A Coaching Power Tool created by Hemanth Achaya
(Executive Coaching, INDIA)
There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. Carl Jung
The world we live in seems chaotic to many people. Many issues in coaching crop from the following misapprehensions that many of us labour under:
a) An inability to understand that happiness is ephemeral and will always be followed by events that are less happy.
b) An impression that the tasks ahead are too daunting
c) Oftentimes an air of overconfidence or Hubris that emanates from a recent success
d) Conflicts between focusing on the short term and keeping one’s sight on the long term.
As can be seen most of us swing from happiness to despair, from overconfidence to helplessness, from intense hate to blind love. Is this a fact of life? Do we sit back and just accept it?
Many philosophies have established that these are all illusions and essentially transient. An ability to see through this would lead individuals back from the extremes to a more balanced view of the world, and with it all tensions and conflicts disappear.
If the roots of this are founded in most philosophies, and has been understood for hundreds nay, thousands of years, why is it so hard to master? Perhaps we are hardwired and biologically programmed to go through this. The adrenaline rush helps our bodies to react instantly to threats. The dose of serotonin that is released into our bloodstream, sedates us momentarily, thereby anaesthetising us to shocks that we may not be able to bear.
And in addition, there is our environmental conditioning. As Dave Pollard succinctly puts it,
“The drama is this. We came in as infants “trailing clouds of glory”, arriving from the farthest reaches of the universe, bringing with us appetites well preserved from our mammal inheritance, spontaneities wonderfully preserved from our 150,000 years of tree life, angers well preserved from our 5,000 years of tribal life — in short, with our 360-degree radiance — and we offered this gift to our parents. They didn’t want it. They wanted a nice girl or a nice boy.
Or, in the words of Tim Gallwey,
“Inside all of us is a million dollar computer that we were born with. However, over the years, we build a 10c computer alongside that. The 10c computer is made up of our conditioning and biases. Somewhere down the line, we let the 10c computer take over our bodies. How do we shut up the 10c computer and rediscover the Million dollar Computer that we have mothballed?
So what happens when Harmony is lost? This parable explains this brilliantly:
A Sufi disciple asks his Master: “Sir, why there is so much conflict in our community.” The Master does not reply directly. First he says “what is the use of sweet words when there is a frown in your face.” After a pause, Master adds, “what is the use of a smiling face when there is a frown in your mind and heart.” This sums up the essence of the problem of harmony, when our sense of equanimity gets unbalanced.
Most are unable to respond appropriately to this situation, let alone prevent it from arising…most end up overreacting and the debilitating effect stays for longer than necessary. This in turn leads to the set of problems that most of us are familiar with.
Another possible insight comes from Neurolinguistic Processing, where we learn that two reasons for us to be unable to see the actual truth is our inability to take distortion and generalisations.
Our sense of equanimity also gets disrupted by our inability to stay rooted in the present…we need to practice techniques that enable us to stay focused on the present and not get lost in the past or fret about the future. Can we learn to enjoy the journey and keep aside our preoccupation with the goal? The Bhagvad Gita says :
Be steadfast in yoga, devotee. Perform your duty without attachment, remaining equal to success or failure. Such equanimity of mind is called Yoga. (Yogananda, Paramahansa, The Bhagavad Gita, translation, 2003 Self-Realization Fellowship, CA, 2:48)
In summary, an imbalance in our system
a) Creates distortions in the way we perceive the world
b) Which in turn, makes us react in inappropriate ways to resolve the issue
c) Indeed, could finally manifest itself as physical and mental ailments.
Through exploration and reflection, the Client would be able to:
- Balance the Destination with the Journey
- Temper exhilaration with realism
- Temper disappointment with optimism
- Balance obsession with detachment
- Resolve internal conflicts and see the interconnectedness of things in a non-judgmental way.
A good coach would be able to make the client see different perspectives by reframing and appreciative enquiry. Needless to add, the tendency to be leading or judgmental must be avoided at all times. More importantly, some people say, “I don’t want equanimity” because they think it means indifference, or coldness, or hesitation, or withdrawal. But it is important to demonstrate that this is not so – with equanimity, we accept the world as it is, and connect anyway. An equanimous mind accepts the fact of pain in the world. It understands suffering and cruelty as part of this world that is dominated by ignorance; it engages and responds with passion anyway.
Some situations with corresponding possible questions that a Coach may ask :
Statement: I am thrilled! I have almost all the pieces needed to complete my business plan. I can start right away! I can’t bear to wait!
Question: You mention almost….what pieces are missing?
Statement: I see the enormity of the task ahead and am paralysed by fear.
Question: What could you do today to address this task?
Statement: I am depressed…..most of what I did has not worked out!
Question: Shall we talk about those parts that worked?
Statement: If I don’t get that promotion, I don’t know what I will do!
Question: What are your alternatives if you don’t? What is the worst that could happen?
With this approach, the Coach would be able to enable clients to see as also appreciate a different perspective and restore for themselves the balance and harmony that they may have lost.