Letter from CSA
‘Balcony and Dance floor” Leanne Lowish
ICF Approved Diploma in Coach Supervision
Coaches in the Park
ICF UK conference presentation, April 9th.
We have just had a marvellous day with ICF UK! On April 9th, Miriam and I joined Aboodi Shabi (Newfield) and Liz McCann (BBC) in addressing the conference theme of ‘The Art of Mastery in Coaching’. What emerged, as a group of about 100 coaches participated in this very successful event, was a shared desire to attend to the deeper enquiry that is possible in our work and the hunger for coaching ‘beyond technique’. There was great engagement in the room as we co-created a space in which coaches could explore core aspects of their practice. We acknowledged the primacy of presence, the profound possibilities in the coaching relationship and the miracle that occurs when the ‘gods and goddesses of coaching’, sit among us.
I was reminded of Martin Buber’s work, which established the principle of the ‘I-Thou’ – the mode of connecting when we are attuned to one another in a spirit of honour and awe. The ‘I – Thou’ occurs only as we meet with our whole being – as Buber said, ” All real living is meeting”. In the reflective practice that is coaching supervision, we aim to foster a ‘real’ dialogue, which enables the coach to return to their work, resourced and refreshed. This level of supervisory input enables coaches to converse with their clients with much more awareness, clarity and impact. This happens especially when coaches attend to what wants to emerge in the life of the client or the team with which they are working, while still holding the overt focus of the contract. It requires that coach supervisors ‘let go’ of our fantasy of what ‘should’ be occurring and play our part in co – creating an exploration that is real and open and which surrenders to a dialogic process that has meaning and muscle beyond what coach and supervisor may know at any given moment.
The day at the ICF conference reminded us all that in these fast-moving, highly-pressurised times, there is a huge hunger for real human engagement. As the poet David Whyte, puts it in Loaves and Fishes:
This is not
the age of information…….
Forget the news,
And the radio,
And the blurred screen.
This is the time
People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.
‘Balcony and Dance floor ‘ Leanne Lowish CSA Senior Training Team
“You are a member of your culture, you participate in it everyday, yet you also influence it. To achieve this you must be able to both participate and observe your own participation, being both on the balcony and dance floor” (Carolyn Taylor – Walk the Talk)
As a dancer I love being in the middle of the action and spinning and twirling and strutting my stuff with the best of them, I also love going up onto the balcony and watching other dancers in action….. After reading this I tried to put into practice – being in the dance and on the balcony at the same time…metaphorically speaking! And what that allowed me to do is to see me in action and how I influence and impact the world around me… real time.
Some of you may already know the writing of Schon, of particular relevance to us is his emphasis on ‘reflection on action’ and how valuable it is to write or speak about our experience after the fact – indeed supervision is hugely helpful for providing the space for reflection on action. However, he also talks about ‘reflection in action’ and how valuable it is to reflect during the acting…. CSA refers to this element in their work on the development of the internal supervisor. It takes practice to see the water from inside the goldfish bowl and what a fascinating world it invites us into when we do.
For me it allows that slight bit of distance so I don’t fall into the hole with my clients, it enables me to be aware of the other dancers, the music, mirror ball, air, lighting, atmosphere and not be caught in the emotion of the moment and swept away by that.
This skill is becoming increasingly important as the economic, political and environmental change threaten our very existence; that sounds dramatic and usually I shy away from proclamations such as the end of the world is nigh… but things really are happening. I am sure many of us have clients or maybe even ourselves who are currently facing despairing situations and the challenge for all of us is to stay present and on the dancefloor with their despair, disappointment, loss, fear and yet also be on the balcony noticing what is going on within us and in the field…. (for CSA Grads there is a workshop on June 4th to explore this very topic).
In times of turmoil and stress we are challenged to make very difficult decisions and as coaches we help people navigate these decisions by enabling them to touch into their values and helping them to locate their true north. Victor Frankl in his book ‘Mans Search for Meaning’ talks about people in prison of war camps in the face of not having the choice over whether they would live or die could still choose how to be with their situation. They could choose to live in integrity, in alignment with their values.
When I ask myself if I live in alignment with my values, I see a difference between my espoused values (what I say my values are) and my values in action. In The Happiness Hypothesis the author talks about a study in which people were asked to predict their behaviour around donating money to a charity and then when actually asked to donate, the amount donated was not as much as was predicted. This result was then told to the next group of participants who despite prior knowledge also predicted more than they actually donated. When both groups were confronted with the findings, all said that it must have been someone else in the group and it wasn’t them.
One way the balcony and dance floor metaphor is useful is to help myself and my clients to close that gap between espoused values and values in action. When we reflect in the moment we can become more conscious of the decisions we are making and whether it is in alignment with the values we have espoused.
The way I reflect in action is through my body as our bodies are always in the moment. My body also gives clear signals when I am out of alignment with my values. Ironically going into my body to notice what is there, actually brings me back into the moment and onto the dance floor and the noticing allows me to be on balcony at the same time. Hey presto!
CSA ICF Diploma in Coaching Supervision October 2011 – booking now!
Delegates are already gathering for the sixth year of this rigorous, successful supervision programme. We are currently interviewing coaches for the October course – if you want to know more, please see our website and/or email me to find out how this course works and what makes it both successful and special: firstname.lastname@example.org
COACHES IN THE PARK is off and running!
We had our second outdoor event yesterday in the glorious sun of Green Park.
We meet 1-2pm in Green Park for an hour of mindful walking exercises, using nature and the seasons as a companion to guide us being the best we can be as coaches and coach supervisors.
We believe that even a small time outdoors is like a solar panel for the soul- even when the weather is less than optimal. We connect with a wider teacher and bring our presence into a fresh focus before going back indoors.
It’s a walk in the park! It’s FREE. And takes place the first Wednesday of every month whatever the weather ( or nearly!)
Where we meet: Exit Green Park Tube station with Marks and Spencers behind you. Cross over to the Park. There are green construction hoardings there but walk into the Park and directly behind the hoardings in the park is a snack stand. We meet there. Join us!
Also watch this space for the first WILD COACH walking event likely to take place on the South Downs later this year. Let us know if you are interested in more details
Do have a look at this international on-line magazine for coaches – there’s lots of good material in here for coaches at all levels. If you want to sign up for this magazine, just add the code FRIENDSOFCHOICE ~ upon checkout to receive a $5 USD discount!
BACPC June 17th Therapist/Coach: Coaching for a Changing World. Edna Murdoch and Miriam Orriss will present on Coaching Supervision. http://www.bacpcoaching.co.uk/conference.php
Oxford Brookes Conference. July 1st First International Conference for Coaching Supervision. See you there!
BASPR (British Assoc for Supervision Practice and Research) July 29-30 “Transformations through Supervision” St Mary’s College Twickenham. Contact Amanda Shribman: 0208 4441110