Chapter 7 covers a lot of territory. Michele and Dan design their coaching relationship, select the important goals, and begin working to improve Dan’s health and vitality.
Michele and Dan agree that 1) the goals of coaching will be his goals, 2) Dan will be open to try new things if they seem promising, 3) he will speak up if he doesn’t like how the coaching is going.
Guided by a series of questions from Michele, Dan chooses to take advantage of Michele’s expertise in Qigong.
It may seem odd to some readers that Michele begins working with Dan’s body so early in the coaching relationship. For that matter, it may seem strange that she includes any attention to Dan’s physical experience at all. Many approach leadership as if it were an entirely cerebral activity, but as a martial arts master, Michele is aware of what a superbly functioning mind-body contributes to excellent performance. She is experienced enough to be surefooted in guiding Dan’s learning process.
She gives Dan a quick and compelling experience of relaxation that he can use at work. He’s interested in pursuing that skill, perhaps because his fear of dying has opened him to trying new things. There is nothing more bracing than an encounter with death. In his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, Steve Jobs said,
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]
For those of you who are drawn to experience some of what Dan learns, I have provided an audio that guides you through a brief exercise in breathing and attention. I use this in the morning to smooth out and gather my energy and set my intention for the day. It’s best done lying on your back in bed.
Listen to audio: Introduction to Energizing the Lower Center
Listen to audio: Practice Energizing the Lower Center
For coaches who are drawn to use this A-L-I-V-E system in your work, I suggest you begin learning it by yourself. When you are experienced and confident enough, you’ll find it easy to incorporate it into your coaching. I will keep adding A-L-I-V-E instructions to the Dragons at Work website, so you can learn it along with Dan.
In his interview on this chapter, Bill Ryan gives us background on the method of opening and closing the joints that Michele uses. It comes from an ancient Chinese system of healing and martial arts that I began studying with Bill and his teacher, Bruce Frantzis, in 1992. Bruce’s system is vast, and I realized I needed private instruction to guide me. Bill did a great job of filling in the details. If you’re interested in private Skype sessions with him, I recommend you give it a try. Bruce Frantzis’s recent DVD home study courses are excellent, and I recommend them, as well.
Questions for Reflection:
Which brings more to you, you or your renown?
Which brings more to you, you or what you own?
And which would cost you more if it were gone?
Lao Tzu Witter Bynner translation
For Executives: When you coach direct reports to develop them…
- Remember that you are their boss as well as someone who occasionally coaches them. Because of these overlapping roles, it is important that you are clear about the boundaries and scope of what’s included in coaching.
- Get agreements about the purpose and focus of the coaching.
- Agree on how you will both know when progress is achieved.
- Collaboratively define how you can both address and get the coaching back on track, if it deviates from what you’ve agreed to.
For Human Resource Executives: When you coach employees at any level of the organization…
- Same as above. Considering the many ways you support your organization, your overlapping role relationships can be quite complex. Clarity of boundaries, purpose, and process are essential.
- The clearer you are on the point above, the safer your employee/client will feel and the more successful your coaching will be.
For Coaches: In your coaching…
- Are there areas that may be specialties of yours or even natural gifts?
- Are you comfortable about offering these to clients where appropriate?
- Would you like these areas to be part of your brand (what you are known for)?
- If so, have you designed your marketing materials and interview processes to let clients know how you may uniquely serve their needs?
In the next week’s chapters Michele observes Dan at a meeting with his team. He gets irritated at a direct report and a pall falls over the meeting. We’ll see how Michele debriefs the meeting and coaches Dan.
PS – We’ll cover the 7 Powers Profile as the story unfolds.