If asked my thoughts a few weeks ago on why coaching was born as a profession, I would have had this perspective: Coaching was born out of a need in the world that was not being satisfied by other professions such as counseling, psychology, teaching, or parenting, or … you name it! It was born to meet the need of human beings that wanted more, and simply needed time and space to invest in themselves to figure out what the “more” was for them. Coaches create that space, and facilitate that process of helping people reconnect with their inner selves, to uncover their gifts and their desire to make a difference in their world. So coaches get to enable change and growth in their clients, one at a time.
And here is what I am realizing now – that coaching is so much bigger than that. There were several incredible speakers at ICF that spoke to the role coaches play as change agents. Most impactful to me were the words and messages of Riane Eisler. Straight from the ICF Website – these words below describe her well.
“Riane Eisler has ignited the visions and actions of individuals and organizations worldwide. An award-winning author, renowned scholar, and dedicated social activist, Eisler has inspired people around the globe with her cultural transformation work that integrates the personal, political, economic, ecological, and spiritual.
Eisler’s passion takes abstract-sounding words like “culture” and “leadership” and makes them catch fire. Drawing from three decades of research into the psychosocial dynamics of human behavior, her work shows that we can build environments that support our full human potentials. It shows that we can each be leaders in creating a partnership-based worldview and society: a better organizational culture and a safer, saner world.
Eisler’s The Chalice and The Blade was hailed by Princeton anthropologist Ashley Montagu as “the most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species and by Isabel Allende as “one of those magnificent key books that can transform us.” John Robbins wrote of her Sacred Pleasure “This extraordinarily powerful and beautiful book will stand as one of the epic works of our generation,” and Gloria Steinem called it “Riane Eisler’s most stunning, far-reaching, and practical gift – both to readers and to a world that must change or perish.” Stanford professor Nel Noddings wrote that the partnership education introduced in Tomorrow’s Children “is essential for human life to flourish,” and the book was chosen as the top of the ten most important books published in the last five years by the Journal of Futures Studies. Eisler’s latest book, The Power of Partnership won a 2003 Nautilus award, and was hailed by Marianne Williamson as “the map to a world that works for all of us.” As coaching already utilizes a partnership model in relationships with clients, Riane’s knowledge and insights on moving culture from a model of dominance in relationship to true partnership has the potential of stretching how we look at our coaching relationships with leaders in community and business, executives and managers so that we have the greatest impact with our clients. “
If you are intrigued or curious, visit www.partnershipway.org. Read her books. Be prepared to see the world through a new pair of lenses.
So yes, in my opinion, coaching was born out of a need in the world to help individuals reconnect with their gifts and potential. And, it seems that perhaps it was born out of a need to create and nurture communities of change agents that will intentionally evolve this world, and humanity. My friend and fellow coach Susan Valdiserri calls them “communities of purpose”.
We coaches are catalysts for change, and we must recognize our own deep hungers to make ever bigger impacts. And we will need to operate in communities of purpose in order to have the impact we so greatly desire. We can transform families, governments, industries, corporations, cultures… together. I think this is what is “next” for coaching. And we have pioneers like Laura Whitworth and Rick Tamlin, and Virginia Kellogg, and others that I haven’t even met yet that are creating models and structures that we can leverage to “play bigger”, and to connect with each other.
So, we are part of this movement from a dominator paradigm to a partnership paradigm – whether or not we know it! And we can actually accelerate the shift in so many ways by knowing what we are up to, and being part of a movement of “intentional evolution”! This nourishes my soul, energizes me, and gives me a new framework for making decisions and investments of my time!