"My mother always told me to finish what I started, but she had no idea the kind of people I'd be dealing with" (including myself!). Story People.
You know that warm feeling it’s possible to notice when you know that someone likes you?
There’s a quote about therapy that could just as easily be used for some of the best/most real coaching interactions:
“At some point the coach loves the client, the client knows it, & the change begins”
Maybe that sounds a bit fluffy, waffy, Californian (my apologies to the West coast of the U.S.A) or just plain scary?
I think some poetic licence is needed in the interpretation of this use of ‘loves’.
In my experience of coaching, as with any real relationship where one person is truly met & seen by the other, ‘love’ in this context is talking about acceptance; acknowledgement of & respect for difference, but without judgement or agendas about how that person might ‘improve’ themselves.
When I can appreciate the ‘sense’ of why you think the way you do, why your beliefs are the way they are & what their original intentions were, when I can ‘get you’ in terms of your uniqueness & how your ‘wiring’, experiences & character have (of course) shaped you as you appear today…I do in a way, love you. I’m willing you to have the changes you desire for yourself & feel privileged to be a part of that journey as I support you & challenge you along the way. And that communicates itself to you, leaks if you like, without me having to say anything about it.
Then, the unseen magic of the coaching space does its own quiet work in the background while you & I are overtly exploring the content of the interaction.
There’s a however though, that I’ve been pondering in relation to this kind of love that applies more to mutual relationships (Coaching isn’t usually equal & mutual)
Just because I ‘get you’ doesn’t mean we can be build a successful personal relationship.
Typically in coaching, your story doesn’t involve me except in the sense of us working together with it as raw material. Outside of the coaching interaction your values & behaviours don’t affect me too much.
Even if I totally accept that your view of reality is valid for you, & has meaning, if I couldn’t find a way to identify a fit of your views with mine….it would make any personal & mutual interaction painful.
In coaching, I don’t have to make this fit. I only have to ‘see’ you for who you are, & I can only do that if I'm willing to 'really' see myself. The seeing threshold is still a discipline & sometimes takes more time, effort & will than other times, but your essential being will by definition have less impact on my essential being than if we were friends.
In some basic way of thinking about it, that’s why coaching & therapeutic relationships don’t & perhaps shouldn’t attempt to become friendships.
Outside the coaching relationship you might not be able to identify a fit of your views with mine either….
Friendships are a whole other threshold.
I read your blog and found myself nodding along happily in agreement and then all of a sudden you were somewhere else. I’m interested particularly in your concept of friendship as a threshold rather than an evolving continuum. I can’t quite get my head around that one at the moment, labels and all that, isn’t it more of a process/journey than a description/destination? From my own professional experience, I have no particular interest in developing my encounters into anything more - they are on a different journey so to speak. That said however, I have no doubt there will occasionally be someone I might meet through having worked with them that I sense has some kind of resonance or message for me and I’ll follow my soul on that one. Its not about how an opportunity arises but what one does with it. Maybe that’s a bit “waffy” as you put it, but everyone to their own.
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I love to notice, & to wonder & to journal on the things I wonder about: as the poet David Whyte says ~to "overhear myself saying things I didn't know I knew"