“A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true,
for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.”
In this article, we’re going to be exploring the first of the 3 transformations you have to go through to become a professional coach: Your personal transformation.
Grounding: Your personal transformation
I love having conversations with professional coaches and change-workers. One of the first questions I often ask them is “What first sparked your interest in becoming a coach?”
Every story is different, but the thing they have in common is this; at some point it occurs to the person that they’d love to make a difference in the lives of other people as a coach. Sometimes this insight arrives partway through a process of personal transformation, while in other cases it’s the insight that initiates a journey of transformation. But in every case, there's a journey of transformation to go through.
In the context of professional coaching, grounding refers specifically to your embodied understanding of the inside-out nature of life; the principles behind clarity. A person’s effectiveness as a transformational coach is in large part a reflection of their grounding; it’s the foundational piece that allows you to have a profound, transformational impact on another person. Of course, some people find a context for deliberately developing their grounding (Eg. Go on training programmes / hire a coach / practice working with clients) while others have the insights that deepen their grounding accidentally (Eg. While going through challenging circumstances / helping others / dealing with a catastrophe). Eckart Tolle and Byron Katie and Sydney Banks all had massive increases in their grounding in a matter of moments, as a result of sudden and profound insights into the nature of life. It’s worth noting, however, that Banks was wildly insecure, and Tolle and Katie were both suicidally depressed – not paths I would willingly sign up for to deepen my grounding!
So how do you deepen your understanding of the principles behind clarity? Let me introduce you to what I call “Implication-based Learning” (IBL). You’ve already been doing IBL your whole life, but you may not have had a distinction for it until now. IBL (referred to be psychologists as “statistical learning”) is the learning that takes place automatically when you’re exposed to sensory data. Obvious examples include how you learned to walk and talk, even though no-one “taught” you how to do them. Let’s look more closely at this:
Gravity is a pre-existing fact of life. It doesn’t care what you think of it. You were born into gravity, and from the moment you were born, gravity was “obvious”; while you couldn’t see gravity, you couldn’t miss its effects. As a result, an automatic implication-based learning-curve was initiated. You started learning about the implications of gravity within hours of being born, and you’ve continued learning about those implications to this day. By the time you were 6 or 7 years old, you had developed such a deep, embodied understanding of the implications of gravity that you were able to use that understanding without even thinking about it. Application became automatic. In fact, you’ve probably relied on your embodied understanding of gravity to do 1000 things in the past 7 days, without even thinking about it (Eg. Picking up a cup, sitting in a chair, walking down a flight of stairs). That’s how powerful your grounding in the fact of gravity is; a grounding that you developed effortlessly and automatically through IBL.
Germs and bacteria
A Singapore-based client recently told me a fascinating story about her pre-schooler who was learning about germs and bacteria. The teacher had a brilliant idea… At the beginning of the day, she put glitter on two of the children (out of a class of 30), and said “Lets see where the glitter is by the end of the day”. Of course, by the end of the day, all the children were covered in glitter. Germs and bacteria are a pre-existing fact of life. We’re born into germs and bacteria but, unlike gravity, they are non-obvious. So before an automatic implication-based learning-curve can be initiated, germs and bacteria need to be made “visible” to us. This is what the brilliant teacher in Singapore did – she made the invisible germs and bacteria visible to the children using the metaphor of glitter. And while the method was probably different, this is what happened for you too. Somebody made germs and bacteria visible to you, and an automatic IBL-curve was initiated. Eventually, application became automatic. In fact, you’ve probably relied on your embodied understanding of germs and bacteria to do dozens of things in the past 7 days, without even thinking about it (Eg. Washing your hands, cleaning a surface, applying the 3 second rule etc). That’s how powerful your grounding in the fact of germs and bacteria is; a grounding that you developed through IBL.
The principles behind clarity
Like gravity, the principles behind clarity are a pre-existing fact of life. You’re born into them. But unlike gravity, the principles are non-obvious; they’re invisible, like germs and bacteria. The focus of my professional life is to make these principles “visible” to you so that an automatic IBL-curve is initiated, and you start benefitting from a deep embodied understanding of these principles. That way, application becomes automatic. As your embodied understanding of the principles behind clarity deepens, you get to benefit from that understanding many times each day without even thinking about it.
Speaking to you as a coach, your grounding is the foundation piece, yet it’s often the last place people look. Your grounding is basically what governs whether or not you’re able to have a massive impact, as well as charge the kind of professional fees that go along with that. I often speak to coaches who are passionate about making a difference to others, but struggle to do it on a professional basis. What initially looks like a commercial problem (Eg. “How do I find clients?”) 90% of the time turns out to be a grounding issue. This is great news. As your grounding deepens, you discover that the commercial challenges start to take care of themselves.
And here’s the best news of all. If you keep looking in the direction of the principles behind clarity, and deepening your understanding of the inside out nature of life, you will have insights, and your grounding will deepen. That’s how it works.
Wishing you increasing clarity in all things!
PS. I’m looking for 36 very specific people for a new pilot programme I’m putting together for the new year. Here’s what I’m looking for:
– You are a coach, therapist or change-worker (Eg. Sports coach, psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, business coach, bodyworker etc)
– You have at least one year’s experience of working with clients (either paid, pro-bono or both)
– You probably charge by the hour, but want use a “coaching package” model and increase your income
– You have room to work with at least one longer term contract client, starting in February
– You’re an enthusiastic, friendly people-person
– You have a coachable spirit, and are willing to step out of your comfort zone if necessary, and
– You can keep a secret
If that’s you, then reply to this email, and let me know where you’re located and a little about yourself (if you don’t know what to tell me about, look at the list above for inspiration). Change the subject line to “Project Glasswing”. I’ll be choosing people in the next couple of weeks. Talk to you soon! J