Helping ourselves, and others, learn to live

What if we gave up the idea that anyone else can have easy answers about how to live our lives? What would happen if we took up the project of cultivating our curiosity, our openness to life, our sense of wonder at ourselves and others?

What could be if we started to look for the ways we keep ourselves running in habitual, tiny circles, avoiding and hiding so that we don’t have to experience that which we don’t want to experience?

What could be if we could find practices – daily ways of living and cultivating ourselves – that bring us more fully into contact with the possibilities around us, with our own bodies and hearts, with the people with whom we’re in relationship, and with our lives?

What would it be to do this for ourselves? And what would it be to become more skilful at helping others do that too?

I’m thrilled to be leading our regular two-day Coaching to Excellence programmes in London in May and July, in which we’ll get into all these questions together.

Glorious

Our glorious, exhilarating, revolutionary Coaching to Excellence programme – a two-day programme on working compassionately and wisely with ourselves and others to lessen difficulty and to step in more fully to our lives – is running again in July. I’ll be there, teaching, in London July 18-19.

We’d love you to join us.

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Learn with me – April, May and September

Three opportunities coming up in London in coming months, for those of you nearby or those who can travel here.

On Sunday April 17th, the latest Coaching Round Table run by me alongside the wise and growing faculty at thirdspace, the organisation I founded to bring a deep and integrating kind of learning to organisations, communities and our wider society. In the morning, an introduction to integral coaching, and in the afternoon a programme on mindful self-compassion with our friends Kate Fismer and Justin Haroun from the University of Westminster’s Centre for Resilience.

On May 4th-5th, Coaching to Excellence, our two-day introduction to the principles and practice of integral development coaching – open to everyone who’s interested in finding deeper, more inclusive and holistic approaches to supporting development in ourselves and in others. Led by me with my colleague and friend Janeena Sims.

And September 19th-21st, Integral Development Coaching Principles – a three-day course led by James Flaherty (founder of New Ventures West and author of ‘Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others’) and me, for coaches and consultants who’d like to add a deep, rigorous, compassionate developmental angle to their work.

It’s incredibly exciting to get the opportunity to teach the work I love, so much of which is expressed in what I have been writing here for the past three years.

And I hope some of you will choose to join us – what a joy to get to share all of this with you in person.

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Getting unstuck, and learning together

Our repetitive, habitual patterns – and our ability to create them – can be great supports in our lives. Who would want to have to reinvent every day the familiar paths we rely upon to get us up, dressed and fed? Or those that support us in navigating our way through our houses and cities, or in driving our cars? Or those that help us relate to the people closest to us?

And yet there are times when our patterns become unwanted, because we’ve outgrown them or because they no longer serve the situations in which we find ourselves. Many of the changes we encounter in life – entering or ending a relationship, becoming a parent, losing a loved one, a promotion at work, changing career, stepping into a leadership role, growing from childhood to adulthood – require us to be able to identify the patterns that are no longer supporting us and let them drop away so that something new can be learned.

But this can be far from easy. Often we don’t know our patterns well enough to be able to work with them. And even if we know them, we don’t always know what to do in order to break free.

I’ll be taking up this topic, as well as introducing integral development coaching, at a quarterly Coaching Round Table event in London on Sunday 22nd November, which is open to everyone. We’ll explore coaching in the morning, and in the afternoon we’ll study the patterns we get stuck in from the point of view of the body, the imagination, and the narratives in which we live. You’ll have an opportunity to explore your own patterns, and to receive and give help to others in theirs. And together we’ll see what new new ways we can invent of stepping into bigger possibilities for ourselves.

I’m also teaching a two-day Coaching to Excellence programme in London on 7th and 8th December. It’s suitable if you’re experienced in coaching others or new to this work. We’ll study together what it is to be a human being, how development comes about, and how we can participate more fully in our own lives and in the lives of others. And we’ll learn ways of supporting ourselves and others to respond with wisdom and skilfulness to the wide world that presents itself to us.

It’s been very meaningful for me to meet many of you who read my work here at workshops and courses like this. Perhaps you’ll think of joining us this time.

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Learn coaching with us – October 1-2 in London

Everything I write about here is, in a very direct way, connected with one of my great loves – supporting the enduring growth and development of people.

Growth in this case means something more ambitious than getting happier, or getting what we want. Instead it’s being able to ever more skilfully turn towards the suffering and difficulty in the world with both creativity and compassion, and contribute to reducing it.

And there is so much difficulty we face. Some of it is reflected in the large scale issues that we see on the news, but much of it is of a more ordinary, close-in, prosaic kind – in our workplaces and in our homes.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be someone who could make a contribution to all that, and find meaning and fulfilment in doing so?

That’s what we’ll be studying and practising together on the two-day Coaching to Excellence course in London on October 1-2. Teaching these programmes (usually to a small group of between 8 and 14 people) is one of my greatest joys.

Coaching to Excellence is a chance to step in to the theory and practice of integral development coaching, and for anyone interested in becoming even more skilful as a coach it’s the doorway into the Professional Coaching Course I teach that begins in November.

Drop me a line if you’d like to know more or, if you’ve heard enough already, you’re welcome to sign up here to join us.

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Learn together, Oct 1-2 2015

In one way or another, my writing here in ‘On Living and Working’ is always about what it is to be a human being, how development comes about, leading to a growing capacity to respond with wisdom and skilfulness to the world that presents itself to us, and how we can participate more fully in our own lives and the lives of others.

These themes are also the heart of the programmes I run though thirdspace coaching, the organisation I founded to bring these questions to the world of organisations and beyond.

The next opportunity to learn with me is coming up in London in October. It will be a chance to learn the first steps in integral development coaching, a skilful means to support your own development and the development of others, combining both theory and hands-on practice, and with practical application for work and the rest of life.

Coaching to Excellence runs in London on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd October. Early-bird rates apply until 9th August.

It would be thrilling to have you join us.

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Learn with me in London, July 20-21

The work that I do – which, most straightforwardly put, is that of helping people to flourish and become skilful in taking action that matters – is one of my great joys. But an even greater joy is teaching other people how to do it themselves.

In early June I taught our two-day introduction to all of this, ‘Coaching to Excellence’, with an exquisite group of students who stepped in with quite some courage and sincerity. And Sophie Howarth, who was one of that group, wrote this piece to describe her experience. Please read it – I thought it was a beautiful introduction and invitation into what we’re doing.

“The practice of two people supporting each other
to become more human together”

There’s another chance to come and learn with me coming up next month, July 20-21 2015 in London. It’s open to everyone – whether you want to coach, help others develop, or are interested in your own development. It would be wonderful to have some of you join us.

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Developing others – An opportunity to learn together in May

Change – in an individual life, in a work situation, in wider systems – can often be hard because, as I’ve argued previously, it usually requires a shift in both interpretation (the way we make sense of the situations we’re in) and practice (the recurrent actions we take that build familiarity and habit).

All too often, we find ourselves constrained by one or other of these and don’t know how to loosen them enough that we can step into bigger possibilities for ourselves. And, all too often, we’re called upon to help others and we don’t know what to bring them that will help.

But it is possible to learn to become skilful in all this. To become someone who can see into the situations of others with sufficient sensitivity, and who can bring fresh possibilities for interpretation and action with sufficient creativity, that something new can begin to open. A new freedom. A new way of making sense. A new kind of skilfulness in responding to the world.

This is the topic we’ll be taking up in May on the Coaching to Excellence foundation programme I teach a few times a year. We’ll be introducing integral coaching – a powerful approach for supporting the development of people in the ways that I’ve described above. And a topic that’s very close to my heart.

We’ll be in London on May 18-19, and there places still available.

All the details are here.

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Coaching Roundtable – an opportunity to learn together

On Sunday April 12th 9.30am-4.30pm, in London, there’ll be an opportunity to learn with me and some of my friends and colleagues, and to find out about integral development coaching and the programmes we teach.

We’ll meet at 9.30am for a morning session on human development and, specifically, on the method we teach for skilfully supporting others in this. There’ll be the opportunity to engage in conversation and ask questions, and to see a demonstration of coaching in action, as well as to find out about the many programmes we offer in this field.

After a break for lunch we’ll join together with graduates of our courses (who’ll have been involved in their own session in the morning) to take up the topic of freedom. We’ll focus on cultivating the freedom that’s always available to us, and which can easily seem so distant as we encounter our habitual patterns, inner-criticism, busyness and distraction. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the constraints you (and your clients if you have them) experience, and to find powerful ways to declare, and take up, new freedom to act in life.

It’s going to be a wonderful day.

All the details are here.

We’d love to have you with us.

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Learning with me in the Spring

eggs

As well as writing, teaching is one of my great loves.

On Feb 16-17 I’ll again be teaching a two-day Coaching to Excellence course in London. A great way to build your capacity to support others (and yourself) in their development. There’s also one Feb 2-3 in Madrid.

And March 19-22 is the start of the next intake of the year-long Professional Coaching Course (4 sessions over 12 months).

Both are works of great love for me. I learn so much, every time, from being involved in them. And we always have some quite wonderful participants, who often go on to do big things with what they’ve learned. Maybe you’ll be one of them.

I’m looking forward very much to meeting some of you this year.

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Coaching to Excellence December 1-2

Coming up in just a few weeks, a chance to learn with me. We’ll be exploring integral coaching – a powerful way of supporting the development of others, and a topic that’s very close to my heart.

We’ll be in London on December 1-2, and there are a handful of places still available.

All the details are here.

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Learning together

Every couple of months I teach a two-day foundation programme in integral coaching in London. The next one is coming up soon – 1st-2nd December 2015.

It’s such a joy to teach this programme, and people who attend often say how much practical value they gain from attending, as well as a deeper insight into themselves and what makes their own development possible.

I’ll look forward, perhaps, to meeting some of you there.

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Learning in London in September

I’ve just finished a two-day introduction to integral coaching with a wonderful group of ten people, held by the river in central London.

Two days of rich conversation, music, study, practice and the chance to learn how to powerfully support other people in their development in a wide variety of contexts. And an occasion for me to share some of the work that I find most joyful and most profoundly helpful to others.

The next opportunity to join a programme like this is coming up on 1st-2nd September, once again in London. Perhaps you’ll choose to join us.

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Learn with me in July and September

Another opportunity to learn integral development coaching with me over two days is coming along on July 14-15 2014, or on September 1-2, in London. All the details are here.

And the Professional Coaching Course, which I’ll be leading, begins in September.

My colleague, teacher and friend James Flaherty at New Ventures West has just published the article below about the coaching methodology we practice and teach and what it aims to bring to the world. If you’re familiar with coaching at all you’ll see it’s quite distinctive in intent and approach.

I hope some of you will be able to join us in July or September.

50,000 Life Coaches Could Be Wrong: The Importance of Development in Coaching by James Flaherty (from the New Ventures West blog)

Entering a six-month coach training programme on the suspicion that life coaches are glorified confidantes who charge a lot of money and that coaching is “new-age nonsense,” the author of a recent Harper’s article finds lots of evidence to support her hypothesis. The irony of the piece’s title, “50,000 Life Coaches Can’t Be Wrong,” becomes quickly apparent.

Her skepticism is not unwarranted. There are, however, ways of coaching that offer more than what the popular trends promote. Coach training and the work of coaching itself may encompass goal-setting and happy-making, which is a good starting place. However, coaching can be more than being a good listener, giving advice or helping someone get what they want. These are all great things, of course, but they don’t necessarily address true development.

The modality that the author learned, along with her research that went as far back as the human potential movement begun in the 1970s, all speaks to horizontal development. In other words, there is something out there – a goal – that I want. To be happier, more productive, thinner, richer … we all know what goals are, and we know the ones that are common in our culture.

Integral Development Coaching, the methodology we practice at New Ventures West, is far more concerned with vertical development: helping the clients grow in ways that have them actually live in a different way, not just solve the problem in front of them. Coaches can certainly help clients attain their goals (and how wonderful that they do!). But when we understand why we’re doing what we’re doing—when we’re attuned to ourselves—the goals themselves change. In Integral Development Coaching we are interested in supporting clients in developing the capacity to respond to what life hands them and to understand “for the sake of what” they want what they do—what is their true longing? What is it only they can bring to the world?

So much of this information lives in the body, an aspect that is often left out of coaching. Attunement and resonance, capacities that are essential in supporting someone as a coach, are developed on the level of physicality. Our physical bearing often correlates to how the rest of life shows up for us. For instance, how much can you infer about someone who is slouching and folded in on themselves all the time? Or a person who can’t stop fidgeting?

Most importantly, practices that occur on the level of the body are the ones that bring about this vertical development and longer-lasting change. Repeated action actually rewires our nervous system. If we train ourselves through repetition to move in a different way (breathe, shout, lift weights, relax, stretch, chant, kickbox – whatever fosters our intended growth), it goes to follow that our experience of the world will change.

We also must remember that we are so much more than our ideas. Insights are fantastic but unless they are grounded in practice it’s possible that they will never become realised. In addition to our thoughts, we are embedded in a world of relationships and culture. We operate in a particular environment and use tools and technology. Without taking into account the unique matrix that makes up each person we are not seeing the whole picture, and we may not be making adjustments in the most appropriate domain.

Apart from differences in coaching methodologies, coach training programmes vary widely in terms of requirements, rigour, and outcomes. The Coaches Training Institute, where the author of the Harper’s article did her training, and many other popular programmes offer modules that are likely to fit in a student’s life, certify them and get them working more quickly. A valuable approach.

Integral Development Coach certification takes one year, plus a two- or three-day prerequisite. That is barely enough to fit in what happens. It is a deep dive into one’s own life, ideas, presumptions, relationships, biases, patterns. It’s all unearthed, examined and worked with in the interest of building what we call the body of a coach: a body that is present enough to let life through, that is free of bias, that can meet the client where they are. There is no one way to be an Integral Development Coach except that those qualities come forward in interactions with anyone—not just clients. As such this work finds its way into places other than entrepreneurial coaching practices (i.e. it’s far more than a way to market oneself). The certification process not only asks you to demonstrate your aptitude in the methodology. It looks at how present you are—how much you’ve come to know your habitual tendencies, how consistently you catch yourself acting from the patterns that aren’t serving you. These skills and qualities are essential to fully support another person in their vertical and horizontal development. It’s not an easy process, and it’s not for everyone.

The result, however, is a person who knows herself and can attune to others on a level that is not commonly seen in the coaching industry. When the question shifts from “what do I want” to “what is life asking of me?” we encounter a different human being. And that is the question into which we, as Integral Development Coaches, are inviting everyone. For some this is a lofty inquiry: there are plenty of people whose life is a series of emergencies and who are looking to calm themselves enough to be able to sit in conversation with someone for longer than five minutes or learn to take a deep breath. So we start there. We start wherever the client is, and we invite them into deeper, self-generating development.

Regardless of the kind of training or coaching one does, how wonderful it is that there are so many people in the world who want to make a living by helping improve the lives of their fellow humans. On that level alone we can probably agree that it’s by no means a racket, a ruse or a moneymaking enterprise. Hooray for the people who are learning to be better friends, helping people attain their goals, wanting to make others happy. It’s an industry that was born of a collective understanding that there has to be something more to life, and that we have a right to endeavor toward greater meaning, whatever form it takes. We celebrate that so many people want to train as life coaches. Power and luck to them. 50,000 people who are up to that really can’t be wrong.

What we’re up to at New Ventures West is something different, though we haven’t yet found a name for it that lives outside of the very broad category known as coaching. The methodology and the training go deep, and people emerge forever changed: set on unexpected spiritual paths, reconnected with a passion long since forgotten, suddenly understanding what is theirs to do in the world (which may not, in fact, be coaching).

There aren’t 50,000 of us doing Integral Development Coaching … more like 2,000. But we’re out here, and we invite you to explore what’s possible.

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Learning with us in London in 2014

Two more opportunities coming up to learn with me and with my colleagues.

Coaching to Excellence runs in London on May 1-2 and is a two-day foundation in Integral Development Coaching – a powerful way of working with people and their development. Suitable for you if you’re a coach, consultant, if you manage or lead others, or if you simply want to make a meaningful difference to the development of people around you.

And applications are just open for our Professional Coaching Course in Integral Development Coaching starting September 2014. It consists of 17 days together in London in four long-weekend sessions over the course of a calendar year. It’s a programme that aims to open profound opportunities for your own development, courage, and capacity to act on what’s important – and for your skill in helping others to do the same. We frequently have coaches, consultants, organisational leaders, entrepreneurs and educators as participants in the programme. Places are strictly limited to 20 in each cohort.

Please be in touch through the form at the bottom of the About page if you’re interested in joining us for either of these possibilities. We’d be delighted to talk with you.

Learn with me

So much of what I’ve been writing about here over these past nine months has arisen from the work I do supporting people in their development in both their professional and personal lives.

If you’d like to come and learn with me and my colleagues, and can be in London on Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th February, we will be running our next session of Coaching to Excellence, a two-day introduction to coaching others in a pragmatic, compassionate and profoundly developmental way.

It’s also the foundation for a bigger programme that’s a work of enormous love for us, our year-long Professional Coaching Course.

You can find all the details here.

We’d love for you to join us.

Learn with me

Two posts today. This first, an opportunity to tell you about some ways you could come and learn with me in London in the coming months.

From September 9-11 I’ll be running, with my friend and colleague Clare Chandler, a three-day introduction to integral development coaching: a way of supporting others in their development that’s profound, rigorous and pragmatic. The programme’s suitable for anyone who’s interested in the development of the people around them: including organisational leaders, coaches, people who’d like to be coaches, HR professionals, doctors, teachers etc. You can find the details here.

And we’ll have a slightly trimmed down two-day version of the same programme on November 4-5.

Then in late November, we’ll be joined by James Flaherty for the start of our year-long Professional Coaching Course, also suitable for anyone who cares about the development of others and of themselves. It’s an absolutely extraordinary programme that produces people who can skilfully make a huge difference to others, and it changes lives. There’s a description and details of the programme here.

I’m looking forward to meeting some of you there.