My approach

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes – Carl Jung

I want to create a world in which people are connected to themselves

I am a certified professional coach (for executive coaching click here), however Courage Matters coaching is more integrative and transformational.  With my Courage Matters hat on I consider myself a coach-sponsor, and focused on what Robert Dilts calls “big C coaching”.

Sponsorship is a term that denotes that the coach’s role is to awaken unrealised potential within the coachee: it works at an identity level. – the essence of a person. The pre-supposition is that something is already within a person but isn’t being manifested to its fullest capacity. The ultimate goal for me, as a coach-sponsor is to shift the locus of sponsorship from me, to the coachee – i.e. self-sponsorship. In this interview with Robert Dilts describes self-sponsorship thus:

Self-Sponsorship is necessary for the foundation of genius, recognising your own value, seeing yourself, honouring yourself, and welcoming yourself. Genius is about taking risks, going into a new area where no one else is supporting you. For example – da Vinci’s notebooks were written on his own, Einstein’s ideas came from his own contemplation, and that was similar for Mozart. People can be in an unsupported environment and think they have the gift or magic to be able to sponsor themselves.

Self-Sponsorship, being self-centred and centred in self – it’s a paradox that leads you to knowing you’re not your prime concern. If you get the sponsorship done first then that’s not what you need to keep getting done all the time. One area for the future is working with terrorism – that’s where people are saying “see me, value me, I’m here”. In a strange way, sponsorship could eradicate the need for terrorism. I fully believe that if people felt valued there would be no need for terrorism.

Sponsorship is one of the most significant things in a world for healing and going forwards.

Big C coaching is coaching that focuses on purpose, identity, values and beliefs.  Conversely little c coaching focuses on behaviours, capabilities and skills.

My coachees are incredibly capable and highly skilled individuals.  They are regarded as “successful”, however a “cement-shaking” experience has been an awakening: it has challenged their definition of success and they feel a sense of their identity shifting – like their old identity no longer fits them.  They wish to deeply engage in questions around meaning and purpose. They want to live life with a big L.

Another factor my coachees have in common, is that they have, to date, lived their lives by a lot of “shoulds” and logic, and feel they are not being all of who they are in their work.  Part of my role as coach-sponsor is therefore to bring conscious awareness to these aspects such that coachees can step into their own genius and bring their meaning to life.

I use a blend of approaches and am certified in the following:  NLP,  Humanistic NLP , Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment and professional coaching (EMCC) which incorporates aspects of approaches more therapeutic in nature such as psychosynthesis.

I am certified in a tool which delivers cultural transformation with values and leadership consciousness at its heart, which has deepened my appreciation of values. I am also certified in Danah Zohar’s SQ and Quantum Leadership which helps leaders develop what Danah calls SQ, or their spiritual intelligence; the intelligence that draws on our need for and our access to deep meaning, vision, values, and an over-arching sense of purpose in our lives and leadership. It is the intelligence that makes us whole, the intelligence that tells us who we are and what our lives are about (I write about that here).

I draw upon my MA in English Literature (the “l” in NLP is for language), encouraging and supporting reflective writing and pay keen attention to the metaphors coachees use and the stories they tell.

My current interest is in embodied cognition and somatic coaching – the wisdom of the body through the head, heart and gut and incorporate heart-centred breathing into my coaching. I am also developing capability in the enneagram.

This rich blend is married with c.20 years of blue-chip corporate experience, which I talk about here.

What I really aim to do is to help people connect to themselves and remain present to all the difficulties this entails (my manifesto states why I believe we must connect to ourselves first if we are to face into the leadership crisis the world faces).  I do not pull models out from my bag of techniques.  I stay attuned, centred and create a state Stephen Gilligan calls generative.

The word generative means to “produce new life”.  A generative system produces something unique without help from outside of the system.  Generative coaching aligns with this: rather than start with defining goals as in traditional coaching, rather it begins with answering the question “what I most want to create in my life is…” and it is realising this clear positive intention in the real world that is the focus of our work together. This intention is a direction you are moving towards, rather than a goal which is a known destination. An intention opens up the possibility to create something new, whereas a goal can keep us on a very narrow track.

Generative coaching is a broader and deeper type of work than traditional coaching. In emphasising that a person is responsible for creating their own life, it invites people to learn how they can realise their dreams by mastering their own creative consciousness. While it maintains a positive orientation to the future and “infinite possibilities”, it sees all of a person’s experience—positive and negative internal states, beliefs, historical experiences, creative imaginations, somatic states, etc.—as potential resources to achieving these positive goals.

Once you have set the intention – one that lights you up, that feels alive inside you (and we’ll work on getting that down to 5 words – my intention is “I want to create a world in which people are connected to themselves”, (interestingly I happen to be working with 2 people – both accountants – who have the intention of “creating more balance in my life”: T-accounts didn’t do it for them?!) we work together on how you are going to bring this to the world – how are you going to use your gifts in service to this intention? Successful people have something inside them, often an emotional wound, that they use to powerful outward effect in the world – they transform this into their gift to the world – it’s like a battery for their vision.

Then we work together to align the intention and the mission to your ambition answering: what kind of life to I want to create for myself? What are the plans and actions that must be taken to realise the intention in the real world? What are the daily practices that will support me? Success happens when these three – vision, mission and ambition – all support each other.

Robert Holden says “there are no dark nights of the soul, only dark nights of the ego”, it is the ego that creates many of the inevitable obstacles along the way: set-backs, negative states, fear.  I believe much of what separates successful people from others is successful people are willing to live in a state of “not knowing” for longer – its the ego that’s clinging on to comfort and security, our souls want us to live by our highest intentions . Consequently, such people have an ongoing sense of being part of something bigger than themselves and an intention that being alive inside them MUST live in the real world. The ability to transform these obstacles into positive resources is a key part of their success.

Personal transformation takes time and its personal so there is no standard timeline or frequency – often we will have a flurry of sessions to get going then drop to roughly bi-monthly, or less frequently, some prefer the regularity of monthly sessions.  I only work with a small number of clients one-to-one and do this work, and the writing, research and learning that supports it, because I love it, it inspires me and allows me to transform difficulties I have faced along the way into resources for others. Courage Matters is what brings my meaning to life.

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