Congratulations to the nine global Coaching bodies that came together recently to run important worldwide webinars on the role of Coaching in addressing Climate Change. Achieving global unity to provide consistent content on what has been identified by the World Economic Forum as ‘the world’s biggest threat’ is impressive and vital.
However, in contrast to the urging of various contributors, I do not plan to introduce Climate Change or any other pre-set agenda item into ‘each and every coaching engagement’ I run. Here is why.
The Inner Game
The development of Coaching as a distinct development approach has been heavily influenced by the work of professional tennis coach Timothy Gallwey. At a time when sports technology was starting to limit what could be gained from physical fitness and technology, such as the superior quality of the racquet, Gallwey sought competitive advantage for his players. He did this successfully by working with ‘all habits of the mind that inhibit excellence in performance’. He called this The Inner Game; it continues to be relevant in tennis and sport:
‘Andy Murray believes a vast improvement in his mental attitude has helped his recent turnaround in form…’ (The Times, November 2020).
Work founded on the players’ Inner Game is also an essential feature of effective Coaching for individuals and teams.
Habits of the Mind
Coaching creates greater individual and collective awareness of what might be happening in confusing, complex and uncertain environments. It does so by exploring and seeking to understand our unique reactions, perspectives, thoughts and reflections on what is happening around us.
Coaching is attuned to conquering individual inhibitions and obstacles allowing each of us to find our own balance point. This may be to build greater resilience in times of stress, to build greater potential and resource, or to create more effective responses to the challenges we face.
The starting point for Coaching is ‘What is happening for you?’ Coaching addresses the client’s mind.
During the last 9 months, coaching bodies collectively have urged me to ensure that every coaching session I run includes content on Climate Change; COVID; Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG); and Black Lives Matter. I see these as obstacles to effective Coaching. Conflating Coaching with practitioner led interventions reduces the potential for co-creating new thinking for the client. For example, introducing my informed but inherently limited perspectives on Climate Change, to clients who have asked to talk through their reactions to working extra shifts to cover hospital staff shortages during COVID, is simply inappropriate.
I ask myself (and have discussed with my Coaching Supervisor) what it is that makes me feel so passionate about working with what my clients face rather than a pre-set agenda. I feel so fortunate that through the excellence of my coaches I have developed new habits of my mind and conquered a few of my personal obstacles. My focus is on achieving this for others.