional change they are trying to make, or because they are at a major transition in their lives. Something needs to change, but they don’t know what. They require guidance into a new existence, which requires a different framework. I help them crystallize their ideal life vision, and then to create a path to get there.
I, of course, have my own agenda. This is an amazing choice point in a person’s life, especially at a time of such global turmoil. It is a perfect opportunity to awaken to one’s full potential, not just in the current economy, but also in the necessary unfolding of a more conscious manifestation of our species on this planet. I would like to see them to whatever degree they are willing or able to awaken to their own part in the current dysfunction as well as their areas of passionate endeavor in the emerging paradigm. All of this of course is expanding from within the original context they bring. Most people aren’t after all, looking to find their soul’s purpose in the midst of major life changes. They are looking to survive from today to tomorrow in uncertain times.
How do I bridge these two seemingly disparate worlds? I do this the way Don Beck described in his 2011 keynote speech for the Integral Leadership Collaborative, going “down spiral” (or up!). The leverage in having a higher stage of development isn’t about being better than, it’s about having been there enough to more coherently resonate with more of the spiral at once. People come alive when I meet them where they are, show respect and honor for who and what they are and respect for what they have accomplished in life – given what they have had to work with. From there who doesn’t want to listen to an honored friend intent on helping?
I am able to do this Especially when within them what I see are the brilliant, myriad of possibilities that they inspire in me. From there who doesn’t want to listen to an honored friend intent on helping?
In my first meeting with a client I listen and ask questions, basically interviewing them and “taking them in” as much as possible. I have a few basic questions, but for the most part I stay open to the flow of the conversation and to intuition. I have no preconceived notion of what I can do for a client, no fixed expectations, nothing but an open ear and a desire to know the person before me. I want to work with the infinite being in front of me, not my narrow assumptions of who they are. I am not teaching them anything at this point. They are teaching me.
Dan Byron Crowe, a professor in the Transformative Studies Department at the California Institute of Integral Studies is my academic advisor and in my opinion one of the more unsung heroes of transformative education. Dan says almost as a mantra “Be open to outcomes!” Each of us has our own way of bridging realities. That is what makes us unique as individuals and as coaches. Meshing these into a co-creative future is the order of the day. Opening up allows us to truly see a client, to learn the multi-dimensional, vibrant details of their world view. The more we not only honor them as individuals, the more we can understand, embody, and BE our worldview from their perspective.
Life is self-organizing, complex, and emergent. So are humans, and so should our social structures be. Coaches are facilitators of the next stage of humanity. By mentoring those we work with toward their own next stage of growth, we in turn gain experience and learn from them. The humbler we go about it the better. By admitting we don’t have the answers, we are engaging in a partnership towards creating them. While we don’t have the answers, we do have insight and experience, as well as tools towards more full ways of being. We have wiser ways of relating, alternate ways of knowing, and a myriad of ways of doing. We are happiest when sharing! Then we can create the next stage of answers together!
About the Author
Eric Reynolds received his MA in Transformative Leadership from the California Institute of Integral Studies and is currently researching the concept of Next Stage organizations for his PhD in Organizational Leadership and Transformation (OLT) at Saybrook University. He is a transdisciplinary scholar with deep fondness for all knowledge, a deeply passionate bridge for the many silos of human knowing, being, doing and relating.