Research Paper By Shaun Ellsworth
(Self Development Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
If we are vibrational beings, as the “Law of Attraction” and quantum physics folks claim, then we have a vibrational rhythm that can find alignment or resonance with other things, including words, thoughts, goals or even people. I use the concept of alignment in my coaching model, the “Stacked Stones Coaching Model” because aligning one’s values, beliefs, strengths, goals and purpose generates momentum and energy that facilitates the achievement of one’s goals.
As I was writing my coaching model, I understood alignment on a “gut” level, but hadn’t yet looked into the actual science – not realizing there was any. It makes sense that if our goals are aligned with our beliefs, values, strengths and habits, our desired goals will be reached faster and with less effort than if we are simply using our willpower to make the goals happen through brute force.
Now, let’s take a look at the idea of the alignment that a coach needs to have in order to truly align or get in synch with their client. Many of the principles are the same, but there is much we can learn as coaches in regards to relating with our clients through alignment.
When we are able to align with our clients, this phenomenon manifests on many levels: spiritual, physical, emotional and social. Alignment engages the senses and once attained, can be heard, seen and felt. Ways we can influence and encourage this alignment is by understanding the concepts of resonance and entrainment, building a shared vision and acknowledging the development of a master mind. I will also address the ICF competencies and point out that they have been developed with the goal of increasing the alignment between client and coach.
First, I will examine the principles of resonance and entrainment. As coaches, we hear that something “resonates” with the client or with ourselves all the time. But what does “resonate” really mean? Resonance is described this way, “In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate with greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others.” About resonant frequencies and states we know, “At these [resonant] frequencies, even small periodic driving forces can produce large amplitude oscillations, because the system stores vibrational energy” (Wikipedia, resonance).
If we are to believe that everything in the universe has a vibration, this means that one vibrating system (the coach) can influence and cause a second vibrating system (the client) to reach a maximum amplitude, or most powerful vibration (biggest swing) by vibrating at the same resonant frequency.
An excellent example of this is seen in the act of pushing someone on a swing. A swing acts as a pendulum. Pushing a person in a swing in time with the natural interval of the swing (its resonant frequency) will make the swing go higher and higher (maximum amplitude), while pushing the swing at a faster or slower tempo will result in smaller arcs. This is because the energy the swing absorbs is maximized when the pushes are “in phase” with the swing’s natural oscillations, while some of the swing’s energy is actually extracted by the opposing force of the pushes when they are not. (Wiki)
When we are in a coaching situation and we push the client faster or slower than their natural cycle, they lose energy. If we are not familiar with their cycles or their speed, we may push their swing out of synch and actually hamper their momentum or drive. We need to read or feel their vibration and synch ourselves to that. When they want to move fast and get excited, we need to be right there to encourage them. When they slow down, perhaps because of some counter vibration in their life, we need to realize that too and slowly, support them on the upswing, so they can gain their momentum again.
Other people’s frequency might not be the same as ours. Many times it isn’t. That is why there is dissonance between client and coach at times. In order to be the most productive, we need to match our vibration to the client’s so that we can benefit them instead of interrupting their natural rhythm or vibrations. And that is where the principle of entrainment becomes important.
Another important idea regarding alignment with our clients is that of entrainment. Entrainment is defined as “a synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles.” The Dutch scientist Christian Huygens first discovered this in the 1600s. He invented the pendulum clock in 1656. After that, he noticed that the swinging pendulums of two clocks mounted on the same board would become synchronized over time. He conducted further experiments and decided that entrainment is a natural phenomenon that says that any two vibrating bodies will entrain if exposed to each other for long enough. (Wikipedia, entrainment)
We see examples of entrainment when two people walking next to each other begin to walk in stride, when a room full of people will clap in synch given enough time together, how women’s menstrual cycles fall into synch when they live together, and how musicians play in time with the other members of their group. (Turow, 7)
Entrainment has to do with the conservation of energy. When there is dissonance in the vibration of two bodies, a small amount of energy is expended in the form of negative feedback. As the two systems reach entrainment, the energy expended decreases until no energy is expended as the two bodies become entrained. (Wiki)
Theoretically then, in coaching, as we become more and more aligned or resonant with our clients, the energy expended becomes less and less until the coaching process becomes effortless as we become entrained with our client in a resonant relationship.
So how does this alignment show up in real life? Does it work? How can we encourage it to happen? The following are a few ideas I have found in my studies. Creating a shared vision, developing and using the master mind, and following the ICF competencies all help to create alignment between a coach and their client.