“What you bring forth out of yourself from the inside will save you. What you do not bring forth out of yourself from the inside will destroy you.”-– Gospel of Thomas
For me St. Thomas captures the essence of coaching and counseling for difficult moments in speaking the truth. These moments of truth I am calling the “Aha moment or the Holy shit ” moments. When these moments arrive I find asking yourself and answering this question helps you make a good decision on what to say. The self-talk question is to ask–What is the worst thing that could happen if I say so and so?
No matter the cost, resolution and action are required for improving and stretching your potential. The human spirit seems incapable of leaving cognitive dissonance or painful memories unresolved. Even if we are good at compartmentalization there is an emotional price to pay for denial or inattention. These unresolved conflicts rattle around until they unconsciously appear at the most inappropriate times as a destructive alien popping out of your chest.
In a recent Leadership Development workshop I received feedback on my first impression with others. Sorting through whether this observation had merit I decided it did. The feedback– I was too transparent and open. I came on to others with too much, too soon, too fast. What did this mean for my ability to lead people? It wasn’t a matter of figuring out what I needed to do differently or what I needed to know to change this impression. It was a question of figuring out who I wanted to be, which I call the essence of leadership.
It’s the context of the being aspect of leadership that enables insight into what I do or don’t do to influence or connect with others. These moments of “aha” kick-start and illuminate the power of self-discovery. These moments provide a beginning of a new story as a person and potential leader. This type of in the moment experience and insight seem more meaningful than tying to learn a sterile and logical model or framework for leadership development. In ordinary life, we face feedback and dissonance every day that is difficult to resolve. For example, there’s not enough time for family obligations, we can’t sort through which issues or organizational or personal needs are a priority, we find it difficult to say no to requests, we don’t have the authority or the control or the knowledge or wisdom to solve problems.
On the other hand, when we talk to another person and feel truly listened too we feel the pain and dissonance dissipate through the mere sharing and honest acceptance of that issue or pain by another human being. The experience of unconditional acceptance and love makes the journey from denial through confusion to insight by providing us with hope, courage and strength to face the heartaches of setbacks and disappointments in life. When there is no such promise of resolution but only the deep pain and suffering of life’s mysteries it is difficult to build a constructive and trusting relationships.
What all this comes down to, are a few critical factors that make coaching and counseling effective. They are:
- The need to believe in the other person’s ability to change and grow.
- The viewpoint that when people are believed in they begin to believe in themselves.
- Trust others; they learn to trust you and then themselves.
- Human beings have a deep and unending need to be understood and connect with at least one other person. Just one connection has a positive effect on creating a climate for self-awareness and personal growth.
- The ability to confront misperceptions, untruths, fears and blind spots provide the structure to help people think, feel and act more constructively in meeting their needs.
- Encourage accountability, participation and ownership for behavior and results.
- Encourage congruence in thinking and authentic action that leads to positive behavioral changes and concrete action. The old fake it till you make it adgage.
In the final analysis, if we earn other people’s respect and trust they will open up to being influenced by us and work on needed changes. Imposing our point of view only makes others defensive and resistant to change.