My Approach: A Synthesis
Paradoxes: Inner/Outer, Slower/Faster, Present/Future
Business, and for that matter, much of the world, is future-oriented. The thing that matters is to get results, achieve goals, make numbers, on time, and take practical action to secure safety and prosperity. This is how we get rewarded. That would be fine if it worked. Of course, there is an important place for the practical hum of smooth-running operations whose output must be predicted – our whole world depends on it. Trains and planes should run on time; schools should be open; manufacturers must coordinate supply chains, assemblers and distributors. Failure would lead to dysfunction and chaos. But the real world we live in, during our times, has become skewed toward moving faster, living for the future, and focused on outside wins. In fact, every process directed toward human change points to the importance of slowing down, embracing presence and the present moment, and tuning inward. Too much loyalty to fast/future/outer orientation disconnects people from their native rhythms and leads to stress, eventual breakdown, and a sense of depersonalization and dehumanization.
Over my years of helping people I have discovered that, while at first it can feel alien or difficult, slowing down, looking inward and experiencing presence can be deeply nourishing and exponentially enable practical effectiveness. This is more than borne out by science and how the brain works. The nervous system and human physiology operate on a rhythm that people get more out of by working with, than against. The brain loves present-moment focus. Non-stop future-oriented planning, worrying, thought recycling fags it out so that it loses its resilience for creation and new ideas. The deprioritization of emotional processing stops up every aspect of human functioning, eventually telling in severe compromise.
The paradox is that we need both. Outside behaviors are most effectively changed through inside work. Slowing down and stepping back gets people out of ruts and helps them to move forward. Though many are afraid of losing ground in the race to success, the deeper you go to move the levers of your own growth, the more exhilaration, positive energy, life force, and sustainable happiness you can source.
In my coaching work and all my work this is the start to help clients source their potential — through a bevy of approaches and techniques, but all based on a foundation of respectful, mutual inquiry, curiosity, and optimism.
Moving the Needle
Paradox means finding the right balance between reflection and action, intellect and emotion, forward propulsion and centered grounding. This means my work with clients starts with understanding the specific and concrete problems and contextual challenges you are trying to solve.
My training has been crafted to give me a repertoire of communication styles to connect with where people are at. I am comfortable in, and able to toggle between, direct and indirect, informal and professional, practical — and entirely comfortable helping clients navigate the amorphous realm of inner life. Frequently I help clients make connections between their cerebral and behavioral habits to body- and emotion-embodied understanding. To that end I use a lot of metaphors, images and stories to help clients connect to, and find levers of change within themselves.
I used to view my interest in fitness, yoga and mindfulness as separate realms from my profession — as part of my personal and spiritual life respectively. Now I see these as interchangeable. Each involves cultivating the capacity for presence, and the value of nurturing and respecting the body. Each cultivates curiosity, listening, and the willingness to appreciate and enjoy whatever is going on right now.
The quality and skill of befriending is the key activity whether you are talking about perspective-taking in successful negotiations, or summoning poise to look at fast-moving forces in the chaos of life. It is befriending, as opposed to antagonizing, tensing up, or resisting, that guarantees success. Befriending is a key aspect of mindfulness, resilience, conflict resolution and human growth in general.
Being able to accept all aspects of yourself and your experience with compassion and joy; developing the tolerance for other people’s behaviors and states of mind; accessing poise amidst chaos – this is what allows people to change and grow at warp speed – even while it is easier said than done.