Great coaching can feel like magic. There is a sense of wonder and grace that is palatable when a client works through a challenge, has an epiphany, or discovers a new connection. Creating that magic consistently and teaching other coaches to provide it is my mission at Bright Livelihoods.
This series on Compassionate Coaching was the result of looking at the complexity of coaching and getting to its essence. The result was boiling down our approach to three main practices: Love, Intuition, and Discernment. Now that Kelly and I have explored love and intuition, it is time to turn to discernment.
Discernment is the key to creating change by focusing the process toward an agreed upon objective while integrating spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical data. It is not easy to develop this gift but I believe it is available to all coaches and clients as long as they take on the challenge and deliberately develop the skill over time.
The dictionary offers two definitions of Discernment, which seem to contradict each other:
- the ability to judge well.
- perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.
After pondering both ideas for the last 24 hours, I can get behind both definitions in the coaching process. Everyone I’ve ever coached over the last 20 years wants to develop more confidence in their ability to judge well. This positive association to judgment can relate to how to spend time, choose a career path, leverage your team, or plan a healthy meal. On the coaching side of the equation, applying this concept includes knowing when you are the best match for a client and their challenges and when you need to refer them to someone else who can be a better fit. This first definition is mind based; using our intellect is an important aspect of discernment, especially since our role is to help keep clients focused.
The second definition is about letting go of the mind and tapping into the mystery. It is a subtler and often more complex application of discernment. At Bright Livelihoods, we encourage our clients to bring and leverage their personal spiritual beliefs, practices, and experiences into the coaching conversation. One of the techniques we use is to have them share their history of faith in the beginning of an engagement. In that way, we can respectfully honor and leverage this in the coaching process. For example, if a client practices yoga, I encourage that person to take their dilemmas to their mat.
As practitioners of compassionate coaching, we deliberately tap into the mystery of the universe. These subtle forces inform our sessions based on our personal spiritual beliefs, practices, and experience as a way to listen more deeply to our clients. For example, I often meditate for about 5 minutes before I do a session to connect with my client before we even begin a session. This results in a deeper, spiritually directed session. Another way I use this concept is by silently asking for spiritual guidance during a session when I might be confronted by fear or resistance being expressed by a client. My role is to let go of my judgment in those moments and shift into understanding.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to develop the skill of discernment:
- What was the best day for you in 2017? Why?
- What was the worst day for you in 2017? Why?
- Based on these experiences, how can you better use your time in 2018?
- What is your spiritual point of view? In other words, what do you believe in at your core? (God, children, beauty, nature, laughter are all examples.)
- Based on this point of view, what spiritual practices that will help you strengthen this point of view? (being in nature, going to church, yoga, holding babies, volunteering)
Now, based on your answers above, commit to one thing in the next week, you can do to help you honor your mind while developing your trust in a mysterious positive force.
Be well. Do well,
Need help committing to that one thing? Have you committed but now find yourself struggling to move on to the next step? Contact us for a free 30-minute coaching session! See what Compassionate Coaching will do for you in 2018!
Laurel Donnellan – 512.222.6651
Kelly Dwyer – 718.593.7545