Hey <<First Name>>
It's been a trip!
And boy did I underestimate how much of a ball ache it would be, how much it would add to my to-do list, and how little time Leah would leave us to unpack!
But it's done. We love Berlin. Leah's adjusted pretty well now and loves having lots of space. So do we :) And it's starting to all settle a little.
So, time to gather all the fruits of my (rather successful, I'd like to add) weekly Nuggets experiment, pre and post move, and assort them into your tasty buffet of thoughts, reflections and new content. Please enjoy!
And as always, if any of it resonates, make it swing! I'd love to hear from you :)
What you see...
If you’ve met me online this past week, you probably saw something like this:
But if you had happened to walk through that door in the background, you’d have seen this:
Of course I’m somewhat hesitant to share the 2nd image with you since my Zoom frame, as most people’s Zoom frames, is well-curated, and for a good reason: We want to present our best selves and assure others that we’ve “got our ducks in a row”, and that there’s a certain order to our lives.
And while I think that’s of some importance in order to create trust (and we probably all tend to clean up a little ahead of guests arriving into our space), the truth is that behind the (Zoom) curtains, most of us will always have messy elements in our lives.
Now rest assured that I don’t feel like a messy person. On the contrary: after a few challenging weeks (see my last Nuggets we’re actually in a really good place with the move now: we have finished packing all non-essentials (hence running out of space to store boxes), and we’re excited for our new chapter. Yet another cycle of what something looks like (messy) vs. what is actually true (well organised).
Next time you see something, anything, consider that you might see something very different if you were to… enter through the back door!
Mind the assumptions
I’ll miss East London for its street art. This one caught my attention this weekend:
What do you think this person is experiencing?
My wife and I certainly had quite different assumptions.
I’d love to ask the artist what he had in mind, but the point here is that if we were to all tell a story, I reckon all our stories would be quite different, and always coloured by our own projections.
It is this “colouring in”, and interpreting what someone says through our own lense, that happens all the time when we listen to our clients in the coaching room, and it’s also what’s happening when we listen to family, friends and co-workers:
We make assumptions based on our own frame of reference.
A good coach “brackets” their assumptions and starts asking questions - and a good friend would too, I’d say.
Because all too often, our interpretations of what’s going on don’t help, at all. While listening and helping someone to make sense of their experience does help, and a lot.
Of course there are times when we definitely benefit from making some quick assumptions in order to be able to act quickly. The wisdom lies in deciding when to bracket our assumptions and when to act on them.
So next time you notice you’re creating a narrative in your head, ask yourself: “How much of myself is in this story? And might there be a different way to interpret what’s going on here?” Then get curious! :)
I’ll leave you with that. And I salute art - and this artist* in particular - for making us think.
If Sisyphus was a butterfly...
Some of my coaching sessions make my blood boil.
What gets me is the injustice and absurdity of the system within which they operate.
I'm just out of a session, and this coachee tells me that - literally - people are dying because of how the system is set up. And those who are in charge of maintaining the system seem unwilling to do their job, so those with heart and passion and a genuine drive to do good in the world, find their hands tied.
And it’s not that they don’t try to influence [or: improve] the situation.
They voice concerns, they go on the record, they shout and scream, they rebel, they conform…
They try everything they’ve got - but at the end of the day it just feels like Sisyphus, pushing his boulder up, again and again, with no change whatsoever when it comes to the issues that matter. All that's achieved are cosmetics.
And careful to not get too vocal, or make the powers that be too uncomfortable: those who aren't experts at playing the political game are easily made into a scapegoat, and singled out as ultimately carrying the responsibility.
The questions that arise regularly for these clients are the following:
Am I really just like Sisyphus, and none of my efforts really matter? Will I fare best to make my peace with the impossibility of creating real change if there’s no buy-in of key people who have made it very clear that they're not interested in change? Is it time to stop banging my head against the wall? Resign, conform, just "do my job" and live my life?
Or might I be the proverbial butterfly of butterfly-effect fame, and me flapping my wings may ultimately cause the storm that brings about change, the wind of change that will save those lives... even if it's long after I'm gone at the other end of the world…?
Do I choose to believe in hope and that to keep fighting is essentially worth it? How much am I willing to sacrifice in the face of not being able to know which one's the truth?
A dilemma? Perhaps an easy choice for you?
Is your Sisyphus flapping his wings?
[UPDATE] It’s now the next day, and I just came out of running a supervision group during which we discussed “emotions in coaching”, and how far we can go as coaches. One of the group members brought up how important it is to manage our own emotions, and I realised that this Nugget was totally a way of expressing and working through some of what I had been feeling during the session that inspired this piece. A release of sorts. Turning my emotions into a meaningful Nugget. So, if you’re reading this, thank you for the therapy! And perhaps have a think about how you release your own emotions after a blood-boiling session.
On biting your tongue - and being authentic
I had to seriously bite my tongue when the moving truck finally arrived: 5 days late, with all my plants probably dead; significant extra cost; terrible planning; mostly non-existent communication; lots of blatant lies and definitely outrageous customer service…
“Be political!”, my wife urged me, as I prepared to meet the movers downstairs.
“I’m being fake”, I thought, and the part of me that highly values authenticity protested loudly.
So I searched within for some empathy. Which I found, then argued away, next I re-connected to it, and finally I offered the guys coffee and breakfast.
It felt genuine at that moment. There was going to be a time to share some “honest feedback”, but this wasn’t that time. The logical, not-particularly-empathetic part in me agreed that that was the right strategy.
I even came to really like two of the three men. After all, most likely none of this was their fault. In fact, they probably suffered much more than me - they were the ones who had to carry 257 items onto the 4th floor in central Berlin, with no lift thanks to the utterly incompetent organisation of their employers.
If I had given way to the emotional outburst that had been lurking underneath a relatively calm surface, I reckon things would have escalated and nothing good would have come out of it.
I did get to say my piece at the end of the day (a 16-hour day, mind you), and while I would have preferred the timing to be better, it turned out that the owner of the company was one of the guys sweating in the staircase (a victim of his own shitty planning, a fact which - I admit - I found satisfying), so it had to be there and then. Though I believe that it was really important to speak our minds - for me as well as for him, as they had grievances of their own.
I guess the moral of the story is that holding back what you’re feeling in the moment doesn’t necessarily mean you’re putting on a fake face. It was important - necessary, even - to park my grievances, genuinely connect with the human being, and to create a space where emotions can be aired, as well as to listen to the other side's story.
That’s also why I love coaching conversations: Since I’m not reliant on my clients’ service and tend to avoid significant “dual relationships”, I don’t have to bite my tongue. When I feel strongly during a coaching conversation, and this feeling has emerged as a result of our relationship or interaction, it’s actually important that I give voice to it as it’s usually very relevant to the work.
Anyway: Now - 3 days of intense unpacking later - we’re in a reasonably good place. Most of the plants are alive, I’m loving my new consulting room, and I’m looking forward to continuing to share my thoughts with you from one of the most inspiring places I know in the world.
Welcome to Berlin, me! :)
On the future of learning in the age of technology
Leah is 9 months old now.
As she's growing up with three languages, she's expected to start speaking later than usual. And when I found out that there's an app that translates baby noises into text, it somehow got me thinking about the kind of skills we aren't learning anymore, because technology does the job for us.
Of course we're not quite there yet, but my mind pictured a version of Amazon's Alexa that registers that the baby is hungry or tired, before Mum does - and for a moment I considered the scenario that over time we as humans might lose skills like that. Much like I no longer drive anywhere without a satnav, simply because I don't have to - and I’ve noticed how my general sense of orientation has suffered when in the past I’d always find my way back to places I had been to once.
Checking for a fever? - A thing of the past.
Knowing how much salt to add to a dish? - Google will tell you.
Remembering when to order new crucial food or medicine? - Already initiated by your smart fridge/medicine cabinet.
And of course these are merely the beginning…
I’m sure very soon checking your baby for a fever will be a thing of the past, because they’ll be monitored at all times.
But I feel the “your baby wants a cuddle” push notification goes a bit too far… or does it?
Reminds me of an article I wrote a while ago, after reading the Oxford University study that predicted that nearly 50% of jobs are at risk of being replaced by artificial intelligence (with a notable update on the data here). And now, as a dad, I continue to ponder:
How will all of this affect parenting?
Nelly often refers to parenting as “the single most important job we can choose to take on in the world”, but my concerns extend far beyond parenting, to any job people do, so let me ask you:
How will technology affect your role in life and/or business?
What skill set(s) might you need to protect (or indeed need to re-learn) in order to future-proof your life, your well-being, your existence?
And how do you think might technology help, or hinder that process?
What I’m listening to
Mato - Il est cinq heures (in dub)
This came in like a tremendous treat on the day we’ve finally had the couch and lounge chair unpacked, a very hard day of work was done, the sound system was up and running, and for the first time in some time it was time to relax and breathe and just be cosy, feeling the warm embrace of some quality dub.
Loads of new content since I sent out my last Nuggets. Have a browse!
Quote I loved
"Let me feel about that for a moment"
That's what our latest guest on the Talking about Coaching & Psychedelics podcast, Jascha Renner, said when I asked him a question. I had never heard that before, and loved that he approached the question that way!
On that note, we've been on a bit of a hiatus and haven't started publishing Season 2 yes since the whole team was so busy doing other things. However, we've got 3 more episodes on the shelf and will regroup eacrly December to figure out a publishing schedule, so there's more to come on that front. If you'd like to stay up to date specifically with that sort of work, we've got a dedicated Coaching & Psychedelics mailing list for that.
You can now watch or listen to my keynote at 1st Annual Summit on Transformative Coaching brought to you by Animas Centre for Coaching, during which I took stock of a dozen conversations with thought leaders in the coaching profession to talk about, among many other things, their take on transformation and transformative coaching. Many of the other excellent presentations (including the other keynote by Dr. Simon Western) are also up on Animas’s YouTube Channel now.
Another “Coaching Uncaged” episode was made possible by the wonderful people at Animas Centre for Coaching. This time I’m talking to Claire Pedrick, ICF Master Certified Coach and author of “Simplifying Coaching”.
Claire says: “I think it's a fantasy that we add value by trying to add value, because trying to add too much value impacts partnership. I'm discovering more and more that there's no end to the work that we can do and the work we can let go of to be fully working in partnership.” A wonderful conversation ensued…
More thanks to the good folks at Animas Centre for Coaching, for getting me Prof. Windy Dryden on the Coaching Uncaged podcast, where we talked about Single Session Coaching and One-at-a-time Coaching.
The debate on whether best to work session-by-session or in the form of programmes, is an ongoing one for coaches. It seems though that most have accepted the advice from marketers and sales experts that offering packages of sessions are essential when running a coaching business.
Some good discussion on the question of IF it’s a good idea on another podcast. In this one I talk to Windy, the (co-)author and editor of 167 books (one of which about this very topic) about his approach to this way of working, and why it's a good idea to consider if it may be
Another Animas Coaching Uncaged episode is out. This time I’m in conversation with the Founder of the Coaching Diversity Institute, Dr. Towanna Burrous and we’re talking, amongst many other interesting topics, about the value of working with a diverse range of clients as a coach, while the reality of many coaches tends to lean towards niching down to a very particular kind of client. I also love her story of how she realised her own leadership capabilities. Well worth a listen!
right for you and your clients to work one session at a time.
I really like Eve. And boy does she inspire! It was the first time I met her, but obviously I had come across her work a lot in the past.
She’s co-written and/or edited a.o. the books ‘Ecological and Climate-conscious Coaching: A Companion Guide to Evolving Coaching Practice’ (2023), ‘The Ethical Coaches’ Handbook’ (2023), ‘Systemic Coaching’(2020), and ‘The Heart of Coaching Supervision – Working with Reflection and Self-care’ (2019). So you can imagine how packed with valuable nuggets this conversation is. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did :)
Talking about Coaching
We've quietly celebrated 50 episodes of our short-form podcast discussing questions we often hear from fellow coaching. We've got a dedicated mailing list for this podcast if you'd like stay up to date as new episodes are being released.
Episode 52 - Do I need coaching supervision?
Nobody needs a supervisor (with a good few notable exceptions perhaps) - every coach should want one, is the underlying message of today’s episode of Talking about Coaching. “I want every coach I know to listen to this conversation” Siawash concluded toward the end of this episode, Yannick got super excited and dove in deep on what supervision is, why it’s important and how broad the range is of what supervision can mean in practice, and Nicki shared her experience of being supervised as a relatively new coach and how she was able to secure low-cost supervision to support her practice. Come join us for a conversation about the pinnacle of reflective practice and why supervision will likely 10x your coaching revenue.
Episode 51 - Always trust your intuition in coaching. Is that true?
You will have heard many coaches rave about the importance of listening to your gut, your intuition, your hunches about what to do when you’re coaching, which question to ask, how to navigate your session, etc. Some coaches go as far to argue that you should always trust your intuition, so in this episode of Talking about Coaching our resident coaches Nicki, Siawash and Yannick are taking a good look at when and how following our instincts is or isn’t a good idea. We draw on the literature, professional poker, action sports and our experience to discuss this important question.
Episode 50 - How can I get my ego out of the way when I’m coaching?
It happens to the best of us: Something triggers our ego and instead of being present and focused on the client, we get a little hijacked and aren’t serving the client as best as we could have. In this episode of Talking about Coaching our resident coaches Yannick, Nicki and Siawash are discussing why this is an important topic, how it can affect our work with our clients, and what we might do to let this happen as little as possible. We discuss the value of “doing your own work”, why supervision is such an important part of coaching, and we mentioned Yannick’s Coaching Uncaged episode with The Coaching Manual author Julie Starr, during which this topic was also covered: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSvk86MXWF0
Episode 49 - The last coaching session is coming up. How do I end well?
You’re 5 out of 6 contracted sessions into your coaching agreement. The last session is scheduled and the engagement is nearing the end. How do you approach the ending? What’s important to talk about before we go separate ways? How might I open up the conversation to explore the possibility of continuing to work together? How do I get a good testimonial? What might be a good “exit protocol”? Is it okay to ask for a referral or testimonial? All these and more questions are being discussed by our resident coaches Nicki, Siawash and Yannick in this episode of Talking about Coaching.
Episode 48 - What should I expect from my client?
For most coaches it’s clear what their clients can expect from them. But what can coaches expect from their clients? In this episode of Talking about Coaching our resident coaches Yannick, Siawash and Nicki are talking about responsibility, contracting and expectations. We’re raising questions about who does what in the coaching relationship and how we can have this conversation with our clients.
See also: Episode 37 - What needs to be in my coaching contract? https://youtu.be/bzB_abWd6Ac
Catch me live
- 6th December - Coaching Lab 33 - A rare opportunity to be a fly on the wall for a psychedelics integration coaching session using Internal Family Systems and body work with our Guest Liam Farquhar. Come grab your ticket here or sign up as a member.
That's it. If you're reading this, I appreciate that you're still with me and I hope you enjoyed reading my Nuggets. If you can't get enough, I sporadically upload past editions to my website's blog. As always, if any of it resonates, make it swing! I'd love to hear from you :)
P.s. We're running an experiment: Publishing one short Nugget every week. Fancy hearing from me more often? Click here!