by Arjuna Ardagh: As a coach and a trainer of coaches, I am very lucky to work with extraordinarily talented, resourceful, brilliant people…
I have helped people write movie scripts, write books, develop courses, bring new products to the market, found companies, and much more. Whenever I interview a new client for coaching (which usually lasts for about three months) we start out by understanding their “outcomes.” That means: What would you like things to look like at the end of our three months of coaching? Some of the statements that people write down are:
I have the first draft of my novel completed and ready to submit to an agent.
I know how to deal with feelings of insecurity when they arise, and they no longer inhibit my creative flow.
I have a good daily routine of waking up with the sun and being productive in the morning.
My body feels healthy and vibrant and I have plenty of energy.
When my wife/husband appears to be upset, I know how to breathe, to not take it personally, and to give them my love.
There are as many valid outcomes as there are potential clients. Everybody usually comes up with about eight or ten for our three months of coaching.
What I most love about coaching is the magical way that we almost always get all of the outcomes. It is such a delight to hear people gasp with surprise at the end of three months when we go back and read the list and discover that everything they thought was impossible or difficult now just feels natural and easy. Mostly they cannot even remember what the problem was. The art of creating good outcomes is that they should not be too difficult or too easy. If an outcome is too difficult, we are setting ourselves up for failure. That means at the end of three months, the statement will not be true and the client will feel that both of us have failed. If the outcomes are too easy, it puts in question the investment of time and energy. Did we really need to work so hard for three months just to get these very small things that I could probably have had anyway? Finding the right balance between easy and difficult is what makes coaching magical.
The greatest barrier we have to overcome, right from the very beginning, is why people sabotage (sometimes with great fervor and certainty) the very things that they also long for. A client who wants to finish a book procrastinates each and every day. A client who has service to offer to clients hesitates endlessly to make the calls. The key to anticipating and dissipating this kind of resistance is to recognize that the psyche is essentially fragmented.
Yes, that is right. Although we use words like “I” and “me” and “mine” all day long, really it’s not accurate. You are more like a collection of I’s than a single “I.” Of course, deeper than all that is what we can begin to call “true nature,” which people often taste in meditation or other practices. That is the dimension of you which is silent, still, infinite, and always at peace. There is only one of that, but we soon discover that it is that same consciousness in everybody. In fact, it really takes having a pure, direct recognition of that infinite dimension of consciousness in order to be able to recognize the fragmentation of the psyche. That is why we call our work Awakening Coaching: because awakening is fundamental to everything. Once we develop just a little bit of this capacity to watch and be aware, it becomes possible to notice throughout the day all the different times that we say “I”:
I want to live simply.
I want to make more money.
I want you to love me.
I want you to leave me alone.
Nobody likes me.
I am the greatest.
It is disorienting to observe the machinations of the mind in this way, because pretty quickly you realize that the mind is crazy, completely unreliable. If anyone could actually make a transcript of the thoughts that pass through your head just in the course of an hour, you could get locked away. So we try to hide this fragmentation, from ourselves and everybody else. But actually, exactly the opposite of that hiding is the key to sanity and alignment. I ask many of my clients to observe the rapidly changing nature of the “I” and to note it down. We use a process called “Radical Releasing” to take off the charge.
As soon as we have just a little bit of distance from all of these fragmented selves, something else opens up which is reliable, glorious, easy, and fun. Intuition comes alive, we become sensitive to the environment, and notice what needs to happen instead of the latest version of “what I want.” We start to feel a sense of guidance, as though we are being lived by something greater than our own mind. Once we really get this piece handled once and for all (just the simple recognition of fragmentation) the rest of the coaching goes very smoothly. That is why my coaching clients get everything they wrote down on their list of outcomes: not because I am a magician, not because Awakening Coaching is God’s gift to humanity, and not because of the exertion of will or force. My clients get what they long for because they learn to anticipate and to dissipate resistance.