Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Questions about Spirituality in Coaching Practice

Here are some questions I developed that relate to the integration of a spiritual perspective into a coaching practice. I developed them for a client who wishes to recognize and integrate a spiritual grounding in the coaching process, regardless of the issues being worked on, and perhaps, most specifically, to insure acknowledgement of the spiritual undercurrent that is integrated into all coaching process, even issues that may appear, on the surface, to have no spiritual underpinning at all. The assumption made, of course, is that problem solving, empathic support, and reasoning that leads to action, must be, by nature, spiritual. But how does that look? How is it practiced?

At this point I leave these questions blank, but I hope to fill in some answers over the coming weeks.

1) The assumption I make is that by using the term “spirituality” and applying it to a coaching practice, we make define-able distinctions between spirituality and religion. What do those distinctions look like to you?

2) What kind of skills do you bring into coaching practice that you feel are already well developed that would enhance your ability to bring a spiritual approach into your coaching relationships?

3) What skills do you feel you need to enhance or work to improve? How might we do that?

4) Can you describe a session you have had (as a coach or a client or both) in which, even if (or especially if) the work was definitely not spiritual in topic or nature, spirituality played a strong role in the outcome or process?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Poem about Separation and Belonging

"What Does it Mean to Be Separate in a Quantum Universe?"

"Everyday experience thus fails to reveal how the universe really works and that's why a hundred years after Einstein, almost no one, not even professional physicists, feels relativity in their bones."
--Brian Greene,
"The Fabric of the Universe"

The poetry here is in our memory
of these journeys to a trail of moss,
where lichen drapes black spruce;
where we step
carefully up caps of old stone to view
the undulation of a very clear lake
on a very clear day. Each of us preserves
the moment discretely. Later we bicker
specifics: which trail took us up,
how the first tree held us or how
we held it for balance, steady
in the wind, or just

to hold a tree. I remember these spaces
at an angle independent from yours. The inlets,
down there, festooned in rock
and succulents,
draw me in. They have their
gravity, but your focus may be further

to an island with sheer cliffs,
a rookery
of helixing gulls or curls that remain,
after all, waves. Still we are both here
climbing. And this is truth,
the rooms and fields and even

the rivers we have crossed
will be reported as if from different
countries of eyes.


Or back even further:
a sister, a brother, recall the terror
of a cruel parent;
another sibling, even present

in the same kitchen, does not
remember. Were they looking elsewhere?
For protection? Survival
of their own desires?
Some things are too terrible or real
for two people to recall in the same way,

memories spoon and fit
but somehow never agree
and, while attempting to travel the bridges
of wounded love,
mistake the unchanging space of yesterday
with what may have never been.



if there even is such a thing, we have grown
past all wounds in remembrances.
We travel through
the same spaces and accept
that what we see may not match.
I, on one side of the long path

closer to a complete surrender
to gravity, and you, over there, watching
a far eagle (or is it a Great Blue?)
unmoved on the unseen
sails of the air.
This is compliment, not conflict

and if at times, in the same ear,
facing the same way, you add
your stories to mine, a way forward
or not, completes.
I can stay here until the sun falls.
There is some great sway in the throbbing

sky -- lit and curtained
over loon
and cougar and a pack
of wolves that skulk together
each with its own vision
together whole, one, and fine.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How do you determine what is ethical?

According to the dictionary the definition of ethical is "having to do with what is right or wrong or what is moral". Easy enough, I suppose, but the difficulty lies in the application of, and perspective from which one comes to, "right" and "wrong".

As the world has become more and more relativist, as cultural outlooks and great historical themes are re-examined from a more global and less narrow perspective of morality, the deepest and most civilization-shaping ideals of right and wrong have come to be questioned and re-evaluated. In some ways, what has been right in times past has become wrong; and what has been wrong has become right.

I remember a good example of this from my childhood. My father worked for a major regional electricity generating company and took great pride in the signs of industrialization the power plants were a part of: the huge smoking stacks, the belching automobile plants, the smoggy air. He used to take us on Sunday drives to see the power plants. Then at one point as we grew, the culture's awareness surfaced in us as children that all this effluent pouring into the air was not a good thing but a bad thing. I remember passing over a river valley, on one of those high freeway bridges spanning the sprawl of huge automobile and power plants spread out below, chanting "pollution, pollution, pollution" with my sisters as my father drove. Suddenly these signs of industry and "progress" were no longer to be celebrated; no longer "good". This was especially difficult for my father, I think.

How does this apply to coaching? I think that taking a simplistic, unchanging view of ethics when working with people is dangerous, but at the same time one can be guided by an over-arching dedication to ethics that would allow for change when change is ethical and due.

Standards and degrees of honesty and a firm grasp on the spiritual nature of the concepts of right and wrong are perhaps the best guide posts to use when determining what is ethical. Listening to and gathering evidence, being committed to seeking an ethical approach, allowing change in one's previous stand if the evidence indicates that a change must be pursued in order to conform to one's standards of ethics, getting active support from trusted others who are similarly committed to ethical behavior, are all ways one can be sure to be following ones own ethical standards.