Research Paper By Kelly Goyer
(Life Coach, CANADA)
A concept I would like to introduce is the Power of Slow. I came across this concept from within my own personal life and journey as a coach while studying at ICA. I was really enjoying my future as a coach. With anticipation I dreamed of where this vocation would take me. I attended a coaching business development workshop in southern California and returned to my home city a changed man. I had been transformed. I felt unstoppable. There were no doubts or fears in my mind and I made some sudden and significant changes in my life.
Then I hit the wall. Hard. I had put myself and my family in a difficult position. I was anxious and worried about us most of the time. I felt like I had lead in my veins and every morning was a chore just to get out of bed. And I found myself in a coaching paradigm that I really didn’t subscribe to.
The world is moving ever faster, but at what price? How can the coaching process account for this?
Why? What did I do? How did it come to this? One word: Fast. I was moving too fast and trying to will my life to change, trying to force it to become this brilliantly lit life that others were saying it could become, and on a fast track too. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I had bought in to someone else’s version of how my journey toward a coaching life was supposed to be.
I stepped away from coaching for a bit. My intuition was telling me there was something here to learn, to grow from. So, I made space in my life to slow down. And that’s when I discovered the Power of Slow.
Let me define slow. When I say the word slow I don’t mean sloppy. I don’t mean lacking in confidence, lazy or disorganized, and I don’t mean lacking the willingness to act. What I am talking about is this: There is definitely a time when you need to be fast – you need to execute, execute, execute. Jump on it. For sure.
But we can’t live there. We burn ourselves out if we try to live there. We strain our family relationships when we try to live there. We strain our client relationships. And we strain our relationship with our Self. We rob Peter to pay Paul. We take shorter breaks, skip meals, lose sleep, drink caffeine/sugar/fat instead (yeah because our brilliance, the REASON WE ARE HERE can be found at the bottom of a paper cup). When fast has served us and the season turns, it is then time to go slow. Execute, then step back. Balance. Reconnect to our spark and ask some questions: What is the next step I must take? When is the right time? What scares me about that? What do I need? or simply How am I doing?
There are 3 aspects of the Power of Slow and they can be used within a coaching process to more powerfully serve your clients and your own authenticity as a coach.
Learn From Your Shadow
Slow is the time for remembering. For confronting ourselves and going within to benefit from our deepest wisdom.
There’s a quote that illustrates this beautifully. It’s from Joseph Campbell and it is:
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.
What does that mean? We overlook our brilliance. So much of our striving and seeking happens ‘out there’. Where is our brilliance? Within the cave of our self-doubts, our pretending to be more than we are. And we pretend because we do not yet know that we are enough. Brilliance isn’t found simply by choosing an “I am awesome” affirmation, although that is a great step forward. But sometimes, when our shadow is trying to get our attention, this can be like putting a fresh coat of paint over a rusty car. Our brilliance can be covered over. And we must go into the cave to meet those things about ourselves we do not like, that we’ve judged, or denied, or disavowed.
Why? Because it is also the truth of ourselves. The shadow holds the parts of ourselves that need to be healed, the parts of ourselves that lash out when we’re under pressure. They can sabotage our attempts to create or sustain something. At first it may seem like going into the cave we are to meet a monster. What we find is a powerful ally with wisdom for us (and the world) to benefit by.
This wisdom comes from understanding the beliefs about ourself (and others) that are not true. That were formed when we were in pain and, because we did not know what else to do, directed that pain at ourselves. We may have even blamed ourselves for it whether we were at fault or not. Every human child does this.
In coaching we work with our clients to uncover their underlying beliefs, or any automatic commitments they may have that are keeping them from their potential. They may come to us with past goals or aspirations that they did not achieve. Or they may come to significant challenge when attempting to follow through on actions set within the coaching process. Their shadow often is connected to this struggle.
As a coach, learning about your own shadow helps you serve your clients powerfully b/c you will learn about theirs – more often than not it will be what is blocking them. It also helps you shift from simply being a service provider to the role of Trusted Advisor, thus building a deeper relationship with those whom you serve.
So how do you meet your shadow? It starts with the understanding that fear, anger, frustration, control, overwhelm, lack of balance comes from your unmet needs. Unmet needs can point to your shadow side, in that your feelings are pointing you toward something inside yourself that is trying to get your attention (so you can learn and grow). By slowing down so we can check in with ourselves, we can reorient to a stance of strength.
There is a basic 4 Step Approach that I have adapted from the Centre for Non-Violent Communication that can help to address our shadow selves attempts to be heard.
What am I feeling. Get clear on it. Name it. When you name it you grow your awareness and can change it.
What are/was my disconnecting thoughts about this person/situation? A disconnecting thought is any thought that expresses a wish that things (person/situation) were different than they currently are. (should/shouldn’t; always/never; judgment)
If my disconnecting thought was not true, if the opposite was true, what needs of mine would be getting met?
How can I get my needs met? Expressing and acting on love for yourself.
Own YOUR Version
Slow is relative. One person’s slow might be another person’s light speed. I had made a move in my coaching business that placed me and my family in a tough position. There are many examples of what can happen when we try to go faster than we are able to. Do you know what happened to Marianne Williamson, author of Return to Love and many other books, after her first big breakthrough book? Her life totally fell apart. She wasn’t ready. It was too fast. Life will always send you challenges in order to heal or clear away that which is no longer needed or requires healing in order for you to go to the next level. This work never ends. As long as you are on the journey this work will always be a part of it.
Avoid comparing yourself to anyone. Modelling someone else’s approach can be helpful, if it fits. When we compare it forces there to be a winner and a loser. The world needs us and our unique journey. WE need our unique journey because it will lead us to the places where we need to grow.
If our client is in comparison mode, they are in judgment of themselves and another. This prevents our client from accessing their full internal resources (and external too).
Accessing the Power of Slow means going within. Connecting to our own authenticity to find what’s right for us and releasing ourselves from judgment of self or other.
As a coach, the following questions may be helpful for your client:
- Is this authentic for you?
- Does it come from within you or are you trying to force or grasp at something?
- How does this feel in your body? Does it feel exciting, even though you may be scared or worried? Or does it feel icky?
- Does your body feel closed down or like it wants to move away?
- Is now the right time? Or is there something else to do first?
- Is this what you want? Who will be affected if you achieve this?
What you are up to is an extension, an expression of the radiant, heartfelt, wise part of you that recognized there is something more to be done on this planet.
When we first consider going after what we really want we can encounter quite a lot of resistance.
Because we are afraid. And to avoid that fear we run. We hide out in busy. Busy, busy, busy. We chase new projects, JV partnerships, the latest google hangout our productivity app. You name it. All to avoid feeling the fear. We may reach for a crutch outside of ourselves and develop an addiction – alcohol, food, buying stuff, etc. We’re afraid. We’re afraid we’ll let down our family and friends and lose their money. We’re afraid we’ll find out it really was just a crazy impossible dream and that we really are a fool. That we really didn’t have what it takes, that indeed we were kidding ourself that we could do this and we should have known better than to take a chance.
Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have. Doris Mortman
And from the shadow we hear “impostor”. We can feel like we’re faking it or we don’t really know what we’re doing. And that voice reflects our fear. Our lack of acceptance.
Practice deep self-love and letting go. Learn to accept fully, and completely, exactly where you are, exactly WHO you are right now. Not in a week from now, not once you’ve got 1000 likes or shares, but right now. Don’t run from what you are, right now. Love what you are right now.
And if you do not accept who you are right now, whatever you aren’t dealing with, whatever parts of yourself that you are not yet embracing with love and compassion, will show up as challenges and frustrations in your life. Maybe it’s problems with clients, maybe it’s being paid what you’re worth. Maybe it’s finding staff that show up the way you want them to. Whatever it is, it will show up.
Remember, S L O W. Go home tonight and run a warm bath. Lay down in it so your ears are under the water. Listen. Acceptance is the place you slip into where all you hear is the rhythm of your breathing and the beating of your own heart. That’s all there is. That’s the Power of Slow too. The rest of our lives are simply an extension of that.
Acceptance. Everything you need is right now. You are connected to the past, and to the future, but you have to live it right now. And right now is perfect. Right now is exactly where you need to be. Acceptance moves you out of resistance
So let me offer you something you can do to really open to acceptance. It utilizes some very powerful coaching tools: Visualization; Appreciative Inquiry; Acknowledgement; Vision
This has been adapted from a technique known as Emotional Flooding developed by Tony Robbins.
Find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Alternatively you could go for a walk in nature, or any other activity that will allow you to focus and be at ease. You will only need about 5 minutes for this exercise.
- Remember a time when you felt very grateful for something, and ‘place’ it in your heart.
- Allow the physical sensations from this memory to express in your body. Feel what it was like when you were grateful.
- Remember another time you felt grateful. Allow those sensations to arise in your body and place them in your heart as well.
- Repeat this process for a memory when you felt very proud, either of yourself or another.
- Repeat this process for another memory when you felt very proud of yourself or another.
- Repeat this process for a memory when you felt very excited.
- Repeat this process for a memory when you felt a lot of laughter.
- Repeat this process for a memory of a very special moment with your family.
- Rapidly begin placing other ‘memories’ from future events now into your heart. Gratitude, pride, excitement, love, laughter, etc.
- Open your eyes.
Through the process of visualization, coaching clients are brought through a series of memories that result from positive experiences in the past, moments when things were as the client desired or appreciated. Positive moments also require an acknowledgement on behalf of the client for feeling proud of themselves. By looking toward future positive outcomes, the coaching client will utilize their vision for experiencing the success and positive outcomes that are yet to arrive.
Coaching acceptance is helping your client explore their understanding that they have access to everything they need, in the present moment. If they are in a hurry to get to a future state, if there is a level of self-rejection for who or where they are in the present, this will not support them.
The Power of Slow, through the three aspects of Learn from the Shadow, Owning Your Version, and Acceptance, brings a tremendous amount of value to the coaching process. It results in deep work for the client, a powerful and effective bond between client and coach, and can enhance the client experience of attaining their future state by opening their awareness to all they have access to in the present moment.