One of the most profound flow experiences I’ve ever experienced was driving on the German Autobahn from Gießen to Frankfurt – at an average(!) speed of 200km/h (125mp/h).
I was 100% present, utterly focused on the road ahead, anticipating every minor change in the environment, ready to deal with whatever might appear. Nothing but the road mattered. I was completely in the moment.
Traffic was very light, and drivers in Germany generally stick to keeping the fast lane free. The car I had borrowed at the time was familiar to me, so overall this may sound insane to some, but was pretty calculated and reasonably safe – certainly in the mind of a 20 something year old.
I was thinking back to this most exhilarating ride during a recent supervision group. One of the coaches shared their experience of getting to a stage of the coaching where the work was “simply” to maintain the change and allow it to further unfold. The “work” became to continue to hold space, and the coach was questioning whether they were doing enough. Early interventions had been powerful and led to important shifts and insights. But now it felt as if they were just cruising along, not really doing much anymore…
What emerged was an insight around what I believe to be a significant challenge for many coaches:
How can we stay as present as if we were going 235km/h, but while cruising to work, a journey we must have made a million times? How can we stay utterly present when nothing super exciting seems to be happening?
The truth is that, at any point in time, we might miss something important. A child could jump onto the road suddenly and unexpectedly. Any moment has the potential to become infinitely exciting, regardless of how calm the environment might seem. We should always, always stay fully present, but we rarely do when things feel familiar.
To me, that’s why coaching is hard work, even when it feels like we’re cruising along effortlessly. It takes effort to pay attention. Way more effort than when the situation unequivocally demands it.
Curious about your thoughts…
Next event: Psychoanalytic Coaching with David Rothauser
Our December guest in the Coaching Lab is New York based executive coach and Psychoanalyst David Rothauser. David and I recently talked for an hour on the Coaching Uncaged podcast about the influence of modern psychoanalysis on his coaching, and I’m thrilled that we get to see him in action with a client in this Lab. David’s been around the block several times and I have no doubt this will be an inspiring debrief! I hope you can join us.
More info and tickets at https://gocoachinglab.com/vault/next-lab/
New Book I’ve contributed to
I’m excited that this important book is now available for pre-order, and honoured to have been invited to contribute a chapter drawing out the intricacies around the grey space between coaching and therapy through a case study from my practice that had a client approach me who’s recently lost a loved one. I know that the other chapters will definitely make many coaches think more deeply about their practice – and essentially that’s what drives a lot of my work, so do dig into this one!